Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Shaker Heights Middle School Field Blog

Like the previous experiences before the question that i had formulated before going in is how will this school be similar to the high school for teaching.  To be more specific, will this school with grades 5-8 be similar to the way a high school is taught.  One of the things i noticed upon entering the classroom was the set up of the desks which seems to very a lot based on the teachers preference.  i find this to be very important to see how the teacher likes to teach and operate their classroom in their own way.  The desks were unique in this school because they were split into rows and columns facing into the center of the room so 3-4 columns would be facing north and 3-4 columns would be facing south so that all students would look at the teacher who would walk in the middle to attract everyone's attention.

Something i found interesting about this experience was that the students were able to use laptop computers while in class to do research.  This was not the case when i was in elementary school and it was extremely rare in my high school (although that has changed now and the students in my high school can use them when they please).  It was a shock to me because students were using them in the 5th grade class which we were only able to see for a few minutes before having to go to the 8th grade classroom.

Having a discussion with the teacher in the 8th grade class, she informed us that things were constantly changing and evolving in the way she would have to teach,  she would have to keep updating to meet the standards of the state.  The teacher then told us that there were different ways to get the students ready for the test and they could essentially take more time on some subjects and choose to spend less time on others.  An example would be studying 20th century America and one teacher focusing more on WW I and a different teacher focusing more on WW II.  As long as both teachers have their students efficient in the history overall then it would be alright and they would have a small limit of freedom.  She also told us that we should do something that really stuck and that was that we needed to be over prepared and always have a plan b in case something were to go wrong in class.  She also told us that she saved copies of lesson plans on paper and as well as online to go back to look at.

This field experience was a good one because the teacher was trying to be as helpful as possible and was able to tell all of us a lot of what she had gathered over the years and gave us the best advice she could.  It was nice to see that she was looking out for us and was trying to help all of us.

Clinical teaching reflection

What are your reflections about the experiences of your students? Did you feel prepared for your lesson? Were you, in fact, prepared for what you experienced? Were your students ready to learn?  How do you know?  

In the experience I noticed something that i did in highs school and sometimes even in college classrooms and that is that the students did not want to answer questions that were just straight out asked to them. IT was a much more successful method to give everyone a topic to talk about with the group and then ask what they discussed instead of just a general question to the class. I feel like we could have been a little more prepared for the class but all in all everything went well. There was a lot of information that could be covered with the chapter we were given so it was hard to pick and choose what to talk about. I do feel i was prepared for the experience, i knew that not everyone would be willing to raise their hands and i don't blame them because some topics are hard to talk about if you dont know the answer and dont want to sound wrong. I do believe that the students were ready to learn because everyone seemed focused and were all good about keeping their attention on us. The multiple group works seemed to engage the students to talk about their own experiences with the things that we were trying to cover. I think that the students were ready to learn because they all came to class that day and there is an expectation that when you go to class you are ready to learn, at least that is how i feel. I am glad at the participation of everyone in the class and the overall experience i had in my group.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Blog Post 10

One thing just right off the bat is that I have noticed through my observations and re-reading through the blogs is that the best teachers were the ones with the most enthusiasm because the students can pick up on this and will be in the same mood that the teacher is in.  One belief that I had shaken throughout the whole overall experience was that at Green Elementary school.  What took me by surprise the most was the lack of wall and just lockers separating the classrooms, but the fact that it appeared to be working and the students in each class were able to focus even if other rooms were being too loud.  It makes me believe that as long as the students want to learn and the teachers want to teach, all the students can focus. 
One thing that I did not consider was how much a student’s home life could affect their school lives.  After reading the articles and books it was clear to see that all students have their own crosses to bear.  If a student’s first language is not English or they do not speak English in a clear or concise way then they are not wrong for it.  A student should not be judged based on this or be told they are wrong because they are not.   If the students are told they are wrong for speaking this way then it could really damage them and make them think that their parents are wrong and everything they know up to that point has been wrong.   It is the environment of their home that they bring into school and the teachers need to understand that it is not the choice of a student to not be able to speak as well as they can and they have to accept this and try to adapt to help themselves and the students.
I still believe that homophobia and heterosexism are problems in school, but ones that can be solved.  I myself do have the solution but I do believe that one day these barriers will be broken down.  The solution that I can think of is just not to judge anyone in any way you would not want to be judged.  If I ever saw it happen in a school I taught at I would make sure to stop it immediately and talk to the students about it and try to find a solution.  Never having experienced it in my own high school (I’m not saying that everyone got along, because there were conflicts) but no one in my school was ever mean to a person just because they were different like that.  Everyone for the most part got along with one another and if you didn’t like someone then you just did not talk to that person.
One belief that I had that changed was the use of post-it notes to help with reading.  I am still doing this for other classes since we first did it in this class because I believe that it helps a lot not only to focus but to mark important information and take a small note about it.  To focus on the content area of what the notes were next to, I did not know there was a difference between problem posing and banking education.  I received the problem posing type of education and am very thankful because it seems extremely superior to the banking.  Taking teachers who care to get to know the students and work with them and not just throw information at them can make or break them as a student.  Having the problem posing style made me want to learn and has brought me to this point in my life and I hope to have the same impact on my students one day.
I still have the same belief as in blog post 7, I feel the exact same way and I know that this will never change for me “A teacher is not just a person who relays information from a textbook to a student, a teacher is a person who can make connections to the student’s lives and help them become the people they will be for the rest of their lives.”  I will try to live up to and by my words throughout my career as a teacher.
With the individual experiences and taking notes from William Ayers I believe that the most important thing a teacher can do is learn from their mistakes, as well as the things they do right.  I observed many different classrooms with different styles of desk arrangements and they all seemed to work well for the teachers.  My favorite was from Cleveland Heights High School when I saw the classroom in a big circle of desks so that he could stand in the middle and the whole class would be discussion based.  I hope to try this in my classroom one day to see if it will work for me, but if it doesn’t then I know that I can change it and will adapt to the different environments.

