Week 1: September 4-6, 2013
This is the first week of teaching for me and thankfully it was a half week. School started September 4th and periods were only 10 minutes the first day. The class was long enough to briefly explain what the class was and take a quick attendance. For this day, I was simply introduced to students and spent the day observing my mentor teacher. It was the plan that the second day, syllabi would be passed out and the pretest would be given. However, due to a family emergency my mentor teacher was not able to come in the second day. In order to prepare for this, she called in an emergency substitute. Going into this I assumed that this would be a day for observation. However, much to my surprise, the substitute expected me to run the class primarily. He would do attendance and I was to explain the syllabus and provide the pretest and vocabulary. This was a surprise and the day went very well despite being thrown into a situation unprepared. In hindsight, this day really established me as an authority figure in the classroom rather than an observer. The third day my mentor returned to the classroom and continued the review of procedures.
Week 2: September 9-13, 2013
This week marked the first time students used clay. Their first project was to create a pinch pot from 8 ounces (half a pound) of clay. To introduce this project, my mentor teacher and I gave demonstrations on how to start creating their pinch pots. We also had a finished piece so that students could visually see and tangibly touch to better understand. However, during this first week, Monday was Armageddon Day. Throughout the course of the whole day, students and staff ran through drills including fire, earthquake, shelter in place, and lockdown. Because of this, students weren’t able to start their projects until Tuesday. One thing that makes working in ceramics easy is that as a teacher, you are able to have constant formative assessment. Throughout the whole class period, I rarely have a chance to sit because I am constantly walking around and looking at their progress. I find this to be extremely beneficial because unlike other areas that are taught in a high school, if a student does not understand the content, it is instantly noticeable so it can be corrected. Whereas, if you are in an English classroom, you aren’t usually aware that the content is not being understood until there is a summative assessment such as a test or an essay. (I will be uploading photos of the student’s final work, and also a sheet that has the assignment)
Week 3: September 16-20, 2013
This week students finished up their pinch pots and they started the second project. We labeled this assignment as a pinch pot vase. Students are expected to create two pinch pots that are equal in height, diameter, and smoothness from twelve ounces of clay (3/4 lb). In order to prevent the vases from being squatty and heavy for their size, we decided that the vase body was expected to be five to six inches in height. Throughout this lesson, students learned to score and slip the two pinch pots into an egg shape, join and seam the edges, and create a foot and neck for the piece. (Photos will be attached and assignment sheet with be added) In addition to creating a finalized piece, students also learned about carving the surface of the clay to create a pattern. For many students, this was the most frustrating part of this assignment. When a design is scratched into the surface with a needle tool, the mark left is very thin and leaves behind unsightly crumbs of clay. It was frustrating to many of them that they had to go back over their designs. Unfortunately, many students opted out of “finishing” their piece despite instruction and warning about grade deduction.
Week 4: September 23-27, 2013
This week was spent finishing up the pinch pot vases. Because it was a continuation of last week, I have decided to reflect on how I have grown as a teacher. Thanks to my mentor, I am able to run the classroom all by myself. I introduce the class, take attendance, keep students on track, and introduce new assignments. Despite the fact that I am learning to teach in just a ceramics classroom, I am looking at this as a chance to learn the ins and outs of teaching. I have had curve balls thrown at me and I am learning that when things go wrong or there are unexpected results, one of the best attributes to have is flexibility. I pride myself with being able to keep a straight face in front of my students even though I may be having a panic attack on the inside. I feel like it is very easy to connect with my students on personal levels but still remain Ms. Schneider the teacher rather than Carly Schneider the student teacher observer. Throughout this, I have learned how I want my classroom to be organized. I have been able to go through and organize all the tools, clay, equipment, and glazes. Not only has this given me the idea of what should be in a classroom but I also have a mental list of what materials we have and where they are located. I have greatly enjoyed being able to help students with their projects, learning to load and run the kilns, and keeping a classroom organized and clean. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to teach in a relatively low risk situation where I can still ask mentors what I should do in situations but being able to feel it out myself.