Author: lrizea

Blog #6 – Personal philosophy for a productive classroom environment

I believe that students cannot obtain productive results during the process of learning if their activity is done in a classroom where environment is not set to follow a number of pre-established and appropriated rules. In this process, the teacher has the main responsibility in designing and implementing those rules without discrimination and in the most effective ways. By adopting an effective classroom management, teacher and students alike can focus on understanding instead trying to fix daily misbehavior, minimizing the time required by nonessential activities and maximizing students’ involvement in learning.

Some of many steps teachers can take to create a productive classroom in my opinion would be:

  • Learn about their students: their challenges, interests, prior experiences and future goals
  • Learn about common issues that characterize students based on students developmental stage
  • Make sure to master the subject taught and adapt it to the needs of students in class, modifying instructional strategies when necessary
  • Arrange the classroom in a way that minimizes distractions and facilitates a good interaction with students
  • Create a classroom climate that gives students an identity that motivates them while making them feel comfortable.
  • Develop a written statement of shared beliefs, use class meetings and teach students specific strategies for conflict prevention and resolution
  • Efficiently organize the time and materials in classroom, teach meaningful, innovative lessons inspired from real life situations
  • Constantly exhibit withitness in classrooms
  • Communicate periodically with parents not just when problems arise in addition to participating in meetings with counselors, administration and other teachers
  • Avoid relying on punishment and use preventive managing behavior strategies that should minimize potential discipline problems
  • Stick with the classroom rules previously discussed and practiced and set reasonable limits for behavior
  • Do the best to become a role model for students.

Blog #5 – Classroom Observation

  1. Describe effective management strategies you observed for opening a lesson, applied during a lesson, and for lesson closure

During my class observation I’ve observed the following strategies:

At the beginning of the lesson:

The teacher greeted students at the door with a warm shake hands while smiling. As soon as I entered in the classroom I was struck by the welcoming atmosphere reflected by the posters on the walls and the seats arrangements. The various posters reflected classroom rules and consequences and samples of students work while the seats were arranged in a U shape. The lesson I observed addressed “whole number comparison’ to 6th grade students and the essential question: “How do you compare different numbers?’ was written on the board.  Students seemed eager to enter the classroom and without further instructions, they checked their attendance cards, picked up their warm-up assignment, went to their seats and started working quietly for 5 minutes.

During the lesson:

While students worked on their warm-up, teacher stopped by their desks and gave feedback about their behavior and academic work. The teacher constantly praised her students: “Good job’, “Perfect’, and “You are smarter than you think you are’. Next, students started working individually on their past assignments while teacher praised them for their efforts and responses. After presenting the lesson plan and schedule, teacher stated she expected students to work together in groups to help each other while keeping their voices low. She also told students to raise their hands when they finished working on their assignments. Teacher walked between tables checking students’ activity for effort and accuracy. Students who couldn’t solve the problems raised their hands and received help from teacher who kept her voice low and thanked students for their contribution in solving problems and for helping each other. Students seemed to understand teacher’s body language. After first quarter of the class period, the teacher asked students to work in groups and to help each other. When the class became too noisy, at a teacher’s sign students started repeating: “Teacher’s voice on, students’ voice down’. While working in groups, students followed their assigned roles, helping each other. They kept their voices low and shared class materials. Students were all the time on task while doing group work. They seemed to know class rules and routines and could self-manage their class participation. Students helped each other while following a polite attitude by using terms like: ‘please’ and “thank you’ They were waiting for their turn to receive help. Students responded instantly to teacher suggestions, especially evident during transitions between activities. They waited for their turn and raised their hands. Students didn’t do or talk about other activities but the scheduled ones. They asked high level questions when they encountered difficulties and compared their results followed by discussions of real life examples. All students behaved very well and were actively engaged in class activities. They followed the class rules and routines without any class disruption.

During lesson closure:

All students followed the class schedule and the ones who finished earlier worked on alternative assignments. Students had to write an explanatory note about what they had learned in class before the class ended. Teacher praised students on their way to the door for their contribution to a successful day in math. Students cleaned their desks, aligned to the door and exit the class in order.

