Our TA, Sara Hawkins began class today by asking each student to share a positive comment about the field experience with the class. There were several recurring themes in these comments, notably about the culture of the PBI classroom and openness of the interactions with students. They felt that the students wanted to learn, had a high level of trust in each other and in the teachers, and were open to talking to new people and sharing their ideas.
The PBI students cited several times that they felt the interactions they had with students during this experience were much more authentic and engaging than they have experienced during prior field experiences. Sara pushed them to think about how they might establish this kind of culture and comfort in their own classrooms, and students knew that it had to be established from day one but acknowledged that it was difficult for them to verbalize what specific strategies they might use to achieve it, especially among all of the other concerns of a new teacher.
Dr. Petrosino congratulated the students on how well they represented the UTeach program with their professionalism and positive attitudes. Though there was variance in how lessons were set up and carried out, all groups were attempting content that was high level and sufficiently thought-provoking for students. He also reminded students that all the UTeach field experience time pales in comparison to how much class time they will log during student teaching, and to just imagine how much they will learn in that semester. He mentioned a couple of trends that were noticed by observers. First, students are still working on developing their “teaching persona” and many have yet to develop that bigger, more theatrical personality that is usually seen in the classroom. For now, students’ regular selves and teacher selves are still very similar, though observers noted that they saw students trying out new things. Second, observers were happy to note that students are learning to respond to a change in plans and make decisions on the fly. Dr P. was happy to see students step outside their comfort zone to authentically respond in a situation.
He then reminded students that a couple of things are still yet to do in the class. First, the final exam, about which more details will be given soon; second, the final class project to create a Legacy Cycle.
This is the first time Dr. Petrosino has done the Legacy Cycle project with undergraduates, and he is eager to see what the students will create. There is a web interface set up for students to be able to upload documents and movies and create a space for their cycles (www.edb.utexas.edu/visionawards/petrosino), and a representative from the Learning Technology Center (LTC) will be coming to class on Thursday to brief students on using this tool.
The Legacy Cycle is meant to embody all of the activities and theory that we have covered in class so far. In keeping with the class goal of minimal drama, the topics for the cycle will be restricted to activities we have spent substantial class time preparing: Meter stick activity, model rockets, circumference of the earth, or the lessons taught in the field. Students will be able to choose whether they want to work individually or in pairs.
The Legacy cycles should cover approximately a week of instruction, though longer is an option. In the end, we will have 8-10 Legacy cycles created by the class that will be available for the public to use. Dr. P encouraged the students to use their creativity and think about these things in a deliberate way, and predicted that they will place more restrictions on themselves than he would.
Students were encouraged to look over the Legacy Cycle readings from earlier in the semester and check out the website prior to class on Thursday.