Blog 6

“Suicide on Campus and the Pressure of Perfection”  New York Times- Read the article (pdf). Discuss the article. What can you learn from it for your practice?

This is such a difficult and complicated subject. While I was reading I continually found myself thinking how contradictory our culture is on so many issues, and this is one of them. I believe this is deeply rooted in our culture, and something that is not simply fixed. To be honest I think this problem needs to be addressed mainly in the home. I think that a big problem in the U.S., is the degradation of the home, a place that should be stable safe, has boundaries, and teaches children and parents them with care and affection, is not any of those things in a lot of cases. I think that in this article the student examples seemed to have an okay home life, but I would argue that if a student has a good relationship with their parents, the level of suicide really decreases.

 

I think that in some of these students lives, that deal with being perfectionists, it is important to be shown areas of needed growth. I think if at all possible, there needs to be an effort at school and at home to help the student realize that they are valued despite their grades or performance in school. They are valued by simply being a human being. In my opinion, this is where most people lack a punch, because a lot of people just think we get our worth from our achievements, or self-consciousness, or whatever we want I guess… but I believe that we get our worth and value from God, the fact that we are made in the image of God, and that we are all here for a purpose. Of course, I believe all those things give us “worth” or make us feel worth something anyway, but when all those things are gone, or appear to be gone, especially for someone with thoughts of suicide, I think that our very core value is revealed. A value that all humans are special from the rest of creation, that they are made in the image of God. I believe that we are more than mere animals, not simply driven by desires and chemical balances, with no moral compass. I think we are more than mere animals, with no other purpose than to survive and pass on our genes to the next generation, and to take this time we have and make it as fun and as full as we can. Trying to explain why, from a biological evolutionary perspective, that someone matters when you strip everything away from them, or they strip themselves of everything else, is very difficult, and in my opinion… impossible. People might say that, “well the girl in the article was a Christian, right? And she still didn’t feel valued”, and I would say that she didn’t understand what it really meant to be a Christian, because any Christian would know that taking your own life, a life that the Son of God gave His life for, would be a grievous sin. Right? One of the basic understandings of Christian theology is realizing and appreciating the great price that was paid for you, the great value that you have to God. The idea that we can have everything stripped away from us, and yet, noting surpasses knowing Christ and being in relationship with Him, a Christian is content with Christ… So, I think that someone’s core belief about themselves is where this fight really is, and I think that we don’t necessarily have the ability to talk about this in a high school setting, but maybe we should? Anyway, I think for right now, I can just tell students who struggle with this kind of difficulty, that they are more than just their grades in school. I would also say that they should be exposed to failure under the care and watch of their parents and teacher, so that they can learn how to properly cope with failure in life, since, in fact, it is something that they will experience, at some point.

Blog Post 6

I feel as if mental health is a subject many people shy away from. Mental health is very prevalent in the world to day and everybody is still scared to talk about it. I think a lot of people have struggled with mental health issues. Some people made it past their issues and some did not. I think if more people were to talk about mental issue, more people would be inclined to receive help. I see a lot of people making fun of people going through mental issues and I don’t find this subject funny at all. You never know what a person is actually dealing with and they are trying to keep it together. When they go the route of ending their life, I feel as if they had no more hope.

Blog Post 7

 

Classroom Management Plan

Dymonds Davis

EDSC 458

06 December 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

Table of Contents

 

Introduction………………………………………………………………………………3

Figure 1

Preparation before the School Year starts………………………………………………3-4

 

Routines/Policies/Procedures/Rules……………………………………………………4-5

Figure 2

Figure 3

Figure 4

Safety and legal requirements……………………………………………………………5-6

 

Working with administration and parents…………………………………………………6

 

Planning and Instruction………………………………………………………………….7

Figure 5

Student Diversity (Cultural and Special Needs).………………………………………7-8

 

Summary………………………………………………………………………………….8

 

References………………………………………………………………………………8-9

 

 

 

 

 

Introduction

Classroom management in art classrooms are just as important as other subject areas. Student’s success is heightened when classrooms are adequately managed. According to the Educational Leadership “classroom management is a collection of techniques that teachers use to encourage effective learning by minimizing distractions and disruptions”. (2018) Classroom management is a vigorous tool if it used correctly. According to the Educational Leadership journal, “Effective classroom management systems are effective because they increase student success by creating an orderly learning environment that enhances students’ academic skills and competencies, as well as their social and emotional development”. (Smith, 2014) It is also important to create daily routines and build trust and rapport with students.

