Throughout the entire semester, our teaching team had planned to give the students in our class a test of knowledge through the form of a Post Assessment. Since our class was not taken for course credit, this “exam” of sorts was one way of tracking the student’s progress throughout the semester, along with their retention of the material they had been taught over the past few months. Initially unsure of how to approach the task of preparing the students for the post assessment in an interactive, fun way that they would get engaged in, our team eventually decided to set up a game of Jeopardy based upon the specific lessons and key points the class was taught over the semester.
The game turned out to be a success; despite our small class size for the day we reviewed. The students were reasonably focused on the game, and between all of them, the correct answer was usually reached. I was satisfied with the results of the review class and game, looking forward to seeing how the class would fare on the assessment. Next class, we wrapped up the semester, bringing pizza and drinks for the class to enjoy after they completed their post assessment. After grading the assessments, it was apparent that the class fared very well. Based upon the results, it was clear that the class had made significant gains and learned a great deal over the semester.
I can’t believe the semester is already over. It seems like just yesterday when we first met our students, and it felt like something was missing on Tuesday when didn’t have to rush to University City High school from Finance.
The results of our assessment showed that our students absorbed the material. Part of this was certainly our students, but I think the success at UCity this semester can be largely attributed to how well our teaching team worked together. It was a challenge catering to a variety of abilities at first, but I think we did an effective job learning from our mistakes and designing interactive lessons that our students will benefit from later on. Even if they only remember a few key takeaways, I think every student in our class will benefit from FLCP in one way or another.
I would highly recommend this class to any Wharton student that enjoys tutoring or mentoring, particularly those who have not been exposed to an urban school. The educational gap in this country is truly astounding and the only way to truly get a grasp of this is by working hands on in an inner city school. I learned so much from the students themselves, who were all incredibly mature for their age. Over the course of the semester I got to know 7 intelligent, hard-working students who hopefully are now better prepared to manage their personal finances, apply for jobs and student loans, negotiate more effectively, etc. I gave all of them my email address and sincerely hope that they send me their resumes for feedback when they are ready. Thank you FLCP coordinators for making my experience so positive!
This past week was our last week with UCity. During Tuesday’s review session, we played Jeopardy. We ran into some trouble because only four students were showed up. We were hoping to have a better turnout (as usual) since we would be reviewing the topics we learned this semester. With only four students, we split them into two groups so that they’d be able to work together to figure out the answers. At first, it was a challenge to get them motivated to try to answer the questions. We thought incentivizing them with prizes would be enough but since the students didn’t actually know or value the prizes there was little effect. However, we realized that what motivated our students was the competition. It was interesting to see how quickly the competition rose. By the end of class, we had gone through all the material.
On Thursday, the competition continued. There were again, only four students but everyone wanted to get 100% on their assessments. Even though the post assessments weren’t technically graded, Rae checked the answers. Two of our students got 100% and the others only missed two questions! I was a bit worried because some of the questions on the post assessment were pretty tough.Yet seeing that two of our students were able to answer every question really made me happy. I was proud of the students as well as of the teaching team. We were able to teach the students something, something useful that’s going to stay with them in their future.
I had the opportunity to help teach a group of high school students this past Saturday through a program called Upward Bound. I along with another teacher, Esther, gave a lesson on credit cards vs. debit cards and common scams and pitfalls. Teaching the students on Saturday was different from what I’m used to at UCity. For one, I didn’t know any of the students. A lot of time was eaten up asking for everyone’s name and because we didn’t know each other it was tough to gain their respect. I’ll admit that we didn’t spend very much time getting to know the students and building trust but at the same time, we only had an hour with them. So what do you do when you’re going to teach students whom you will probably never see again. How do you build trust so quickly? There were times when I thought we had everyone’s attention, students would raise their hands and ask questions about the topic and then another student would ask a completely random question that threw us off topic, which would force Esther and I to take a moment to get everyone back on track. It’s expected to happen, but I suppose I forgot since it hasn’t really happened at UCity.
