Author: snknaebel

A Personal Philosophy

When I sat down to write about what my personal philosophy for the classroom might look like, I kept going back to my classroom rules we created earlier this semester. I want my classroom to be based on respect– respect for others, respect for one’s self, and respect for the learning process. I also want my classroom to be a place where my students feel safe to be who they are, share their ideas, and explore.

One thing I have learned from my mentor teacher is that students will not show you respect if you do not show respect for them. When a student makes a mistake, plagiarizes a paper, makes a mean comment, it is important to address the issue immediately and privately. Public peer humiliation will not gain you any fans!

I also want my classroom to be a place where my students make choices. The real world is full of choices– what clothes to wear, what job to interview for, when to have a family, whether or not to go to college, how to pay for post-secondary education… I want my students to assume responsibility for their own lives by making choices within the safety net of the classroom. From picking out which project to create to deciding how many vocab words to memorize each week (out of a year-long list of required words), I want my students to understand what it means to control their own destinies.

Reflecting on Classroom Observations

Hi Everyone!

Sorry my post is a bit late this week! I have been dealing with some sod roof issues (aghhh!), but thankfully everything is now squared away.

I am observing under a wonderful mentor teacher who has been teaching in the bush for over twenty years! One thing I really like about my mentor teacher is that she begins each day by talking with the students about a quote written on the board. This routine seems to focus students and get them in that “school mindset.” Plus, it is a great way to assess who is in a good mood and who woke up on the wrong side of the bed based on their reactions to the questions and classroom discussion.

Another classroom management technique I have come to appreciate is the uncomfortable silence. My mentor teacher will stop talking and stand awkwardly at the front of the classroom until everyone is quiet and sufficiently uncomfortable. Once she has everyone’s attention, she will resume the lesson. I like this strategy because it works well in the middle of a lesson, the teacher does not have to raise her voice, the teacher does not have to call out to a particular student, and the students peer-regulate.

At the end of the day (or class period), my mentor teacher often uses exit passes as a way to transition. This exit pass is only assigned during the last 5-8 minutes of class, so students must wait for the assignment. They are then busy until it is time to go, so they do not waste time talking at their desks or noisily packing up their things while others are working.

Three transitions I have observed are arriving in the morning, going to PE, and going to lunch. As I mentioned earlier, my mentor teacher handles the morning arrival by discussing a quote on the board. This gets the students into school mode and perhaps gets them thinking about the author or subject matter. PE is handled by giving students a five minute warning before it is time to leave the gym, so that students are expecting the change and can begin to wrap up the game. For lunch, my mentor teacher usually requires an exit pass to leave the classroom. Students must answer a question or two on an index card before they can head to the kitchen.

As for the strategy I will be using, it will definitely be the AWKWARD SILENCE! It is effective, and I am secretly laughing inside when I see the kids start to squirm!

Hope you all are having a good week and staying warm!

AFN Addresses Native Education

A pretty interesting article on AFN’s approach to reestablishing cultural ties with Native youth, including ideas on Native education…

Classroom Management Online Resources

I found several interesting online resources relating to classroom management.

The website I found specifically relates to classroom management for the English teacher. Guest contributors write articles relating to different areas of classroom management– teaching large classes, working with classes of mixed ability, or even pair and group work with ESL students. One article I found particularly interesting addressed whether it is better to correct pronunciation immediately or privately after class. You can find that specific article here.

This blog is sponsored by edutopia, has many wonderful posts for classroom management and teaching in general. The link I provided goes to a blog entry about building positive relationships with English Language Learners. Some other posts I enjoyed paid homage to the sticky note and explored ways to incorporate introverted students in the classroom.

Finally, the video I found on classroom management also comes from edutopia. This video demonstrates how one school is using positive discipline strategies to promptly address any behavior issues. The school emphasizes student responsibility in the discipline process, which seems to be working well at their middle school.

Another Perspective on Alaska Native Education

While Paul Berg’s call for change is poetic and full of other cultural examples, he falls short on offering a concrete plan of action that can transition the “white-based” education system to a more place-based cultural system. It is easy to decry the current system, but much more difficult to develop and implement a systematic change that will revolutionize Alaska Native education and halt the development of “acultural” men and women.

Berg asserts that the non-native community needs to relinquish the reigns and allow the Native community to assume control over their own existence and educational destiny. However, this must occur simultaneously with the Native community “stepping up” and filling those roles. Although each village is different, I have not observed a high level of Elder or Native involvement in the school or community. Many of the Native children do not speak Athabascan, and several were interested in taking the fur sewing class I am offering this winter (because they have never sewn fur before). Cultural pride and preservation begins within the home, spreads to the extended family, and then the community. If Alaskans want to begin the process of integrating Native culture into the classroom, it should begin with actively cultivating culture in the community.

One first point might be holding a community potluck at the school. This can create a positive association for many elders (who may remember being plucked from their villages to be sent to a boarding school). At the potluck, teachers might extend an open invitation to have Elders or Native leaders be a part of the classroom by speaking, sharing, or demonstrating cultural skills.

Another idea might be to develop Teacher Aide programs in village schools, so that Native high school students who are interested in becoming teachers have a clear path for achieving that goal. Maybe students use one class period to study pedagogy, classroom management, and observe other classrooms. Students could form cohorts that transition from high school to college together, thus increasing the amount of support available and the retention rate.

While Paul does make some good points, I finished the article thinking “A little less conversation, a little more action please!”

Classroom Management

Raise your hand.

Keep your hands to yourself.

Do not take things that do not belong to you.

Follow directions.

Always be prepared.


As secondary teachers, I think we all expect (or at least hope) that our students will come into our classroom already understanding these basic school rules. For this reason, I really like the idea of setting up classroom expectations rather than classroom rules. Expectations imply that the students have an active role in the overall classroom atmosphere, and it allows them to assume responsibility for their behavior.


When researching this topic, I came across many different suggestions as to how to develop classroom rules/expectations. I like the idea of allowing the class to brainstorm a list of classroom rules, and then working together to condense the suggestions into three or four salient points. This theory is particularly interesting to me as an English major, because it reinforces the creative process and helps students synthesize many ideas into a few central ideas.


Four key expectations I might have for my classroom:

Respect yourself.

Respect others.

Don’t be afraid to think outside the box.


I think in today’s image-obsessed society, it is important to reinforce the idea of respecting one’s self–whether that be eating healthy, completing homework, exercising, or studying for a test. Additionally, it has become increasingly obvious that our current society is a breeding ground for bullying, which is why I feel it is important to remind students to respect others. I want students to be active participants in their learning (“Teach a man to fish’), and I want my students to be creative! I welcome students coming to me with new ideas or new approaches to a particular assignment, and I want to encourage that kind of creativity in my classroom.


The link I found is from Project Ideal. I really liked this link because it synthesizes several ways that teachers can approach classroom management and expectations at the beginning of the year by involving students in the process. Additionally, it incudes reference materials on creating a classroom management PowerPoint or activity to further engage students in the process.

A Big Hello from Eagle, Alaska

Hi Everyone! My name is Stephanie Knaebel, and I am currently living in Eagle, Alaska. Eagle has a population of around 130 people, and the school here is K=12 with two classrooms (K-5 and 6-12). I am working in the upper classroom as a student teacher. I am taking this class as a Licensure/M.Ed. student at UAF, and I hope to graduate in May with everything completed. I grew up in Georgia, but I love everything that Alaska has to offer. I have several new hobbies, including cross country skiing, fur sewing, and learning to use snow shoes.

I am excited about the education program at UAF, and I think having a rural/bush placement will help me have a better understanding of the uniqueness of education in Alaska.