2.  Name 3 common transitions you observed and how did the teacher handle those.

a) Students seemed eager to enter the classroom and without further instructions, they checked their attendance cards, picked up their warm-up assignment, went to their seats and started             working quietly for 5 minutes.

b)The teacher assigned students to help her distributing handouts to students, while she continued talking. Students responded instantly to teacher suggestions, especially evident during                activities changes.

c)During several interruptions caused by some announcements made over the interphone, students stopped working to listen and then quietly continued working on their assignments.

  3.  Describe a strategy that you observed and may apply to your classroom.

From the very beginning of my observation I was pleasantly surprised to watch students coming one by one into class using their right side of the door while students from the previous class left the classroom by using the right side of the door, all without any incident. While I am realistic that the same amount of discipline is hard to achieve with high school students, I still find some strategies observed that I can apply to my classroom. Thus, I really liked how students seemed to know the daily routine at the beginning of the class which consists in checking attendance cards, picking up warm-up assignment, going to their seats and starting working, all without further instructions. After observing the teacher and her class, I left with the impression that I observed an organized class in which students feel safe and maintain an atmosphere of reciprocal respect and active engagement in learning.

Blog #3 – The Future of Alaska Native Education

If western societies count more and more on technology to process the huge amount of information available today, others like those of Alaska Natives maintain the importance of oral tradition. Just recently some of the Alaskan languages started to be translated into writing, most of them still remaining transmitted between different generations through the ways of oral tradition. In contrast to the more specialized approach taken by western societies, Alaska Natives still consider education as being responsible to teach individuals as a whole, considering their physical, mental, spiritual and emotional aspects in a tight correlation with the surrounding nature. They recognize that all these parts should work together in harmony and each of them influences the whole in a negative or a positive way.

The differences in education values historically caused differences in behavior between non-native and native people. Thus, if the western way of behaving is that students should be as visible as possible and often use trial and error methods until they get their results, the Native way is that students watch and carefully observe before they act.   For non-native Americans questioning is part of the educational process since for Alaska Natives, questioning is another thing to avoid for making them more visible.

Today, education should answer the question: what really works for students? Many Alaska Native people learn their way in life through stories related by the elders. Because of this, many teachers are experiencing frustration while working in Alaska villages and to avoid that they should first learn indigenous history and culture of local people. After falling victim to the assimilation process applied by white people as is described by Paul Berg in his article “The Future of Alaska Native Education”, Alaska Natives lost their identity and developed a Traumatic Stress Disorder. To break the vicious circle of assimilation and self-destruction, Alaska and United States Congress should become more effective in encouraging a new approach in education that would recognize and respect the values of indigenous Alaska cultures

Generally, I believe that since native students’ identity is tied so close to their family or clan members, it is crucial to gain native students’ family and clan support. Since Elders have such a big influence in the everyday life of their clan, a direct involvement of them into the educational process should be also encouraged.

Education, indigenous to place is a new approach in education where the emphasis is shifting from the western vision, to one that focuses on providing education “in the culture rather than about the culture”. Through it, educators aim to develop interconnection between multiple areas and to connect the specific reality of the place and local culture to the western terms. This new approach in education considers the cultural, historical and traditional context of the indigenous population and provides new teaching alternatives that better motivate indigenous students through their learning process by creating meaningful situations connected to their previous knowledge anchored in the local place and culture.

In a larger view, all people are students who educate themselves every day during their entire life, as a result of their personal daily experiences. Education takes place every minute in diverse places like at workplace in the most cosmopolite city or at home in the rural Alaska, and it is delivered through an enormous variety of sources from newspaper to internet, TV and Radio, and through a huge diversity of ways like oral delivery of stories in the villages of Alaska natives or visual presentations during a CEO meeting. None of these were ever possible without coming together as an evolved species and learning from each other experiences. Now it is the time to look around us and help each other to become better educated human beings by praising the diversity between our cultures and looking forward toward building a better future for all of us.

