Standard Reflection P2

February 26, 2013

P2 – Practice differentiated instruction.

Practicing differentiated instruction is taking each individual’s students strengths and weaknesses into account and adjusting accordingly to help them learn. For example, a student who may have trouble with language acquisition, perhaps an ELL student, would have difficulty with assignments that are primarily written. A student that may be advanced and have skills above those of other students may find themselves bored and unchallenged by the  content in the class. In both of these examples, the teacher would need to intervene or plan methods to help these students learn. Instead of “teaching to the middle”, teachers try to take advantage of each student’s unique abilities.

When I am planning for a lesson, differentiating the instruction for students is an important part of the lesson. Some of the students in my class will excel at the content and some will have difficulty understanding portions of it. For each of these students, I will need to plan activities. For example, in my beginner’s class there are certain students that are proficient in the program were using and finish the assigned tasks quickly and accurately. On the other hand, some students have trouble applying the lesson to the assignment and will quickly become stumped.

collageartifact1

For the students that meet targets with ease, I need tasks for them to do to maximize the content they are learning. In this example, the student masked items in their collage with skill and precision. They had no problem understanding and applying the tools. If this student is not challenged, he will become bored and learn nothing. If I continually nitpick his current assignment, I undermine his confidence and am not really helping him excel. For these sorts of students, I assigned an extension that builds on the skills they’ve already learned within the collage, but also that challenges them to apply what they already know to something new. For this assignment, I ask students to edit themselves believably into another photo using the tools we just used in the collage.

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For students that fall behind, I need to allow for extra time and attention for these students to become proficient. This student is challenged by the content as wasn’t quite sure how to use the tools. He tried to meet the assignment criteria, but didn’t have a great grasp on the tools. Some of these students genuinely do not understand the content, but most of them have issues with motivation or creativity. Part of this stems from poor motivating force from my end, but some of this stems from problems that may be beyond my control. For these students, I try my best to give them multiple different ways to succeed, multiple different explanations, and as much time as I can to help them succeed.  For the collage, many of these students had trouble understanding what was expected of them and I would constantly need to refer back to the handout I gave them that listed the exact requirements. Perhaps these students are unable to comprehend the list well, but once I explain it, or show them examples, most students begin to understand and perform.

I learned a lot from this experience with the students. It was something that I did not have a lot of experience with. When I learned about differentiated instruction, the parts that were emphasized most were how teachers bring up the students who can’t succeed. From his experience, I learned that it is not only the low achieving students, but also the high ones that will need adjusted lessons to help them meet their potential. It had not occurred to me that the high achieving students would need extra attention, as well.

Differentiating instruction is an extremely effective way to plan to help students succeed no matter their level of ability.  Whether they need more help or more challenging content, students will gain more from differentiating instruction than by averaging out the objectives to meet the majority of the class’s needs.

For future lessons, I think I need to explicitly express how I plan to address students with varying abilities. For this lesson, I hadn’t planned more challenging content for higher achieving students. I asked my mentor for assistance, and he suggested the method I used above. This really helped me understand differentiated instruction a bit more, and I feel I need to be able to plan for all these inevitable student differences.

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Standard Reflection H4

February 18, 2013

H4 – Honor family/community involvement in the learning process.

Schools serve more than the students attending, but also the families and communities that surround them. Sometimes these interactions are indirect, but have a great impact. Honoring the family or community’s involvement in the learning process is an important way to help students learn, gain support, and keep education relevant.

communityartifact

At the school where I am interning, my mentor teacher and the students in his class make a positive impact in the school and surrounding community. They do this by offering services to the surrounding schools and organizations. In the Production Graphics class clothes are screen printed, banners are constructed, and plaques are made. All of these things are building connections within the school and within the surrounding community. For example, a local elementary school asked the class if anyone would like to make a banner in recognition for their recent listing as one of the coolest schools in America. One of the students in the class volunteered. This particular volunteer had actually been a former student at this elementary school, and her passion for her former school helped her create an amazing banner. Her banner was even featured in a magazine in an article about that school. Another example of community involvement would be the many t-shirts that the class makes. People from all over the community call or email to see if the class has the availability to make custom t-shirts for their particular group. Most often, these t-shirts are printed in order to raise awareness or help a charitable cause, such as breast cancer awareness or heart health. The students will actually design these t-shirts and give them back to the community, often to great acclaim. By connecting these students to ideals that are important in the community and then having them give so much back, it creates a great bond that I don’t think a lot of other classes have.

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Part of this standard is about integrating what is important to the community and families involved in the school in the learning process. By combining these values and ideas that are important around the school, education becomes more relevant and important to not only the students, but the community as well. Students connected to the community feel better about where they live, and better about what they’re learning making a more positive learning environment. Communities that are connected to their students offer more support and feel more invested in what their students are learning.

Connecting to families and the communities of the school is an important way to get students motivated and connected. Having these outside influences from the families and communities helps students connect with what they’re learning and creates an investment in what they’re doing. This is an important part of having that community involvement.

Although I am currently in a program that has the support to offer multiple services to the community, I do not think I will ever be in a program as great as this one. However, it is still important to get that community involvement. Connecting the community to what the students are doing and vice versa would be an important part of an art class. I think that part of how I could get this involvement would be to invite guest speakers from many different fields in the art world. These varied perspectives and artists would help students understand the opportunities around them. It would also help them get connected to artists from their own communities, and show them that what they’re learning is relevant and important to their lives.

