My student teaching experience at Harvest Prep Academy was a wonderful adventure. The environment was full of vision and unity for both children and staff. The hallways were decorated with colorful motivation posters and student work. I enjoyed working with a small reading group of students with a variety of personalities, all boys. Some were quiet, some were talkative, and some were natural performers. Nevertheless, they all were excited about learning and looked forward to the reading group meeting every morning.
We always took the first five minutes of the meeting to address personal concerns that might interfere with our ability to focus on the readings. It is hard for children to focus when bothered by underlying emotions. Once all emotional issues have been cleared, the Direct Reading Instruction began. This reading program was designed to promote every student to his or her appropriate reading level. The reading was fast and swift so that the children were constantly engaged and never bored. For this reason, children enjoyed this program.
While Direct Instruction was an exciting program, I still had to deal with various discipline and behavior challenges that occurred again and again. There were a number of behavior issues such as lack of focus, verbal interruptions, negative attitudes, and unwillingness to participate. Usually, whenever a student demonstrated this type of behavior, he or she was given a logical consequence and time out in order to calm themselves down. If a student were still not acting respectfully, he was sent to a buddy room. The students who were filled with anger were dealt with wisely when it came to discipline. Patience is needed by teachers in order to deal effectively with today’s students. Today’s students are overwhelmed by negativity coming from the media, music, and the internet. So a constant challenge for Harvest Prep Academy was to make the classroom instructions more interesting than negative outside influences. With the spirit of unity and determination, the school faculty and Staff at Harvest was well on the way to trying to accomplish this.
But to continue with my experience working there, the greatest part of it was developing a relationship with two students. One of these students name was Michael, a kindergarten. Before I became a morning bus assistant, I heard that Michael was a challenging student who would always yell, stand up on the bus, pick on other students, and distract the bus driver. On the first encounter with Michael, I found that the stories were indeed true. This was a challenging child. So each morning he got on the bus, I decided to sit Michael in the seat beside me. At first he didn’t like this idea and pouted about it. But soon he settled down, knowing he had no choice. Because his freedom was restricted, he couldn’t get out of his seat and bother anyone. So I begin to talk to him about little things outside of school life, such things as his weekend activities and things that he liked to do. I also listened closely to him when he talked and thoroughly responded to his ideas. As I gave Michael the attention that he needed, little by little, and outrageous Michael acted out less and less. His transformation was noticed by all, by the students and especially the bus driver.
Another student I took a special interest in was a boy named Tony, a third grader. To some Tony would seem to be a slow or unmotivated learner. He seems to be uninterested when the teacher is talking or explaining a lesson. He seems to stare into nothingness. Sometimes this would make the teacher frustrated because Tony’s inattentiveness was seen as disrespect. And when the teacher would walk around, the only thing he saw on Tony’s desk was a blank sheet of paper. So I decided to see if I could find a way to motivate Tony to stay on task with his seat work. I would sit in the seat next to him and encourage him with every step of seat work he accomplished. This helped him to stay motivated and at least the work was getting down on time. I knew that all Tony needed was to be motivated on a one on one basis. I also found out Tony was probably bored most of the time. Because even though he didn’t seem to pay attention, he scored high on all the test he took and also scored at grade level six on his recent reading assessment test. So for the most part, I concluded that All Tony needed was motivation and challenge.
So my field experience had been great and I continued to work at Harvest Prep Academy until was lead on a further journey into the adventure of teaching and education.