Author: matthew

Matthew’s Philosophy

My personal philosophy is based around the idea of the community of learners.   This concept was taught to me by one of my high school teachers.   The concept can basically be summed up like this:   Students need to be given the autonomy to own their own learning and given the skills to do that as well as so that they and the teacher together can tackle the educational problems that they encounter in the subject material.   So, some ramifications of this are definitely favoring the prevention of problems over the solution to problems and emphasizing student responsibility to being the kind of person they want to be rather than constantly scolding them.   If you give students big expectations and hold them to it to, they will feel more responsible for their actions.   The last section/module of the book that we read about student responsibility fit in really well with my philosophy.   Students will be asked what the effects of their behavior was on others, how their behavior reflects their values, etc, instead of merely punishing students.   In this model, there is more an emphasis on the whole group rather than one individual student.   However, each person needs to pull their own weight.

Classroom Observations

When I observed my mentor teacher the other day, I noticed several effective strategies and several ineffective strategies for classroom management.   For opening the lesson, she did a good job of getting students on track right away.   She did not waste a whole lot of time taking attendance and doing that kind of stuff, but she knew what she wanted to do right away and got them into it.   During the lesson itself, one effective strategy that I observed that I’m going to apply is giving the students choices.   She would say stuff like “You guys can choose to keep doing X, but if you do, I’m going to make you do Y” (where Y is an undesirable thing).   This worked well.   For the lesson closure, I don’t think she was super effective, actually. The students started getting out of the chairs 2 minutes early and she just kind of ended class there instead of keeping strong until the end.   The main types of transitions that occurred were from class disruptions coming from students, which she dealt with by standard practices such as pausing and looking at students, telling them to be quite, etc. The second one would be moving from one activity to another, which she handled well as well.   She gave them 1 minute to put their books away and get a notebook out and get ready for notes and then after than 1 minute to get out the worksheet for corrections.   The only other transition was when a T.A. came into class to get in school suspension work for one of her students from another class.   She got kind of bogged down with this and wasted some time fumbling around and getting back on track, but there was not much she could do about that I don’t think.

Matthew’s 3 Links

This video is short and sweet, but to the point.   It’s about picking your battles.   I think this is really important for students because it not only reduces stress in the classroom, but improves behavior and relationships as well.

This is a good blog posting I found of someone who posted a powerpoint presentation on classroom management.   There is a bunch of research in it and it is very professional. It goes into the psychology of it all and it is interesting and solid.

This management site is from ACS – American Chemical Society.   They have some information in there about management, but they also have standards and curriculum ideas, etc.

The Future of Native Education

Personally, I am always skeptical of the emotional appeal in editorial articles.   It’s important not to neglect the pathos involved in any situation, but when it comes down to it, I’m much more of a researched based kind of guy.   If they can post some numbers about how doing education this way or that leads to this improvement or that based on this criteria or that one, then great.   If not, and the majority of the argument is going to be based off anecdotal evidence, then quite frankly, I am going to remain unimpressed.   Now don’t get me wrong- there was definitely some good evidence from past nations such as the Sami and Maori people, but to my mind, there seems to be so many differences that are not taken into account that those examples may be irrelevant.   It’s hard to put blanket statements down such as “all native education like this: ____ is wrong/right.”   I do agree that place based learning and skills that are relevant to the student’s lifestyle is super important for natives, but I also think it is equally important for everyone else too.

I was surprised to see how impassioned people were getting about the topic in the comments.   Actually, I guess I’m not so surprised because it is the internet after all and everyone has a really passionate opinion about everything, but I typically do not read comments on articles on the net.   Some people had multiple posts that were pushing the page long length.   I guess some people just have an axe to grind on certain topics.

Matthew’s 4 Rules

My main rule would have to be this:

No Talking While Others are Talking

It drives me psycho when students show no respect for me or for each others when they talk while others are talking.

Other rules would have to be:

Bring all necessary materials to class every day

Do the work assigned

Be the kind of person you want to be


A good website that I found was this:

This website is not so much a tutorial in and of itself, but it is a great resource for finding information on what you need.   It has a bunch of links to other useful websites that have professional development information and a really nice thing is that it is broken up by grade level.   A lot of stuff out there is not age appropriate, so with this system, you don’t need to waste time reading information that may not apply to the age group you are looking at.


Here’s my wordle image-words


Matthew Smith


Hey everyone- this is Matthew Smith.   This is a picture of me and my wife, Elizabeth.   We just got married in June and are already expecting kid numero uno due March 31st.   It’s a crazy time for us as she finishes off nursing school at UAA and I’m doing my masters at U.A.F.   She works in the NICU at prov. and I’m doing my student teaching during the day in chemistry and biology at Service High in Anchorage and teach private music lessons at Anchorage Music and Dance Center in the afternoons/evenings.   I’ve got some really rowdy classes here and I’m excited to learn some better classroom management skills.   I’m a super laid back guy and only see the best in my students so sometimes they take advantage of that and act like crazies.   I’d like to be a teacher because I love knowledge and I think an education is the number one most valuable thing someone can have.   I think it is highly dangerous for our world to have people who are not critical thinkers and my goal as a teacher, regardless of content area, is to have my students develop a sense of wonder about our world, a depth of inquiry with which to probe it’s beauty, and the critical thinking skills to crack open it’s mysteries.