Monday, August 5, 2013

The End

Topic: What is the most important thing you have learned during your fieldwork observation? Why?

During my fieldwork observation I learned countless lessons about classroom managment, assessment and accountability and working with students with disabilities.  "Mrs. Kay" is an amazing teacher with years of experience and  I can honestly say the two most important things I learned from her were to always be compassionate and kind to your students and be energetic about learning.  In "Mrs. Kay's" contained classroom the student were known to scream, spit, hit and kick.  The students were also known to be very generous and loving, so where do you find the balance?  During my entire fieldwork experience I never once saw or heard "Mrs. Kay" scream at her students, lash out at them, or hurt them in any ways.  She always spoke to them with kindness and compassion, she discussed their actions with them and worked with them to get to the bottom of their outburst.  "Mrs. Kay" was always patient and took her time with each student, she showed real respect and devotion to them.    

Secondly, "Mrs. Kay" was always energetic about teaching and learning new things either for the students or from them.  She showed enthusiasm and encouragement when students progressed academically and never reverted to a negative attitude when they didn't.  One student fits this description perfectly.  When "Sam" would lash out and scream at teachers calling himself and others dumb, "Mrs. Kay" would remind him of his success in her class, how wonderfully he had done since working with her and that he was definitely not stupid.  Another thing "Mrs. Kay"showed great enthusiasm for was reading, she loved to find new books to read to her students that would capture their attention and excite them about learning to read on their own.  Reading was incredibly important to her and her students were well aware of that.  I was reminded during my fieldwork observation how important it is to love what you teach.

As a teacher, I have a responsibility to make teaching fun and to boost students academically through interest in required materials.  My hope is to be able to do this for my students.  My hope is to be the teacher that my students remember when they think back on there elementary school careers as the teacher who loved what she taught.  

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Creating Productive Learning Enviornemnts

Topic: What are the procedures the teacher uses to make everything run smoothly in the class?

During my field work, I was able to observe countless little procedures that had to be met in order to make a regular classroom function, let alone a contained classroom.  Although "Mrs. Kay" only had 11 students in her class they needed more rules and expectations than a classroom full of 30 students.  The most important procedure that "Mrs. Kay" used to run her class was numbers, when I say this I talking about the number of teachers present in the classroom and with the students at all times.  In this particular classroom things worked out best when there were 3 or more teachers in class; one at the reading table, one at the math table and at least one at workshops.  When I first went to "Mrs. Kay's" class I thought, wow this is a lot of teachers, but in certain situations more than one person is needed to monitor the students and more importantly, it boosts their learning.

The second most important procedure "Mrs. Kay" used in her class was the color system.  At the beginning of the year each student was given a color to represent them in class.  The student's colors were then put all over the room, they were on their name tags, in their cubbies, on their folders, crayons, math books, the chore list and most importantly on the floor to line up and leave class.  The reason I say most important is because if there was one thing the teachers fought more than anything it was the line. It was always a race to be first in line, the student would cut in front of each other, push each other and yell when they didn't get their way.  There were certain things the teachers would do to help the students behave in line such as only taking the students who were quiet to recess first until the rest of the class could quiet down.  The teachers would also take the whole class back to the room and start over when everyone was quiet.

Overall "Mrs. Kay's" classroom ran pretty smoothly.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Best Teaching Practices

Topic: What strategies does the teacher use to actively engage the students? How effective are these?

"Mrs. Kay" has been teaching for many, many years all of which she has spent in special education.  I have learned countless things from her, the most important thing in my opinion has been her positive attitude.  This might not be a physical teaching tool, but I would watch a student in her class act out and say hurtful, mean things and "Mrs. Kay" would never fail to respond in a warm and kind way that would have a calming effect both on herself and the student.  Was it effective?  Very, all of the student had come to love her and it created an environment where the students learned so much more than they would have had she not reacted to situations the way she did.  Another tool I have seen "Mrs. Kay" use ,along with other teachers, is classroom responsibility everyday during opening exercises.  Each student in "Mrs. Kay's" class was assigned a color at the start of the school year and these colors were used to help keep students aware of their roles in the classroom without help from the teacher.  Was it effective? Yes, I think the students enjoyed having their own responsibilities and consequences for not being prepared for their daily class duties.  Also, it help keep the students attention during opening exercises.

Another great and inspiring trick "Mrs. Kay" used was teachers choice.  During the week, if the students were well behaved "Mrs. Kay" would offer teachers choice every Friday were she would spend time with the class as a whole watching a short movie, sharing an interactive story, learning a new song, or my personal favorite, cooking.  Was it effective?  Yes, again "Mrs. Kay's" positive attitude would come into play, but the students would have so much fun with her learning something new that she was so excited about.  Her excitement was contagious.  Lastly,  I know I have discussed this strategy before, but it works so well for the particular group of students "Mrs. Kay" teaches and that is centers.  Throughout the day in her class the student rotate from the reading table to the math table to workshops where they practice important skills in counting, spelling, and writing.  Was this effective?  Probably more so than any other tool "Mrs. Kay" used because it gave the students more free range to decide what they wanted to do first in workshops and always kept their mind moving.

Friday, July 5, 2013

The Roles of The Teacher

Topic: What do you think is the most important role a teacher plays? Why?