Preparation before the School Year starts

          Organization is one of the major keys to classroom management in the art classroom. Before students return to school, teachers should organize all materials and supplies. Supplies that are no longer useful, should be donated or thrown away. Students and teachers should be able to easily retrieve art supplies and materials. Art supplies should be stored in a designated area and should always be returned to the proper areas at the end of each class. Teachers should prepare a back-to-school checklist to make sure they have all the materials and supplies required. Teachers should also review the first week’s lesson plans arrange the classroom furniture.

 

 

 

Routines/Policies/Procedures/Rules

Routines, policies, procedures, and rules follow us throughout our entire life. All rules should be disclosed at the beginning of school. Rules should also be posted as a reminder to all students. Frequent review of the rules should highly be considered. High energy and creativity can possibly pose a problem in the art classroom and frequent review of the rules can help keep those problems at a minimum. Routines are hugely significant in effective classroom management. All routines should be established at the beginning of the school year, so all students will know what to do upon entrance into the classroom. A few weeks into schools’ students should be successfully start working on designated projects. Students should know where all supplies are located, for the most part. Daily routines are important and should be followed. Routines should become second nature to students.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Safety and Legal Requirements

          Safety in the art classroom is extremely important. Safety guidelines should precede every lesson and proper use of safety equipment should be demonstrated prior to use. Safety equipment should also be clean and easily accessible to students and teachers. Sometimes dangers in the art classroom can be overlooked since they may not be as apparent as other classrooms. Here are a couple of ways art teachers can keep classrooms safe:

  1. Make sure each student knows the rules of safety and follows them.
  2. Only use materials that are safe for students to use and make sure to read the labels.
  3. Hang decorative safety signs around the classroom to remind everyone to follow the rules.

Teacher supervision while students are working with toxic materials or hazardous equipment is important. At no point should teachers not be supervising students while operating hazardous equipment. Art safety in the classroom should be aligned with the guidelines from the Art and Creative Materials Institute (ACMI), which the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District has adopted in the current Art Curriculum.

Working with administration and parents

          Teachers working with administrators and parents is very vital. The more teachers collaborate with parents there is less of chance for behavioral issues. If students know parents and teachers communicatined often they would probably be more reluctant to act out. Communication between teachers and parents should not just be a negative situation. Teachers should also report to parents when students are doing what they are supposed to be doing or going above and beyond. Collaboration with administrators is important as well. When teachers work together to support students, students display a positive attitude. Students want to know teachers, administrators, and parents are supporting them.

Planning and Instruction

Planning lessons are an important step in classroom management, especially in the art room. Supplies and materials should be prepped beforehand, so teachers are not searching for things last minute. If possible, teachers should try and collaborate with other teachers in similar content areas. Successful teachers are always learning new material. When planning lessons, teachers should think about strategies, timing, materials, and success. According to Art Education, “Good lesson planning is essential to the process of teaching and learning materials”. (Marschalek, 2004) For art teachers, the instructions are given at the beginning of the class. Many times, these instructions can include demonstrations or instructional videos. Students may also need one on one help on specific projects.

Student Diversity (Cultural and Special Needs)

          Fairbanks is a military town, so there is a variety of different culture and special needs students. Creating lesson plans for diverse cultures and special needs can be a challenge sometimes. For students with Individual Education plans (IEP), lessons plans could be extremely hard. Teachers must make sure special needs students are able to complete assignments. Sometimes lesson plans can take a little extra planning. Teachers sometimes must find ways to differentiate lessons for special needs students. They may have to find different equipment or materials for special education students. Teachers may also have to allow special needs students more time to complete assignments. Art can help expose students to the way art is created in different cultures. Many students are only familiar with the way it is done in their culture. A lot of students are not aware of the many different cultures. Teachers should try to choose lessons that are conducive to several different cultures.

Summary

          Quality classroom management is essential in all subjects. Classes run smoother when they are properly managed. Creating routines help students be successful. Daily routines should be established at the beginning of the school year. Students will most likely follow these daily routines if they are properly rendered every day. Organization can also help with time management. Students should be able to easily locate supplies to complete assignments. Planning is also a huge part of adequate classroom management. Understanding student diversity, culturally and special needs, is also essential to great classroom management.

