For adults, especially teachers, flexibility is key.
We have certain expectations about our days when we wake up. I expect to hurry up and get ready before my daughter wakes up. I strive to get myself and breakfast ready before she stirs. Most of the time, I meet my goals and expectations of this. However, some days she will wake up sooner than expected and I have to adjust my morning routine accordingly.
The same thing happens at my student teaching placement — I expected to be teaching a lesson on the metric system and showing the students how to do the metric conversions with a substitute teacher today. At 7:30 this morning, that changed.
I became needed in the classroom across the hall, the honors science class. This was exciting for me, since I really wanted to see what this teacher’s classroom was like as it is different from the one I’m currently in. So I happily changed my plans and prepared for the day working with her.
However, I didn’t just abandon my usual class. I have kept tabs on them all day. I have explained to each class period that I am just across the hall and that I would be checking to make sure everything went smoothly. Before I started doing that, the substitute had students that were giving her a hard time. So I had decided that I needed to try to help her keep things under control, even from a distance.
After my pep talk, the students behaved extremely well! She seems to have them taken care of. In the mean time, I am just across the hall observing the differences between my classes and these honors students — this includes diversity, classroom management, and classroom environment. It has been enlightening and I love it here, but I still have my students in the back of my mind and I have discovered a variety of ways to engage them further.
Every teacher has a bag-of-tricks. Burning questions for each unit. Current issues in science. Problem solving activities. Group seating. Students make some of the class expectations. Students pick their seats. …and so on. I’m adding to mine right now and remembering the flexibility is key to being an effective teacher.