Monday, March 3, 2014

Reflection of Additional Basic Qualification Teaching Course - Mathematics, York University

I am so exhausted. At the end of the Experience Centre 4 I can say that I have used my time most efficiently by spending approximately 3 to 4 hours on average for each Activity for 6 Activities per Experience Centre. This amount of time does not include breaks, lunch – this is cumulative.  I have managed to post all or almost all of the Activities by the due date by exercising good time management skills all the while dealing with the cumulative activity of developing three lesson plans. This is a daunting task especially when I am continually learning how to improve my lessons as the course goes on. Up until now I have been ‘on track’ to keep up with the ‘standards’ or expectations of this course. However, I will be using the extension for the due date of the Lesson Plans because I have not completed the third one and still need to polish all of them. Since I plan to use the extra time to accomplish this I am afraid that it will diminish my ability to complete Experience five in the allotted time. This causes concern for me.

The challenges that I am experiencing include a physically sore right wrist. To prevent it from getting worse I now have my keyboard at lap level on a pull-out shelf under my desk top instead of on top of my desk. I think this will help because the amount of stress on my wrists is less due to the position of them when keying. I also place ice on my wrist for short periods of time to relieve the possible swelling and pain.

Another challenge is balancing my family time with this course. I had to forgo time spent during March Break with my 6 year old daughter to work on this course last week. I had to take on an additional financial expense to pay for a camp for her to attend so that my work on this course would not be interrupted.

With the extra knowledge gained as the course proceeds I am spending more and more time on the cumulating activity which cuts into my family time, last weekend, for example, I forwent a ski day with my family (also forgoing the exercise I would have benefited from).

I have additional commitments such as being a Director on the Board of Directors of a non-profit organization which provides Art instruction. I volunteer at a school in Peel to teach grade 1 students how to read and improve their fluency. I was helping out twice a week and scaled back when I decided to take on this course so I’ve been managing with one day each week. I also scaled back my volunteer work at a field study teaching site from once a week to once a month. I have been able to keep up with my tutoring 3 and ½ hours over the course of three days each week. These are my regular responsibilities which don’t include things that are not expected such as planning a visit and visiting a school mate in the hospital out of town, getting materials from the library from my University which is out of town, planning a Birthday Party for my daughter, going to meetings for the Board, going to a visitation of an old friend’s Mom (which demands emotional energy), going to physio appointments, dentist appointments for myself (in an emergency situation when I accidentally chipped my tooth) and for my daughter’s regular cleaning, and shovelling copious amounts of snow. This is all above the responsibilities of keeping house and home, cooking, tidying, groceries, social media, exercise, extra curricular activities that my daughter is involved in which, because I am the primary caregiver, are my responsibilities (although I have leaned on my husband for some help), etc.

I feel as though I have been managing to my fullest ability which is great. However, I am realizing that this can’t continue on a regular basis. I would like to apply my experience to a position where I can reap some rewards, because I think I can manage this way of life (except for March Break – I would’ve asked my employer to take that week off J ).

Other suggestions to improve this course so that it is more manageable for me include, since you added the Professional Learning Activity this session, perhaps you could have substituted it with one of the other activities instead of adding it to the work load. Or you could combine two of the activities so that the same material is covered but maybe not as thoroughly as you would prefer. I think all of the Activities were beneficial to my learning and professional development in ways that have extended my learning that I might not otherwise have been inclined to do without the encouragement that this course provides.

Another suggestion is that you consider giving an extension to the final Experience Centre because of the amount of learning that is being contributed at the back end of the Lesson Planning experience in addition to the extra Activity that was added (Independent Professional Learning).

My response to Bradley Quinn’s harsh post a couple days ago is that if this knowledge and experience is not being used in a practical way in the classroom it should be, which is why we are taking this course. We are taking this course to learn how to improve on current strategies, way of thinking, understanding students better, implementing new additions to the curriculum such as Financial Literacy, etc. On the other hand, how realistic is it to spend 8 hours to develop a lesson plan that you will spend 40 minutes or 80 minutes on in class. If we were to do this for each lesson we taught it would be impossible. This is the conundrum that teachers are struggling with, I think. They are doing the best they can with the amount of time there is in a day. My suggestion is to have at least two teachers in every classroom since the amount of students is so high. Maybe this is a solution to having more time to develop better lesson plans to support better student learning. The problem is that it begs the question … will the government approve this enormous additional expense to Education?

So back to my current challenge, to get through this course successfully…I think I will take a day off which people are calling a ‘mental health day’ so that I can regroup and revitalize myself because I feel like I am ‘spent.’ I know that this will push my work back more but I need to be able to function properly. I would have liked to have been able to post my reflection after each of the Experience Centres, however after the first one I felt crushed for time.

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