Author: nmevans

(Future) Classroom Philosophy

Hello everyone! The internet is not being very friendly right now, I hope this goes through! My classroom philosophy is (Will be! Not in a classroom yet~) all about three pillars – respect, responsibility and most importantly honesty. I feel like respect has been talked about enough on this blog – but I guess it can get mentioned again. In my classroom, I will want things to be sort of open and free-flowing. I will come into the classroom with a set of things we need to learn that day, but I want to be open and let the discussion move in those directions as the students see fit. It’s not going to be “lecture about a, b, c, x, y, and z” format. For this to work though, I need the students to be respectful of me, but more importantly of each other. Disrespectful behavior will not be tolerated, because without respect discussion is not possible. I’m sure we’ve all been in English classes in high school structured like “Okay here’s a quiz, grammar lecture, literature lecture, class is over.” That’s boring to me, I want the students to have fun. Students do not learn if they are not interested, not having fun. As for responsibility, this sort of goes hand in hand with honesty. If you did not do something, take responsibility for it. It is not fair to the other students for you to get a pass on some behavior just  because  you are not willing to take responsibility. If I’m sounding draconian forgive me, of course I’m not going to be dictatorial about this. These lessons will be woven into the literature we read, the activities we do. Freshman and sophomores might need to learn these things so I will be more lenient, but if my seniors are acting irresponsibly then I will be more upset. Finally – honesty. A great ethicist once said that honesty is the pillar of society. If we cannot trust each other, then society (and classrooms!) will fall apart. I expect students to be honest with me, and with each other. More importantly, I need to be honest with them. I do not want to dissolve into that “scumbag teacher” (google it, you’ll understand what I mean). I will not make promises to students unless I think I can keep them, etc. There are obviously a few other things I want my classroom to be – fun, energetic. Though it may seem like it from reading this post, I certainly do NOT want a dry, boring, authoritarian classroom. I want to foster these virtues in my students overtime, not shove them down their throats like some bad teacher from an 80’s teen flick! Why did I choose these main three things? I think respect, responsibility and honesty are the three virtues that, above all, human beings need to interact with each other. If we don’t exhibit these three things in our daily lives in the classrooms, then there will be a barrier between us and our students that we simply can not break down. Then, how can we be expected to teach with this barrier between us? The three pillars of an effective classroom – respect, responsibility, and honesty. These are the three things my management style will be based on. By showing the students these three virtues, they will (mostly) fall into behaving on their own. Most students will not misbehave in a class where they like and respect the teacher, and are enjoying the atmosphere of the class. If they do not like you, or the subject matter, or the environment, that’s when a lot of managerial problems start popping up. I want to avoid those preemptively by making my classroom a place that invites (and therefore necessitates) good behavior, and effective learning.

Have a nice week everybody, see you all in class next week!

Observation Response

I wanted to make a witty title for my blog post like everybody else, something like Smooth Operator or whatever but you know what it is very late right now and I’m not feeling all that  witty.

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

Unfortunately, I can not honestly say I got to see effective opening or closing strategies during my observation period. The instructor in the class was very disorganized and spent way too long covering her administrivia at the start of class without giving the students anything to do. This led to a lot of wasted time at the start of class – this teacher could really benefit from putting a sponge activity or opening quiz at the start of class. She did at least put all the students in a good mood when they walked in and addressed all of them by name. The end of class was not much smoother. She taught up until the bell, without leaving any time to close the class out. I think that if she had taken better advantage of her opening time then this would not have happened. As it was though, she ended up reminding them about homework etc. as they were walking out the door (and as far as a student is concerned class is over and they probably did not hear a thing she said!). The middle of the lesson was handled very well. One thing that she has done very well is created a very well behaved classroom. Studetns are always waiting to be called on, there are few interruptions, nothing offensive. She is respectful towards her students and they, in response they behave well in her class. She establishes this through constant classroom moderation, calling students by name, giving every student a chance to speak and most importantly keeping her rules consistent for everybody: no student is allowed to talk out of turn etc.


