Author: pjpeterson

My name is Philip John Peterson and I am currently pursuing a Masters of Education. I recently completed my Undergraduate degree of English and minor of French. My life long goal is to become a published author and the best educator I can be.

Blog 6

Without a well implemented classroom management plan, it would be a miracle if any learning was achieved in the classroom. My philosophy is one of mutual respect. This respect extends between students and myself, and the classroom. Instilling respect in students from the beginning of the semester will ensure that they listen and follow instructions the first time, rather than having those instructions repeated multiple times within a single lesson. Respect is not a foreign idea to the students of Minto Alaska. The community Elders uphold respect as a very important value. While the respect for Elders, mentors, teachers and peers and one’s own self is paramount, the respect given to personal possessions is also important. A student who learns respect for school supplies will be less likely to forget them before coming to class.

It can be easy enough to state that respect is needed, but to earn that respect requires a set of well developed teaching strategies. Staying consistent and predictable as a teacher is necessary. Students in my classroom will always know what to expect and what is expected of them. The consequences in my classroom will never surprise my students. When they have done something good, they will know that a good consequence is in order. Likewise, if they do something wrong they will understand that a negative consequence is needed. This balance will ensure that the metaphorical student-teacher bank stays positive as much as possible.

The idea of the student-teacher bank is quite simple. Every positive interaction between students and the teacher adds to the bank, while every negative interaction takes away from it. If students expect a negative consequence when they know they have done something wrong, it will lessen the detraction from the bank significantly. If the consequences are random and inconsistent though, the bank will be in constant fluctuation and will likely dip deep into a negative balance that is very difficult to come back from. Ensuring positive consequences in the classroom is essential in maintaining a positive bank balance. I have always encouraged the idea that consequences can be both positive and negative. It brings a sense of balance to the word and helps students realize that their choices can bring about a different result.

Blog 5

One of the most effective strategies that I have observed is what I refer to as the silent strategy. This can be applied at any point in a lesson. The idea of this strategy is to only speak when all student attention is given. If even one student is off task, staying silent can create an atmosphere of tension and peer pressure that will quell the inattentiveness quickly.   Aside from general strategies, a good opening strategy for a lesson is a warmup exercise of some kind, preferably kinesthetic and teamwork oriented. This will not only expel energy, but also wake up the minds of the students. A good classroom closure strategy that I have observed is that of an exit pass extension of the lesson. Basically, students are required to complete a task given during the lesson in order to leave class that day. This can often encourage better attentiveness towards the end of class when students often begin to pack up their belongings early.

A great transition tool that I have observed is what is referred to as classroom olympics. Basically it involves changing the configuration of the classroom mid-lesson to accommodate for another task. For Language Arts, if I were to do a reading circle I would have my student clear the desks and put the chairs in a circle. After the reading session, I would have them put them back. I can even use a stop watch to time the students on how long it takes them to reconfigure the room and use that as an incentive to do it faster each time and gain a reward for breaking their record. This is a great way to expel energy and encourage teamwork. A more subtle transitionary method is to keep a stopwatch going with a countdown of how long students have until the next portion of class, and then plan a break at the end of that countdown. Another great transitionary tool is music. Playing song to indicate a new activity can help refresh students. In general, the most successful transitions are those that give students a breath before the next activity.

I have applied all of the strategies I have listed here. By far my favorite is the classroom olympics. Sometimes I will have the students configure and reconfigure the room multiple times in order to get them to work faster and as a team. If I provide an incentive for them as a reward, they don’t mind the exercise and teamwork. I have also used the silent strategy multiple times. I don’t like to talk over my students, and I really don’t like them talking over me. Patience can often result in the best results, rather than verbally correcting students. They know that they are talking over me, I don’t have to tell them that. While this does waste some class time, I can gain back this time by taking away from their lunch time. This provides a further incentive to respect class time.

Blog 4

Building positive relationships with students

The teacher in this video, Ed Kelley, is a high school teacher and football coach. The video is part of a longer interview, but the points brought up in this segment are very valid and cut straight to the point of positive student teacher relationships. Ed discusses how his relationship with his students outside the classroom helps to increase the productivity inside the classroom.   He talks about his students getting to know him better, as well as himself getting to know his students better. This mutual relationship, from his experience, increases the motivation of the students. He also lists out the various roles that he takes on for his student. Among these were: teacher, mentor, coach, friend and parent. Ed believes that in order to succeed in any one of those roles, you have to know the students well in each of those roles.  

