It is important as a teacher to infuse the idea in students’ minds that learning is not limited to the context of a book in a classroom, but is a tool to help us become better human beings outside of the classroom and for the rest of our lives. Creating an atmosphere in a classroom where students can come together as a team, with respect to each others uniqueness, and feel comfortable and have fun while learning will give them the confidence that they are undeniably capable of attaining any and all goals they set for themselves. In order to realize this goal, students need to feel safe, have a set of classroom procedures they can easily follow, and be provided with an effective instructional plan that keeps them motivated to want to learn inside and outside of the classroom. Some key strategies I’ve learned in class that I will use as a teacher to realize my overall objective come mostly from a mixture of Dr. Kaden’s lectures and the handbook for classroom management that works. For instance, I will utilize many suggestions from section one of the handbook, which describes the importance of setting rules and procedures in order to tackle every thing from behavior issues to cooperative learning strategies. There are so many other strategies I plan to incorporate into my classroom to create a productive learning environment for my future students’ success.
Go with the flow!
My mentor teacher is really good at classroom management. She has been teaching for almost thirty years, so she has found some really neat ways to manage the class efficiently and effectively; her classroom seems to flow so smoothly! The students seem to know what to do without her saying a word; they simply follow the queues she puts out for them. For instance, during my observation I notice she puts out her textbook in a certain spot at the front of the room when she was going to do a lesson out of the book that day. The students came in and immediately knew to grab a book before they sat down (although, this was not something they were happy about; there were many grunts when they saw the book of course!).
We have a rowdy class this period (last class of the day), so it takes a minute to get them settled down. Usually my mentor teacher does this by walking up to the center of the classroom and stands there for a second, silent; this doesn’t take long for the students to notice and they quiet down so my mentor can proceed with opening the lesson. My mentor hardly lectures; she gets the class involved by asking a lot of questions about the subject and what they see in the text. The students respond so much better to this. If a student seems to be off task, my mentor simply says their name and they know she wants them to stop whatever they’re doing and get back on task; just simply saying the students name seems to be very effective. When she closes a lesson, she usually follows it with a few slides of pictures pertaining to what they just learned and she will go over each one asking questions until the bell rings.
Some transitions that occur are usually a student asking to go to the bathroom, a change of lesson plans, or somebody coming into the classroom for something. There are no rules on how many times a student can go to the bathroom. If my mentor feels it is getting out of hand, she simply says no more bathroom breaks and/or she’ll threaten a limit on it for the future; this usually deters the students from asking. There is a time set for bathroom breaks — she will not allow the students to go to the bathroom the last ten minutes of class. For transitioning between lessons, my mentor will have the students put away what they are working with completely before moving on. If a student complains he or she is not finished, my mentor simply assures them they will have time later; this simple suggestion also seems to be effective. If the class is interrupted by somebody coming in, my mentor always makes sure whatever is being said or done by a student in the classroom is finished before attending to the person at the door; she doesn’t ever interrupt a student in the class.
There are so many strategies I have observed from my mentor that I don’t have time or room to name them all, so I will just name a few I really like. For instance, I like the no bathroom rule 10 minutes before class. I also like that my mentor’s classroom is very organized and she has a spot for everything and it never changes; this way she can quickly and easily find something and so can the students. I like that she has a separate area in the classroom for student’s to go when they need extra space to work or want to get away from their table for a bit; sometimes a student is having a bad day and it may help if they had a spot to get away from the “noise’ occasionally. I will probably try to do the same in my classroom. The last strategy I will discuss that I like is that my mentor color coordinates handout sheets for each course she teaches; this way she can see immediately which lesson is for which class without having to strain her eyes reading what’s on the paper and it saves a few seconds as well; this is good for time-management!
Here are my 3 choices, Enjoy!
Website: Of course, my favorite! Edutopia https://www.edutopia.org/
This website, if any of you are not already aware, has a plethora of information and it is super easy to navigate. It has blogs, and strategies, classroom guides, etc. When I typed in teacher-student relationships in the search bar a ton of stuff came up!
Blog: Five Practices for Building Positive Relationships with Students, by Kelley Clark
Found on Education Week Teacher at https://www.edweek.org/tm/articles/2012/08/07/tln_clark.html?qs=relationships
Clark blogs about five practices that helped her develop positive relationships with her students. 1. Leave reminders on your desk to ask students questions regarding personal issues (positive). 2. Never let the other student see you react inappropriately to a student’s comment. 3. Actually use the information you receive from a first-day student survey. 4. Schedule “bonding’ time. And Finally, 5. Learn your students’ name immediately!
Video: Re-conceptualizing teacher-student relationships to foster school success.
2011 Clifford Award winner Jessica Toste shares research on relationships between teachers and special needs students. I chose this video because I thought it was important to include the relationship differences that a teacher may face with those of special needs students. I don’t think the handbook covered much of this, so enjoy!
An “outsider’s” perspective…
It’s always hard for me to comment on such sensitive topics that are related to the ideas and values of another culture. On one hand, I feel it is really none of my business what they want to do because I am not in their shoes. I am not native Alaskan, I don’t know what it feels like to have someone try to take my culture away from me (if that is truly the case), and, therefore, don’t feel like I can empathize with them, nor do I want to offend anyone if I say something a “fixer” might say. On the other hand, I get a little defensive when there are statements being made like, “The education industry is dominated by outsiders. Typically, the non-Native teachers have the highest paid jobs and the best housing in the community. In far too many situations, the Native people clean the rooms, empty the trash, and do minor paperwork in the offices. They are disempowered in their own land. This lesson is not lost on the young people.” I don’t understand statements like this. How are they “dis-empowered?” I think the sole purpose of any educator is to educate, not to dis-empower. I also feel that the “outsiders’ are getting paid by American tax-payer dollars to educate American children who happen to be of Native Alaskan descent (which should be respected), those “outsiders’ most likely paid a hefty price in money and time to educate themselves in order to get a good paying job, so where is the issue here? Of course, I could be wrong, but this is how I thought American teachers everywhere get paid.
