Elementary Education: In-School Observations

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One of the major components of Columbia’s curriculum is the completion of 100+ hours of field observations that take place before student teaching. Field observation projects are assigned by each instructor as part of our course work. I think this is a very practical way for us to learn how to be a teacher, as some of the theory we are learning about can be difficult to place in a real world setting without any real world experience. My first field observation project is due the first week of November, so I started my field work today.

Our first observation project is connected to our Educational Psychology course. Our instructor constantly asks us to make sure we are thinking like a psychologist, namely to approach things with an open and non-judgmental mind. I didn’t think it would be, but it was difficult to enter a classroom and to simply write down what I saw without making any judgment calls about it. This concept is such a big key to being a teacher, because when you’re meeting students for the first time you can’t allow yourself to make any judgments. Students have the incredible propensity to change, to grow, to reflect, and to do all of this because you’ve approached them with an open mind.

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I was very enamored with the classroom, the instructor’s teaching style, and the students themselves. They were all incredibly welcoming of me in the classroom. Several of them asked me about wanting to be a teacher, being in school as an adult, and if I would please come back to their school again. The observation process itself was very rewarding as I started to connect concepts from class directly to what I was witnessing. Observations, although a lot of work, are a lot of fun.

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I’ll be returning to the school next week to complete my observations. I have to admit that I’m pretty excited to see what the teacher will be covering and what insights the kids have as they’re learning. Saying this via this blog makes it pretty clear I was born to be a teacher, so thanks blog!

This week I’ll be attending a second teacher’s workshop, this one called the Illinois Writer’s Project. I’m excited to share and report on it next week! The level of homework, projects, and outside workshops has definitely picked up this month. I am definitely starting to feel like a graduate student!

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