Author: nshafer

A new media artist, writer and educator from Anchorage, AK specializing in mixed reality and digital humanities.

Classroom Management Plan

Classroom Management Plan:

Positive Support Systems for Entire Class:
1. Students will be allowed usage of their cell phones to listen to music with headphones while they are working.
2. Students will be allowed to put suggestions for ‘Video Fridays’ on a piece of paper, and place them in the raffle hat, when they are exhibiting good behavior.
3. Students will receive specific verbal praise.
4. Students will be able to have songs placed into the class playlist, which is used during workdays.
5. Students will be randomly given candy for completing the most image problems in the competitive openers.
6. Students will be treated to a version of ‘Hazah!’ for exhibiting enthusiastic art making.


Classroom Rules
1. Clear table spaces.
2. Be respectful.
3. Be mindful of others’ spaces.
4. Be safe with tools.
5. Don’t be critical.


Replacement Behavior Menu
1. Instead of doing nothing, when I am confused, I will raise my hand and ask for help, or ask a table partner if the teacher is busy with other students.
2. Instead of wandering around the room when I am finished, bored, or confused, I will go grab recycled paper from the worktable and draw until I am ready to get back to work.
3. Instead of wandering around the room when I am finished, bored, or confused, I will go and get one of the approved comic books from the Alaska Cultural Connection Center in the room, and read until I am ready to get back to work.
4. Instead of just drawing pictures of whatever I want, I will work extra hard on the assignment, so I can earn free time.
5. Instead of talking during presentations or demonstrations, I will move to the back of class and ‘turn my eyes and mouth off’, by laying my head down, to listen and think intently with my ears.
6. Instead of yelling mean words, I will select an insult from the Shakespeare Insult Generation Center and draw a postcard illustrating my frustration, which I will then place in the class mailbox.
7. Instead of playing on my phone during class, I will ask if it is ‘headphones day’? If it is not, I will remember that I want to participate in headphones day, so I will comply.
8. Instead of saying racial slurs, I will say ‘cupcake’, ‘moldwarp’ or ‘warlock’.
9. Instead of saying the big, bad cusswords, because we all know which ones they are, I will ask to be allowed to reference the Shakespearean Insult Generation Center, where I will learn to focus my language to be as precise as sunshine in a dream.
10. When I feel like I am not creative enough, talented enough, or good enough to do a project, I will access the Hall of Inspirational Quotes, and write the quote in my art journal 3 times, in 3 different graffiti styles.


Crisis Management Plan
Crisis Plan is created to assist in what to do in the event of a medical or behavioral emergency. There is a backpack with teacher supplies, a tote with classroom supplies, a room stick (with our room number on it) and a color-coded folder. The teacher will assign students to carrying tasks as they line up at the door. The class will make a left and walk directly out into the parking lot, attendance will be taken once more and a green ‘okay’ card placed at the base of the room stick. In the event of a behavioral emergency, the same route will be taken, but the emergency items left in the room.


Suicide Essay Post

“Cultural dynamics of perfectionism and overindulgence have now combined to create adolescents who are ultra-focused on success but don’t know how to fail.”

I like the description of parents going from ‘helicopter parenting’ to ‘lawn mower parenting’.  With my own family, I see these same things.  I am the oldest, and was raised to be autonomous.  I left my parent’s house at 17.  My much younger siblings lived with my parents into their 30s, even after finding spouses.  My younger siblings never really went to college, and I completely overdid.  (This is my second masters degree.)

Like most Alaskans, I am too familiar with suicide.  I do not think we are thinking enough about how we are talking to young people.  Every day I hear about how there are so many more diagnoses these days, and how that is a problem.  I hear a portion of the population make fun of ‘snowflakes’ and ‘safe spaces’.  And there are kids like DeWitt.  Made fun of for needing a safe space, at very least by my racist uncle who thinks we should pull out of the UN and that Roy Moore basically the Kool-Aid Man in a cowboy hat.

The fact that there are names for behaviors such as Penn Face or Duck Syndrome makes me very sad, and I see it in some of the students I am working with right now.

