Three Lessons From a Summer of Teaching

Finding balance

By Erin Galvin — Three weeks have passed since I left Breakthrough Fort Worth.

As I reflect on my summer as a Breakthrough teacher, I can’t help but smile at the beautiful memories and learning that took place this summer.  Amidst both the joys and challenges of being a teacher, I grew as a teacher and learned valuable lessons that will benefit me in my field placements and student teaching experiences at Marquette.

Here are the three lessons that I learned this summer:

1)    Working the Crowd – During training we learned the importance of “working the crowd” in our classroom to eliminate downtime and keep students engaged in the lesson.  When I set up my classroom at the beginning of the summer, I made sure that I included boulevards in my seating arrangement, so that I could easily circulate around the room during structured and guided practice.   This gave me an opportunity to monitor student behavior, address misconceptions, and praise students for their work.

One skill that I had to develop this summer while working the crowd was “praise, prompt, leave.”  While I walked through the boulevards all summer, I found it challenging to implement “praise, prompt, leave” with my students who always asked questions or who were reluctant to attempt a problem on his or her own.  My master teacher challenged me to avoid a tutoring session and create independent learners.  After seeing the benefits of implementing “praise, prompt, leave” in my classroom, I understand why I need to continue to strengthen this skill in the upcoming year.

2)     Calm is Strength – While I taught an incredible group of middle school students, there were still classroom disruptions just like any other classroom.  In training, we were told to practice “calm is strength.”  This proved to be an effective tool when classroom disruptions occurred. By taking a deep breath before responding to a situation and keeping my cool, I was able to effectively stop the disruption and resume teaching.

3)     Find the Balance between Personal and Professional Life – During my past two summers, I have found it challenging to take time for myself amidst the busy schedule of a Breakthrough teacher.  One of the best pieces of advice that I received from my master teacher this summer was to be sure to take time to relax and get your sleep because that will improve your performance in the classroom.  I found that when I took just 30 minutes to spend time with my friends or went to sleep at a decent hour that my teaching improved.

The lessons that I learned as a Breakthrough teacher this summer are invaluable, and I am sure that they will benefit me in both my field placements and student teaching experience.  I am excited to see how the lessons that I learned this summer will impact my teaching in the year to come!

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