Journal Entry - Week 1
The first week of my teaching practice was characterized by two key sentiments: excitement and anxiety. Diving into something unknown is never fun, but this time it was different. I was very excited to go into Athens College and begin my training.
The process of meeting my mentor and new colleagues was overwhelming, but everyone greeted me with a smile and an abundance of advice for my brief stay at the school. My mentor and I decided on the classes I was going to observe and so the “journey” begun.
The most challenging task was conforming into a new system, the Middle Years Program of the International Baccalaureate. It was a quite interesting, sometimes confusing, process, but after one week I was able to gain a basic understanding. During the first week I focused on two classes: grade 8 phase 3-4 (intermediate) and grade 9 phase 5 (advanced).
My mentor gave me the chance to introduce my self to the students and have a brief conversation with them in order for the students to familiarize themselves with me as a teacher, something that proved to be quite beneficial. I sat through some class presentations which gave me a rare insight on each student’s abilities and level of linguistic competence.
This first week might have been challenging and demanding, however, I believe I will truly gain an understanding about my role as a teacher until the end of my taining, both inside and outside of the classroom.
Journal Entry - Week 2
The second week of my teaching practice was very fruitful concerning the knowledge I gained. I was able to observe a larger range of classes, with differing levels of linguistic competence.
The two most noteworthy events during this week taught me a lot about class management. Firstly, I observed a certain class that was very disruptive during the lesson. The school was having some sort of event and thus students were very distracted. It fell to my mentor to discipline them and keep them interested during the class. The lesson she had prepared dealt with grammar, which made it even harder for the students to concentrate. She quickly realized this and changed the lesson into a listening and cultural lesson, by playing a video concerning the text they dealt with on the last lesson and then having a conversation on said topic. The students responded very nicely to this and order was restored in the classroom.
The other notable class was grade 7 phase 2. This particular class had a reputation as troubling because many students were suffering from learning differences, such as dyslexia or ADHD. As I heard from some colleagues, they were very dismissive of this class, something that saddened me. Luckily, I was positively surprised by my mentor, who was not only able to have a great rapport with the students, but she successfully encouraged them to study and advance their linguistic competence.
The conclusion of the second week of my training proved to be a tressure chest of information on class management, something I was fearing I would be lacking. Thankfully, I feel like I can count on my mentor and colleagues to shape me into an effective teacher.
Journal Entry - Week 3
During the third week of my teaching practice anxiety made a guest appearance once more as I was starting to prepare the 4 activities I was tasked with conducting. My mentor gave me the freedom to choose which classes I would teach and thus which I classes I would observe this week in order to familiarize myself with the progress of the lessons.
A very fortunate incident was that I was given the chance to observe a class on literature. The MYP program incorporates literary texts into the syllabus, in order to develop the students' linguistic competence, something that I have never observed before. It was very new but I was able to learn many things through this class and even decided to give a literary introduction on the next literary text of the syllabus, as one of the tasks I would conduct.
During another class with grade 8 phase 3-4 I was able to observe another new aspect of teaching, cultural awareness. This particular class was concerned with migration and racism, two issues that are very relevant to the Greek community. Even though it was a very controversial issue, I observed my mentor driving the conversation and teaching the students about tolerance and acceptance of differences, something that inspired me to follow in her footsteps and teach this class a bit more on the issue through one of the tasks, in the weeks to come.
After the conclusion of my observational period at the school, I felt ready, and a bit nervous, to get up in front of the classroom and teach as a teaching assistant.