I think the author goes a little too far in some of his accusations. I can understand the want and need to preserve a culture, and I would never question that, but I think it is unfair to make accusations to those wanting to help (which I know falls under the authors other accusation that the “western mind’ has a hard time “backing off from the traditional roles of “expert’ and “fixer.’).
Some of the comments went a little too far, as well, when defending some of the opposing views of the author. For example, Jo MacNamara writes, “More division. Same old same old. Culture based on race, blah blah. Non-Natives are bad people and need to feel guilty blah blah.’ To dismiss someone’s views by saying, “blah, blah, blah’ is a bit childish, not too intelligent, and quite insensitive, in my opinion. He does, however, redeem himself in another comment by saying, “I agree that culture is important, and that schools should teach about the cultures AROUND THEM, especially cultures that are misunderstood. But, it should not be a main focus that takes years. As you said, culture should be taught in the home. Academics are more important. And I think this author totally misses that point and puts culture ahead of everything else. And I think that would do Alaska’s kids a huge disservice.’ I agree. Culture is important, but not the main goal in the classroom; basic academics are important in preparing young students for the WORLD around them. If the problem is that the younger Natives are not being taught enough about their culture, then by all means find ways to rectify this, but do not put all the other important aspects of education on the back burner, or berate those wanting to help.
In the end, my feelings are that ALL cultures are important and preserving them should be respected by everyone in that community, but don’t dismiss the efforts of those who want to help by calling them “outsiders’ wanting to acculturate everyone around them. I don’t believe those are the intentions.
The perfect balance…
Robert Heinlein, American author, once said, “I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do.’ I feel a lot of secondary students will be able to relate to this quote and I would develop my classroom policies around it. In other words, students at the secondary level have already developed a sense of what is expected of them, yet they are still at an age where they want to defy authority; so, it is important to balance the rules in the classroom that meets everyone’s expectations. I think setting basic guidelines such as “be respectful’ will cover a lot of areas where students can use there common sense. For instance, keep your hands to yourself and use appropriate language would fall under this rule. I also think stewardship is important to teach students and explain how that falls under “respect.” I will also spend my time on procedures pertaining to the classroom and the work expected of them. I don’t think it is necessary to involve anyone in the rule-making process; students tend to make a list longer than the Bill of Rights and never take a second glance at them. I do think it is important to discuss the classroom policies together and ask for input on what they think it means and why they think it is important to follow those rules. It may also be beneficial to discuss what the consequences should be for breaking the rules. Most importantly, always follow through.
- Be respectful.
- Be prepared for class.
- Turn in work on time.
- Take responsibility for your own learning.
I really like the Scholastic.com website. It is easy to maneuver and it covers a plethora of topics, contrary to the belief that it is solely related to books. There is a great section on “general rules and conduct’ under the classroom management link. The website allows you to filter the information you view based on the grade level you select. You have the option to register as a member, but it is not necessary to access all the great information it provides.
I obviously wouldn’t rate the site on a scholarly level, but it is definitely a “go to’ tool for teachers while browsing the Internet; besides, there is plenty of training available through other professional avenues. I take the information from the site as a starting point of knowledge and research further if it interests me. I don’t always agree with what I read (anywhere), but I always find something useful to take into the classroom. For example, I don’t agree with the recommendation to include the students when I am making the rules (as stated above, I do, however, think it is important to discuss them), but I do appreciate the recommendation to select only a few rules and discussing the consequences up front. Also, they spend a little time on what a first-grade teacher would do and I wasn’t sure why they mentioned this since I am filtered for 9th to 12th graders, but as I read on I felt the advice would work grad for all grades; that is, not to be too lengthy…’fast, firm, and fair really does work!’ The last recommendation they give helps to remember that although you are an authority figure, it does not mean you have to rule with an iron fist, but rather, to provide “leadership and a strong example of how to behave.’
Wordle: I love that the two biggest words are “Think’ and “Students;’ the two most important aspects to a classroom.
Greetings from Kodiak!
My name is Shannon Feldmeyer. I was born and raised in Boston, MA before joining the Navy; which brought me to Virginia for 10 years, then to Guam for 4, and now to Kodiak. My family has been in Kodiak for 2 years now and we love it! I love traveling and scuba diving; however, with my schedule right now, I would say hobbies include finding time for my 10 and 12-year-old girls and maybe just enough time left for laundry! This class is a piece of the puzzle I am putting together to accomplish my Master’s in Education. I am currently in the secondary teacher placement program where my endorsement is in U.S. and World history. So far, I am really enjoying the program; I am learning at least 10 useful things a day that will help me become an effective teacher. My student teaching is taking place at Kodiak High School, which is home to some of the greatest kids on the planet; I will forever compare high schools to Kodiak High. I envision a smooth, successful year, and I want to absorb as much as I can from the program to help me throughout my career as a teacher. I look forward to working with the professors and students at UAF.