Blog 2: Mr. R’s classroom rules

Some of my rules that I post and discuss with my class would be:

  1. Arrive on time.
  2. Bring all materials and have them ready
  3. Follow instructions and start working on your assignments right away
  4. Follow CHAMPS rules:
  • Conversation
  • Help
  • Activity
  • Movement
  • Participation
  • Success
  1. Be positive and do your best

By agreeing with my students on these rules at the beginning of the semester, I intend to address the attributes mentioned below that should describe a productive learning environment:

Liviu Wordle

I believe that arriving in class on time it is the first rule students should be aware of. Coming late to class creates premises for class disruptions and misbehavior. In addition, it shows lack of respect for fellow classmates and teacher. Important instruction information could be also missed and teacher may have to repeat his/her instruction or parts of it.

Bringing required materials to class is another important rule in my opinion that students should follow. Missing textbooks, notebooks, due assignments or anything else students need to successfully accomplish their activities in class could negatively affect the schedule and could disrupt class activities.

The third rule addresses the transition time between classes. Without a good reinforcement of this rule, students tend to socialize with their friends taking time away from instruction. As a result, it is very likely that the class noise level could increase to an unacceptable level.

I always remind my students to follow Champs rules. Conversation should be kept to an appropriate level from 1 to 5 function of activity performed. Students should ask for help in order by raising their hand. Help can be provided by the teacher or by other students as well. No activity can be successfully accomplished without a clear understanding of its objective and procedures. To make sure that students understand what they have to do I usually ask some students to review the main activity points before everyone starts it. Movement is allowed in terms previously specified. Some activities like lab experiments are more structured than others so students need to understand their movement restrictions in a particular class. Finally, a good contribution to the class through a high level of participation should be in every student thoughts. Thus, students’ contribution could be individual or as a part of a group and has to be accountable.

Last but not least, students should have a positive attitude and try their best to perform to their potential if possible. School also offers the best environment for students to learn right attitudes that will help them successfully face future challenges posted by an increasingly competitive global economy.

Considering that I used to teach oversized classes and that teachers will most probably have to deal in the future with bigger ones, I’ve stopped to the article Tools for teaching: Managing a Large Class Size written by Rebecca Alber at In this article, Rebecca Alber suggests four tips that teachers could consider while managing their oversized classes. These tips are in order:

Tip #1: Don’t Give up on Collaborative Grouping

Tip #2: Accept that Things Take Longer

Tip #3: Find New Ways to Know Students

Tip #4: Be Okay with Loud and Letting Go

By applying these tips, Rebecca Alber hopes that teachers will be able to become more efficient in creating the learning environment they all aim to develop in their oversized classes.

Introduction – Liviu Rizea

Hi all,

I am sorry for my late introduction. I am Liviu Rizea from Romania and I live in Eagle River, Alaska where I’ve moved with my family from New Mexico, three years ago. I am married and I have a 10 yo son. I am in the final year of the graduate program in Secondary Education at University of New Mexico in Albuquerque and this is one of the two last classes I take this semester together with a psychology education one in order to accomplish the requirements for my next spring graduation. Since I’ve moved to United States fourteen years ago, I lived with my family in five different states: Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico and now Alaska where we love it very much.  I’ve got a bachelor degree in engineering from Bucharest, Romania and a graduate degree in engineering from San Francisco University.  I’ve worked in engineering and project management for several years before I’ve start taking classes for my teaching license. I  began  teaching after we moved to Zuni Indian Reservation in New Mexico and since then I taught math, physical science and physics to grades varying from 6th to 12th to diverse population of students that includes Native Americans in New Mexico and Russian Old Believers in Homer, Alaska. I also taught for one year in Wasilla, Alaska. I am excited to be in this class as I believe class management and organization constitutes the foundation that allows teachers to develop their teaching strategies in order to accomplish their goals in students learning. As a teacher I aim to bring to my class real life experiences that my engineering background can help find.  I am looking forward with interest to a great semester.

Liviu Rizea - About Me