A week in the Classroom
Another first Monday, the students sit around a conference table with the hopes and worries for a new block written in front of them. It is the smallest class I have been in with only 9 students to fill the air space. The professor, Kathy Greene, comes in dressing with intention and greets the students. With a few quick words of humor, she has broken the stale air and everyone’s mouth has opened into smiles. We spent the first hour going over introductions and the assignment work for the class. Thanks to our icebreakers I can now tell you that Diya in the white headband hates peanut butter and Dova with the black nose ring really likes climbing. Some classes at school drone on, even with only 2 hours of sitting, but today suddenly I was aware it was 11 and it was time to leave. Kathy pulled our attention to our class by blending her light-hearted jokes with the finer points of the class. Our next assignment is to create a poster of a significant moment in our educational career. This class is not just a lecture, it is a combination of reading and active work in a k-12 classroom, then swept together under the direction of our 3-hour daily class meetings. The block looks educational, one could say, but a perfect example of the benefits of the block plan. Being able to learn about classroom culture then practice and observe a K-12 classroom experientially. Colorado College is about experiential learning, and Intro to K-12 Classroom Culture is the poster child.
Our class consists of 3 days of 3-hour classes at school and 2 days of sitting in on a K-12 class for a school day. For our Tuesday class, we spent time going over our readings and going on a walk. Kathy is an enticing teacher and also knows how to read a classroom and could tell we were all losing focus. So we walked around campus in the snow and talked to each other outside of the classroom setting. The cool part of having a class of 8 people is that we are able to bond together outside of the classroom setting. For example, Nick and I spent 15 minutes talking about our favorite board games and now our class is going to have board game nights. The block plan allows us to focus on one class and also create friendships with our classmates that reach beyond schoolwork.
Thursday was our first day in the K-12 classrooms. I was placed in a 4th-grade gifted class at Stratton Elementary. Susanna, Dova, and I walked in bright and early at 7:30 am to be greeted by the smiling Principal. We were each introduced to the teachers we would be shadowing for the next three weeks. My teacher’s name is Mr. Hoepfner. I spent the day observing as he walked his kids through improper fractions and The Westing Game. I had forgotten what being in class for 7 hours was like. Yet despite the long day of observing, I am grateful to have the opportunity to be immersed in a real K-12 classroom. The block is special for so many reasons, but this class has shown me how much I can learn from experiential learning. The ability to apply concepts in our readings to observation in a classroom is education that is irreplaceable. I am thankful we still have 2.5 weeks of learning inside and outside of a normal classroom and more adventures with my classmates.
Olivia Coutre and Kathy day 1. First day of school selfie. Our class on a mid-class walk.