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From my experience at the elementary school, I have gained insight about what happens inside a first grade classroom, such as the teacher’s responsibilities, and the high demands of attention students require from their teachers. I also learned how this particular school is being affected by budget cuts. Certain staff members that were there last year were let go because of the decrease in budget. For instance, the school no longer has a science teacher who used to teach children how to conduct science experiments and an art teacher was let go as well.
My goals were to learn more about this career and to discover whether teaching is something I want to pursue in the future. Based on the current budget cuts, teaching does not seem like an appealing job at the moment. I do enjoy spending time with children and watching them learn. I have noticed through my experience that I can handle small groups of children or help teach individual students better. I like to make sure that no one in the group is left behind while I am teaching and in larger groups it is very hard to get everyone to be in the same level. Therefore, I have discovered that teaching is not a career option I want to pursue.
Another goal was to learn how children think and learn around this age. Also, how they interact with others socially. I learned many ways to motivate children to learn. The teacher uses many rewards like, small toys, stickers, stars, and scholar dollars to motivate children to learn and to complete their assignments. I learned to motivate the students by giving them those rewards after their hard work, and I also motivated them by giving them my support. Through my interactions with the children, I discovered different teaching techniques to use for each child. I also learned that children learn best through practice and by getting individual attention from their teacher or other adults in the classroom.
I also learned how some children think positively and others think more negatively. For instance, when I would try to explain a subject to a child who thinks negatively, he or she will tell me that he or she cannot do it. The other children who think positively try their best and do not give up. I tried to help the negative thinking students to think more positively or to have a more positive attitude by mentoring them. Most of these children’s upbringings have a lot to do with their performance and attitudes in school. In this experience, I also learned that girls have a more verbal way of interacting and socializing with their classmates, while boys are much more physical. For instance, a group of boys interacting in the classroom use many sound affects or nonverbal language to express themselves, while girls use their verbal skills or change the tone of their voice to get their points across.
I have realized that I get very overwhelmed when I cannot manage teaching a large group of students and that is one of my challenges that I face. I try to address this problem by teaching small groups of children at a time or I divide the students and have them work in small groups to create less chaos. Another challenge is trying to get some children to listen to me because some of the children do not take me serious at times. I have noticed that they see me as a nice person. Therefore, they feel they can get away with their bad behaviors. I have addressed this problem by giving children punishments after three warnings. Also, I give the students an explanation to why I have punished them rather than just giving them the punishment without an explanation. I learned that this technique helps the children reflect more on their behavior and it helps them make better decisions later on or to control their own emotions.
Through this experience, I have learned that one of my strengths as a professional is my ability to motivate children to learn or to behave. When a child did not want to finish his or her math work, I used positive words to get the child to finish his or her work. I also used a bit of humor to help the children release their stress when they felt pressured to finish their work. When children were misbehaving, I tried to speak to them more as a friend than as an authoritative figure. Speaking to them as a friend has really helped them to open up to me and to let me help them. Another strength is that I put a lot of effort into completing my work duties in the classroom. I have noticed that I am very detailed-oriented at work and I like to make sure I get everything done efficiently.
The experience did alter my career goals, but I feel that the experience I gained is still very valuable even though my career goals have changed. What I have learned through this experience can be applied to other aspects of my life. If I become a parent I will know what is expected out of my children at this grade level. I will also have a lot of teaching techniques I can use to help them stay on track at school. Overall, I am content with my experience at this practicum site because it has given me valuable knowledge that will help me with my future goals.

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