Author: dtwilliams

Blog Post #6: My Philosophy

My current personal philosophy on creating a productive learning environment for my future students is as follows. First, I want the classroom to be comfortable (obviously if I and the students are going to be spending a lot of time in the room we want it to be nice and welcoming). Secondly I want consistency in both rules, routine and classroom behavior. Good behavior is to be encouraged while bad behavior is to be discouraged and dealt with appropriately. This leaves students entirely in the know as to what is expected of them WITHIN my classroom while minimizing any potential trepidation they may have. Further, I’d make them part of the process in crafting these rules through a collaborative contract which they would sign, thus creating something tangible to which they can refer to regarding expectations and also as something to hold them accountable to. Non negotiable rules will also be clearly established and visible with consequences equally understood by the students. The third goal I’d have for a positive classroom environment is activity and rigor. I want the classroom to be an enthusiastic, active place of learning and skill development where it would be my part to minimize lag in between tasks and lectures and work to engage the students. Above all else I should be concerned with teaching my students material, and helping develop their skills while just as importantly teaching them how to think and successfully initiate and execute inquiry on their own. All other objectives to these are secondary.

Blog Post #5

For the start of class one of the teachers I watched allowed students to interact and talk quietly among themselves before the bell rang. At that point he commanded their attention, informed them for the task required of them that day and informed them to break and get to work. For this particular class/students this strategy was effective (the class was a sort of computer lab). In another class, although the students were somewhat more rambunctious and had previously failed algebra, the teacher was largely effective. During the middle of the lesson she did her best to keep the students engaged and largely succeeded by calling upon them to help work out examples, and keeping the content flowing and by the close of the lesson had the students working individually and answering questions/addressing disciplinary concerns.

Three common transitions between these teachers were: transitioning between the introduction to the work, transitioning between the lesson and in-class work, and the transitioning between the next class. The teachers handled these largely the same by gaining the students’ attention before engaging in the lesson, clearly explaining the assignment and expectations of what they were to do, and then keeping them busy to the end by answering questions, foreshadowing what would happen during their next class together, and what to have prepared for it.

One strategy that I saw used in managing the classroom that I’d like to apply was the use of a ¬†signed and student developed classroom contract. All of the classrooms I entered had one of these, which I later found out was a school-wide practice. The students were chiefly responsible for the development of these, with the teacher providing mediation, input and making THEY’RE requirements clear. The students then signed them and each class had its own contract posted clearly for all to see. This gave the teachers something tangible ¬†to hold students accountable to.

Blog #4

Blog: https://www.smartclassroommanagement.com/2014/09/06/11-reasons-why-you-should-never-ever-lose-your-cool/

I thought this was a very relevant and informative blog about why teachers shouldn’t ever let situations provoke them into losing their composure and resorting to anger in front of their students. Some of the reasons the author lists for this are that: it sabotages rapport, weakens your classroom management plan, undermines accountability, worsens behavior, leads to parent complaints, ruins trust, announces your lack of effectiveness, fills the classroom with tension, teaches students to do the same, destroys your fulfillment, and burdens you with stress.

Website:  https://www.nea.org/tools/ClassroomManagement.html

This website, for the National Education Association, has  a tools and ideas section which has many articles that can be helpful to both teachers and parents. Furthermore, under the  overarching subject of classroom management is divided into a number of easily accessible subcategories including: bullying, character, classroom setup, discipline, parents, routines and procedures.

Video:  https://www.teachingchannel.org/videos/setting-classroom-tone

This encapsulates the essence about setting the classroom tone and expectations from day one and being consistent in your enforcement of class rules and norms, particularly non-negotiable conditions. The example in the video was emphasizing the importance of entering class quietly and without speaking to maximize the use of class time and eliminating distraction. This was just one of the examples of the host of videos available on Teaching Channel. I anticipate using this as a source later on down the line once I start teaching.

Blog #3: A response to ‘The future of Alaska Native education’

The author points out that government boycott of various indigenous cultures around the world, including the Sami in Norway and the Maori people in New Zealand, has been harmful to them and draws upon these groups’ histories to make a parallel to the status quo of ¬†Alaskan Natives. These are important comparisons to be aware of. Cultural history is important, absolutely, and it is something which should be encouraged. However, I think the author overlooks some important things and has some incorrect assumptions.

