Saturday, November 14, 2009

Blog Entry

Blog Entry

What words will you use to state your behavioral expectations? What will you say?

If I had to my behavioral objectives, it would probably say the following. I would first tell me students that participation is the most important aspect of the class. Good behavior is determined by the participation given in class. I think that if a student is giving good input into the class then that student is paying attention and make sure they understand the content I am presenting. Second, I would talk about showing to class on time. I think that people should go from class to class and have hallway conversations saved for lunch time or have those conversations before and after school. I have noticed that many students are late to class because they like to play in the halls and take their precious time to get to class. If my rules said that they had to be in their seats and have materials out by the time the bell rang, then they would definitely not talk in the hallways. My last rule would be to respect other people’s opinion. In high school, students are starting to become critical thinkers of the world around them. They have their own opinions and because in high school many students are beginning this type of cognitive process, different conclusions do arise. These conclusions can hurt, help and damage a classroom and even a school if people don’t seem to realize that they must respect another person’s opinion. This type of conversation will also prepare them for the college level or just in the real world all together.

How will you be able to effectively redirect off-task behavior?

I think the best way to redirect off time behavior is in two ways. One way, I would definitely give students detention. They would have to come after class and finish the work they started in class but didn’t finish and they would also have to help me with physical training. The only thing with physical training is that I don’t have to do any work; they have to do all the work until I get tired of looking at them. I believe that with a strong mind, comes a strong body. They will definitely be walking out sore of detention and will probably never want to come back again. The other way I would divert off-task behavior is through my teaching. If a student stops me from teaching, then I will stop them from going anywhere else until I get my lesson done. So if students feel the need to talk and get out of hand, they will owe the same time back, even if the bell does ring or is close to ringing. If the bell is 10 minutes away and it takes me 15 minutes to finish my lesson then I will get my 15 minutes and they will just have to deal with the consequences of being tardy to the next class.

Blog Entry

Blog Entry

As a beginning teacher, what other aspects of planning would you need to include to ensure that learning goals are met? Why?

The only extra planning I would do for my lessons is to change their formats and add organizers to the lessons in case a student wants to use one. I would change their formats by using paper, then transparencies, then using the board and then using other means of getting the information across that is suitable for all of my learners. I will also have graphic organizers to make sure that my students stay organized throughout the lessons. These two components are what keeps a lesson most flexible. If a teacher has these types of tools with them always, then they are for sure to get the information across to their students.

How will you seek feedback on lessons you have planned?

I am a teacher who deals with the most obvious. I will most likely ask a class if they like the lesson or not. I will ask them what do they think they need to pass the test or exam or whatever I am trying to help them with. I through in entry and exit slips to make sure that my students are getting ready for my class. I think that through these methods, I will be able to always know how I am doing in class. I will also have a sense of what my students are learning, what they are not learning and what they want to know more of. I like teaching complex ideas and concepts, but I must use basic teaching skills and tools.

Redshirting Students - Holding Students Back

How often should we hold back students in schools?

I come to ask this question because in my classes, I have come to find out that many of my students are in 504 accommodations because some of them are in their right grade and have a hard time reading. On the other hand, others are in 504 because they keep failing the same grade over and over again. However, the thing is that these students just haven’t failed the grade once, but two times and could possibly fail the same grade a third time. In the State of Louisiana, no student can be held back no more than 3 times. Well I have personal experience with those students who are held back and only have one more year to be held back until they must be pushed on to finish school or drop out to get a GED. Now, what am I thinking? I want to discuss my feelings on the idea of holding back students.

There is a part of me that believes as an educational system, we should be holding back students who are not performing at the adequate levels. These students need more time in a specific grade or area of study. I believe that students need to learn and must learn effective, and if that means that they need to be held back so they can get more time to grasp a better understanding of that information, then I most definitely think students should be held back a grade if not a semester.

On the other hand, I believe that students shouldn’t be held back because what they possibly missed in one grade they can get in the next even though it is a review or something in a less intensive form, it is still covered and the students still gets another chance at obtaining the information. I also think that students shouldn’t be held back because too many years where the student is being held back could have a negative effect on the child and they could possibly never excel after the first or second time of being held back. This could have a lasting effect on children to the point where they could be unproductive, and mischievous. If society won’t take these kids and change them for the worst, the school definitely could.

I think the best way for us to solve this problem is to change many elementary schools into non-graded schools. I believe this way, the child has 2-3 years in a particular area to grasp and understand the concept. This way, the child doesn’t feel as though they are being held back. The child doesn’t have to worry about grade levels and being with his friends because they don’t move as a class but as individuals. Also, I believe that in non-graded elementary schools, children can have more time to be challenged and learn with a variety of people at an early age. Ultimately, the child is not negatively affected in any way, and the child has more room to make progress and put in more effort to learn than he/or she would if they were in traditional graded classes.

