ST Blog – Week 4

Some important resources:

  • Video on power: https://safeshare.tv/x/c_Eutci7ack
  • Lewis and Clark Video
  • “In Plain English” videos

 

This week I taught a lesson on the Third Amendment to the 8th graders, a lesson on urban v. rural communities to the 7th graders, and a lesson on the United Nations to the 7th graders.  I think I am getting better at speaking more articulately and I am improving my in-the-moment response and questioning ability.  I am getting more comfortable with the students on a personal level as well.  I got to experience my first 504 meeting with a parent (Patrick) and I even chaperoned the dance (woohoo!).  There was also a delayed start one day in which the faculty and staff engaged in professional development regarding PLPs; for us, and some other faculty, we were focused on the career unit (specifically, dates, how it’s all going to look, is it going to be consistent between teams, if there was going to be a student panel, if you take class time to do it, etc).  Because of the delayed start, classes were shortened to 20 minutes each – there is only so much you can do in that time.

Some thoughts I had during the week:

  • Letting student do an independent project – to validate the work, share it with the class. My cooperating teacher presented it to the class, congratulating the student who created it.
  • It’s important to thank students for sharing and participating in class discussions (especially quieter students) – that positive reinforcement can do wonders
  • Value in debate on 2nd Amendment – although this is a controversial issue in society and even in this class, the activity has a lot of value in terms of encouraging students to be able to see alternative viewpoints and using evidence to question the opposition’s claims.
  • For some of the seventh graders, you need to literally stand next to them in order for them to get work done.  This is impossible in a classroom with only one adult in the room, as you have to attend to other students in the room.  What do you do?
  • Inclusion opportunity – April sits with her group in a debate.  She talks and makes noises during it, but the class keeps on going just fine.
  • Internet connection problem – one day the Internet in the entire school was out (not planned).  We had to make quick adjustments, as using Google Docs was a big part of the lesson that day.  There’s not much point in stressing out, because there is nothing you can do about it; just go with it.  We gave the 7th graders more time to figure out their states, and for the 8th grade we completely switched gears and watched a video on Lewis and Clark.  The Internet did come back later in the day, but we decided to stick with the adjusted plan, as we were not prepared or able to tackle what we wanted to do within the time span.

 

Teacher Meme of the Week:

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ST Blog – Week 4

Senior Seminar – Reflective Teaching Assignment

  1. How do each of the following qualities (openmindedness, responsibility, wholeheartedness, and collaboration) contribute to reflective teaching?

Openmindedness is “an active desire to listen to more sides than one, to give full attention to alternative possibilities, and to recognize the possibility of error even in beliefs that are dearest to us” (11).  Openmindedness is a significant component of reflective teaching; a reflective practitioner must look at all approaches to a situation and predict and reflect on the possible consequences – both negative and positive – of those alternative approaches.  Being openminded means that teachers acknowledge that there is more than one way to teaching, not just one’s own traditional way, and it also means that teachers ask themselves why they have chosen the approach they use.

Responsibility “involves careful consideration of the consequences to which an action leads” (11).  These consequences that teachers must consider include three different types, including personal, academic, and social and political consequences (12).  Reflective teachers must assume this responsibility – being aware of the consequences of their approach and actions, reflective teachers can better predict successful situations in their classrooms.  Although teachers will never be able to fully know what will happen in advance, reflective teachers have a slight advantage in the fact that their reflection allows them to preemptively manage unexpected outcomes of learning.

Wholeheartedness means that teachers “regularly examine their own assumptions and beliefs and the results of their actions and approach all situations with the attitude that they can learn something new” (12).  Wholeheartedness is the combination of openmindedness and responsibility – reflective teachers both see all perspectives to approaches in teaching, and they also examine the possible consequences of their teaching, good and bad.  Embracing one of these attributes is a step in the right direction, but to fully be a reflective teacher, there cannot be one without the other; reflective teachers must wholeheartedly invest their time in being thoughtful about their approaches and the results of those strategies.

Collaboration is an attribute of reflective teaching that Schon has appeared to neglect in his theory on reflective teaching – “although reflection can at times be a solitary and highly individualistic affair, it can also be enhanced by communication and dialogue with others” (24).  Collaboration has become an essential component of reflective teaching because teaching is not an isolated profession; by using the human resources around them, reflective teachers can better understand alternative perspectives and approaches to teaching.  They can share a problem with a colleague and ask for their suggestion on how to prevent the problem.  This colleague may have had a similar experience, or they may simply provide that unbiased point of view that allows the teacher to step back and question their intentions.  In addition, by having that dialogue and sharing how you will change your approach, you can have your fellow colleagues on the “same page”, so that, if appropriate, they can install such approaches in their classrooms in order to create a sense of consistency among students.

2. Re-read Teresa’s “teacher as technician” and “teacher as reflective practitioner” responses on pages 2-3 in Chapter 1. What is “technical” about the first response, and what is “reflective” about the second response? What does this tell you about reflective teaching?

