Author: rabonestroo

Suicide on Campus and the Pressure of Perfection

I think I can use it in my practice by realizing that even though someone that appears to have everything together can still be susceptible  to suicidal thoughts.   We have a great many students at RSMS that I would say are perfectionists.   We even spoke to some of the parents about it at Parent Teacher Conferences.   A couple of the parents were happy that their student was getting lower than an A in the class because it would bring some realism and resiliency  for them to have to work up to an A.   I also think that we need to be mindful of high achieving students actions toward grades and try to coach them on how they should interpret the grades in a healthy manner.   Make sure they realize that getting a B is okay and not the end of the world.   I think it all comes back to developing a healthy relationship with your students and observing abrupt changes in their  behavior that could be an indication that they are considering taking their own life.

Classroom Management Observations

When opening a lesson I find that it is best to start with letting the students know that what they will need on their  desk.   For Instance, I may say to the students that we are going to be taking notes on the Declaration of Independence and that they are going to need to have one piece of paper and a pencil.   I then give some time for them to accomplish this and I move around the room making sure that the students are following directions, for some reason I find that simple instructions like getting out a piece of paper takes longer than I typically expect.   I thin usually do the nonverbal cue to the students that is used in the school.   For us, this cue is to raise your hand and say hands up which indicates to the students that they need to raise their  hand.   I wait until the class is quiet and then start the lesson.

When doing during class management I find that I like to use proximity often, I am getting better at moving around the room while I talk and I may walk to a student that is off task and just touch their shoulder or put my finger over my mouth.   I like the idea of correcting behavior without causing a great distraction to class, and this is one of the skills I am really trying to work on during my teaching.

After a lesson I find that telling the students that they need to put what we are working on into their  section folder, and if its a transition to something else I will let them know what they need for the next lesson.   If it is the end of the period or I am assigning them some work to do in class I will re-iterate what that work is and ensure that students know what is expected of them.   This way if they are not doing it I can ask them why they are not following directions.

Some transitions that I have observed is that when my mentor teacher has finished a point and is waiting on students to catch up he will say “I know you are done when you put your pencil down and touch your left ear.”   Each time it is a different command and sometimes they are silly to keep it fresh.   Sometimes an easy transition is simply to ask for students questions.   This naturally means there is a closure on a lesson or activity.

I have really been working on proximity and movement in my lessons, my mentor is very good at this and I am trying to emulate that as best I can.

Personalized Learning

I do see some good aspects of personalized learning, one of the main ones is that I think students will be forced to do more reading to learn, so the literacy rate of students should go up, as this is a national issue.   Students will have more access to time in class to be able to just read, and teachers will feel like they are not doing their jobs if someone comes in and see’s an entire class just sitting and reading (I hope/think).   I think that some of the subjects lend themselves to personalized learning very well, I would think that English and Math are both great places for personalized learning to start.   Math is a subject where it isn’t  always that difficult to teach yourself how to do certain functions.   When I was in my undergrad all of the math classes that I took at Colorado State were at your own pace learning that you essentially taught yourself how to do different functions, the lab had people available to help if you needed them.   English already has a lot of reading in it and allowing students some choice in the items they read is a good thing to a degree.

I think that some of the drawbacks of personalized learning are that they don’t  lend themselves well to History instruction very well at the grade school level.   History, in the early stages, has to be the accumulation of facts and having some historical background to be able to be able to delve deeper into topics of interest.   You cant begin with WWII and fully learn about it without the background to how society got there.   I also as a learner, do not care for personalized learning, I prefer to have a dynamic teacher who will lecture and give stories and examples that they think is important.   I do not like to have to read 20 pages of material and then write an essay or make a diagram or some of the other options that are being proposed in the personalize learning.   I think that the term “personalized learning” is becoming an undefinable term because it is essentially all teacher to a degree, it is so broad that it is nothing as said by the article.

I think that it is great to have some teachers doing personalized learning and some not, and even having students choose how they want to learn because that’s  personalization also.   If I want to have a teacher who does more direct instruction than I can choose that teacher in the secondary schools.   I think Elementary is a bit more tricky, but I like that students could have a choice in how they are taught.

The teacher that I am mentoring with does not do personalized learning, but one of the other teachers in the school that teaches two periods of the same class does do a lot of personalized learning.   She has students moving through different assignments and usually has a choice of which ones they want to do.   I would bet that the students in my mentors class know a lot more about history than the students that are in the personalized learning class, so I am not sure if one is better than the other, measurement seems to be difficult in this regard.

DACA and Immigration

I agree that the dreamers should have a place in the United States, this group of people has shown that they are worthy of being sheltered from their terrible situations in their host countries.  With that said, I agree with Trump that Congress needs to do their  job and make this law.  Our government is not set up to have the executive branch making laws, and the executive order provision has been trampled on for more than a century and is perverting the federalist system that the founders worked so hard to make.

There is a greater need to have a fully implemented immigration  overhaul  done in this country that will allow the people who are chasing the American dream to have a path to citizenship.  At the same time, we need to have some added security to the southern border and a more efficient way to allow people into the country.  Whether that looks like work visa’s or some other form of immigration status, at the same time immigrants that are convicted of a felony level crime need to be deported, this needs to be drafted and passed by Congress.  Congress should make the law the executive branch has veto power, and the supreme court ensures that the laws are not unconstitutional, this is our system of government, and it needs to actually start working again.  The executive branch cannot continue to arbitrarily make laws, or our democracy is nothing more than a facade.


I am Robert Bonestroo

I am taking this class along with the student internship, I am mentoring at Randy Smith Middle School under John Boyarsky, we are teaching 8th grade history.  I came to wanting to teach on a whim, I owned a company in Fairbanks since my undergrad from UAF and sold it last September.  I saw an add wanting substitute teachers in the district and I decided I would give it a try.  My first day was the last day of school before Christmas break at North Pole Middle, and it was pretty crazy.  I then picked up a long term sub gig at RSMS and got the bug for teaching.  I live in Fairbanks and have been married for 6 years, I have no kids, but 4 Labradors.

I am working in the internship right now and so far I am impressed with how supportive it has been.  I have felt that the class so far have given me good experience that is relevant to teaching.  I envision that the program will continue to be supportive of the interns. (I am not really sure what you meant by your question?)