References

Aldrup, K., Klusmann, U., Lüdtke, O., Göllner, R., & Trautwein, U. (2018). Social Support and

Classroom Management Are Related to Secondary Students’ General School Adjustment: A

Multilevel Structural Equation Model Using Student and Teacher Ratings. Journal of Educational

Psychology, 110(8), 1066–1083. https://doi.org/10.1037/edu0000256

Davis, M. (2014). Stop the Blame Game: Teachers and Parents Working Together to Improve Outcomes

for Students with Behavior Disorders. Journal of the American Academy of Special Education

Professionals, 48–59. Retrieved from

http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eric&AN=EJ1134852&site=ehost-live

Marschalek, D. G. (2004). Four Learning Environments for the Contemporary Art Education Classroom:

Studio, Information, Planning, and Electronic. Art Education, 57(3), 33–41. Retrieved from

http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eric&AN=EJ740152&site=ehost-live

Marzano, R. J., Gaddy, B. B., Foseid, M. C., Fosied, M.P., &Marzano, J.S. (2009).

A Handbook for classroom management that works; Research-based strategies

for every teacher. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

Smith, K., & Klumper, D. (2018). VIRTUALLY in the Classroom: Virtual reality platforms can give

preservice teachers’ opportunities to develop real classroom management skills. Educational

Leadership, 76(1), 60–65. Retrieved from

http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=trh&AN=131744395&site=ehost-live

Tell Me About: Tell us about your best-kept classroom management secret. (2018). Educational

Leadership, 76(1), 92–93. Retrieved from

http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=trh&AN=131744404&site=ehost-live

CM Plan

 

 

 

 

 

 

Classroom Management Plan

By: Edward Paxson

EDSC 458

Dr. Kaden

11-26-18

 

 

 

 

 

Table of Contents

 

Introduction: ………………………………………………….. 3

 

Routines/Policies/Procedures/Rules: ………………………… 4

Safety and legal requirements: ……………………………….. 8

Planning and Conduction Instruction,
Student Diversity, Engagement, and Differentiation: ….…….. 9

Collaborating and communicating parents
and educational stakeholders: ………………………………… 11

Summary: ……………………………………………………..  13

References: ……………………………………………………  17

 

 

Introduction:

When a large group of teenagers are gathered together in a classroom, the purpose for doing so will likely be for them to learn. However, as it is so easy for people to become distracted and put their social life over their intellectual development, classroom management becomes a necessary skill for the teacher to integrate into all their lessons. The better a teacher is at classroom management, the more time the students will spend learning. A skilled teacher will often implement classroom management strategies as a second nature. Any classroom that appears to run smoothly will likely have many different types of classroom management strategies that the teacher has utilized. Classroom management benefits the students by providing them with an environment conducive to learning. This helps them to gain intellect as well as a good grade in the class. Classroom management benefits the teacher by making their job easier by significantly reducing the distractions and discipline involved with teaching.

Most of my teaching in Social Studies revolves around interactive lecture and short videos. In addition, other forms of differentiation such as “think-alouds” in class, independent and group work on projects, and in-class work on homework are utilized. When I lecture, I encourage students to raise their hand with questions. While this sometimes disrupts the flow of my lecture, it keeps the students engaged and displaying interest in the subject in an orderly manner.

When I am showing a short video, usually to reinforce what I just finished teaching, I frequently pause the video at times when I want to emphasize or expand what was just said. I often walk around the classroom, especially if it is a large and/or talkative classroom to make sure the students stay focused on the subject material. I even bought a wireless mouse, so I can pause the video from anywhere in the classroom. One time while I was showing part of a video on a Hindu pilgrimage, a student started to ask me a blatantly unserious question about the Hindu creation story that merely belittled Hinduism (it had to do with aliens coming to earth). Instead of playing into the trap this student was trying to pull me into, I restarted the video without giving him so much as a response. A seasoned educator who was observing me at the time complimented me on this classroom management technique by saying that student was making a power play: Who was in charge of the class? Me or him? I demonstrated that it was me by ignoring a comment that was not serious and hence, would have distracted from the other students learning about Hinduism.

In my classroom, my view of classroom management includes a strong emphasis on making students comfortable with me but still respectful of me and my position. I need students to feel free to participate and I want them to be able to have their moment to shine when they have something intelligent or useful to contribute. Because of this, an emphasis on teacher-student relationships is paramount to my ability to manage my Social Studies classroom.

 

Routines/Policies/Procedures/Rules:

Starting off on the first day of class, it is important to set the tone your class will take for the semester. If you are going to have a seating chart, make it now. Personally, I prefer to let my students sit where they please out respect for their maturity. However, I clearly communicate to them that this is a privilege that can be taken away. Since it is given to them out of respect for their maturity, but if they demonstrate a lack thereof, the privilege will promptly be taken away (it has so far been taken away for 3rd and 6th hour). This is one example of making sure that there are clearly defined, yet fair consequences for unacceptable behavior. This is something that needs to be applied to all rules and enforced consistently as to avoid being seen by the students as picking favorites.

