The educator John Dewey explained that experience was essential to learning. However, to be meaningful, the experience had to be reflected upon and understood. After beginning your service learning activity keep a weekly journal of the most important events and there meaning for you as a beginning teacher. Service-learning entries should address the following points:
a) Describe—tell the “story” of—this particular event; include obstacles or insights you experienced during each meeting. Be clear and detailed in your narrative. Describe the decisions, hesitations, conversations, actions, etc. of your mentee during your time together. This description should provide insight into the artistic process and decisions of your mentee.
b) Relate your interpretation of the meaning of those events, problems or insights as they pertain to theoretical readings and class discussion;
c) Consider the meaning your experiences have for you as an individual;
d) Explain how your actions in this service learning experience are (or not) affirmed as a result of your understanding—describe how this experience will determine your future action as an art teacher;
e) Address specific topics/questions when assigned.
More than simply recording experiences, your journal becomes an instrument of inquiry suitable for reconstructing the qualitative aspects of past experience which can eventually inform your future actions. The “action” that results from journal writing and reflection is a key ingredient to a successful learning experience.
NOTE: Journal entries are due the Monday following your meeting.
Journals should be saved as a Word document and filed appropriately for your reference. Once complete, entries should be copied and downloaded to Service Learning Journal Entries 2016. This site is password protected.
Your journal entries should be:
1. Identified with your name
4. Free of spelling and grammatical errors
5. Contain the heading/components:
(a) Experience Narrative
(b) Interpretation/Content meaning
(c) Personal significance
(d) Future Actions
(e) Topic/Questions (When assigned.)
Journal Entry #1
January 24, 2016
Experience Narrative: Wednesday was our first day of Service Learning Teaching. We have seven students in our class, and they all have different capabilities which will guide how we will differentiate and individualize the art lessons. In this first class we introduced the project of making mugs with personality. Several problems arose, but none extreme. One event that occurred during the lesson that turned into a small problem was the issue of understanding and communicating with two of the students. I found myself asking these two students a lot of questions trying to read their minds and faces. I tried resolving the problem by asking only ‘yes’ or ‘no’ type questions, which helped in some instances, because they could shake their heads. However, most of the time their responses were stares. With one of these students he would respond, just very quietly or in mouth movements, and I found that when I would lean forward and point to my ear and ask “Could you tell me that again?” I would catch more vowels and a couple more words. The insight that I learned is to exercise more patience with these students. It may take a lot of time working with them to gain trust and create a relationship. Then, it may become easier to read their behavior, and what it is that they want to tell you.
Interpretation/Content Meaning: I realize that this was the first time these students have met all of us, and it can be scary and intimidating for them. There may be several reasons as to why these students are more difficult to understand. This may be a reason for us having a hard time understanding their needs, when they have not fully opened up with us yet. In my learning, the topic of verbal communication with non-verbal students (as well as a variety of verbal abilities) has not been discussed with much detail, however I have been taught always “check for understanding.” Of course it makes it increasingly more difficult to check for a student’s understanding if I, the teacher, do not understand the student. I will have to find alternative ways to check for understanding visually, rather than verbally.
Personal Significance: After the two hours of modeling with clay, I will take home with me the fact that over planning is always better than under planning. We did not touch on everything we had in our lesson, but, knowing what you have planned is better than coming out short. We would have had to come up with something on the fly if the lesson ended early, which still would have turned out fine, but it is always better to know exactly what is going on.
Future Actions: In the future, I will know my students better and will begin the process of differentiating and individualizing lessons for my students. This lesson was only difficult in the sense that we did not know how many students we would have or the skills, personalities, or understanding levels of the students beforehand. Now that we have been with them for two hours, that was a sufficient amount of time to learn their names and their abilities that make them unique individuals. My goal as a teacher is to provide all of my students with a learning experience that they will enjoy and take away a new skill or understanding in art.