Reflection on my Observation

In Ms. Selin’s Art Class:

On one of my observation days, Ms Selin started the art class out by having the students draw their names in block letters, in what is referred to as the ‘wild style’ in graffiti. These openers are part of the daily routine that she uses as a classroom management strategy.  This transitioned effortlessly into a presentation on graffiti art with a video about a graffiti artist named ‘Scape’.  A routine established of watching, discussion, and demonstration kept class running smoothly.  This transitioned into more classwork and a closing routine of putting away supplies in the last five minutes of class.

The transitions between the different sections of class were made much easier through routine, so when new project structures are introduced, the students have a library of behaviors from which to make predictions about future expected behaviors.

In my own classroom, I am very interested in establishing routines that can help students be in charge of themselves and their learning environment (i.e., putting their own supplies away rather than the teacher doing it).



Personalized Learning as a Kind of Differentiated Instruction

I was not apprehensive at all about the idea of ‘personalized learning’ before I read this article.   Maybe I have been unfocused and the air was not right when I read it, but something in there made me step back a little bit.   Maybe my guards were down and I just took away what I was meant to, without regard for my need to argue with people, as a matter of course.

I love using student choice in academics, it is good for project work and it is helpful that kids are comfortable with it.   It is about not learning to please the teacher, but learning to learn.   Good teachers seem to prefer students creative problem solving to supplication anyways. No one has ever referred back to that great teacher who graded based on the proportional satiation they got when their students academically obeyed their instructions.   But student choice needs guidance, and thoughtful challenge, which is what good teachers do, right?

So many teachers are already doing this, some have been doing it for decades, the integrated technology and adaptive tech stuff has been part of the score for a long time.   The uncertainty and ambiguity of tech integration is hard for a lot of teachers, and there has to be all these extra resources dedicated to helping teachers not only learn new methods, but to be able to integrate them.   Some districts in Alaska have tech or STEM standards that require students to learn how to deal with and work through technological failure and ambiguity issues.   Students are learning how to be okay with not being able to define or control things.   Maybe that is part of the ‘Honoring the complexity’ bit.   Theoretically, I really do love everything about personalized learning.   It is the things that need to accompany it that seem scary to me.   Mostly in integrating and implementing the strategies.   I remember how mad teachers were when the Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) became a district standard in Anchorage a couple years ago.   Literally, they were speaking about retiring because they thought that SEL was going to ruin their ability to instruct. I would imagine that PL would get just as much push-back.



DACA thought

I am currently student-teaching in the fourth most ethnically diverse middle school in the country.  I graduated high school from the third most diverse high school in the country. They are both in Anchorage. The most diverse elementary school, middle school and high school in the country are in Anchorage too.  That is why it really bothers me to hear when our local elected officials play with this “I’m not politically correct” posturing, glossing over for a moment who the people they are representing are.  Anchorage wants to be a refugee city.  The people who live here, really do want to see it be more inviting, less violent, and healthier.

The plain fact of the matter is that most of the crime in Anchorage, and the crime rate really is high, is perpetuated by American citizens.  The immigrants in this town, when you get to hear the stories, are nothing like what is being told in the news or by those who want to cut quintessentially American programs like DACA.  In Anchorage, many of our students of from South Sudan.  When you hear the stories of genocide there, is it beyond the scope of reasoning to think that those people don’t deserve a home somewhere that can help them (because the trauma is real and big, and they need help).  Hmong immigrants are another large part of the population here.  Similar story, the Hmong have never been able to secure their own sovereign nation in southeast Asia.

Dreamers are kids brought into the US illegally and have to qualify for an pantheon of special circumstances that make them absolutely beneficial to our society.  That’s why there was legislation passed, because through no fault of their own, they are dispossessed of a homeland and have tried to do the best they possibly could.

Ending DACA is cheap political maneuvering and heartless.

Hello All

My name is Nathan Shafer.   I am certifying to teach secondary art, student teaching at Romig Middle School in Anchorage.   For the last few years, I have been teaching in an SLC (structured learning class) for kids with autism.   I am hoping to go back into SLC teaching after I certify, using some new techniques I learned from student teaching in art.   I make new media artwork, mostly in augmented reality and digital humanities.   I am doing this program with my wife, Joelle Howald.   This is a picture of me last year that a student made.   He told me it would make me feel better, if I was upset and looked at it.