Friday, May 1, 2015

Final Laurel Visit

Well I started off my day in an Eights grade American history class, and after the teacher told that class I was sitting in, one student turned and asked me, "Do you ever get fat from eating Ben and Jerry's all the time?" The teacher told me not to answer and told the student that was not appropriate; however I could not help myself but chuckle a little and think "Oh, Lord. This is how my day is going to be." In this class, the teacher divided the students into three groups and had each group start at a different station to look at primary sources dealing with segregation. The students then had to record what they learned form each station and towards the end of class, they came back together to discuss what the students had found out from the sources.

The next class I observed was a Math class, but I was in the class for a particular reason. Second graders were coming to teach the upper school girls about how to solve word problems using pictures, which ended up being bar graphs with labels. I really enjoyed seeing this because I thought it was great for the younger students to be able to pass on their knowledge to older the older girls because it is usually the other way around. They were very insightful about what to look for in the problems in order to know which type of bar graph to use. The second grade teacher helped guide the students when they got a little nervous and did not know how to continue the lesson. This class was very enjoyable to sit in on.

On this day at Laurel, students had the option to remain silent to show their support towards the LGBTQ community. These particular students wore black so others know that they are participating in the quiet day. The next class was a 9th grade English class taught by the head of the school. The head of the school is required to teach a class so she remembers what it is like to be a teacher. So, in this class the teacher designed an activity so those students choosing to remain silent could still participate in the lesson. The students wrote about one of the characters in Jane Eyre post it notes and stuck them up on the board and the teacher went over them and discussed the notes with the class. I thought this was very innovative and a great tactic to include those students who are choosing to be silent for the day.

I spent the last forty minutes in a ninth grade history class. They were discussing Germany before WW2. The teacher showed a video of the propaganda the Natzi party used and this reminded me of the liberating of the curriculum I did for my clinical teaching. By using the video, the teacher was breaking up the lecture and power point presentation to keep the students engaged in the discussion.

Over all, I am more than pleased to have spent my time at Laurel. It really opened my eyes to what a private school looks like and that it is not so different from a public school. I enjoyed spending my time with the teachers and students and have definitely learned some insightful hints on different ways to teach.

April 10th Laurel Visit

This visit to Laurel was a little different from my other visits. I was observing the Senior Speech and getting a formal tour.
The Senior Speech is given on Friday mornings and every senior girl must eventually give a speech. They are able to pick whatever topic they choose and then work with a teacher preparing the speech to give it to their peers and the school faculty. That days eight to ten minute speech was on sexism. The speaker wrote about how times are not like the "Beaver Cleaver" 1950s anymore and it is time for society to accept women's roles within the work force. She used relatable topics like Ferris Bueller's Day Off. The speech was given very well and the speaker even had a standing novation.

The first class I observed was an Engineering and Technology class. The students were practicing soldering and creating circuits for simple switch lights. A student explained how that day's class differed form others because they were solely working on their projects. They usually being each new topic with a lab that allows the students to discover the new information on their own. The teacher then goes over it in a lesson and explains and clarifies the material they discovered. One thing that really struck me as innovative was the teacher's grading system. He would conference with each student and ask them how they personally thought they did. He would then take this into account in order to give them their grade. This also allows for one on one immediate feedback for the student, which I think is essential for the student. Especially when they are continuing to use the same techniques within their projects. The teacher said that students can struggle with this type of grading at first but he just supports them and guides them through his system until they begin to be comfortable with it.

The next class I observed was Celebrities in American History. The teacher spent most of the class asking the students what they thought about the class and what they thought the class was going to be. Some girls did not expect it to be so feministic, meaning it focused a lot on women's rights rather than the progression of celebrities through American history. The teacher included me within the class as one of her students and even called on me to answer questions.

The next class was a seventh grade world history class. The students were working on projects about cities along the Silk Road. The teacher and I spoke quite a bit because of the amount of individual work the students were doing. However, whenever a student had a question, the teacher was very helpful and worked with each students problems. The teacher told me that at this level, hands on projects work very well. As a teacher, you have to put the students within the history. That is why hands on projects work well. Also, the teacher has to get students to buy in to what the teacher is selling.

The last part of my visit was a tour of the middle school and upper school since those encompass the grades I would potentially be teaching. Laurel has much to offer and the community is very close knit. instead of STEM, they go by STEAM. The A stands for Arts, which I personally believe is a great addition to STEM. I don't think schools need to push STEM of IB, if it one or the other then so be it. However, when just earning a general education through grade school, a student should not be forced to go to a school geared towards something they are not interested in. Especially the sciences.

