Author: dcnero

Blog 6 — Philosophy

Living in Kodiak, Alaska for the majority of my life has greatly impacted the way that I look at what and how education should be. Everyone knew each other, and this effect also makes its way into the school. Because of the small town environment, the educators —— and the community —— has a natural investment on the students’ educational careers.

The purpose of (high-school) education is to prepare the students for adulthood. Of course, the path that the students will take depends on the student. However, our role is to guide the students to a path. We provide the foundation of the structure that will allow knowledge. We make them recognize that that structure is for their own use, potential, and strength. Things that they will learn in classroom will become the beams and the substance that will strengthen that structure.

Education is progressive and incremental. Therefore, we must accommodate to the diversity of the students. They learn best in their own and their educators’ interests. In order to them interested, teachers must present different topics and must present them in different ways, especially that there are different types of learning methods. A classroom curriculum, must be open to different approaches and methods to topics. For example, in a classroom of diverse students, I would pick a multi-cultural and multi-genre approach in literature.

I think the ideas that I voiced out —— although fairly skeletal —— do bring out various aspects of classroom management. In order for a good learning environment to exist, teachers must (1) foster a close rapport with the students, (2) acknowledge the academic diversity of the students, (3) make the students recognize their potential, (4) invest and trust in the students. It is important to set the foundation of the classroom being an environment of growth and learning.

Blog 5

Classroom Management Strategies
1. Opening: At the beginning of each class, the teacher puts up the day’s agenda on the ELMO projector. The agenda includes students’ tasks before, during, and after the class. It also has a pre-lesson question to get the students’ minds working.
2. During: The teacher likes to walk around the classroom and talks to each table group to see where they are at in their work. Also, I’ve noticed that the teacher takes what the students tell her and affirms that their findings are relevant to what the lesson is about.
3. Closure: I think it is important to end the day with a short summary of what happened, and the teacher definitely did that. She mentioned what the homework is for the night, and she gave a preview of what the students should expect to be learning for the next time they’re in class.

Common Transitions
1. I noticed that the teacher does a heavy, comfortable sigh to get the attention of the classroom when she wants to talk. I think showing this body language and making sure that the students know this body language is important in a transition.
2. When the teacher does want to go to a different direction in a discussion, she weaves in the last bits of the previous topic into the next topic. I find it a skill to segue from one subject to another with such finesse. It shows that the teacher wants the students to know that there are always connections in what they are learning, and that they should connect everything that they are learning.
3. I observed a classroom one day, and there was an intercom announcement. The teacher had to stop the lesson for a couple of seconds. Once the announcement was over, she made a joke about it and resumed the lesson. I think using humor to ease back into a lesson after an interruption is a good way to bring students back into focus.

Strategy that I Observed
One of the things that I liked about my classroom is their rewards system. It is called 50 Miles to Donut town. The goal is for the class period to get 50 points in order to get donuts for the whole class. What I find interesting about this is that it is not only individual students that are responsible for the points gained in class; the class as a whole can also earn points. (Of course, they —— meaning both the students and the whole class —— lose points too, but I’m going to focus on the rewards). For example, if a student turns in a paper that had an 90% or higher, the class gets 1 point. But if half of the class turns in papers that gained over 90%, then they can potentially earn 25 points (which is halfway to Donut Town!). If the whole class reaches that 90% grade, they can potentially earn 50 points, reach Donut Town, and have donuts as treats for the class period. I think this system super great because it tracks both individual and group progress, and it also fosters teamwork in the classroom!

Blog 4: Teacher-Student Relationships

1. TEDTalk —  Rita Pierson: Every kid needs a champion

I love TedTalks, and my former English teacher sent this to me as I was trudging through my freshman year of college. In this video, Rita Pierson —— a teacher for 40 years —— galvanizes teachers to personally connect with their students and to believe in the power of those connections. Here is a clip that forever sticks with me, because it is what my former English teacher did for me & my classmates: “We teach anyway because that’s what we do. Teaching and learning should bring joy. HOw powerful would our world be if we had kids who were not afraid to take risks, who were not afraid to think, and who had a champion. Every child deserves a champion, and an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection, and insists that they become the best they could possibly be.”

