Capstone Process Paper
For my senior capstone I worked privately with students in the Spanish 2 class I assistant teach as well as research teaching techniques. At the end of the first quarter Don Marcos and I sat down to choose students that I would help. We chose the students that seemed to be struggling in the class. During the warm ups of class I would take the designated students out of class and give them a worksheet to complete, or an activity. The worksheets would cover things like conjugations of different tenses, and the activities would be based on conversation and practical uses of what they’re learning in class. The second part of my capstone was researching teaching material to help me look back on my experience teaching these kids, and seeing what I did right or wrong.
I chose this project mainly because of my history with teaching. My dad used to teach classes at Drexel so I was first introduced to teaching at a very young age. I didn’t really want to be a teacher until 8th grade. In 8th grade I had an amazing Spanish teacher that made me love the language and the class. It was from this moment until half way through junior year that wanted to be a Spanish teacher. In the middle of junior year I had a crisis where I completely lost my faith in teaching and had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. This is what inspired me to do my capstone. I found out that I would be SAT’ing Don Marcos’ Spanish 2 class, so I thought that this would be a great opportunity to see if I enjoyed teaching as much as I thought for three and a half years. I used my capstone to see if education was something that I could envision myself doing in the future.
My capstone addresses the “Inquiry” core value because I had to ask myself what I already knew about teaching. I also had to ask what kinds of different teaching methods are useful for different situations, like does a language require a different style than math? The research I had to do mostly revolved around these questions, and then occasionally refreshing myself on the material that I would prepare for an activity or worksheet. I collaborated with my peers and teachers during this project. I had to collaborate with the kids that I was teaching because there would be on capstone without them. I also had to collaborate with Don Marcos and Mr. Sanchez. Don Marcos helped me organize my capstone, as well as being there as a mentor and support throughout the process. Mr. Sanchez helped me when I needed a book to help me analyze my work, providing several that were exactly what I needed. For the presentation core value, I had to present activities and worksheets to the kids, as well as do the capstone presentation during the last week of school. For the reflection part of capstone I read a book The First Days of School by Harry and Rosemary Wong in order to see what I did correctly, and what I could have improve on. I compared the techniques discussed in the book to ones that I had used in order to see how I could improve as an educator.
To complete my capstone I first did some preliminary research on basic education techniques. I then made a timeline to make sure that I actually planned worksheets or activities. Next I started creating or planning the work that the students would complete. This sometimes required me refreshing myself on the material they were learning in class incase I had forgotten since I took Spanish 2. I didn’t take the kids out every day, and stopped creating worksheets and activities around the middle of April. At this point I got a book to read so that I could learn more about teaching techniques and compare them to what I did.
The main obstacles that I encountered were complications with planning and lack of motivation. The second problem seemed to stem from the first problem. There were many days where I had something planned, and then the kids didn’t have a warm up in class. If they had to work on a project I didn’t feel that it was fair of me to take them away from something that was significant to the real class and replace it with practice. There wasn’t really a way for me to overcome this because I just had to accept that there were days they definitely couldn’t come with me, and that I would have to find other days. This caused the lack of motivation because sometimes I would make a worksheet and then the students wouldn’t have a warm up for a week. After this week was up there was usually a new topic introduced so all of the things that I planned kind of seemed outdated. This made me feel like the work I was doing wasn’t being useful so I would get demotivated and stop creating ideas for a while. I overcame this at several points by realizing that I had to continue working, but it continued to be a problem throughout the process.
The main resources I used were my teachers and father. Don Marcos helped a lot in identifying the students that I needed to work with being a large reason that I wanted to teach Spanish. He also provides his Spanish 2 students with links to help them improve Spanish on their own time, which are the websites that I mostly used to refresh my memory on topics. Another teacher that was extremely helpful was Mr. Sanchez. He was there to help me as an advisor whenever I was stuck on something, and also provided me with the book that I used to reflect along with several other useful books. Getting information from Mr. Sanchez and Don Marcos was much more useful than information from a library because they have been teachers for several years instead of a book that could be inaccurate.
The thing that I’m most proud of in this capstone isn’t my final result, but little moments that happened along the way. Whenever a student I was helping said “oh I understand that now” because of something I showed them it made me feel really good. I also liked seeing their progress after they said this to see if they actually understood it, and if they did I was very proud. I also liked seeing the kids that I was helping perform in class and do better than they were before whether it was on tests or simply their accent.
From this process I learned a lot about how to interact with other kids as a teacher. I realized that it’s hard a lot harder for a teacher that is close in age to the students because they are taken less seriously. I learned the most about teaching techniques and ways to be a more effective teacher. The book that Mr. Sanchez gave me clearly talked about several problems that first time teachers could have and I could see myself having them if I continued in the style that I had been. This project helped me realize that even if I feel something might not be used, I have to do it anyway for my own self-improvement.
If I could do my capstone all over again I would first write down every mistake that I made this time and try to fix them. I think that if I fixed all of the mistakes that I made in teaching this time and work prepared for the students more often, then I could have made a greater impact on their Spanish speaking skills. I also think that I could then look back at that process and see what I was still doing wrong. I would also try to thoroughly document the process of the kids that I was helping in the class to see if my lessons were helping. I think looking at their grades starting from when my lessons began and looking again every week would be interesting to see, as well as provide information on how I could be more effective. I would also try to make a larger variety of lessons, or make sure that all of my lessons were as effective as possible.
My capstone made SLA a better place because of the people that I helped. Although the kids that I helped didn’t completely change around their act and start doing great in Spanish, they did improve a little. I could see when they started to understand something because of my lesson, and then use it without my help in class. I also helped because I will now be able to share my information of teaching methods to other people. I can tell them the basics of how to progress a students learning, instead of just giving them busywork. SLA is better because I helped students learn material that they didn’t understand, while improving my knowledge of teaching.