My beliefs have generally stayed the same throughout the course but experiencing different classes and grade levels has been quite the experience for me.  I have learned a lot just through this introductory education class and I do hope to continue down this path further to one day become a history teacher. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Individual Field Blog Post

For the individual field experience I chose to go back to my old alma mater.  I attended Saint Ignatius High School and observed classes over the period of two days.  The days were long because of the packed time and between 8 am and 2:50 pm I only had one lunch break, so I was busy pretty much all day.  Though both days were physically and mentally draining I believe the experience was well worth it because I was able to observe a total of 8 history classes each day.  For a total of 14 hours of observation I was able to learn and pick up a lot on the similarities and differences I saw in the teachers throughout the day. 

What I found most interesting was actually observing the teachers as they taught the lesson.  Sitting in a class through high school, I would look at what was on the board and write that down in addition to what the teacher was saying.  This time around I did not focus on the content so much as the actions of the teacher throughout the class.  It was a real change of pace to just focus on the teacher and the way they moved and how they talked and the enthusiasm they would show for certain areas and the lack thereof for other areas.  It was an incredible experience and I had a great time sitting in on the classes both days and for the remainder of the blog I will post based on the periods I went through and what I was able to gather over the two days in each 40 minute class. 

1st Period-  Honors World History (Freshman)-  I walk into the classroom to be greeted by a former teacher of mine who is happy to see me and have me observe him.  I take a seat in the back and take out my notebook ready to observe.  The teacher turns on the smart board and all the chit-chat and talking before class starts is now stopped.  My first reaction to this was amazement at how fast they all became quite as class was about to begin.  Students take out computers and note books and pens to take notes with (throughout the class students would play games on their computers so I don’t like the idea of those in the room).  The teacher throughout the class would walk across the front of the room to keep the students eyes forward and he would constantly ask questions about readings from the night before or previous units to keep the students engaged and to make sure they prepared for class and remember the previous units.  As the bell rang and the morning announcements came on he kept talking and even tried to talk over it to keep the lesson going.   After I left to go to a different class for period 2, his class continues and so he passed out a quiz that the students didn’t have enough time for and so let them finish on the second day I was there.  He was trying to give them advice about it as they were taking the quiz, such as “if you have to guess go with your first guess” and also “eliminate the two answers that it can’t be and take your best guess at the answer you think it is.”  It was great to watch this class because the only time the teacher would stop moving was when he would walk to a podium at the front of the room to change slides on the power point.

2nd Period- U.S History (Sophomores)-  In this class group presentations were being done so there was not a lot I could observe from the teacher other than him standing in the back of the room this time to watch the presentation and make sure the other students were focused.  One thing I thought was interesting that he did was that he would ask questions during the presentation if the students did not cover 100% of what he was looking for and so would ask them leading questions as well as jumping off points so they could expand on his ideas as well as their own.  If the students had researched their topics then they would be fine answering them but some students were unprepared and one group was so unprepared that the teacher told them to sit down and he finished the presentation himself.  When the group presentations are done he goes up to teach a little before class is over and calls specifically on the students who appear to not be paying attention.  He would walk around and used some humor in his lecture while talking with the students which I believe can help a lot in a classroom.