This is probably the third time I’ve taught a lesson on common scams and pitfalls and I’m always impressed by how much common sense students have. The funny thing is that although the students felt it was obviously a mistake to send money to give a random person their bank account information, a lot of adults have fallen trap to this exact scam.
Today showed me how much our students have improved over the course of the semester. I tried to make my “Succeeding in College” lesson as interactive as possible, but there were five main points that I really wanted to drive home which required a considerable amount of lecturing. We have been avoiding extensive lecturing to maximize student interest, so was impressed that they remained engaged for the entire time. Every student participated which is a huge improvement from my first lesson on Methods of Payment. Students raised their hands multiple times while I was lecturing which showed me that they were paying attention and processing the material. One thing I wish I had incorporated was an activity at the end with hypothetical scenarios to have students apply the information… I guess I can use those as my Jeopardy questions.
Our small class size has allowed us to really get to know our students and their goals. I was disappointed in myself for not bringing in a list of the majors within Penn Nursing because I knew beforehand that one of our students was interested in going into the medical field. Because we know about our students’ goals it is easier to make the lesson seem relevant to their lives. Our students have gotten to know us as well and are more forthcoming with their questions and comments. I think our team has improved significantly over the course of the semester and that our lessons are having more of a lasting impact especially because our students have made so much progress.
My lesson on Thursday was within the realm of professional development and focused on interview prep. I knew that some of the older students had experience with jobs and interviews so I was hoping to draw on their experiences to enhance the lesson and increase participation.
It’s funny because for the first time everyone (students and teachers) had arrived on time and when I walked into the class room everyone was sitting at a desk ready to go. I was dressed up (business casual) in part because of my lesson but more so because I was going to a function right after class and needed to dress appropriately. I caught the students off guard – my hair was pulled back, I was wearing more make-up than usual and instead of jeans or a skirt I wore dress pants and a cardigan with heels. One student actually came up to me and asked if I was the same girl that was in class on Tuesday! I was then able to use my attire as an introduction to the lesson. Although I mentioned this before, I really can’t stress enough how much the teaching style matters and how necessary it is to make sure students grasp the concept.
As opposed to a written activity or one that placed students into groups. First was practicing a good hand shake and the bulk of the activity was mock interviews. By allowing each student to come up and practice in front of the class one at a time, the other students were able to observe and comment. All in all I think if we continue to have more lessons taught in this sort of fashion the students will walk away more appreciative the the material learned (hopefully).
Despite putting a lot of effort into my lesson plan, my lesson on Tuesday did not go as planned. The topic was “Negotiations,” and I was planning to open the class with a YouTube clip of PawnStars to show them an example relevant example. Unfortunately the computer was not working properly, making the first 10 minutes of the lesson stressful as I scrambled to improvise while one of the UCity teachers helped remedy the problem. It did not help that it was a hot day and I was sporting business casual attire from my presentation earlier; causing me to sweat profusely so the students could definitely tell that I was flustered. To avoid this in the future, I should think ahead of time what we would do in the event that we experience IT problems or something else unexpected occurs. I also should remember that I have very little actual teaching experience compared to a professional teacher, so I should not expect things to go 100% as planned.
Once the computer was working, the lesson improved. I think the students enjoyed the interactive part of the lesson, namely that they each got to negotiate the purchase price of a car with one of the supporting teachers. This reinforces the notion that our students are more engaged when they are doing something, as opposed to being lectured to. Our team has been working hard to make our lessons interactive, which is easier said than done, but makes the lesson much more enjoyable and worthwhile.
