During the first few months of my clinical residency, I have found the opportunity I have had to observe other classrooms throughout Dallas ISD to be incredibly valuable. Not only have these classroom observations allowed me to witness the great teaching and learning taking place in other classrooms outside of my mentor teachers’ classroom, observing other teachers has also allowed me to absorb a variety of teaching and classroom management techniques and practices that I am then able to put into practice. As I continue to further develop as an aspiring teacher, I can feel myself becoming more aware as an observer – and as a result, I am benefitting even more from the opportunity to observe other teacher educators.
This week I was fortunate to have the opportunity to observe both a Kindergarten math and science lesson at Anne Frank Elementary in Dallas ISD. I entered the observation knowing that I wanted to focus specifically on the techniques the teacher used to establish a strong classroom environment. As I begin to gradually assume more and more teaching responsibility in my classroom, I know that strong classroom management and the establishment of a strong classroom environment is so critical to any teacher’s success. As I started my observation, I noticed the teacher proceeded to give her class a series of instructions at the beginning of the lesson. Students quickly processed the teacher’s directives and acted accordingly. It was clear that this was not the first time the students had heard these instructions and that the teachers had spent time developing purposeful and explicit expectations for her classroom. As a result, students were all familiar with key classroom routines and procedures.
During the first 2 months that I have spent in my residency classroom with my mentor teachers, I have seen how important it is for teachers to set these clear expectations with their class from the first day of school. While it may seem like lining up or putting away books is a simple task – without thought, these simple routines can lead to an incredible amount of lost instructional time.
Since school started 8 weeks ago, I have already spent over 200 hours in a clinical teaching setting. Amongst other activities, many of these hours have been spent: 1) Observing classrooms; 2) Building relationships with my students, my mentor teacher, and school faculty; and 3) Building my capacity as an aspiring teacher through the assumption of more and more teaching responsibilities. These early months of the school year have been an incredible learning experience for me and I look forward to continuing my development as a new teacher during the remainder of the school year.