In the first case there’s a reason why non-natives make up the majority of educators and service providers to these communities, and that is simply because there are not enough natives in these areas of work to meet ¬†community demand. Also, what is implicitly implied in the article is ¬†that Anglo-Saxons are some kind of cultural elite or majority. This is both empirically and numerically incorrect. The single largest ¬†group in the United States are Hispanics, with Americans of German descent being second. Furthermore, other ethnic/cultural groups, such as Jewish and Japanese Americans, out perform Anglo-Saxons both in terms of income and per-capita college attendance.

The absolute principle way to achieve prosperity is to equip oneself with marketable ¬†skills and ¬†provide a product or service for which people are willing to pay you. Both of these require training and education, and teachers play no small part in this. This is not merely some ‘western’ cultural construct but is and always has been the way of the world. Education is, or at least is supposed to be, a ¬†place ¬†where students prepare themselves for independence by acquiring knowledge and developing vital skills. This is a message which needs to be firmly understood both by teachers and communities.

Now, that being said teachers must find effective ways to teach to their respective classrooms, and every one them is different. There needs to be an effort by outside teachers to find a way to connect with their class and provide vital material to them in a way the students perceive as relevant. Respect of culture also needs to take place. Condescension is not conducive to a good learning environment and is often met with hostility. The histories and languages of the various Alaskan Native tribes are important to them and should be made a part of their curriculum, absolutely. The capacity to propel oneself to new heights lies within the individual, and not becoming part of some dependent class. But, without an effective education, or training, or marketable skill the individual has little  chance of success, be they Alaskan Native or any other group.

Rules of the Game

I would develop classroom rules based upon, what I felt to be core, essential criteria for a good learning and social environment. Further, I would seek for these rules to be applicable not only within a classroom setting but outside it as well in order to bolster the likelihood of the rules being relevant to the students. These rules would be few in number, so as to be easily understood, easy to recall, and attainable.    The ultimate reason for seeking to implementation and enforcement of these rules is to help create a pleasant, positive, and effective learning environment while at the same time trying to impart  good character traits within the students and even skills relating to the rules.

The rules I’ve currently selected to work with are as follows: Respect, Assistance, Negotiation, and Punctuality. I selected these rules for the following reasons. Respect encompasses all appropriate courtesies to one’s fellow students in addition to the teacher, guest, presenter, or speaker. This is a vital character trait to have not only within the classroom but also in the professional world. Assistance places a high value on students not only seeking help when they’re having difficulty grasping a concept but also encourages students to help one another with potentially vexing or difficult tasks. This is likely to lead to a production of empathy and social skills among the students while helping engage their critical thinking and problem solving abilities. Third is negotiation. Negotiation is key to both conflict resolution both within and outside the classroom. Through negotiation students will be able to assign the tasks within a group project to handling conflicts among themselves. Lastly is promptness. This last point is important in establishing the good habit of being on time. Punctuality ¬†is required in many areas of life, and is of high value for its effect on others. Should students be late they provide distraction to others and also short themselves by not being present for some potentially important information.

https://www.edutopia.org/blog/early-year-effective-classroom-discipline-allen-mendler

Concerning links, I found the following post. I found it interesting in its emphasis on the importance of early childhood practices to influence later behavior patterns. At its core many of the suggestions are things which seem to be consistent with the reading including: student feedback, positive attitude and enthusiasm, guidelines on handling inappropriate behavior. Interesting read certainly.

https://Wordle: 4 Rules of The Game

Introduction: Dillon Williams

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Howdy! My name’s Dillon. I was born in Anchorage and currently live in Wasilla, the city where I was raised. I’m a recent graduate of the University of Alaska Fairbanks in History and am pursuing an MAT and a teaching certification. It is my hope to be learnin high school kids here in the not too distant future. I enjoy working with youngins and am eagerly looking forward to a future career as an educator. I’m hoping that this long distance education option works out and am counting on this being ¬†a killer semester. Stay cool, my friends!