For the Spring Semester of 2020, I was a full-time student teacher in an Algebra II classroom at Central High School in Central, Louisiana. Although my experience was cut short because of COVID-19, I was still able to gain valuable skills and learn so much from my mentor teacher such as effective communication, planning, and adaptability. Adaptability was the skill that was used most often in the classroom because things almost never go as planned. There were many times where one class struggled with a lesson, but a different class went straight through with no problems. In these situations my mentor teacher and I had to come up with a solution to the problem, and find a way to incorporate extra learning for one class, while moving on with a different class.
The most interesting part of this experience was that I was working with a flipped classroom. A flipped classroom essentially means the students are given the lectures online before class, and are asked to spend the class period working through what would be homework in a normal classroom. This experience was very exciting, because this was my first time working in a flipped classroom. This type of classroom allows the students to spend as much time as they need on the lecture, pausing and fast-forwarding where necessary. Then, when they enter the classroom, we give them activities to complete, and problems to work through. Here the students are able to receive one-on-one instruction from the mentor teacher or myself, or are able to work through the problems on their own. I loved this environment because it promoted collaboration among the students and pin-pointed gaps and problem areas in the lecture. Below I have attached a sample lecture I created for my semester project on graphing rational expressions.
My semester project for this course was to design and implement a unit of my choosing into my classroom. The unit my mentor teacher and I thought would be the best fit for me was on rational expressions. The unit covered asymptotes, graphing, multiplying/dividing, adding/subtracting, and solving rational expressions. This unit plan tested my ability as a writer and communicator, as I needed to effectively communicate my plan to my professors with GeauxTeach, my mentor teacher, and the students. Unfortunately, I was unable to implement my plan to my classroom due to the outbreak of COVID-19, but I learned a lot about writing a unit plan for multiple class periods. Below I have attached a downloadable version of my Unit Plan.
Although my student teaching experience in the classroom was cut short due to COVID-19, I was fortunate enough to still see my students virtually. As the school was one-to-one, meaning each student in the school received a computer from the school, my mentor teacher and I were able to create lessons for the students to complete. Attendance and the grading system were modified, as we were unable to guarantee that every student had access to wireless internet at home, but most students were able to complete our assignments. I was also able to attend faculty meetings with the school, were I could see the teacher’s perspective in this unique and unprecedented time. Although the pandemic altered my plans for in-person teaching, it allowed me to gain experience in adapting to a truly unique situation.