The first response is “technical” because Rachel focused on the students as the problem instead of her approach – she “focused on devising ways to present those students with more specific consequences for not complying with the teacher’s directions” (2). She didn’t question her own goals and values, but rather questioned those of the students.

The second response is “reflective” because Rachel stepped back from the situation and considered alternative perspectives. Instead of looking at the students as the problem, Rachel turned her attention to her approach  – she “began to ask herself questions about the appropriateness of the classroom’s structure” (3).  She took a more holistic, self-reflective approach to prevent the problem.

As we discussed in class, the major difference between these two scenarios is who the onus is put on – a technical teacher puts the onus on students to make a change, whereas the reflective practitioner puts the onus on themselves to prevent the problem.  While a teacher as technician is trying to combat the problem through their efforts, a reflective teacher is willing to question their approach, values, and intentions and look at the situation from diverse angles in order to predict possible consequences of their actions and how the students will respond.

Senior Seminar – Reflective Teaching Assignment

ST Blog – Week 3

Some important resources:

  • Minnesota Center for Community Legal Education  Mini-Trial Manuel
  • Flag maker website: http://flag-designer.appspot.com/#d=9&c1=3&c2=1&c3=4&o=0&c4=1&s=16&c5=0

This week included a lot of really great discussion.  With all that is going on in the political sphere (Trump’s executive orders 😦 ). It was a full five day week, and I taught a lesson on monarchy for the seventh graders and planned a mock trial for the eighth graders. I got to experience a fire drill (it was planned), which is nice because I know now exactly what to do if it were to happen while solo teaching.  There were a couple of instances with the eighth graders where they really had a hard time being able to be focused during a class discussion – CT had to be more stern than usual to get the point across. During our team meeting, I got to see the process of evaluating a student with a special educator. She asked the staff questions about the student and they had to answer (both short answer and bubble answers such as “Often”, “Sometimes”, etc.)

Some thoughts I had during the week:

  • Talking about Trump’s immigration ban – how many chances do you get as a teacher to talk about a current event that is a constitutional crisis?! Really great opportunity to capitalize on the moment.
  • Controlling a passionate and opinionated class is hard! Sometimes you have to “sacrifice” the curriculum in order to talk about how this teachable moment in history is worth it
  • Inclusion – having “April” sit with group. She’s making noises and moving around, but class just keeps on going. Doesn’t stay in class for the whole period. Always has para with her
  • SBAC testing, mandatory certification – I didn’t have to do it, I won’t be administering test. CT saving me from the trouble
  • CT had to be stern – called out specific students who kept making jokes/faces at each other. “Is this direct enough? You take responsibility or I will, you choose.” Later in class talks to each student, finds out what “really” happened, apologizes to students in front of everyone. Let’s them save their pride
  • Amendments can seem boring, so it’s important to find cases and examples that make it interesting! CT does this well
  • Adjusting curriculum – one student not really doing work, isn’t engaged. CT changed curriculum/expectations for him – I just want you to create “this” product about the right to assemble (he had made a comment last week – “why protest? It doesn’t do anything”). Allowing him to “skip” other content this week in order to focus on this task. This option was a choice. Student said yes, appears to be really engaged. Not distracting others, is actually doing work.
  • students wouldn’t stop talking – CT asked them multiple times to come back, he rang his gong in two different ways, then threatened to put them on “lockdown” in the seats to do work, would send them to the office. “I don’t have to act like that, right? That’s the first time this year I felt like I wasn’t going to get you back. It’s like you forgot I was here.” That got their attention and focus.
  • “Patrick” has hard time focusing, but when I go up and work with him 1 on 1, he does the work. But he needs that constant pushing, which a teacher can’t always provide
  • CT working with “Ross” – acting as a scribe for monarchy worksheet. Talked through it with him. Otherwise, he probably wouldn’t have done it at all (never really completes work)
  • Mock Trial – I planned most of it, put a lot of time and effort into it. It didn’t go the way I had envisioned it (perfectly, of course), so I was kind of disappointed. CT disagreed – he said that although there were bumps, students got a lot out of it. Second group went better. What they got out of it was the process – saw challenges of being lawyers, how prosecution has burden of proof, etc. Had hoped some particular students would have stepped up to the plate, and they didn’t. Others that I didn’t expect, however, did.
  • Bringing in a guest speaker – we had a police officer come in (a student’s father) and he talked about search warrants (we had talked about the 4th amendment this week). Great “real world” connection.
  • “Lottery” system for 7th graders in order to pick country’s location and size – nondiscriminatory, fairness)
  • CT had been one of the leads on school’s Penguin Plunge fundraiser – happened this weekend, so all week CT was a bit stressed and overwhelmed – understandable!

Teacher Meme of the Week:

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ST Blog – Week 3