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 H2

January 28, 2013

H2 – Honor student access to content material.

Students learn differently. There are many different ways students can be taught, and some of these are more effective for certain students than others. For example, some students learn best from listening to a lecture and following those auditory directions. Some students learn better by seeing an example and then attempting to replicate the results. Others are better at imitating the motions until they can perform it perfectly. Students learn differently and it is the teacher’s job to teach to their strengths.

This topic isn’t quite so simple for some of my classes. For example, there are students in my class that are ELL or have 504s. For these students, utilizing academic language or even properly understanding and expressing themselves becomes a challenge. Because of this, it is important that students have multiple forms of instruction to allow each student access to the content. In my class we try to utilize a number of different teaching tools to help students meet the objective and get a good grasp on the material.

Simple Animals Rubric

When teaching a lesson it is important that in our class we present a rubric with the learning objective clearly stated, we state the learning objective during the lesson, and that we show examples of these objectives in not only our rubrics, but in our demonstration. In this way, we teach to as many strengths as we can, and then give individual attention to those who need the extra assistance. Motivation aside, by teaching the lesson in multiple ways, teachers gain the benefit of being able to reach as many students as they can utilizing these different methods for the same goal.

Because students receive the objectives and content in the lesson in a number of different ways, the students are more likely to retain at least one of the methods and be able to succeed and achieve their objectives. This helps not only the majority of the student population, but also the students who need extra help due to the additional challenges they each may be facing. Unfortunately, this may not be enough and it  will also be important, in my class, to give each student individual attention so that they aren’t at all confused about how the achieve their goal or what direction to be heading in.

To improve student access to content material, I think that there may be even more methods I could use to help students grasp the concepts and objectives. I’m still researching ways to effectively integrate these different methods into my class to better my lessons and student achievement.

Standard Reflection- P1

January 7, 2013

P1 – Practice intentional inquiry and planning for instruction.

Before teaching, it is important to think about the objectives for the students, how to measure those objectives, and extensive planning in a number of areas. Being able to do this before planning a lesson is extremely helpful as students will be more easily able to comprehend objectives, academic language, and core ideas. It is also helpful for the teacher, as they can better understand what they are teaching and some of the potential challenges students may have with the lesson.

vectoravatarexample2geometric

Finished style example for students.

Vector Example Deconstructed

Deconstructed example for students.

I have now planned numerous lessons for my internship class and planning for intentional inquiry and general preparedness are crucial in making a lesson go well. It is always a challenge, but with each experience I learn a little more. For example, in one of my lessons students were directed to use many of the tools they’ve already learned to demonstrate an understanding of value, line and form to create a vectorized portrait of themselves or one of ten famous individuals. When planning for this project it was important that students have options to work outside of a self portrait as many these students have difficulties with self image and self confidence. Giving them these other options makes sure that they’re working on something appropriate for the lesson, but also challenging enough that they’re learning from it as well. It was also important to give the students many different ways to complete this assignment as one of the main objectives is to measure their use of tools within the finished piece. How they accomplish this is totally up to them. Because of this, they were provided with many different examples that were handpicked because they exhibited the tools and techniques that the students already know and can apply to their portrait. It was also important to include examples that helped the students understand how to construct the portrait. This is difficult, as many resources only provide a finished product. Therefore, I had to make some examples so students could understand each step of the process and be able to manipulate the file so they could “reverse engineer” it.

From many of these lessons, especially this one, it becomes apparent that much planning goes into each and every lesson. Not only should the content be appropriate, measurable, effective, and accepting, but it also needs to be thorough and clear. By planning, the lesson should be more effective for students and better help them understand the expectations and ideas behind it.

Planning is always a difficult step, but practicing more and more definitely helps. It also helps that with every lesson, I learn a little more to help students the next time. With each challenge they may have, I better understand issues that may need to be address for the nextlesson.

Vector Portrait Rubric

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.

Standard Reflection- P4

November 16, 2012

P4 – Practice the integration of appropriate technology with instruction.

Towards the beginning of my internship, my mentor teacher mentioned his challenges with organization. His desk is cluttered, at best, but it does little to negatively impact his teaching. However, there was one area that seemed in need of some better organization. His upper division class is regularly responsible for producing t-shirts and banners for schools and other groups. The way he had these tasks organized was to write each task in the constantly dwindling space on his whiteboard, already cluttered with numerous tasks that students were already responsible for. These tasks are assigned to particular students, must be completed within a certain time, and also have particular dimensions and numbers for production. This is extremely difficult to keep track of using only a whiteboard.

Moved to aid my mentor teacher, I suggested a website to organize the list. This was a task that I wasn’t immediately familiar with. Attempting a number of different methods, I eventually came up with a Google site, a free site building tool and hosting service, to make a list that could include the data on the board and more. My mentor was extremely enthusiastic about this tool and tried to integrate it into his class immediately.

Students and teachers still currently use this list, but are seeking to improve it by using even newer and better methods and technologies.

Standard P4 urges teachers to utilize appropriate technology to meet the needs of its class. By implementing this list, students are better able to understand the objectives of their assigned tasks, and it is easier for the teacher to keep track of progress and assignments. This works much better than my mentor teacher’s older method and he is already thinking of ways to improve upon this one.

I learned from using this tool that there are always better ways a teacher can implement technology within the classroom and to always be improving the systems we do have. By improving the way the database is handled, the list could be significantly improved for the teacher by providing more control and for the students by providing more content and information  As for what students took from this, I believe they have a better understanding of their responsibilities and will have to spend less time deciphering the previous system as the new system is much easier to use. It also includes more information for them and the teacher in an easier to manage function, so it makes both roles much more fluid and efficient. This also passes onto the students this idea of organization and accountability which prepares them better for life after school.