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2. NPR Morning Edition — Experiment Tests if Teacher-Student Relationship Helps Performance

I also love NPR. This story is about an experiment by the University of Vienna and University of Dresden on kindergarteners, in which they are shown a quick series of pictures (including pictures of their teachers) and are required to find patterns. The study showed that, by seeing teachers that they liked, the kindergarteners find patterns more immediately. This suggests that having a good teacher-student relationships helps with student performance, and that perhaps learning starts not in the textbooks but with the relationship.

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3. ASCD (Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development) —  Developing Positive Teacher-Student Relations

This site gives a chapter except of Educator’s Guide to Preventing and Solving Discipline Problems by Mark and Christine Boynton. Even in just the first chapter, it gives really short and succinct tips on doing discipline, developing classroom pride, reducing frustration and stress, and creating positive interactions with students. It’s a nice little website that definitely makes me want to look at the whole book!

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Paul Berg — Article Reflection

This article raised several of issues that the Western methods of education has implicated on Native Alaskan cultures, especially with the comment about Social Darwinism. It is true that there is a lot of social erasure that happens when the culturally dominant “colonizers” invade the area to inculcate the native inhabitants, and it is unfortunate to see their cultures be discounted. The white-American concern for the Native Alaskan may be concealing, still, the dark truth of their dominance and a clandestine control.

What a breath of fresh air, though, to see that some steps have been taken to re=orient the educational system for Native Alaskans to their needs, not only academically but also culturally. For a student to learn, especially in their adolescent years, it is crucial for them to really learn their culture because that can bring group solidarity, secure identity, and new insight to share in Western classrooms. I think that it would be awesome to see how a purely Native Alaskan educational system would be, and I would attempt being a student in it! Yes, it will take a long time for it to reach that ideal equilibrium, especially that the tradition of the dominant American school system has been established for centuries. But it never hurts to hope.

rules & procedures — blog 2


So … I failed to realize that there was a particular procedure (look! A vocabulary word!) in posting this blog and that there were certain information that needed to be in blog 2. Therefore, here’s my correction! Wow, what a learning experience!

In my junior and senior year of high school, I was lucky enough to be enrolled in English classes that the upperclassmen warned about. The classes were taught by a burly, towering, and balding man named Mr. Jackson. As a freshman, I remember seeing him walk through the hallway with such command that he could literally part the sea of students all the way to his classroom. He was a frightening teacher, yes, but being in his class made me realize that the only reason why he was frightening was because of how much he understands (1) how the classroom needs to work, (2) how to work his classroom to make it flourish, (3) how to make his students work for their benefit.

His walls had paintings depicting imagery from classic works of literature. In the corner between his desk and the whiteboard were 5 rules hand-painted by students. They were succinct, they were easy to understand —— just like the mnenomics that a lot of y’all have suggested. I’m going to borrow Mr. Jackson’s rules (and I’m sure they aren’t “his’ rules —— because I’ve seen them in textbooks, on the internet, other classrooms), and I will apply them to my classroom.

The rules are “The 5 P’s‘
Prompt — be on time (to class, in turning in homework, in responding)
Prepared — be ready (have materials — textbooks, homework, answers, questions)
Productive — be curious (keep asking, keep working, keep following)
Polite — be respectful (to others, to teacher, to yourself)
Patient — be calm (understand and acknowledge diversity)

They’re so succinct and so universal. Everyone (including the teacher!) are required to follow these rules —— rules that promote academic growth but also proper social behavior as well. They can be applied to English classes —— in fact, any classes for any subject!

Also, I found this pdf online entitled “Creating and Implementing Effective Rules and Consequences’. It looks like a chapter of a book, but it’s written in a very approachable manner and can be used for classrooms of any subject and grade. Also, it has some suggested websites, comics, and references to our textbook! (