By Justin Hazard
There are a lot of aspects that a teacher can take away from each and every lesson. Some of these aspects can include positive feedback or negative feedback from the students. The feedback should be seen by all teachers as an opportunity for growth in their teaching career no matter how the lesson progressed. The feedback can show the teacher what can be added or changed to improve the lesson or the feedback can show the areas that should remain the same and be highlighted as high points or even used in other lessons to create growth in other areas. I have taught a handful of lessons through my practicums at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Recently, I had the privilege of teaching a science club lesson at Riley Elementary School that taught me a lot about myself and my teaching skills.
Teaching an elementary lesson can be a task for many young teachers, and there is little opportunity to teach a lot of science based lessons during a school day. Science is a key component to a child’s structure of learning and the purpose of science clubs is to reinforce the need and importance of young children’s knowledge of science. I have fallen into the teaching trap of not teaching many science lessons before my science club lesson, which is why I believe it taught me so much. My lesson was taught on the basis of chemical and physical reactions. I wanted to focus on the makeup and the identifying process of a chemical reaction. I thought that the best way to do that was to find a chemical reaction example that the students could relate to and allow them to stay engaged throughout the lesson. After weighing out the different chemical reaction options I chose to demonstrate and teach the ice cream making process.
At the start of the lesson I knew that this choice for my lesson was going to test my management skills. My prediction was correct and I had to stay focused on the outcome of the lesson and still be able to keep the thirteen students engaged and disciplined to the lesson. I thought that I was able to complete this task by continually asking questions about what the students were observing during the process of making their ice cream. The questioning involved a majority of inquiry based learning that allowed the students to come up with their own ideas as to why their ice cream was soupy, watery, clear, dark, or even becoming a solid. The student’s enthusiasm towards their ice cream was great to see, even though they sometimes seemed to shake their ice cream bags harder than needed. This became part of the cause that led to the effect of zip-loc baggies that began to rip.
Having the correct amount of supplies during all science lessons is a must, and I found this out throughout my lesson. I am thankful to have had the amount of zip-loc baggies I did, because nearly half of the class had their zip-loc baggie rip. The amount of materials that I had on hand was more than I have ever had for a lesson, which is the main reason why I believe this lesson has taught me the most about teaching. Preparation and organization are two key components to every lesson, and I believe that I was able to remain organized up to and throughout the lesson. However, I believe that my preparation could have been a little different. Before I began my lesson I had a list of ingredients that needed to be eventually put into the student’s baggies to make the ice cream including; vanilla, salt, milk, sugar, and ice. In preparation I only put the ice in the larger baggie that was not going to hold the eventually made ice cream. There was a smaller baggie that was meant to hold all of the ingredients, besides the ice that I handed out to the students during the lesson. After demonstrating the steps of making the ice cream I walked around the room and distributed each one of the ingredients one by one. I am extremely thankful to have had the extra pair of hands that I did, otherwise I do not believe I would have been able to get the students to the final step of making the ice cream. The amount of time that would have been needed to distribute all of the ingredients on my own would have taken up the entire time available for the lesson. I believe that the change that I could have made for my preparation could have included demonstrating putting in each of the ingredients and talking about each one as I put them in my baggie. Then I would hand out the student’s ice cream baggies that included all but one ingredient, which the teacher or myself could choose based on his, her, or my own decision. The students would then be able to still add to their ice cream mixture and have plenty of time to enjoy the best part in the ice cream making process of shaking the baggie mixtures.
Teaching an elementary lesson will always be a learning curve for new, amateur, and even veteran teachers because of the amount of feedback that will be presented. I believe that the feedback that is provided during each lesson is one of the main reasons why this profession will always provide learning curves, positive vibes, and experiences to allow teachers to enjoy educating young children to become great citizens.