Making room in the schedule for “teaching”

When I walked into my 3 week block this month, I thought my eyes were open. I knew that we only had 10 teaching days available because of extracurricular events. I knew I needed to be prepared, well planned lessons in-hand and ready for the class. Knowing all of this still did not prepare me for the fluidity of the classroom schedule.

I have enjoyed every minute in the classroom, but I have been surprised by the activities IMG_0484and interruptions that detract from “classroom learning”. There were the planned interruptions; a Grade 7-8 ski trip to Mission Ridge, a visit from the high school one day, followed by a tour AT the high school the next, the school-wide “Carnaval” Day, and of course the division PD Day and Teacher’s Conference. These things I knew about and planned for.

What I (and sometimes even my co-op teacher) didn’t anticipate were the other interruptions – half the class leaving mid-lesson for band practice, the Student Council members leaving to tally points in each classroom for Hawaiian Day, an impromptu pep rally for the Boys Basketball team before they headed to the City Finals, vaccination day (bringing with it a lot of drama and chatter in a Grade 8 class). Though a blessing to be in a school with many resources and funding, it can still be a curse in the classroom.

Students absences also created challenges; family vacations, extracurricular performances, sports and illness kept me on my toes.  Even when students are physically present, sometimes students are not mentally ready to learn, or the lesson doesn’t go exactly as planned.

Sometimes technology got in the way of my smoothly planned lesson. Wi-Fi can be sketchy, and buffering videos can be a dangerous game in Middle Years. Squeezing in the last 10 minutes of a video before a Friday ski trip worked!

And so, through the craziness of it all, I found my best weapon is flexibility. I have been thankful for my ability to go with the flow. Whether it was planning some differentiation in my lesson for those students at the head and the back of the pack, or a mid-lesson refocus because a concept needed additional explanation, I have been proud of my ability to react “in the moment”.

Whether the teaching occurred within my preconceived “lesson time”, or on the ski slopes, or during a brief interaction in the hallway, responding to student needs in the moment is one of my favorite challenges of this profession.

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