I think there are numerous roles a teacher plays within the school, the community, and most importantly the classroom.  These are such roles as being a leader, a counselor, a coordinator, and a friend.  All the roles of a teacher are both significant and powerful.  As a teacher we have to do what we can to help better the community and its schools.  This might include tutoring children over the summer to help raise their reading level or participating in a city council meeting about a new library.  No matter what a teacher might be doing to help his or her students, it all boils down to what I consider to be the most important and powerful role a teacher can play, and that is setting a good example.

I think that being a good example to your students really encompasses almost every role a teacher can play.  A particular habit comes to mind when I think of my own 5th grade teacher and that is reading.  In my short time spent in the classroom I have notice that a majority of students today would rather play with an ipad or on the computer than pick up a book and read.  What better way to encourage your students to read then to practice what you preach.  I also feel like setting the example of learning is very important, during my field work "Mrs. Kay" always made it point to share something she loved learning about and her excitement was contagious.  Being a good example might seem like a more general role of a teacher, however most everything a teacher does is witnessed by students or community members everywhere they go.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Assessment and Accountability

Topic: How does this teacher manage assessment?

As I have stated, the classroom that I did my field work in was a contained classroom.  Although the students in this class are very smart they struggle with everyday classroom activities.  Due to their behavior in a main stream classroom they have been put into this contained classroom where they can get the kind of one-on-one help they need to succeed.  "Mrs. Kay" has done an excellent job of creating a classroom environment and schedule that keeps her students on task and proficient.  What does all this have to do with assessment?  Because of the situation I have described above you can see where it might be difficult to assess these students.  While I spent a great deal of time in "Mrs. Kay's" classroom I only ever saw her give a weekly spelling test to each student.

The time I did spend in "Mrs. Kay's" class was the last few weeks of school, which you already know is crunch time for standardized testing within the school district and state.  Although "Mrs. Kay" may find it easier to give less tests on her own time and in her own classroom, she has no choice but to give each student the standardize tests required by the state.  However, I thought she managed this very well, she changed up the daily routine of her classroom, which some students had a hard time adjusting to, while individually taking one student a day out of class for most of the morning and sometimes into the afternoon to test with her.  After reading about the No Child Left Behind Act, I can see how valuable these standardized tests are even for special education students. As a parent I can see that in this case you would want to know that your child is getting the very best education they can and if they are not you would have the option to move them to another public school.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Diversity of Students

Topic: What modifications for learners who are exceptional do you see?

In the classroom where I did my field work I found several things that "Mrs. Kay" had done to help her exceptional students achieve academic success.  One of my favorite things she did was have a very tight schedule for the student to follow.  She had a big schedule on the board that could be changed from day-to-day and an individual schedule for each student to carry with them.  One of my other favorite things she did was have the students cycle through centers were they could practice a variety of skills.  One center might be the math table, another center might be computers, and another might be the reading table and so on.  I liked this set up a lot because it gave each student the opportunity to work with auditory, visual, and hands-on learning strategies.

Along with adjustments being made to help exceptional students progress in the classroom there needs to be a set of guidelines and disciplinary actions in place.  "Mrs. Kay" had a great plan in place for such things.  When a student would misbehave they were given a verbal warning, if the student continued this behavior they were given a wasting time card meaning that they had to sit quietly for one minute during recess.  In a case where the wasting time card was not enough the student was then given a wait card meaning that they had to sit quietly for three minutes during recess.  What was so cool about this disciplinary plan is that it was very clear and to the point as well as easy to understand, each student knew the consequences almost better than the teachers.

Along with the disciplinary guidelines there also needs to be a method for praising the student for choosing good behavior.  In "Mrs. Kay's"class she also used great positive reinforcement to show here appreciation for and pride in her students.  An example of this might be when a student was kind to another student such as sharing or saying something nice then they would receive a kind friend card.  Another example would be when a student faces forward, with eyes forward, and quietly listening then they would receive a good listener card.  Finally, when a student would choose to work exceptionally hard and focus at the math table or reading table they would receive a hard worker card.  At the end of the day these good behavior cards would count towards there overall points for the day.  At the end of the week these points were then converted into play money that they could use to make a purchase at the class store.

Although these ideas may seem small to the average learner I have seen them work wonders for the exceptional learner.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

History of Education

Topic: Tell of an opportunity you had to work one on one with a student.

One of the students I worked with was, "Leo".  Although Leo is the oldest student in class as well as the biggest and tallest, he is the most unsure of himself.  Leo has shown me how smart he really is, but what he lacks most is self confidence.  I remember specifically on certain assignments such as puzzle worksheets Leo would ask for help when he could obviously do it himself.  If you encourage him to work through the assignment on his own he gets very upset and shuts down.  Bringing Leo out of his breakdown is the hardest part.  He will say over and over again that he cannot do it making himself feel worse.  What I learned from Leo, is that there are some student who need praise and individual help far more than others, particularly student who may not receive it elsewhere.

Another student I worked with a lot was, "Tanner".  Tanner is in first grade and when he started school this year he wan't able to read or write most of the alphabet.  He has made outstanding progress and really loves knowing how much he has learned.  Tanner would also ask for help on assignments however, unlike Leo, he knew that he could do them, he just didn't want to do it incorrectly on his own the first time.  Tanner could work through the assignment alone if he was reminded of how much he has accomplished.  What I learned from Tanner is that encouragement is good, but praise is better.