Another order of business will be setting class rules. It is important to set class rules, so they can be referenced during student misbehavior. I recommend keeping them limited to no more than five. Any more may become a cumbersome list that gets ignored. Make sure to prominently post these rules in your classroom. I have seen a lot of classroom walls that are covered with endless posters full of words that I am positive, few to none of the students ever read. Below is an example of a well-intentioned poster that students will ignore. (If you need them to use this information, print it out, provide examples, and turn it into an assignment.) Do not let your class rules get lost in the clutter of distractions like this.

Figure 1

Having the students come up with their own class rules is another option. This can be a team-building activity that leads to them self-policing their own behavior to avoid hypocrisy. If you do this, make sure to provide the guidelines you want these rules to fall under. It is advisable to keep rules brief as to allow for your interpretation to be backed up when issues arise. Michael Linsin recommends the following four rules: (cite)
1. Listen and follow directions.

  1. Raise your hand before speaking or leaving your seat.
  2. Keep your hands and feet to yourself.
  3. Respect your classmates and your teacher.

Even setting routines can be an important aspect of rules that keeps a class orderly. Some teachers let the students socialize during the first few minutes of class while attendance is being taken, submitted, and student questions/concerns are being answered. A better routine to get the students into may, however, be have them do an independent assignment during the first 5 minutes of class. In a Social Studies class, this may be responding to a journal prompt which counts as a participation grade. The journal prompt could be something random, such as responding to an interesting quote, or it could be something that gets the students thinking about the subject matter and what they know and do not know about it.

In addition, make sure a serious of predictable issues are addressed. What is your policy for students who need to go to the bathroom? Who show up late? Who miss class or hand in late work? What are the repercussions for repeatedly failing to follow the class rules? We must remember that we are dealing with children who mean well but will faulter. How are these predictable scenarios going to be handled? In Classroom Management Plans, Diana Greenhouse and Kazim Cicek (2018)

even recommend having carefully planned out notes or a script on the first day in order to ensure that your presentation goes exactly as planned.

 

Safety and Legal Requirements:

The concern for student safety is paramount to any teacher’s classroom. Above all else, parents want to know that their child is safe in school. Through rules and good classroom management, physical fights should not be an issue. In the 15-year history of my high school, there has never been a physical fight between boys (there have been some between girls). As a tall, strong man with a deep, loud voice, I can command a classroom whenever the need arises. Such a presence should be used only sparingly when students have failed to respond to other, more reasonable requests and techniques.

Education researcher at Dr. Linda Dusenbury recommends that if safety in the form of say bullying behind your back is a concern in the classroom, manage the class so that you do not have to have your back turned. You can place a mirror on the white board or ask students to go write on the board. The latter may be best because it does not let students know that you do not trust them and it gets students out of their seats and engaged.

Make sure to go through safety procedures with your students. In my classroom, this includes ALICE training which is about how to respond to an active shooter scenario. There are other safety concerns to review such as what to do in the event of a natural disaster or a fire. As a teacher, if it important that you make sure to have all your legal requirements, such as a map of the school and the route for fire evacuation posted clearly on the wall by the door. The usefulness of some of these things may be in question at times, but if a legal requirement is not met, the teacher is at fault.

My high school of Hutchison has an array of hands-on classes that contain a lot of potential for accidents. Some of these classes include engine repair classes where students work with hot, running engines, and welding where student work with torches that can reach nearly four-thousand degrees Celsius. Travis Edwards (2007) argues that typical safety instruction tends to be very lecture based and was originally designed to mitigate the potential for litigation in the result of an accident. However, this is not the most effective way to keep students safe while introducing them to the trades. Edwards argues that actual safety intervention through the form of role-playing activities works the best. Students (and people in general) are apt to think that an accident will not happen to them or are apathetic to the need for safety. Lecture alone usually does not move student beyond this stage into being compliant with rules and ultimately, a proactive steward of safety. In a country where only about half of students will complete some level of college education, it is important to keep career and technical education thriving. This can only be done if the students are staying safe in class.

 

Planning and Conduction Instruction, Student Diversity, Engagement, and Differentiation:

Teachers are in the business of forging student relationships. Students do not learn from people who they do not like. It is therefore important to enjoy being around your students and not let a few bad apples ruin your perception of your job (I have definitely seen this happened to teachers). Taking a genuine interest in your students may go a long way in being able to manage, encourage, and teach the students. Since it is hard to get much accomplished during passing periods, this is a good time to greet students at the door and/or start conversations with students, including ones that are initially shy.

