Standard Reflection H1

January 10, 2013

H1 – Honor student diversity and development.

The standard H1 is a challenging one to meet in  curriculum centered school systems. H1 has teacher candidates support students with learner centered strategies that focus on the individual needs and experiences of the student. This means that not all students will arrive to a class at the same level of preparedness, but each will bring their own unique strengths and weaknesses. To address this, lessons need to be aware of the differences and adjust accordingly so that every student in the class gets a relevant and appropriate growth experience. This means providing opportunities for all students with necessary steps taken to allow the expression of culture and self and also their level development relative to the challenge of the program.

stickerexamples

Examples of Student Work

A short while ago, my class was assigned a sticker project. In this project, students were directed to create the design for a sticker, print the sticker, and then weed it. The design process held some technical challenges and printing and weeding went fairly smoothly when students understood the steps involved. However, the most challenging area for most students was choosing the design for their stickers. The guidelines for the assignment limited the size of the sticker and also stipulated that their design must be original. With this in mind, students were perplexed as to what they could create that would meet the assignment criteria and, more importantly, how their sticker would represent them. It was difficult for some students to communicate their ideas, so they were encouraged to make stickers that represented themselves or things they found important. Some students went with geometric shapes, unsure of how to best represent their specific interests and cultures, but many chose designs that were influenced by who they were, and what they valued.

By allowing students the ability to express themselves and the importance of their ideas as individuals, I think more students became invested in what they were doing. It also allowed students who were not as apt at design as their counterparts to create designs that may not have been as technically impressive, but were of similar quality due the representation of their ideas or identities. This gave all students the chance to make something relevant and important with fewer difficulties regarding experience and knowledge. This was refreshing as implementing assignments seems to be very curriculum centered with each student having to achieve the same goal, but with this it seemed very much that each student were given opportunities to express themselves and also took into account where they were at developmentally.

I think students took more from this assignment than from some of the assignments with a much more rigid curriculum centered focus. It allowed them express themselves as individuals and also made it so that each student didn’t feel pressured to play keep up if they met challenges that others had already overcome.

I think that to improve on this as a teacher, I be more aware of how the students in my class face assignments. Is it something relevant to them? Will they all be able to learn from it? These are questions that I think I need to ask before working on any project. If they aren’t interested, or completely hopelessly lost, then the lesson won’t work. It is more important to teach to their strengths and identities so they can feel more apt and more connected to what they are learning.

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EDU 4200 taught us, my peers and I, to think about strategies for diverse learners. As standard H1 states, ” Honor student diversity and development. Teacher-candidates plan and/or adapt learner centered curricula that engage students in a variety of culturally responsive, developmentally, and age appropriate strategies.” EDU 2400 was important in addressing these issues and how we as teachers should think about how to best help our students in a number of ways. This lesson plan was one of many activities, and perhaps one of the ones we had the most trouble with. The purpose of this class and the lesson plan were to learn ways that we could better assist and teacher our students, especially students who may be on the margins, and without an easy grasp on the opportunities that their peers may have. When crafting this lesson plan, including this response to how we would better help these learners was an important issue, but also a very challenging one. This lesson plan made me think about these students that need these considerations and how best to accomplish them, and this lesson plan helped me understand that.

As a great teacher once told me, “Most of the things in lesson plans are what great teachers do intrinsically.” This statement really resonates with me.  Unfortunately, I am not a great teacher yet, but am striving to achieve it. Some parts of this lesson plan were very confusing to me. When we talk about students in the context of diverse learners or marginalized populations, we are not usually talking about individuals and all the special intrinsic baggage that comes with them. In this way, it is hard for me to connect some of the content I was learning about in the class and the lesson plan as it related to my person experiences. When I have a relationship with some of these students, it becomes more difficult to differentiate between these general observations about marginalized students, and becomes more pertinent that I treat each individual student differently. I hope this doesn’t make me less of a teacher, as I try to assist each student in a way that seems as if it would help them the most. I think this reflects somewhat the idea of differentiated instruction. Not only will I be teaching the whole class new ideas and content that will help them as they venture off into the world, but I’ll be adjusting as necessary to help each student, and then even again to help them with challenges individually. This idea makes sense to me more than some of the other things we discussed, but I think that this is somewhat due to the experiences I’ve had during my internship. Students will not fit within these homogeneous groups we talk about, but I understand more the importance to be aware of strategies that may help students experiencing problems described by some of these aforementioned groups. In the future, with more time, I hope to understand these issues better to aid my growth as a good teacher.

This lesson plan has made think a lot about how I will need to help my students learn. It has made me aware of some of the challenges I face and must learn more about. I wish that there were more time for EDU 4200, as I feel that there is more to be discussed, not only about the content, but also our experiences as we learn and teach.