This past week, we were not able to teach due to the PSSA standardized testing. Although we were not able to be in the classroom, the disappointment turned into an opportunity to meet and plan for the remainder of the semester. We were able to meet with our classroom teacher, who was able to provide a number of insights on student engagement. Throughout the semester, we have sought to find ways to engage the students more. It has been a continuing challenge to make the class more interactive, with less talking at the students. From the meeting, we as a group were able to better plan and define our approach for our remaining lessons, the associated review, and the final assessment. I am happy to have a clearer plan for the balance of the semester, and to be working along with our classroom teacher, which I value as he is knowledgeable on ways to engage certain students which he interacts with on a daily basis.
After missing a week of teaching due to Spring Break, I was ready to get back to UCity. Unfortunately, due to more testing, our Tuesday and Thursday classes were canceled this week. However, Tuesday did not turn out to be a total waste. Our team sat down with Mr. S., a teacher at UCity, to look through the lessons we had planned for the rest of the semester. We were able to get a second perspective on the lessons we had in mind. For example, a lesson on taxes was originally suggested for the FLCP curriculum. However, I thought that students might not be interested in learning about taxes (because to be honest, taxes are way boring); but by talking to Mr. S, who is with those students everyday, I realized that many of the students have part-time jobs and would actually want to know where their money is going.
Mr. S. also gave us another point of view on our current lesson plans. Jeff is teaching a lesson on negotiations on Tuesday, and I will be giving a lesson on professional development and first impression. He pushed us to answer such questions about what we want the students to walk away with and how do we plan on teaching this to them so that they really walk away with some new information. — I must say that this is pretty much the same things we think about when creating our lesson plans, but it’s different when someone is asking you directly. Based on Tuesday’s discussion, I am confident that our lessons next week will be so much better and that we will really be able to reach the students in a better way so that they are more receptive to the material. One last thing that Mr. S. said was that it’s easy to plan what you’re going to do, but that as a teacher you also have to plan what they – your students – are going to do. I think that’s a great approach to keep in mind as we plan future lessons.
Due to various class cancellations yesterday was my first day as head teacher, and only our fourth class at UCity. My lesson was on simple interest. I knew that a few of the students already had an idea of what interest was and the context in which it shows up. I had planned a lesson that was filled with a lot of examples and at the end a worksheet with multiple problems for the class to work through in pairs. I didn’t realize it as I made my lesson, but my lesson was straight math – just a lot of it. I think that’s why I really enjoyed to topic. I’m a bit worried that because I was so interested in the topic I failed to ask myself whether the students would enjoy it as well.
When we got to UCity, I was happy to see more students in attendance. Last Tuesday was difficult because only three students showed up to our class due to testing. However, yesterday, I saw the students who I consider to be ‘regulars’ as well as a few new faces. Not everyone was interested in my lesson, though. At first I thought that my lesson was too simple and therefore the students were bored. It was a bit disheartening but I pushed on. However, when we moved on to the worksheet, I realized that the problems I gave them were actually challenging. (They all might not have been interested the topic but I was happy to know it wasn’t because it was too easy. This was something I remember from training, students are smarter than they act so make sure to challenge them.) I was working with one student, I, on some of the problems. I gave him tips of how to approach the problems which were essentially math problems, in terms of how to recognize exactly what the problem is asking and using the information given to you to solve for the unknown factor. I had him work on the last question which required him to manipulate two equations to solve for the interest rate. It was tough, but with a bit of guidance he was able to figure it out. I like to think that the level of difficulty and what I was teaching him one-on-one was of some value to him. He even helped me explain it to the class which I not only really appreciated but thought was sort of a break through in our teaching since students are usually reluctant to participate.
Finally, I just want to say that as tough teaching is, it’s REALLY nice to get off campus and get my mind away from the daily dealings of life at Penn. Walking over to UCity with Rae I was really worried about my midterm that I had right after my FLCP lesson, not to mention that I hadn’t really slept in the past week. However, once I stepped into the classroom and started teaching I completely forgot about my midterm and my other worries. It might be that teaching requires so much focus I didn’t have room to think about anything else. Either way, I was appreciative of the mental break!