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

1. Students coming in late. Quite a few students came in late (at least 5). The instructor was very intent on not letting these students disrupt the class. They knew to come in quietly, as they came in she would motion to her desk to let them know that she had a handout for them. 2. The shift from lecture to work time. The teacher had the students do a brief writing exercise during class. It was handled well I suppose, she just said “alright take ten minutes to reflect on x”. I was surprised, the students immediately went silent and got straight to work and worked very dilligently until she asked them to stop. It broke the flow of class up though, which could be good (less boring) or bad (breaks momentum) depending on the situation. Because of the awkward empty space at the start of class though, I think it would have fit better at the start or end of class. 3. The shift back from work time to lecture. I want to talk about this one because it was a little more awkward. She was not very authoritative when asking the students to stop writing – she kept giving them more time. I know you want your students to write the best they can but you can’t waste 4-5 minutes because one person is not done. I think these are the kinds of little things that add up over a period and make it so you run out of time at the end.


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

I really like how she deals with tardy students. Tardy students are one of the easiest ways to let your classroom be disrupted. You can either make a big deal out of it and address them and waste class time, or you can have established procedures for how to deal with them quietly. A student walks in, she gestures to them to grab the handout for the day and they sit down quietly. This happened so smoothly that it was obvious to me that she had gone over this with them at the start of the semester. I do not want my classroom to be interrupted by inevitable tardies – so I will probably adopt a similar policy.


Have a nice week everybody~

Resources for Management

Just like everybody else, I went through tons of videos and blogs and websites. Unfortunately I can’t post them all or else it would be a really convoluted blog post. So, I just sort of forced myself to choose things arbitrarily. I look forward to reading everybody’s posts!

1.) Blog:

This guy has tons and tons of posts about classroom management. Some of these posts have tens of thousands of views. A lot of these things are seemingly common sense, but some of the other ones are really useful and interesting. He has posts about seemingly every topic from first day of school mistakes, student-teacher relations (see here and here ) on how to manage the classroom once you’ve already failed. I recommend giving him a look. His site is sort of poorly laid out so navigating and looking for articles is a bit nonintuitive, but the content is worth it. The two articles I posted are two of my favorites.


2.) Site:

Ugh, I found so many really great sites while I was searching. Unfortunately, a lot of the websites I found were abandoned. I actually wanted to have my site be , but one of our classmates already stole that one! This website I chose is the National Education Association, and they do a lot of question and answer stuff. They have a lot of great articles on here, but you have to sort of work to find them! My favorite section is Routines and Procedures


3.) So, I decided to post more than one video. They are not really related to each other, but are equally worth seeing. The first is a classroom management documentary short from 1947 which a lot of you probably stumbled upon in your search. If not. here it is. This video is really interesting – compare and contrast it with what we’ve been learning and the other videos being posted. It is fascinating to see how these sorts of things have changed and stayed the samer over 60+ yeras. The second is here and is about technology in the classroom, of which I am a BIG supporter. As a (prospective) English teacher, using laptops is really important to me as students will be writing. I think technology is really important in a classroom, but it can be really easy to misuse. It’s really interesting to compare these two videos, the technology in the second video didn’t even exist for years after the first one. Laptops and iPads have changed the way we have to manage our classes.

There are a lot of videos all over the internet – and the ones I REALLY wanted to post were like, over an hour long. The most interesting videos on YouTube about classroom management are 1-1.5 hours long.

