Is it really over?

I experienced my share of growing pains over the course of the last ten weeks.  Coming out of the internship, I feel confident that I can teach at any grade level within the Social Studies curriculum.  It just takes some adjusting to the mindset of the children in your classroom.

This past week, I completed the major portion of my internship experience.  The activities for the week served as somewhat of a “wind-down” to our unit on economics and a review for the unit test that my students took on Friday.  On Tuesday and Wednesday, we completed an online budget activity called MySavingsQuest, in which each student worked through a game that exposed them to the main aspects and decisions involved in creating a personal budget.  The topic of budgeting doesn’t match up directly to any specific SOL standards, but my CT had discussed with me that most years he assigns a similar budgeting group project.  I believe that these types of personal finance skills are crucial for children to learn, even if it is on a rudimentary basis at this point in their development.  We need look no further than the recent housing and credit fiascos to identify concrete perils of insufficient knowledge and understanding of personal finance.

In previous posts, I discussed the disappointment and concern that I felt after my students performed poorly on the test I gave on the Judicial System unit.  Heading into this test on the Economics unit, I felt more confident that my students would display higher degrees of comprehension.  On Thursday, we played Economics Jeopardy using a PowerPoint game that I created.  Thursday’s review session went well, though a couple issues gave me some frustration…

1.  In each class period, there were questions that none of the teams could answer correctly, which left me feeling both bewildered  and a little worried about potential inadequacies in my teaching.  Looking at these questions, they seem so simple and straightforward, especially considering the time and effort we spent on them during class.

2.  In each class period, one student asked the most angering question a teacher may ever hear (you probably already know what’s coming…): “Is this going to be on the test?”  Really?  REALLY?

I’ve made it a point to inform my kids on multiple occasions that nothing we do in class is just “for the heck of it.”  I honestly wanted to throw these kids out the window, but that obviously didn’t happen as evidenced by the fact that I’m writing this reflection and not incarcerated, sitting in a cell somewhere.  At this point, I really don’t know whether it’s the development level of a 7th grade student that would elicit such a question, or whether there is some unspoken rule among students the world over that requires all students to ask this question of a teacher at least once before graduating high school.  However frustrated I may have been after the review session, the test scores on Friday assuaged any fears I may have had about my students’ achievement and comprehension.  The scores far surpassed those from my first test with class averages around the low- to mid-B range.  Some scored higher, and some lower, but given the degree of difficulty of the test, I am very pleased with the skills my students demonstrated.

The planning and teaching portion of my internship is over.  I’m simultaneously relieved and crestfallen about handing over my duties.  As much aggravation as they’ve caused me over the last ten weeks or so, my kids have really grown on me and I’ve witnessed the growth that many of them have experienced as a result of my methods and decisions.  Though I was originally frustrated at having been assigned to the 7th grade, I’ve come to appreciate the significant role that my CT and his colleagues play in the education system.  I leave the internship confident that whether I end up teaching kids in their 12th year or in the 12th grade, I can have a significant and powerful impact on how they see the world around them.

More to come next week.

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