Building Effective Student-Teacher Relationships

This blog has much in common with the Ed Kelley interview. The same underlying goal of student achievement is present. One element that the author brought up in this blog was that of trust. This highlights again the importance of the two way relationship between the student and the teacher. The trust cannot go only one way. Another element that this blog brings to light is the importance of differentiation among student learners. The blog discuss how unique students are in the ways they learn and how getting to know a student can often reveal more about how they learn so that a teacher can better cater to their learning style.

Improving Students’ Relationships with Teachers to Provide Essential Supports for Learning

As with the blog listen above, the element of trust is of great importance to the author of this article. Again, the link between trust and academic success is made. This author goes out of their way to detail the various components of positive student teacher relationships. One of the important details in this article is under the do’s and don’ts of student teacher relationships. While my other two links cited many of the positive benefits of these relationships, this article cautions that having a positive relationship isn’t always enough to bolster student achievement.  

Blog 3

Suicide is not an event that is reserved to one setting, or one set of circumstances. The issues going on at Penn State University are echoes of a larger issue that can be observed throughout America. Statistics have shown that among those living in Alaska, it is young Native men who are the most likely to commit acts of suicide. These are students who have yet to reach far beyond High-School, many of which never had a chance to go to a University in the first place. It is my belief that the issue of suicide can find its roots in society, community, and family.

One of the comments to the Penn State article, written by a man by the name of Clyde Wynant, brought to light the position of the parent in the equation. I think that Clyde was on to something when he stated that “this form of hyper attuned parenting seems to me to be a subtle form of child abuse’ (Wynant). It isn’t just the parents who are hyper-attuning these children. We live in a culture of ridiculous close mindedness where people feel like they are being attacked when their ways of thought are challenged in the slightest way. Students at Universities in America are, for the most part, no longer encouraged to have their beliefs challenged. They are being conditioned to feel threatened by the very notion that their beliefs can change. Almost every day now I can go online and read an article about how someone felt threatened by someone else simply because that other person had a difference of opinion and exercised their free speech in stating their different opinion. For a child who has been sheltered from the world up until University, being bombarded with the world views of thousands of students can be quite a shock. The culture shock of the University setting alone can throw a student out of balance for years, not to mention the expectations set upon these students when they arrive at the University.

The other key issue in the article was the problem of children who never experience failure. Failure is one of the most important experiences a human can have. Through failure, people learn about their strengths and weaknesses. If a student, such as the one described in the article, is only ever conditioned to success, then they are being set up for failure at the University setting. It seems as though the student in the article was brought up to fear failure and always expect success in everything. This seems like terrible parenting in my opinion. I don’t think that the University is to fault when a student arrives on campus with emotional and psychological problems resulting in a coddled upbringing. I don’t necessarily fault the parents entirely for this situation either, as our society has become one of coddling in general. If we are to truly combat this issue, we need to take a look at the social stigmas that surround us on a daily basis and push back against the notion that perfection is all that matters.

Native Alaska Rural Education


I found this article to be rather interesting. I am currently teaching in the rural village of Minto and have definitely run into circumstances that skirt the boundaries of what the article was discussing. Here in Minto we do not avoid discussing the topic of cultural assimilation in our classes. We don’t pretend that Alaska was never an indigenous area full of subsistence living. In our Alaska History course we cover all aspects of the history of Alaska, from the geographical history, to the history of the native people, and the entrance of Russians and Americans into the territory. We discuss the impact that both the Russians and the Americans had upon the native culture here, and we highlight the importance of culture and how much of it was lost during the initial years of Alaska’s exploitation.


One of the ways in which we tread softly and respect the culture out here is by assimilating ourselves into the community. Taking steps to make yourself seen in the community is vital to success out here. I have attended two potlatch events out here thus far and I intend to attend more of these when they come up. They are great opportunities to talk with the elders. Many of the elders out here are well aware of the importance of a good education and are very supportive of our efforts in the school house. They understand that the world we live in today is very different from that of their grandparents. From what I have observed thus far, many of the adults and elders simply want what is best for their children. It is a great privilege for me to be able to teach their children  and I definitely take steps to ensure that what I teach the students is culturally relevant to them. I try to find local history and texts to draw upon when ever possible to further their own involvement with the material. My goal with these students is to help them to enjoy the activities of reading and writing so that they can communicate effectively wherever they go in life. I want the natives here to be able to preserve their heritage and their culture. In order for this to happen though, the children here must learn how to preserve that culture. Literature is one of the greatest methods of preservation known to man kind. It is for this reason that I stress the importance of being able to read and write effectively.  I would definitely welcome new changes to the education system in Alaska. It would be wonderful to have a curriculum for Alaska history that was designed by the elders of the Native Alaskans. As much as we try to stress the values of the natives here in Minto, the truth is that the students know little of their own culture. I find this to be very tragic. Any efforts to revive this culture are wonderful and have my full support.