3rd Period- U.S. History (Sophomores)- In a different classroom now that is not set up like the other two in rows and columns.  In this classroom the desks are in three rows but two desks put together like a small table for two students to sit at.  The weeks work and homework is written on the board (which I believe is a great idea so just in case a student isn’t paying attention when the teacher tells them the homework they can just look up to mark it down).  The first day I am in the class, she reviews quickly what the students went over the previous week by asking the students questions and then she passes out a project they will need to work on with a partner and tells them to go over them for homework to figure out what they want to do.  After all the talking is done she decides to show a documentary on the women’s suffrage movement because that is what they are studying.  The next day the students pick their partners and their topics for their project but today the teacher decides not to show the documentary.  Students today now are grading a quiz from the previous week and she passes out red pens so they grade them for each other.   When they are done grading the quiz she puts a power point up on the board and starts the first slide with review questions.  While still moving she lectures to the class what is on the board and when she asks a question she only accepts answers from students who raise their hands which I thought was interesting because in the previous period the teacher called specifically on the students who appeared to not be paying attention.

4th Period-lunch

5th Period- A.P. U.S. History (Sophomores)-  The most interesting room set up that I experienced all day.  The desks were set up in a baseball diamond type way where two rows of desks were off to the left, two in the middle and two on the right and the teacher standing in the middle would be “home plate” so that all students could see him and the board.  This set up allowed for the teacher to walk around a lot for his lecture with the students.  Both days were test review days for the day following after I finished my observations.   Both days the teacher would keep a steady pace around the room and keep everyone engaged by talking directly with students when asking questions and calling on students both with their hands up and those with them down.  His hand motions and use of eye contact made sure that everyone was paying attention at all times.  He would turn the lights off when the power points were on and turn them off when he would just speak with the students.  The bullet points on the slides did not hold all the information he would talk about, these bullet points were only staring points of conversation so the students would have to make sure they were listening to take sufficient enough notes. 

6th Period-Cleveland History (Seniors)-  The first day there was a surprise test for the students to fill out so there was not much I could do.  The test was a page just filled with lines and the students would find a partner and write a 3-4 paragraph essay on the topic of their choice from the paper.   The next day the students took notes and although it was a small class the teacher still did his best to walk around.  Each slide was just a picture that he would explain, there were no notes on any slide so the students would really have to pay attention.  If the students were talking while he was he would simply talk over them until it got to a point where just told them all to shut up and focus (in a humorous but stern way). 

7th Period-World History (Freshman)-Same teacher as the last period so I didn’t have to move rooms.  Power point has notes on the slides this time for the Freshman.  Not only are the notes informative but some were quite funny, a lot of modern humor that the students could relate to.  Uses the notes on the board as jumping off points to talk about other issues while remaining on topic.  Each slide would relate back to a main idea that was on the first slide (and would appear again on the last one).  This teacher in particular loves to make jokes while teaching and keeps all the students engaged through humor. 

8th Period- U.S. Government (Juniors)-  This class is set up in tables spread out across the room instead of rows and columns.  Before the class even starts the teacher passes back old papers and asks if there have been any problems with his grading which there were and some students had to come to his desk to fix it.  When class actually starts he beings with a review of class from the last week.  As he is talking to the students he draws pictures on the board to represent different things that relate to the topic.  These drawing really would help the students make associations for when a test or quiz comes up.  The next day he reviewed from the day before, and kept the students attention by randomly asking questions to each student in a random order.   The day after my observations the teacher was planning on playing a jeopardy game for bonus points, and I believe that this is a great idea before a quiz so it will help relieve stress before a test, is a good way to review, and also offer bonus points to the students who are already prepared to take the test.

9th Period- World History (Freshman)- In the last class of the day the teacher would ask questions called “cold calls” that are questions to engage the students as soon as they walk in the room.  This teacher really walks around and keeps a good pace throughout the room and used constant hand motions.  If students were to start talking while he was lecturing he would keep going until they would just become quite again.  He would expand on all the points and questions through more slides and lecture to keep the students focused. 