Standard Reflection E3

February 11, 2013

E3 – Exemplify an understanding of professional responsibilities and policies.

Teacher’s relationships aren’t merely limited to the students that they teach, but also their peers, administration, and the parents and community that all have participation in their school. Part of this relationship is the understanding of how the school is run, and how each teacher has a responsibility to uphold the standards and help the school and students run smoothly. This is to the benefit of the entire school, students and teachers alike. Understanding and correctly practicing these responsibilities and polices makes the classroom and school a better learning environment.

Part of almost every teacher’s responsibilities lies in taking attendance. This simple act may be something that some teachers do quickly and without pausing for a moment, but some teacher may have to spend large amount of time on. It helps some teachers learn names, it helps some set routines, and some may have fallen into a routine  themselves. However, this simple exercise is extremely important. Attendance has a number important connections associated with it. For one, it keeps the teacher in contact with their peers and the rest of the school. If a particular student is gone, the school will know by that teacher’s attendance record, and this helps everyone adjust and address it accordingly. It also keeps students safe, and a student in school is statistically less likely to get into all sorts of trouble outside of the school. Keeping them to this standard makes sure they understand their responsibilities and hopefully gives them structure that helps them succeed. Attendance also helps parents keep track of their students, and the school can get into contact with them, as well. It  also may become a legal issue.

attendanceDuring my internship, I made many mistakes regarding taking attendance, but each helped me to improve and perform my responsibilities more adequately  This was mostly due to me overlooking quiet students, students trying to take advantage of me, and me being very busy and making mistakes during attendance taking. In one instance, every teacher for one student overlooked that she was not attending school that day. This list of teachers included me. I felt extremely disheartened by this, but I talked to a more experience teacher that had also made the mistakes and he let me know that sometimes teachers make mistakes, but we do our best to correct them and learn for next time. That really helped me take initiative to improve my understanding and practice of these responsibilities and how to improve for future experiences.

Being a teacher includes taking on these professional responsibilities that insures that the school community runs safely and provides a welcoming, safe, and effective learning environment for students. Knowing how the school addresses these areas so that I am aware and able to implement the chosen policies is an ever changing part of the job.

Undertaking the responsibilities of a teacher is immense. When I first started my internship I was very intimidated. Now these responsibilities  have  become a part of my routine, but I’m still making improvements. Sometimes students will make it difficult to fulfill these responsibilities, but that is why the policies are there to aid the teacher and the students able to learn and teach more effectively.

Students benefit from teachers understanding their professional responsibility. When a teacher is helping the school perform, the students see the benefits through a better learning environment. Every student should be safer and feel more welcome because of it. This does not work for every students situation, but each policy and responsibility is designed to make the best of it.

Standard Reflection H3

February 4, 2013

H3 – Honor the classroom/school community as a milieu for learning.

As a teacher, one of the biggest impacts on your students is their learning environment and their peers. Part of making education for students as effective as possible is making the learning environment a safe and positive place where students feel comfortable. Also, students should be tolerant and accepting of their peers. No student should feel as if they are negatively judged, especially if these aspects are parts of themselves they have no control over, such as looks, race, gender, etc.

Part of creating an effective learning environment comes from creating a place where students feel most likely able to learn. An important part of this is classroom management. Setting clear goals and boundaries for students helps them focus on their education. For example, part of the problem with contemporary classrooms is the proliferation of cellphones. Almost every single student has one of these handy little devices. Unfortunately, cellphones offer a unique distraction in the classroom. Most cellphones allow students to talk to their friends, surf the internet, check their email, the list goes on and on. All of these little distractions add up to a large problem in the classroom. Fortunately, the school has a policy for cellphone use, but it is not widely enforced in every classroom. In my classroom, students are warned that if we see a cellphone they will be warned, confiscated, and even be used as reasoning to get into contact with their parents if the situation with their cellphone becomes too much of a detriment to their learning. By setting these standards, students can focus more on their learning, and less on using their cellphones. Students will sometimes have lapses, but letting them know that cellphone use in the class is unacceptable has really cut down on the major distraction it had become.

Classroom Management Plan

Also an important issue in helping make the classroom a safer learning environment is how we educate and help students treat their peers. In the high school where I an interning, there have been multiple instances where I have seen students mistreat other students to the point of a breakdown. On the other side of the spectrum, many students in my classes can positively interact with other students I am sure are not within their immediate group of friends. Part of strengthening this tolerant and accepting attitude comes from helping students understand another’s perspective. I think that group work is a great way to facilitate this communication, though it isn’t as effective for some students as others. Sometimes, the tolerance and understanding is so far from the minds of these students that separation becomes more beneficial for the health of one or more parties. By building relationships in the classrooms between students and between the teacher and student, it is easier to see where these problems may arise and be able to circumvent it in group exercises. Most group work that has taken place in my class seems to help some of the kids that have been more withdrawn actually take an interest in what they were learning.

By improving these areas in the classroom it benefits the students directly. One of the most important parts of the classroom is the effective learning environment teachers create for their students.

To better improve tolerance and understanding in my class, I think group activities designed to strengthen bonds and acceptance of others in the classroom would be more apt. I’m not sure exactly how to integrate these as portions of my lessons, but I am sure there are many ways to approach this topic to improve building these relationships.