When it comes to the classroom management aspects of lesson planning, it is important to keep the students busy, including during transitions. As I build differentiation into my lessons, I need to make sure the instructions on what I expect students to be doing for each part of the lesson is clear. For example, if I am lecturing, do the students need to take notes? Will I tell them what they need to write down? While it is important to keep the student’s attention, the students also need to know what is expected of them. The class period should typically not be the teacher’s performance the entire time. Find ways to turn the responsibility of learning over to the students at some point. A good class period should combine instruction with guided learning and independent learning.

As you are teaching, there are many subtle classroom management strategies to keep in mind. For example, I recently had a student who was starring off and day dreaming. They eventually noticed me starring at them and in a little shock, asked why I was starring at them. I informed them that they did not seem to be paying attention. The look on their face was that of quiet acknowledgement. I will also use my stern look as I am talking to get the attention of students who are distracting others. If it comes down to it, I will pause class as I stare at them until they get the message. My students know that there is no ill-intent behind me and respond favorably to my subtle ques. Another strategy I use is proximity and walking around the classroom. Moving about the classroom is especially useful when showing a video. I believe videos should be used as learning tools. This includes frequently pausing them to reiterate the point you are trying to get across. It also means walking around the room to make sure the students are paying attention.

It is also critical that students with IEP’s, 504 Plans, and other special needs students who need other considerations are properly accommodated in your lessons. This requires an understanding of their specials needs and how they fit into your lesson. For example, I have one student with a speech impediment and his IEP states that I cannot call on him in class because of how embarrassing and difficult it is for him to talk in front of an audience. If I am having students present material, I either need to exempt this student from that assignment, personally discuss with him whether he feels comfortable publicly speaking, or assign him something else to make up for it.

 

Collaborating and communicating parents and educational stakeholders:

During my Psychology class next semester, I plan to have my friend from Student Support Services come and talk to my class of mostly seniors who are college bound. I will have her talk about her organization and other forms of student assistance that are available at universities. Since it is a psychology class, we can also discuss some of the possible psychological reasons why nearly all students chronically underutilize so many free services that are available to them. If I can get a psychologist, either from the Psychology Department at UAF or a practitioner to come talk to the students about their path through the field and how they view its usefulness, I will jump at that opportunity. If this could be the parent of a student, all the better! Kids are more willing to take an interest in a guest speaker if they are related to one of their classmates. This would be an example of utilizing free resources available to teachers. Even having a student or family member from a culture the class is not familiar with come and talk about their culture would be a great guest speaker for any Social Studies class. In an Economics class, you could even invite the principle to speak to the class about how she manages the school and its budget.

I recently volunteered to chaperone a field trip at West Valley High School. It was for a zoology class to the Alaska state virology lab located on the UAF campus. Much of what they deal with includes variations of the rabies virus. This was an excellent, practical application of material students learned about in zoology. As for history, I once chaperoned a U.S. History class at Hutchison to visit the traveling Ann Frank exhibit at West Valley. It was good to get the students out of their seats and show them how an individual’s story can translate into concrete history.

In Figure 2 below is a picture of the Fairbanks North Star Borough School Board meeting that I attended on December 4th, 2018. In a government class, I could invite one of the school board members to come speak to my class about what they do in this elected position and how it influences the school they attend. Considering the public may speak to the board for up to 3 minutes (this is on display in Figure 2), having the students write 3-minute speeches concerning an education issue they would hypothetically address at a school board meeting is an activity idea/summative assessment that could accompany this type of community involvement in the classroom.

Figure 2: (Photo Credit: Edward Paxson)

Summary:

I am on my first semester of student teaching and will be spending a lot more time in front of the classroom during the second semester. I plan to implement many of the ideas discussed in this classroom management plan during that time when the class(s) truly become my own. I plan to print out the summary of this plan as well as the different section papers I completed from A Handbook for classroom management that works; Research-based strategies for every teacher and review my work every couple of weeks. This will prevent me from letting useful strategies slip my mind.

One thing I want to work on with my second and fifth hour is cold calling because they tend to be filled with very quiet students. Not all of my classes are like this. For example, so many of my third hour students are quick to raise their hands with questions that I do not see myself getting around to cold calling, with the exception of a small handful of students. I also want to forge more connections with students. I plan to do this by making a commitment to spend more time chatting with them during passing periods and greeting them at the door.