Over all, I was pleased with today's Laurel visit. I was very intrigued but the STEAM and how the Engineering teacher's grading system worked. I believe his grading system will in the end alleviate some of the anxiety caused by the points and letter grade systems.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Clinical Teaching

Last class Dana, Catelyn, and I taught the class chapters 5 and 6 in the Bill Ayers comic book. Chapter five discusses different ways of liberating the curriculum. What Bill Ayers means by that title of the chapter is that sometimes it is hard for the teacher to have creative, individual freedom with the curriculum, especially with the governmental standards. He gives examples of how one teacher chooses to learn about a new topic alongside her students. This is a simple and easy way to connect with the students as well as break up the rigorous standards. Another example was involving textbooks. I am sure almost every student has had their fill with monotonous textbook script and wants nothing more to do with it; however, the example in chapter five offers supplemental solutions. Alongside the text, teachers can add different readings or videos to add to the lesson plan. Dana, Catelyn and I decided to do a more discussion route with this chapter. We had the students tell us about their personal experiences as well as opinions and just what the text was talking about. We then had them work in their pods to come up with other ways to liberate the curriculum. I found it was very hard to get conversation going amongst my classmates. They just seems to stare like deer in head lights. I don't know if this is because they didn't read the text or just don't want to talk. The talking aspect really felt like the three of us were pulling their teeth out.
In chapter six, Dana, Catelyn, and I provided anecdotes of our own experiences with standardized tests. Bill Ayers discusses in this chapter how a student's home life can affect their academic performance. He also discusses how standardized tests can be unfair, they are not just going to disappear overnight so as a teacher, it is their job to take what the government requires of them and put their own spin on things to relay the information to the students. In most cases, the teacher doe snot have a choice, and Bill Ayers uses the reading groups as an example of this. Dana, Catelyn, and I discussed these points with our classmates and gave background information as well as the gist of chapter six before going into the chapter's activity which was a debate. We divided up our classmates between the pros and cons of testing. This activity allowed them to look at both sides of the situation and see that there is some light to standardized testing. It also got them talking which was proving to be difficult but overall I think the debate went very well.
I was definitely way too nervous for this assignment but I felt it was successful. It was frustrating that my classmates didn't talk more because I felt the chapters we were teaching called for quite a bit of discussion. I think by the end of our teaching they started to talk more or that was because we made them do the debate. I now understand that teaching comes with practice and I have a long way ahead of me. All in all, I thought Dana, Catelyn and I did very well.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Shaker Middle School Visit

This past Thursday my education class had the opportunity to visit Shaker Middle School. I enjoyed my experience there however I do not believe it is the place for me to teach in the future.
The first class I visited was a seventh grade world history class. The students were working on a rough draft that was due that day. They were assigned an extra credit project for over Easter break that was of course, optional. The teacher explained her classroom to us and what the project was. One of the students was very excited because her mom had attended John Carroll. The teacher told us it can be difficult with technology because sometimes there isn't enough for every student in the class. She also explained how hard it is because students are at different academic levels. She made sure to check in with each student to make sure there rough drafts were done before the end of the class period.
The next class I visited was an American history classroom. The kids were working in pairs working on a rap that incorporated the historical aspects they were discussing in class. The teacher decided to do this project instead of do a unit test because of the standardized testing the students were just finishing. Since the students were all working amongst themselves, the teacher decided to give us some future teaching tips. Teaching is way more than it seems, if you are teaching you are there for a reason. Teachers now have less freedom because of the government. Teaching is a lot more regimented and hard for individualism. Teaching is consistently changing and evolving, even from day to day. At the middle school age level, students put a lot of blame on the teacher. It can be difficult because students are all over the academic level spectrum. It is important to be prepared and over prepared, as well as always having a plan B. Teachers should figure out an organizational system that works for them. Having a daily routine of the classroom saves times and questions from the students.
Overall, I think that teaching middle schoolers is tough. It would take a lot of patience and repetition I know I would become very frustrated with the academic level differences. For my personal preference, I would want to teach kids along the same level of academia. I feel that it would just lead to more success in the classroom. Overall, I enjoyed my time at the middle school and feel that it has a very inviting and ready to learn atmosphere.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Blog Post 10