There are definitely a lot of fears and stigmas associated with a Caucasian individual teaching in a rural community. I do not let race or ethnicity stand in the way of my place out here, and from what I have seen so far, the community does not let those elements stand in the way either. We all work towards the betterment of the children out here and we do our best to support them and guide them as they transition into adulthood.



Classroom Regulations

Here in Minto our rules are built around keeping a safe and productive work environment.

We have a non-negotiable rule regarding the use of cell phones in class, the rule being that they are not allowed. The first strike against this rule causes the consequence of the phone being taken away for the day. The second strike means the phone is taken away for a week. If a third time occurs the phone will be returned at the end of the semester. This is one of the only rules that is present throughout the entire school, another being a no hoods policy.

In the classroom that I work in we have a currency system in place to enforce our rules. We keep two jars in our room, one with beans, and one without. As good behavior is displayed in our class, and as rules and procedures are followed, beans are moved from the full jar into the empty jar. When the empty jar becomes the full jar the students will have earned a special reward of their choosing (within reason of course).

My mentor teacher and I have extended a similar currency over the behavioral management of our students. We have a metaphorical “bank” in place with accounts for each of our students. This bank stores both positive and negative emotions. If we reprimand a student for not following a procedure, we must deduct from this bank. If we deduct too much from the bank it will go into a negative balance. When this happens we observe further student outbreaks. To prevent this from happening we accrue a large amount of positive remarks in the bank. We observe everything our students do and complement them on their work and behavior whenever we can so that we can prepare in the event that we do need to make a negative withdrawal when a student slips in their behavior. Thus far this has built an atmosphere of respect in our classroom.

Both my mentor teacher and I believe in preventative behavioral management. I must admit as a new teacher in the profession I am still far behind in the department of preventative behavioral management, but my mentor teacher has quite a few years behind him that lend a great deal of experience. We can generally predict when a student is going to have an outburst. We can see their behavior begin to boil over like a capped tea kettle. I have learned thus far that astute observation of behavior is the best way to stay ahead of a classroom. As Alastor “Mad-Eye” Moody would say, “Constant Vigilance!”

While we do have a comprehensive list of rules in our classroom, I didn’t think it was necessary to delve into all of our procedures. I figured a general overview of how we go about our regulations would suffice for this blog.

Philip J. Peterson Introductions


My name is Philip John Peterson and I am currently enrolled in EDSC F658 under the capacity of seeking my Masters of Secondary Education. I recently graduated from my undergraduate degree of English and minor of French. I have always had a love of story telling, be it in the form of literature, film, graphic novel, or other media.

My desire to teach began early in life when I discovered the joy of passing knowledge and information to another person. When I teach I feel as though I am empowering those around me. My desire to teach is not wholly driven by positive experiences though. I have had quite a few bad experiences as a student in the past. I’ve had teachers give up on me, one who labeled me as a special education student and told  me that I didn’t belong in his  classroom, and teachers who simply didn’t attempt to differentiate to my learning style. These experiences have driven me to do all that I can to learn the complexities of learning styles and to differentiate as much as I possibly can.


But enough about my motivations on behalf  of my educator side.


While I was born in Houston Texas, my family moved to Alaska when I was three months old and I’ve lived here ever since. I’ve spent that past six years living in Fairbanks, and I am now working out of Minto during my internship.


Hobby wise,  I read quite a lot.  And I write, though not as much as I’d like to. Over the past year I did manage to find time to complete Robert Jordan’s fifteen book series The Wheel of Time. I feel like Jordan has brought my narrative writing to a whole new level. Recently I have been enjoying Stephen King’s Dark Tower series when I find the time. My goal is to eventually become a published author. I am working on outlining a series of Science Fantasy novels. The progression is slow, doubly so now that I am in my graduate program. It isn’t something that I feverishly work on, more something that I come back to when I have the time to work on it. It will eventually reach the shelves of book stores, though not likely in the next few years.


I envision my education program as going by far quicker than I would like it to. It seems like each subsequent semester goes by faster than the previous one. I hope to learn as much as I can, but I know that what I learn from the program will only be a small percentage of what I will learn in the coming years from experience. I hope to take this next year as an opportunity to boost my knowledge of education as far as I can so that I can better support my students when I take over my own classroom next year.


I look forwards to reading other folks postings. I think this will be a great year.


[caption id="attachment_2021" align="alignnone" width="305"]My mentor teacher (right) and I (left) looking rather stoic. My mentor teacher (right) and I (left) looking rather stoic.[/caption]