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.

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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.

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.

Standard Reflection- H5

January 7, 2013

H5 – Honor student potential for roles in the greater society.

Helping students understand what it means to be an upstanding individual and how society views them is an important lesson that teachers can  include in many parts of their classroom. For example, utilizing classroom management techniques, teachers can help students understand respect for the teacher and their peers. When these students enter the world, they will be more understanding and respectful due to their experiences in the classroom.

Student Handbook Technology Rules

In my school cellphone use such as texting or making calls is not allowed. More specifically, in my class, cellphone use is much more limited with students being directed to not even be listening to music from their phones. In many instances, students receive a warning if they are using their cellphone in class. In more extreme cases their phones would be confiscated til the end of the day. In one case, my mentor teacher warned a student, the student then used the phone soon after, and the phone was confiscated. The student acted belligerent when my mentor asked for it, throwing it into teachers hand. My mentor decided to talk with the student after school and even contact their parent due to the disrespectful nature of the interaction. The main goal of this was to have the student understand why what they did was disrespectful and not conducive to a respectful, effective learning environment.

As I continue in my internship, it has become apparent that many students have lapses with how they act in class and how they follow the rules and guidelines that help make the community an effective learning environment. Keeping the classroom clean, not using cellphones in class, and being quiet and attentive during lectures are constant challenges in classroom management. Most students usually don’t have malicious intent when they deviate from these rules, and usually just need a small reminder to get them back on track. The anecdote mentioned previously was an extreme case where the student acted inappropriately toward another person in in the classroom, specifically a teacher. Reinforcing that these disrespectful behaviors are not tolerated and helping them reform will help them in the future when they enter society as respectful individuals. It will also help them in the classroom, as part of an effective learning environment is a respectful community.

I would like to improve my classroom management to better assist students in growing their potential for being respectful and upstanding members of their community and society. Helping students understand their responsibilities and why it is beneficial to act in these ways is an important part of a teacher’s job and one that I hope improve by better communicating and upholding the standards that help students achieve their potential.

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.