Usually when a teacher is dissatisfied with their time spend in the classroom, it is due to some type of failure in classroom management. As a professional, I should be able to properly regulate students that cause disruptions in my lesson plans. I want my students to think I am strict, but fair and even fun. Of course, this all starts and ends with my ability to recognize good classroom management and get comfortable with its implementation.

 

 

 

Figure 3: (Photo Credit: Edward Paxson)

Here is a picture of my classroom. My desk is located in one corner of the room while my mentor’s desk is in the opposite corner. We frequently walk back and forth between the two corner and try to not only walk around the perimeter, but also through the middle. This allows us to check up on all the students.

 

Figure 4: (Photo Credit: Edward Paxson)

Here is a picture of a fellow Social Studies teacher’s classroom at my school. Their seating is similar in the sense that it still allows the teacher to walk around the classroom to keep the students on task, but has different designs built into it. This picture was taken from the teacher’s desk. If there are students that have trouble staying on task during independent work, placing them by the teacher’s desk would be a place to help keep an eye on them.

Works Cited:

 

Cicek, K., and Greenhouse, D. (2018). Classroom Management Plans. Retrieved from:

https://www.effectiveteaching.com/userfiles/cms/unitFiles/8/GoBe005Classroom.pdf

 

Dusenbury, L. (2012). Creating a Safe Classroom Environment. Retrieved from:

https://www.educationworld.com/a_curr/creating-safe-classroom-environment-climate.shtml

 

Edwards, T. (2007). Developing Welding Safety Concepts and Behaviors Through the Use of Accident Prediction and Prevention Activities (Master’s thesis). Retrieved from:

https://education.ucdavis.edu/sites/main/files/file-attachments/EdwardsTravis.pdf

 

Linsin, M. (2011). How to Set Up a Simple, Effective Classroom Management Plan. Retried from: https://www.smartclassroommanagement.com/2011/08/06/effective-classroom-management-plan/

 

Marzano, R. J., Gaddy, B. B., Foseid, M.C., Fosied, M.P.,& Marzano, J.S. (2009). A Handbook for classroom management that works; Research-based strategies for every teacher. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

 

Blog #7: Draft CM Plan

This is a partially completed draft (about two-thirds of sections complete, no images or citations) of my final Classroom Management Plan for the F658 course, and hopefully for implementation in future years.

  • Introduction: Why CM is Important

 

The concept of Classroom Management – all rules, procedures, and routines for handling the curriculum, student positive and negative behavior and discipline, conflict resolution, listening to issues, time management, and engaging with parents and other stakeholders in the school and the community at large – is essential because teachers are responsible for the care and raising of children and teenagers for nearly a third of their waking life, at a child-to-adult ratio ten times higher than parent-based families; for imparting the knowledge and skills that will prepare them for independent adult life even if they themselves are unwilling to receive this knowledge, and for managing interactions and being law enforcement in a community the size of a small town.  This can’t happen by improvising; preparation, self-reflection, and active discussion with the students are required, and the teacher must be seen as a leader and an island of stability that makes the time spent in class worthwhile.

 

  • Preparation Before the School Year Starts

Organizing Classroom and Materials

 

My classroom of up to 22 students is normally arranged in pairs of desks in the middle of the room facing the whiteboards at the front, and the teacher’s desk and homework tray also at the front.  This gives room to walk freely and ensures that students work on assignments in pairs by default.  A countertop with storage drawers holds classroom materials; on top are that day’s supply of worksheets, pencils, pens, scrap paper, and a pencil sharpener.  At least two other tables or storage cabinets contain the same materials (except for the lesson-specific worksheets) plus paper towels, tissues, scotch tape, hand lotion, and bandages.  Bookshelves near the front contain both spare textbooks and space for binders.  These binders, one per student, will be a portfolio of completed materials.  The overhead projector linked to the teacher’s laptop will shine on one of the whiteboards.

 

Getting Off to a Good Start

 

Ideally, I would have time to send an E-mail blast to every student and every parent outlining my curriculum goals and expectations at least two weeks before school begins.  However, students are often registering up to the very last minute (and after) in this school.  The first week of school, Orientation Week, will be a chance to get to know one another.  I start by greeting incoming students at the door with a handshake (they don’t have to accept) and a hello.  I will ask everyone to choose a seat to which they’ll be assigned for the first month, and ask them to give each other’s name and hometown, taking attendance by that means.  I will hand out a survey of personal interests to be turned in to me, and then I’ll conduct non-mandatory icebreaker activities, including a game where each student tosses a foam ball to one specific other student and the ball makes the rounds that way; or a game where students write on index cards a favorite movie, book, beverage, activity, etc., and then re-group themselves and tell personal information that they want each other to know.