The one major similarity I found with all the teachers is that no matter the size of the classroom or the amount of students in the class they would walk around.  Each teacher would keep moving to keep the students attention on them and their voices as well as what’s on the board.  Even in college I have now come to notice that teachers will move while speaking whenever possible and I believe this is a good thing to do.  A student’s eyes will be focused on the teacher and what they are saying or will be focused on the board to copy down the notes.  The combination of both of these tactics I believe works well because a student will try to focus both and give his or her attention to the teacher and the information. One other similarity that I saw was the use of humor throughout the day.  If the students could laugh a little during class then it releases tension on them so they can get back to the grind of the class in front of them.  You could tell that there was “authentic friendship” as described by William Ayers.  There is a line where the teachers would not cross and that was after making a joke or funny observation about a topic, not getting back to the information.  All of the teachers and students would laugh but then everyone knew that more work had to be done and no one had a problem with that.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Field Blog Cleveland Heights High School

My question that I formulated was "Is the approach to teaching small children the same as high school children?"  In my experience I was surprised with the results.  I was surprised because i did not expect there to be so many similarities,  Between Green Elementary and Cleveland Heights High School i was surprised at the way the teachers conducted their classrooms.  For instance some classes at Green had different desk arrangements such as tables, rows and columns and spread out completely.  When i walked into the high school classroom i expected the desks to be arranged in the rows and columns but was surprised to find them all in a circle.  This was so the teacher would be in the center talking to all of the students to make sure they could all see him and each other.  This took me by surprise because i never saw a classroom with this set up in high school but did in the elementary school.  It was interesting to me and appeared to work perfectly.  None of the students spoke out of turn and the class did not have notes on the board but was all discussion based.  The teacher would send a question around the class and hear everyone's opinion on it.  It was great because everyone got involved in it.  The teacher made class fun by talking with the students, not at them, just like the elementary school teachers i saw.

Ayers when talking about building bridges did not just mean literally but also metaphorically.  The bridge from childhood to adulthood is one that needs to be built for every person and teachers can help especially with this bridge.  Teachers are the ones students can look up to for the education they need for the rest of their lives.  Another example is the spiritual journey that Ayers son went on.  He saw a boy go through changes during a Bar mitzvah and saw him cross the bridge from childhood to adulthood.  When he takes his spiritual journey he finds in himself the steps to take to bring himself into adulthood.

If I were to plan a teaching experience I would include all of the things that i have learned through my observations as well as the readings.  At Cleveland Heights High School the teacher showed me a successful way to get the attention of a class is to set the desks up in a giant circle for discussion.  I would use tactics from the book such as "finding allies" and making "authentic friendships."  I would just want the students to respect me and be able to talk to me like one of their friends while still acknowledging that I am their teacher.  I would find allies by asking teachers what they find the best way to teach a class is and take what i think will work for me and incorporate it myself.  The best way i found in the reading is "learning from your own experience."  Through trial and error i would find what works for me and for teaching the students.  Most importantly i would incorporate films into my lecture whenever possible because like the late, great, James Skerl once said "A class without movies, is like a day without sunshine."

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Blog Post 7

"What does it mean to become a teacher?"  I believe that it was best summed up through the writings of William Ayers specifically chapter four in To Teach.  His belief and use of the building bridges technique is what I believe it is all about.  Teaching is all about building bridges and making connections to the students and their lives.  He shows in the book a literal use of bridge building by helping the students find a way to build a bridge for the class pet (a turtle).  The figurative meaning of bridge building however is the real point he was trying to get across.  He explains the bridges between: conception, growth, childhood, adulthood, and death.  It is a teachers job to help build the bridge for a student between childhood and adulthood and even further give them the materials they need for the rest of their lives.  A teacher is not just a person who relays information from a textbook to a student, a teacher is a person who can make connections to the students lives and help them become the people they will be for the rest of their lives.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Blog Post 6

The post it note experiment made me pay more attention to the reading and think deeper about the subjects at hand.  When I read, sometimes I just go through the pages and let my mind wander to different things but the post it notes helped me to focus.  As i was reading through the pages of the book and making notes i noticed that i did not receive the "banking" form of education.  It seemed strange to me to read about how teachers do not care about their students and just throw information at them instead of taking the time to make sure their students understand what they are doing.  I wrote on several post it notes "Never happened in my schools" and "No teachers acted like this for me."  I did not know if the book would go over how a teacher would be able to include their students into the lessons and do more than teach but to make sure their students learned through examples and trial and error, but the following pages showed me the other type of education, like the one i received.  When I came across the pages about the education I had, i wrote a note saying "my teachers helped me to adapt" which i do believe is true.  Although there are some bad teachers i do believe there are just as many, if not more that are trying to do the right thing.  The "problem-posing" teaching is the way i was taught and i am very glad it was this way.  I feel like i learned a lot more with teachers who would help the students by giving us freedom instead of trying to take over and throw information at us.  Students learn more critically when the student no longer is seen as a student but a c-investigator, and i know this is the way i will work with my students.