No Such Thing As A One Sided Compromise

NOTE:  This blog post is long. I do not know why it is so long. If you want to just read the real condensed version, go down about two-thirds of the way and start reading at the bolded line. That’s where the real meat is, everything before that is just the side dishes. Believe it or not, I actually cut a sizable chunk out of the original post. By “sizable” I mean about 1000 words. It currently sits at about two-thirds of its original size. So, enjoy the theatrical cut:

Hello everybody. I guess it is time for another blog. This topic is especially difficult for me to write about, having grown up in Oklahoma I do not have much experience with Alaska Native students. The Native Americans in Oklahoma are so seemlessly blended into Oklahoma culture that it is at times very difficult to discern who is or is not of Native American descent. My own mother was born on one of the former Oklahoman Indian Reservations (they are OTSAs now) and I did not even know I had Native American blood until I was 15. Up here in Alaska it seems like things are so different, things are so much more tense.

Throughout most of human history, when two cultures meet the larger more powerful culture wipes out or enslaves the smaller, weaker one. This idea of cultural preservation is a relatively recent one, and like most young ideas people have sort of convoluted feelings about them. I do not agree with Berg in how he seems to assign responsibility for making this culture clash work. I am not, and have never been, a proponent of “white guilt”, any more than I am a proponent of “Native shame”. I believe that it should be the responsibility of both the white teachers and the Native communities to work together to make Alaska Native education work. It is not fair to put white teachers in front of Native students and expect them to do all the reach out – no more fair than it is to place white teachers in urban black schools and expect the African American students to just sit there and not engage with the teacher in any way. Cooperation is not a uniquely cultural idea – I have actually read articles about Natives who have to transition to University life at UAF, and they claim that the non-Natives have no sense of cooperation or community. Let me make this clear : Individualist societies have a very hard time (and are often resistant to) cooperating with groups. Likewise, collectivist cultures have a hard time welcoming individualists. I think this is a tough distinction to work around. Alaska Native education (indeed, all education) is dependent on the cooperation of multiple parties. To most people this would seem like a given, but that is not really the feeling I picked up from either article.

In an absolute sense, I understand and agree with the point that Berg’s article is making : we need to learn from the mistakes of others and make steps to avoid the total destruction of traditional Alaska Native culture. The future of Alaska Native education needs to ensure that Alaska Natives are, upon leaving the school system, both ready to continue village life if they so choose and to effectively integrate themselves into the modern world. A school is a place of learning. As a (prospective) English teacher, I see two clear distinctive sides in traditional education. Math and Science must be taught everywhere, they are absolutes and relate to everyone.  Knowledge  of the human body and the physical world is imperative, as is the reasoning behind it. Now, English, History, Art and Music can easily be altered to be more place-based. In addition to the current “Great Books” approach to English learning, traditional native stories and grammer can be taught alongside English. AK Studies is already mandatory in Alaska, but I believe it is only a semester long. US History, World History, AK History, and local Native History would be a good mix of traditional and place-based learning.  I would never support any curriculum, for any reason, that would elect not to teach students four years of science. I also do not think that village curriculum will ever be able to structured in any way that will allow village schools to develop their own curriculum without outside influence.

Our culture sometimes has a tendency to make things worse when trying to help, and we need to take things slow and be careful not to destroy Native culture the same way the  indigenous  Norwegiand and New Zealand cultures have been. Berg comes off as agressive, like he is attacking white teachers and that is not fair. As Kleinfeld points out in her article, there are different types of teachers that do well in different environments. You can not blame them, nor can you force them to change. Forcing people to change is how we got into this mess, but that seems to be exactly what Berg is suggesting. It’s sort of this really difficult, rock-and-a-hard-place situation that we are in. According to Berg, the white people are trying to help and are just making things worse, and they need to back off. If you do not agree with this, then you just don’t get it., because of your “western mind”. Berg leaves these accusations in no way open to interpretation. If you disagree with him, then you just don’t get it. Any middle school English student can tell you that this is a bad way to win your argument. It is sort of a variation of the “If you don’t X, then you are stupid”. His point is valid, his argument is poor. I have to wonder if Berg has read Kleinfeld’s article. If he had, maybe he would be less aggressive. I agree with Shannon, his accusations seem to go a little too far. He does not see the double standard in his own article. He criticizes non-Native teachers for being paid high, and that they apparently are part of some huge powerful, authoritative community. He says the Western mind can not handle giving up authority, that Native people need to have “direct control over their own destiny”. However, the feeling I get from most non-Natives I talk to is not a feeling that they are in any way “powerful” in the village. I feel this same way about Jo MacNamara, in the comments. He makes a lot of valid interesting points, but just comes off as an insensitive jerk in the way that he delivers them.

