Service Learning Reflection

My first hands on teaching experience in York was a learning experience for my students, but it was also definitely a learning experience for myself. My two lessons in York were my first two lessons ever, and I have to admit that it’s a relieving feeling to cast away the weight of speculation and now possess a better understanding of what a real teaching experience is like. As I anticipated, the smaller group structure definitely made the experience more manageable and was a good way to ease into actually teaching a lesson. Overall, I found the experience very beneficial and it has me eager to continue the pursuit of my career in education.

Teaching my first real lesson allowed me hands on experience to actually exercise some of the strategies and practices learned in Block II. The skills and knowledge I gained from Block II definitely helped me in the planning and execution of my lesson, and it was an interesting experience to actually employ certain practices in a classroom setting. I feel that after using certain strategies and practices learned in Block II, such as cold calling and group work, I now have a better understanding of how they work and the effect they have in the classroom.

One aspect of teaching that I faced difficulty with early on in my lesson was accommodating the learning styles of my students. Not only did I have to account for each student’s individual learning style, but I also had to account for the differences between their learning style and my own. After taking college courses and participating in college level discourse, it took me a while to start, in a sense, thinking like a 9th grader. My anticipatory set for my first lesson involved a group activity where the students and I created a thesis statement about dogs and cats, analogous to the thesis statement they were writing about their two different religions. I felt this activity engaged the students, and also made the process of creating their own thesis statement about religion relatable to something. After the first lesson, I had a better understanding of the learning styles of each student and was able to use this knowledge to assist in the one on one conferences I had with the students. For example, one student enjoyed football and hunting, so I used those two examples to help him relate to the essay topic by explaining how to include common information about the two subjects.

My experience in York was a valuable one, and although I gained a lot from the experience, it was not without some adversity. The group of students I had came into the first lesson with little knowledge of how to write a thesis statement. Speaking to other classmates, I gathered that at least a couple of students per group could write a sound thesis statement, but my group struggled. Therefore, I ended up spending a lot more time than I planned focusing on thesis statement writing. Although this hindered the overall implementation of my lesson, I felt it was the most important part of my lesson. This experience allowed me to realize that my lesson plans will not always be perfectly implemented, and sometimes I need to improvise. These difficulties, though, proved to be valuable within themselves.

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