 

  • Routines, Policies, Procedures, and Rules

Rules/Procedures and How They Will Be Enforced

 

The first week would be for discussing the rules and why they are necessary.  I would start with five non-negotiable rules:

–          Be ready to learn when you enter.

–          Respect the right of others to learn.

–          Take responsibility for your own words and actions.

–          Do not hurt anyone, physically or emotionally.

–          No electronics use unless specifically approved by the teacher.

From there, we would talk about procedures.  My preferred one is to allow students to speak in groups when I am playing music, then stop talking and listen when the music stops or when I raise my hand and say “I need your attention.”  All others – the handling of homework, the procedure for dismissal, etc. – are up for negotiation from certain starting points.  Students would discuss these and then draft a Student Bill of Rights, which would be drawn up by volunteers with the best handwriting, and then signed by everyone and tacked to the wall.  Since many students enroll late or transfer in, every two weeks or so there would be a few minutes for “amendments” (if requested by the new students) and additional signatures.

 

Management at the School Level

 

The current Galena City School District has two schools that share students and teachers: the local Sidney C. Huntington School, and the Galena Interior Learning Academy boarding school.  Students are bused from one school to the other depending on course schedule, before 1st period, after lunch, and after last period.  Minor infractions (cell phone use, sleeping, disobedience of class rules, failing to work during allotted class times) are handled with first a quiet warning, then a one-on-one conference after the class period, then a visit to that school’s principal; while major infractions (property damage, throwing things, fighting) go straight to detention for the first offense and an out-of-school suspension for the second.  A Student Handbook available online delineates these infractions clearly.

 

Beginning and Ending the Class Period

 

There are only five minutes between the four class periods per day (block scheduling), so greeting at the door isn’t always feasible.  However, I call out a hello and each student’s name as they enter.  The whiteboard or projector has a list of what materials to get at the start of class – usually their binders and a pen/pencil – and what homework is due.  I start with a short and amusing or informative video, either Science in the News or a preview of the day’s lesson, and then students begin a short worksheet covering material from approximately two lessons prior to the day.

 

Ten minutes before the end of class I announce what homework is assigned and when it is due, then students share knowledge anonymously by filling out “exit tickets,” index cards of as many things as they remember, and then passing them around and reading each other’s work.  By the end of that activity, three or four minutes remain, and they return their binders to the shelves (unless they prefer to take them home), clean up the space under their desks, and line up single-file at the door.  Anyone whose desk is not clean is removed from the line to fix the error; regardless of any bell, no one is dismissed without my say-so, and they hand their exit tickets at the door.

 

Transitions and Use of Materials

 

The end of every major activity is preceded by a five-minute warning and then a one-minute warning.  There is a five-minute break in the middle of every 90-minute class where students may use cell phones and talk, but I use this time to discuss discipline issues with certain students as needed.  Each new activity is punctuated with “When I say GO…” and simple-as-possible instructions, then “GO.”  Evacuation emergencies (fire drills), students line up single-file on the path to the emergency exit, I grab the walkie-talkie and attendance sheet, and then everyone files out to the assembly area and stays together as a class until I hear the signal to return.

 

Materials needed for the day are gathered on the countertop at the front, and students do not get them until ready to use them.  Students have the right to sharpen pencils when I am not talking.  Students who wish to use the restroom or drinking fountain must sign a hall pass sheet and take one hall pass; only two students may be out at a time, and if they’re gone more than ten minutes I call the principal for a lookout.

 

Group Work and Teacher-Led Activities

 

Teacher-led activities are usually a lecture with students getting time to write down (or draw a diagram of) critical points on slides, but sometimes the making of a poster or a foldable study guide; watching a series of short videos and answering questions as a class; or seeing a series of “sneak preview” images of a future topic, about which students can write or say their observations and nothing is yet answered.  Each activity is broken into multiple short steps, each step preceded with “When I say GO…”; if steps cannot be broken down easily, I will give the full instruction and then ask students to talk with each other and ask “Does anyone know of a question someone in the class might have about what you need to do?”

 

Group work is typically filling out worksheets together (which is why the desks are arranged in pairs), but occasionally we work on lab experiments.  We review lab safety as a class with all students responding to questions and prompts.  Then I give students numbers and tell them to move to that number of lab table, thus randomizing the groups.  I ask each group to choose one person to gather materials, one person to manipulate the materials, one person to read the data, and the remaining students to write the data.  I stop the class if students are working too far ahead, for safety reasons; then I circulate around the room to check if groups are on-task.