I must admit to really liking some of Jo’s points. I agree that it is a bad idea to have only Natives teach Native students. I agree that we need to get rid of the Native vs. Non-Native mentality – this exists on both sides. Progress can not be made until we all work together. I think the Native communities are frustrated with the predominately white education system. Likewise, and I mean no offense when I say this, a lot of white teachers and students are frustrated dealing with the Natives. There seems to be no give on either side, and that’s the real problem. MacNamara calls the Native way of life “backwards” – and this is the wrong attitude to take. He wraps his main point – the importance of advocating multiculturalism – in his apparent frustration with “white blame”. He brings up valid and important points in his second comment, but just yells and gets angry about things. This is not the attitude we need to take, if there is any positive future for the education of Alaska Natives then we need to advocate multiculturalism on both sides.

To finally get to the point: I think there is definitely a positive future ahead for Alaska Native education. I believe that pretty strongly. A lot has to happen for this to come to pass. I agree with Sherry, right now we are trying to fit square pegs into round holes. I agree with Kara that we need to remain realistic, knowing how to work a computer will be more beneficial to students than knowing how to make baskets out of baleen. The only way we can fit this peg into this hole is if the village elders, the Native students and the people in charge of the education system all get together and hash out, probably over several years, a comprehensive plan for the state of Alaska. I do not think this will create self-sufficient village education systems. Science textbooks will need to be brought in, as will well trained teachers. No student should go without math/science/world history education. No student in the United States should leave high school without an understanding of the English language and US History. No student in Alaska should leave high school without an understanding of AK History and their local culture. There is a hierarchy of educational needs that must be addressed. Of course village students have different needs than urban white students.

It is wrong to dismiss and demonize the  efforts  of those who are trying to help. The Christian missionaries in Alaska may have come into the state and forced a religion onto the Native people (which they have pretty happily adopted), and though some may see that as wrong it is important to remember that they were trying to help. That attitude is important. If you are willing to help, you are probably willing to listen to new ways to help. The non-Native teachers who go out into the village and stay for more than a year or two are the ones who need to be praised, not attacked. Their hearts are in the right place, they usually genuinely care about the well-beings and futures of their students. If they are going about these out things poorly, it is the duty of the informed to help correct their efforts. Kleinfeld offers advice: be aware of these cultural differences. Berg offers advice, wrapped in an attack. The future of Alaska Native education can be bright if everybody is willing to make it bright. If the Natives spend their time complaining about how the western education model does not fit them and the white people spend their time complaining about how the Natives are unwilling to make efforts to adapt, then neither side is in the right. I know this post has been long and has wound itself around many different thigns, but my point is this: Kleinfeld and Berg both make solid, valid points. Attacking and demonizing either side of this problem is not the way to go. We should not try to eliminate European culture from our schools any more than we should exclude Alaska Native (or any other) culture. The United States has a nasty racial track record, but we pride ourselves on our diversity. Everybody needs to work together to promote this sense of cultural harmony. Only then, when the needs of all people are met will the education of Alaska Natives be sufficient. This is a long, hard, expensive road to follow. Everybody will need to be willing to adapt and work together. Alaska Natives present an especially difficult educational situation. They need the skills and cultural background of their own people. They also need to be able survive in the cut-throat modern world, an economic and technological world much unlike the one in which they may be raised. Alaska Native students are presented with three options in life. They are faced with the monumental task of keeping alive their shrinking culture and somehow integrating into the increasingly global world.

