For my final project, I conducted a live study of the education app, Kahoot, which is a web-based quiz app that allows students to use their cell phones or other devices to answer questions. The students can be grouped in teams or compete separately. I was aware that the majority of my fellow classmates knew about the Kahoot software but had probably not had much opportunity to test it in the classroom themselves or see how a current classroom teacher would actually use it. I also decided that it would be beneficial for my classmates to see how I “make” or rather choose the quizzes that I use because it has been a huge help and time-saver for me to use existing quizzes rather than make my own. I was told in my undergrad experience that I shouldn’t “reinvent the wheel” but sometimes you get so caught up in trying to be and do all the things as a teacher that you forget that you can accept help. It’s not cheating and doesn’t make you a bad teacher to use things that other educators have already made. It can actually help your students because it frees up more time for you to teach and provide quality feedback instead of making something that already exists and has free use. Honestly, I wouldn’t use the app as frequently, or at all, if I had to make every quiz from scratch which is why I’ve stayed away from Socrative.
I’ve used the tool in all of my classes prior to this live study. I took video of both of my subjects, Geometry and Precalculus, using the app to showcase the differences in participation at different levels (including maturity levels which would have been very clear had the sound worked :)). My Precalculus classes need little coaxing to participate and, in general, use their time wisely and respectfully. Using the app with them allows me a good window into their progression as a whole group and lets me know when I can move on from a certain topic. My Geometry classes are a little harder to rally. They enjoy playing games but not studying so Kahoot has offered me a great opportunity to review and reteach material that I can’t get them to focus on via traditional methods. So, basically, I use Kahoot for review for both classes but the type of review required is different. I thought this subtle difference would be good to show the classroom full of prospective teachers because it lets them know that the same tool can be used in all types of classes as long as they make the proper modifications.
Being required to use the Kahoot app formally made me realize how important the little tricks and modifications that I’ve made through my experience are to my successful use of the tool. When I first started using the app, I wasn’t exactly sure what my end goal was for the software. It was only through trial and error that I discovered how useful it could be and modify it to fit my particular teaching style. The same can be said about my overall teaching. I’ve developed so many skills through my teaching experience that I could not have learned in any TED class.
I want to remind my classmates and future teachers to not get discouraged when something they try doesn’t work out the way it was intended to. A lesson plan may work perfectly for one group of students but go terribly wrong for another even if they are exactly the same level. If you and your lessons are adaptable, you will be an above-average teacher. I’m reminded that you can’t be afraid of failure and that some of the best lessons you teach are also the messiest. Maybe that’s just something Ms. Frizzle said on the Magic School Bus but I think she’s a wise woman, so I’ll leave it at that.
One of the articles that we read this semester talked about how a lot of required teacher education classes don’t necessarily prepare someone for the classroom and I have to agree. During my undergrad experience I learned a lot of theory, acronyms, names of fancy education celebrities (Piaget, I’m looking at you), and jargon that made it easier for me to fit in with my new colleagues but didn’t offer much in the way of practical knowledge like how to make and grade assessments, how to choose homework assignments, how to take attendance, how to start a school year, etc… These are things that I learned from experience and support from my fellow teachers. Trust your coworkers, they are truly your greatest asset when you are starting out.
I’ve thought about why our college classes don’t tend to prepare us for the practical aspects of the job and I used to be pretty bitter about it but I think I’ve realized why they are structured that way. I think, and hope, that our professors are giving us the space to be creative and to figure out what works for us. We’re constantly being reminded to differentiate and that every student has their own needs and those things are true of teachers as well. We have an idea, a dream of what our classroom is going to be like and how could a professor take away your vision before you’ve been given a chance? Sure, you’ll probably (definitely) mess up occasionally (a lot) but that’s your process. Education is always growing and changing as quickly as technology itself. I’ve heard that someone studying to become an engineer will take classes that become outdated before they will even graduate. With the constant education reform, rote teaching of a standardized instruction style would be outdated and irrelevant before we even step into the classroom. Now that I’m outside of the undergraduate experience, I can see it’s value and how not “having all the answers” allowed me to find my own.
These lessons I’ve learned and continuously have to relearn keep me moving forward. There are days for all of us when we think about doing something else but just step back for a moment and admire what you’ve done and what you’re going to do, even if it doesn’t seem like much, because this is a job that you can be proud of.