Throughout my blogposts, my views of education have broadened, and my ideas of being a "successful teacher" have changed. I began education 100 basing my thoughts of teaching off of how I operate as a student and how my teachers taught their classes. My ignorance towards the work, planning, and effort that goes on behind the lines left me with this beautiful picture of teaching. However, that is not the case. Based on blog post two, the quote by Lisa Delpit engaged me to ponder  how teachers teacher. Her quote is, "We do not really see through our eyes or hear through our ears, but through our beliefs." I interpreted this quote by the teachers use of body language. Students will easily pick up if the teacher shows no interest in what they are teaching or do not want to be there that day. An instructor has to believe in what they are teaching and who they are teaching. No teacher should ever want a student to fail. Through my observations at Chipotle, I found that in order to truly know someone, it takes more than a few hours of watching them form a distance. It requires speaking and sharing opinions and stories. I also believe that almost everyone has a tendency to be quick to judge. I know I am which is something I continue to work with everyday in hopes of becoming a better person which will potentially reflect on my teaching. Another quote by Lisa Delpit discuses a child's linguistic form. I agree with what she discusses regarding a child's linguistic language. A teacher that constantly corrects a child's linguistics because of their vernacular language eventually discourages the child from volunteering in class. It can also make them feel ashamed of the way they were taught by their loved ones in their home, and for being cultural. It is the teachers place to welcome each and every student no matter what background they come form that affects their linguistics. In class, we also discussed some of the heavy topics Rofes brings up such as LGBTQ and child oppression. I believe that when a child goes to school, they should feel safe and comfortable to express who they are and their preferences without being chastised. There should also be a place these students can like a room or club where they can connect with other students with similar preferences. The discussion regarding child oppression was enlightening. I believe children should have the opportunity to make choices regarding their happiness. Sometimes parents try to live their lives through their children or they have a picture of what they want their child to be and that is not fair to the child. As a teacher, I want my classroom to be a place where students can make decisions that will further their happiness. I do not want to feel that I am being an oppressing them to do exactly what I command. The students should have a range of freedom, especially in their choices. Paulo Freire writes on a very heavy topic of teaching which is the difference between banking and problem posing. Banking teaching is where a teacher believes they are all knowing and it is their job to "fill" the students with as much knowledge as possible. This concept is mostly embedded within lecture style lessons. Problem-posing is where a teacher engages the students within the lesson and guides them through what they are learning. A teacher's classroom should be a guided democracy with equal ideas from both the students and teacher, not a banking dictatorship. I hope to be a problem-posing teacher because that allows for the best from the students. Bill Ayers discuses how a teacher and student build a bridge together. He uses this metaphor to explain the path that students build to get from the problem at point A to the solution at point B. There can also be a bridge built because a teacher learns from their students as much as the students learn from their students. This is a give and give system. Which leads to the school Dana and I created. By doing this project, it came to my attention how hard it is to find the balance to run a successful school that appeals to students, teachers, and parents. It is also difficult to find what will work best to assure the most academic achievement from the students that will be attending the school. All of the discussions, readings, and projects from class opened my eyes to how difficult it is to run a classroom. It calls for thinking on ones feet, compromise, and figuring out what works best for the students. A teacher has to want to be there teaching the students. I know this is only the beginning of my journey as a teacher but I can't wait to see what it has in store for me. I hope to be excited and passionate everyday for my students so they enjoy coming to school everyday.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Second Visit to Laurel

I recently visited Laurel on their last day of school before their spring break. The energy from the students could be felt in the air. I went into this visit to observe the excitement the teachers have about what they are teaching, as well as making general observations as well.

I first sat in on an AP American History class. The teacher taught sitting down while the students sat around at tables in a horseshoe style with the teacher in the middle. It felt inviting for conversation between the student and the teacher. At times, it felt a bit lecture like but I believe this is because the teacher told me they were behind in the curriculum. During this conversation though, the teacher told me he was tired of never being able to teacher modern American history, so he rearranged his lessons to begin the year with WWII and then go back to the Revolutionary war when they finished modern history. I thought this was great, here was an AP course that is essentially taught to a test, being taught in a way the teacher wanted to. The teacher asks the students questions to keep them engaged in the lesson of the day. The over all mood is lighthearted. The teacher relates the lesson to current events and asks the students what they already know about the topics being taught. Overall, the teacher enjoyed what he was teaching and wanted his students to fully understand what was being taught that morning.

The next class I sat in was an art history class that primarily focused on American art. The teacher starts off by asking the students what they already know about the topic being discussed. He keeps the lesson very conversational by asking them questions and making them dig deeper about the historical meanings of the paintings. He keeps a serious but fun atmosphere. He wants the students to get the correct answer so he keeps guiding the students to it. Because it is the day before spring break, he shows the class pictures of his grandson. Very much a two way classroom where the teacher has as much a part of the lesson as the students. Overall, the teacher expressed what paintings he liked and wanted the students to see why he liked them and for them to form feelings or like them as well. He doesn't force the students to like them but to make sure they understand the meaning of the painting.

I would come to the conclusion that the teachers enjoy and like what they are teaching. I suppose they would not be teaching it if they did not like it or even try to have an open mind about it to be able to relay the correct information to the students. They keep a lighthearted learning environment and want the students to like what they are being taught.