The educational system in Alaska needs to be re-evaluated. Not a complete overhaul, because this would not be in the best interests of all students. It needs to be re-evaluated, by both the people in charge of the educational system and the people whom it affects. The future of Alaska Native education can be a fantastic one, but we have to make efforts to make that so. It is important to seamlessly blend place-based education into our traditional subject-based education system. I think this is a good way to make sure that all students are able to function in both their traditional, local community, and our modern, global community.

It is important to remember: There is no such thing as a one sided compromise.

The Perfect Duties

For those who’ve studies Kant, right?

So, I actually had a really hard time coming up with four rules to post in my classroom. I honestly think I shouldn’t have to post any rules in my classroom. I know that I will, but I shouldn’t have to. As far as I’m concerned, by the time these kids get to high school they should understand that no cheating (Rule 3) shouldn’t need to be posted – it is unexcusable no matter what. Then, I turned this idea around. That sounded sort of closed off and harsh of me, so I think the only rules that should be posted are the ones that are unexcusable. The ones that are taken for granted are the most important. For example, looking around on the internet I saw rules like “don’t draw on the desks” and “always be in your assigned seat”, or “always raise your hands”. These things, to me, are general guidelines but they are not absolute. If a student is drawing on the desk, I’m not going to get too upset. If they sometimes talk out of turn, it’s not the end of the world. But these rules are things that I think should always govern classroom etiquette, and life in general. That’s really what I want my students to understand about these rules.


1. Always be respectful

2. Always come in prepared

3. Always be honest

4. Always clean up after yourself


These four rules aren’t so specific to be just governing class life, they can relate to their futures or home lives too. Respectfulness, preparedness, honesty and courtesy are four very important life skills. I guess technically Rule 4 can fall under Rule 1, too; but I think it’s especially important to point out. Students should already know that these things are expected. Push your chairs back in and put your stuff away (4), don’t cheat or lie about doing your homework (3), try not to forget your homework, books or school supplies (2) and be respectful (1, obviously. Kara already had a great set of rules covering respect). These things to me, are broad enough to encompass most potential problems in a classroom. Rules 1 and 4 cover interactions with others, rules 2 and 3 are about other people and the students themselves. If you create an open, honest and respectful classroom where people are usually prepared then you will have a more open learning environment. Ultimately, that is (I think) the goal of effective classroom rules and procedures, you want your classroom to be conducive to learning by smoothing over the bumps.


Now, the website I’m linking to is edutopia. I did a lot of searching around the internet, and I found quite a few universities offering advice on their pages, and a few columnists whose validity I called into question. Ultimately, I guess I find aggregate sites like edutopia, EducationWorld etc. more reputable and they tend to feature more openly discussed and more specific topics. So, the link is at edutopia, here. For those who weren’t listening a couple of classes ago or just missed it, the edutopia groups page is sort of a poorly organized forum for teachers. This is their classroom management board. It looks like a really great website. I’m probably one of the youngest members of this class, and I practically spent my childhood glued to the internet. I’ve always loved forums, and even though this isn’t a traditional BBS system it’s close. I appreciate this more than a website that just posts articles, it’s useful for getting feedback. More specifically though I found one thread that I think is a better thing to link to than just that board is here.  This is a thread about classroom rules, and they are (or were, it’s an older thread but it has 50 posts it’s worth a read) talking about posting rules in the classroom. It was apparently started by a teacher in AK! Anyways, for those who haven’t posted their blogs yet, read through that thread. I read the whole thing. It’s great to hear people go back and forth.


Anyways, here’s my wordle. I have to admit (because I’m following rule 3! I want my students to express their opinions, especially if they differ from mine!) I would probably never post a wordle in my room. I think they look sort of tacky. They would be cooler if they weren’t so random.

I look forward to reading the rest of the blog posts!