Action Research Question

Reflection – Treating Students Fairly

One of my biggest flaws when it comes to teaching is that I will not treat students fairly. I have a tendency to direct a lot of my attention to students who are engaged and who want to be in school. I look at the student who asks questions and wants to know more. The student that pushes his or herself to get a better education and shows effort to learn is the students I will spend most of my time helping to succeed. These students usually migrate to me. I am not the kind of teacher that is going to really reach out to students initially. I have to see some kind of effort from the students before I ever spend more time than I have to.

I have constantly tried working on this while I am teaching at my current school. I try to give every student the opportunity to read and the opportunity to speak in class or answer questions. I try to make sure that my students also get the one-on-one time they need with the Tulane tutors. I try to make sure that every student has the same experience and opportunities as everyone else in other classes as well as in other grades, but sometimes I know that I always miss someone or that I am being biased to those who I want in the class and those who I don’t want in the class. I have tried different things. First I tried keeping a tally of the students and questions they have answered or the ones that go with a specific tutor but I can’t keep up with the tally because it is hard because I am trying to get the students settled down and started on their warm up activity and taking role. So I am trying to juggle all these other things. Another way I have tried to be more equally friendly with my students is to discipline them in the same way and to make sure that they suffer the same consequences, however, they are in the stage of “if I am going down, so will you”. This makes it very hard at time and very easy because you don’t see the others, you just see that one, and so what do you do?

What I think other teachers should do is try to make sure that they find a consistent way to be equally friendly with all of students. It is hard, but I am one that is working on it as we speak. I am currently in the process of just making the class suffer for one student. So what I do now is if the class gets off task or if a student is off task and not with the class, I add time to the class period. So they stay in my class for extra time making them late for their next class or just about to be late, or it keeps them in after school if it is my last class. So they almost miss the bus. However, I think that this is an ongoing process and that teachers are constantly working on discipline and rules for their classroom even though they spent a lot of time thinking about this at the beginning of school. I think that maybe there should be different discipline rules for different classes because the personality changes in different classes and different punishments differ with students. This is just a huge component to classroom management, and it is something that can’t be set in stone because it will never have the effect we think it should have. Most likely, it will definitely backfire.


Lately, in my mind, I have been thinking about not teaching in the classroom anymore. One of the things that I have experienced in the classroom is the fact that every class setting looks at a feminine male teacher as a gay teacher. I am teaching a class, I don’t fit the mold of a coach or some hard core principle in the school. I am just a simple, fashionable, and exciting teacher. This seems to give off the impression that I am a gay teacher. While I am not gay, it is this idea of what a gay male looks like and students, and parents bring this kind of simple mindedness in the classroom. This definitely hurts lesson implementation, discipline, and trust between student and teacher. This is something I am definitely experiencing in the classroom, even though I have tried to tell my students that I am not gay, they still have their perceptions of what that is. I want to be in the classroom, but this gay encounter between me and students has not only happened once, but just about every time I have entered in the classroom. The only time it hasn’t happened is when I was with the 3rd – 4th graders teaching them U.S. history through a webquest.

Therefore, I see myself in other capacities. I think that I would rather teach at a college level or be in a capacity where I am working on educational policies that affect the entire educational system. I think that I have always wanted to serve my country and this is the exact position I should be in. If I could I would make it an international job out of this kind of work. I know that I can try my hardest to make sure that other countries are making the substantial changes needed to their educational systems that will produce effective new citizens that are going to transform their country. I also think that I could be really good in teach at other colleges and universities in other countries. I am still in the education field, however, I am seeing the world and seeing different people and learning new things.

I think I will return to the classroom as a public school teacher, but it will be after I have gotten the experience I need to be an effective teacher. I love the classroom, and will spend time in the classroom, but it won’t be for long periods of time, but on the other hand, it won’t be for very short periods of time either. I will just let my actions and experience allow me to decide this question later in life.

Reading Strategies

There have been three reading strategies that I have seen been used pretty often during my course of observations. The first reading strategy that I have seen is the SFA model called Success for All. This is a direct-instruction model where teachers have small groups of students and they try to improve the child’s reading level through a lot of direct student and teacher interaction. My particular class only has 6 students in it and they are at grade 4 level. The class is definitely mixed with 7th and 8th grader, with a few elementary children who are in grade 5. This happens every day for about 45 minutes. In the 45 minutes, they read a story, pull words out of the story, learn how to spell and define them, and then they are tested after six weeks to see if they have made any progress in their reading skills. The teacher uses different teaching strategies to get them to learn how to read with comprehension better, but it is left up to them ultimately for them to be able to move up to the higher classes.