 

 

 

  • Safety and Legal Requirements

Discipline and Consequences

 

Students are allowed to work in class for a reason: I can provide guidance on a topic before homework is ever assigned.  Students who refuse to work during class are instructed to attend the 45-minute After School study session, and if they fail to show, are written up for academic non-compliance.  When I hear talking when I am talking, I pause and make eye contact with the offenders.  When I see minor infractions such as cell phone use, I call the name and glance at the cell phone until the student takes the hint.  For sleepers, I circulate around the room and whisper in their ear or tap on the desk; if they’re out cold, I call their name loudly.  Backtalk usually gets a Post-it note passed to them as I circulate the room, saying to meet in the hall during the break or after class where we discuss what’s happening outside of class and why the student feels uncomfortable doing the work or focusing on the lesson.  Refusal to talk or speak one-on-one goes to the next level of discipline, talking to the principal.

 

Safety Rules/Procedures in Place at GCSD

 

GCSD has monthly fire drills.  The fire evacuation routes are posted and all teachers have walkie-talkies for use during that time.  In the event of a damaged water line or other unsafe condition at one campus of the school (SHS or GILA), students are bussed to the other campus for the day and classrooms and work spaces have to be shared.

 

Any student may request to see the front office or onsite school counselor for mental health issues without suffering negative consequences in the classroom.  They may also visit the front office for needed medications (the school doctor usually unavailable because she is also the town doctor), and clinic appointments can be scheduled as an excused absence, with parental approval by phone and transportation provided by the school.  Traveling off campus during school hours without staff supervision is a major infraction that can go straight to detention.

 

All visitors must check-in at the front desk and can only enter a classroom during school hours by prior appointment.  Galena is a town of fewer than 500 with access in and out by airplane and barge, no highways; so the risk of an active shooter is considered acceptably low that there are not currently provisions for it in the Student Handbook.

 

  • Planning and Conducting Instruction

Teacher-Student Relationships and Maintaining Student Behavior

 

Although I tend to be near my desk when showing a video, pausing the video and elaborating on certain points gives me a chance to pace around the room and grab the attention of students who might be wandering.  When I hear a question, I try to repeat it louder (if the student is very quiet); I thank everyone who gives any answer to a question, until someone gets it right; I listen to questions students ask about science, even if off-topic, and promise to get an answer in a lesson the following week.

 

Personal Interest in Students and Engagement Strategies

 

Although I’ve never been a fan of sports, most student activities are sports-oriented, so I spend time either attending a home game or reading about a team’s performance on the city’s news webpage.  I ask students coming in how their weekend was, if they got enough sleep, if they’re feeling okay, or what they did for fun last night.

 

Differentiation Needs and Strategies

 

My students are a mix of freshmen from multiple Alaskan villages and a few upperclassmen that may have learned the Physical Science concepts in Biology or Earth Science a year prior.  As a result, the reading skills range from high school to 2nd grade, and the math skills range from trigonometry down to basic arithmetic.  My in-class quizzes are managed by time, not completion: the questions get progressively harder until they reach concepts that haven’t even been taught yet, so the high achievers still don’t get finished in the allotted time and the struggling students work as much as they need to.  I also use Achieve3000

 

Special Needs Students

 

Roughly 10% of my students have an IEP, often requiring deadline extensions on assignments, clarification and rereading of directions, a flexible schedule, a calculator for all math, and sometimes preferential seating in smaller groups.

 

Withitness and Emotional Objectivity

 

“Withitness” implies the ability to sense problems before they happen, and head them off by working the crowd.  My biggest concern is that my lesson plans are not polished enough for me to feel confident delivering them: when students are not writing an assignment but are expected to listen or observe, and more than one falls asleep, I can’t come up with something interesting enough to keep them awake if I rouse them.

 

I try very hard to assume the best in everyone:  that anyone who lashes out is just having a bad day and attacking indiscriminately.  The drawback is when the same person engages in the behavior every day.

 

 

Cultural Diversity

 

I have not had significant training in understanding cultural differences between lower-48 Americans and Alaska Natives, but I have learned from a fellow teacher that the preferred method of teaching in Native societies is for an elder to perform a task while the student observes and then copies.  Thus, many of my planned assignments are actually Guided Practice, with students passing in questions that were both asked and answered as a group.