Self-Reflection on Term Project

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I really thought our lesson went well.  Pretty much everything went according to plan.  Katie and I spent a lot of time making our lesson and practicing.  We did a preliminary practice, then we actually did our lesson in front of some of my roommates to be sure it was understandable and to double-check on the time factor, then we practiced once the night before our lesson, and then we did a quick run through before we went to the school to actually do it.  We divided up who would explain what and who would be in charge of what activities.  Because of the high number of practices, I think that Katie and I both felt pretty comfortable with what we were presenting and knew what we needed to do.  However, in some ways all this practicing made the lesson less realistic.  Since we were team-teaching and it was not our actual classroom, I think the practicing was necessary, but in a real teaching environment were one has seven or eight different classes a day, practicing one’s lesson that many times is simply impossible.  I’m not saying that Katie and I should have done anything differently as far as practicing goes; I am just observing that a real teacher would not be able to spend as much time on one lesson as Katie and I did on this one.

As far as working together, I thought Katie and I made an excellent team.  I think we were both able to mitigate the other’s weaknesses.  While one of us was talking, the other was watching the students and the time to make sure we keep things on track.  Towards the end of our lesson, when the students were presenting their posters, I was really impressed by Katie.  The students, while having good posters and seeming to grasp the general ideas of literary criticism didn’t go quite as deep as they could have, Katie was extremely good at asking them questions which forced them to think more critically about what they were presenting.  I noticed the students weren’t going as deep as we wanted them to, but I was unsure whether I should challenge the students on it or let it slide.  While I was still trying to figure out what to do, Katie had already taken charge and was forcing them to think deeper.  So, as a weakness for myself, I would say that I was underestimating the kids.  I was afraid to push them outside their comfort zone and put them on the spot.  What Katie showed me was that I should push them; many of the things they said in answer to her questions got them a lot closer to doing literary criticism than they would have otherwise.

We structured our lesson so that it would include many different learning styles and I really think this paid off.  Not a lot of the class involved Katie and I lecturing the students.  We did do some lecturing, but the majority of the class was student-centered.  Keeping the kids moving and having them do different activities I think helped them to pay better attention (even in the brief time we were lecturing, I could see some students eyes wondering) and to become more actively involved with the lesson.  The students had no previous experience with literary criticism; however, I do think they displayed an understanding of it after our lesson.  No, I don’t think they understood it as well as they could have, but since it was simply a one-time 39 minute lesson, I think it was a really good introductory lesson.  On the exit slips we asked the students to fill out almost all of them said that they learned something.  Most said that they had never realized there were different types of criticism.  Furthermore, every single student said that they think they will remember and use the information we taught them during our lesson in the future. 

Lastly, I want to address the class we taught itself and why we chose that class of students.  Since Katie and I chose to do a lesson plan for a non-education class, it was up to us to find a classroom to teach in.  As my clearances were expired (I didn’t have any education class this semester, so it seemed pointless to pay the money to renew them when I didn’t need them) and we have no connections with the Greensburg schools, Katie and I decided our best bet would be to do our lesson at one of our schools (since we live in the same general area) since the administration would be more willing to work with us.  In the end, we decided to do our lesson at my high school.  We chose 10th grade as the grade level we did because we opted to partner with an English teacher who did not know me in order to prevent bias in the feedback we would receive.  However, many of the students in the class did know me.  In an attempt to avoid a bias in the student feedback, we asked them not to write their names on the exit slips and stressed to them that anything they said would not affect our grade. 

All in all, I really think that lesson went wonderfully.  I enjoyed working with Katie because I was able to observe what she was doing that the kids seemed to be responding well to and will be able to remember in the future to ask follow-up questions to the students to challenge them.  I don’t think that the students we taught are any sort of experts in literary criticism after our lesson, but they are aware that there are different types of criticism and from their exit slips they seemed to both enjoy the lesson and grasp the idea of literary criticism.  The feedback from our cooperating teacher was for the most part extremely positive; the main thing she warned about was classroom management and reminding the students to keep the volume down.  I had a great time doing the lesson; my only regret is that we didn’t have more time with them.  My suggestions to anyone else who is trying to introduce literary criticism to high school students would be to keep things simplified, keep the lesson moving and the students involved so they don’t get bored and stop paying attention, lastly make sure you really challenge the students with questions so that their understanding of the topic is deepened. 

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