The second reading strategy I have seen being used is the outlining technique, choral rehearsal and read-a-loud. These techniques are used with all of the classes no matter if they are the top performing group of students or if they are the 504 accommodations. The teacher seems to figure out that these three strategies can help the student retain the information and better perform on the ILEAP exam. The teacher is very convinced that these strategies work, however, as much of a direct-instruction teacher she is, I am not that kind of teacher. I am more constructivists and I think that these students need to be exposed to understanding different learning skills. How much I think that these students do need that direct instruction, they also need to be able to construct their own ideas of getting new information. They are about to enter into high school and this kind of critical thinking is needed once they enter into the 9th grade. I believe that since these students do not get that opportunity, they will become complacent and think that everything will be handed to them. This is not the case, however, it will happen and this ultimately hurts the child. While these are good strategies, there has to be more.

As I have started thinking about what kind of reading strategies I would want to see middle school children do would be those reading strategies that fit under the information-processing category. I would want students to start using outlines and other type of graphic organizers that will help them better understand the information instead of using such a behaviorist approach to their learning. The teacher has the students do the outlining, which is information processing, but it is not independent. She directly guides them through every question. Most of the time they are just answering questions, not necessarily putting the information in an outline format; it is just questions 1, 2, 3. When it comes to middle school children, they have come from a complete behaviorist approach to learning and have to learn how to transition to information-processing so that they can reach the top level of cognitive learning by using their higher order thinking skills. I am also biased to this position because I believe that high school students should be on a strict cognitive approach to learning and be exposed to less and less of information-processing and behaviorist methods. However, the other two methods would still be used, but only on a as needed basis.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Parent's Night

So I went to my first parent night. It was to give out the first six weeks report cards. The only way students can get their report cards is to have their parents come up to the school. This is a very good idea because at least the teachers and the parents get to have a conversation one-on-one conversation with the parents as well as make an initial meet between the two. It is also interesting to see the dynamics of the family. Most of the parents that came where women; this is not surprising. There were a few fathers that came with their wives and then there a few fathers that came by themselves. Throughout the night, my job was to make sure that parents were given the child’s work folder so that they could see the kind of grades that their children were making. They were given the folders outside the classroom while they waited to speak with the teacher. Here is the interesting part about this. The parents were actually shocked to see the grade they received on their work and the grade they received on their report card; it just wasn’t adding up. For example, some students were making less that 50 percent on exams, so how could it be possible that they could have a grade of 75 or 80? Well the rule with the school is that if a student fails an exam, the lowest grade given is a 60. While I disagree with this altogether, I find this interesting because students still pass even though they are not giving much effort in the course. I think there is a difference between a student who makes a 40, a student who didn’t study or really doesn’t care that much and a student with a 60, who worked hard for a 60. But if students are getting a 40 on a test, then they automatically get a 60 because that is the lowest grade. Therefore, it would seem as though we are trying to encourage students to do better, when in actuality, we are giving them bonus points when they don’t deserve it.

The other thing I grabbled with that night was the fact that, many of the students that didn’t make the A-B honor roll were students just two years ago competing to see who could be on the honor roll for 4 six-weeks straight. In other words, these students in eighth grade were formally top students of the month for the last two years. What over a period of two years or less could have affected these students to drop down to the lower performing students today? I don’t have an answer for this one. SURPRISED?!!! I am. So the next step for me is to interview the student to see what factors have played in his life for him to have declined. I do have a starting position though. One particular student’s parents said that this year as an eighth grader they decided to let him be independent about his school work; trying to give him the responsibility to make sure he takes care all of that on his own. His parents weren’t going to hound him every day about work or always be on his back. They were just going to ask him if he did his work and they hoped he would tell them the truth. After finding out how he has been performing they decided that this independent privilege was over. They were now going to make sure he does his homework. They took things away from him and then they decided that he had to prove to them he was able to do his work on his own again. When I look at this, I do ask another question. When is it proper to start giving children complete responsibility of their work? This is something that I have a hard time trying to figure out even though I do have somewhat of an answer. However, what is the starting percentage. For example, at the eighth grade level, do you start off with 15%, 30% or 50%? No child should get anything over 50% percent, but what is starting? I don’t know what I can say at this moment, but I do know that responsibility has to take place at this stage in children’s lives.