One of the things I noticed that I could improve on is having more animated movements. One of the great things about working with elementary students is that you get to be silly with them. They are excited and ready to go and playing into that can help them really engage with a project. The times when I really tried to move around the room or motion with my body I was able to capture more students’ attention and keep their attention longer. For example, if I asked the students to draw a really big circle and motioned a circle with my arms it allowed me, in a simple way, to provide a visual cue to accompany the verbal instruction. I also found that incorporating little games and challenges can really motivate students and prevent management problems. While I strive to develop lessons that are challenging and engaging for students, I have found that incorporating additional elements such as a challenge to do the most of something or complete a task in a time limit really helped the students stay focused and motivated. Simple things like giving them a time limit in which to complete a task and saying “ready, set and go!” really helped the kids have fun with a project.
One of the times that most stood out to be in my elementary experience was the need to use the time you have most effectively. In a single day you can see two hundred students with no breaks between classes . There is no time to clean and reset the room between classes so its important to have established routines for yourself so that you can move from one class, one project to another, even when your classroom needs to function in a completely different way. It is also important to have established routines for the students so that they can help the classroom function most efficiently and to ensure that their time is spent learning.
A balancing act
In reflecting back on my teaching experience I noticed that often I spend so much time giving instruction, replenishing supplies and answering questions that I don’t get to move around the room to every student and ask how they are doing. While there are some students who will come up to me, artwork in hand, and explain everything they’ve done, there are those who sit and quietly work that I need to make the effort to check in on. I also noticed that I often use jobs and call on students whose behavior I am most concerned with. When having a group discussion I call on the students who raise their hands the most often and become a distraction when not given the opportunity to speak. While calling on those students and giving them attention helps manage their behavior it also means that I don’t call on all students. In the same way giving those students, whose behavior can be a problem, jobs to do during clean up helps with their behavior it also means that other students who are quiet and well behaved feel that they never get the opportunity to do a job. I think that there is a balance to ensure that every student gets your attention and I’m striving to find it.