For my final school observation, I chose to observe at my old grade school. The teacher I happened to observe was Mrs. Dasch, the 5th grade teacher (aka my mom). I decided to observe at St. Helen because I wanted to further enhance my belief that I want to teach in a high school. However, I actually really enjoyed my observation at St. Helen's School. Maybe I enjoyed the observation more than my other observations because I was able to spend the entire day there. I was also able to proctor a spelling test and interact more with the students than I previously have.
The first thing I noticed about Mrs. Dasch's 5th grade classroom were all the bright and colorful posters that had motivational sayings on them. I thought they were a very good addition to the classroom because they all had a unifying theme: hard work will help you succeed. This reminded me of our own class discussions and how important intrinsic motivation is. Another major thing I noticed was that Mrs. Dasch had the entire Monday schedule on the board for the students to see what subject they would be learning and at what time. Mrs. Dasch thoroughly explained what she expected her class to do throughout the entire day and kept her cool even when students would ask what the directions were a few minutes after she had just explained them. This was the only time of the day were I found myself getting a little upset with the class. Some of them were just so rude to the teacher and to other students who were called on to talk. Then, they would get upset when Mrs. Dasch would write their names on the whiteboard which meant they would have to stay in for recess.
The most astonishing part of the day to me was the fact that 80% of the students had cell phones. When I was in grade school, no one had a cell phone! I did not get my first cell phone until I graduated 8th grade! Mrs. Dasch had a zero cell phone policy and any student who was caught using their phone was subject to getting it taken for the rest of the day. I agreed with this because I do not think 5th graders need to be using their cellphones in class.
Monday, December 8, 2014
I sat in on another one of Mr. Plumley's senior theology classes. This time the seniors were much more well behaved. Mr. Plumley started the class off by reviewing the previous material and asking very detailed questions. This forced the students to look back through their notebooks and answer the questions that he was asking. It also showed the students who did not take good notes, how important detailed note taking is. He also made sure to remind the students that the end of the quarter is rapidly approaching and said that the exam is cumulative. However, he told them that the exam would focus more heavily on the recent material than the material at the beginning of the school year. I thought that this was very generous of him. He also said that he is almost finished with the study guide for the exam. This showed me that he genuinely wants his students to do well on the exam because the exam is not for another two weeks. Most teachers that I've had gave out study guides a few days before the exam. Rarely would a teacher give us a study guide a whole week in advance.
Sunday, November 30, 2014
I thought Agnon was a very interesting school. There was a very different and unique feel to the school. I really liked the school however. I thought that the teachers were very down to earth and personable, as well as professional. I was also very impressed with how well behaved the students were. Honestly, it was an eye opener to see how well behaved the students were. It was nothing like my elementary school and I thought that we were well behaved for the most part. These kids blew my class out of the water. They had so much freedom and did not try to test their limits. Also, I thought it was so cool how the teachers gave the students choices when it came to what they wanted to do in the classroom. For instance, the math teacher in the 4th grade told the students they could play a game call "domino war" or work on their homework in their math workbooks. When I was in grade school, we had no choices. We did whatever the teacher wanted us to do and if we did not we were punished. I think that by allowing the students to have a choice, they are able to learn at an earlier age the consequences or benefits of certain decisions. For example, a student who chose to play the game rather than working on their math workbook and vise versa. Putting off work usually makes it even harder to do later and that is something that I did not learn in grade school. Luckily enough for the students at Agnon, they are able to experience this at a young age.
I went back to NDCL high school again to obtain some valuable observation hours. This time when I went back and observed, I sat in on a 12th grade theology class. The class started out with a pop quiz that was used to show the teacher (Mr. Plumley) how much each student was able to recall from the last section. He told the students after the quiz that it was only counted as a participation quiz rather than a quiz based on how many questions each student got right. There were many sighs of relief after he said this. I thought this was a very interesting and unique way of seeing how well students actually paid attention from the previous class. Once he collected the quizzes, he introduced new notes in the form of a power point. When I had Mr. Plumley in high school for theology, he always used the chalk board to write down all of his notes. I was very proud to see that he was able to make the switch to power point because I felt that we used to spend so much time on a few notes that he would hand-write during class. I could tell that by having a power point, the students were able to write down what he told them and then participate in an insightful class conversation about the material,
Friday, November 21, 2014
I chose to go to NDCL for my first school visit on my own. I'm glad I did this because I was able to see things through the eyes of my teachers, rather than as a student. I observed my old chemistry teacher, Mr. Poulos who is a basketball coach at NDCL as well as a bio/chem teacher. Before he started class he introduced me to the class and had me tell the class a little bit about myself. Once I was done talking, Mr. Poulos had a thorough review of the most recent chemistry test. He started the review off explaining the problems that the majority of the class missed. As he was handing the tests back he congratulated students who did well. I thought this was a very good thing to do because it showed that he was still working on the bridge between himself and his students. I noticed that at NDCL the students were much more behaved than those at other high schools. This allowed Mr. Poulos to have complete control of the classroom and offer assistance whenever the students needed it. Some more things I noticed within the classroom were that each student had their own assignment notebooks that were given to them by the school, the teacher used the chalkboard and pull down periodic table of elements effectively, and when the students were told to fill out a worksheet, they could go in the lab or stay in the classroom with or without two partners.
With technology being so prevalent in today’s schools, the “use of primary data sources and interactive websites or software provides teachers with opportunities to engage students in inquiry-based science lessons from preschool to college level” (Irving 2006). I feel as though it is very important to utilize such tools and it would be foolish not to. In recent years, advances in technology have allowed teachers and students to have endless information right in the palm of their hands. This new age technology is easily obtainable by many students and is used in nearly every assignment. Not only do these savvy new tools help students in the classroom, these tools are often very helpful outside the classroom as well. For instance, I have used my laptop to check due dates for assignments in my education class 200 times this semester if not more. These advances in technology are very powerful when used the right way and can help students at any level.
“Teachers in small classes have higher morale, which enables them to provide a more supportive environment for initial student learning” (Biddle 2014). I think that in order to be the best teacher one can be, the teacher needs to be passionate about helping others. It is more likely that a teacher will push students to reach their full potential if the teacher has a good personal relationship with his/her students. In my past experiences in the classroom, I’ve noticed that the best teachers have always supported me and made me want to learn and take intellectual risks. They did this by posing questions and providing insight after asking questions about new material. As long as the classroom in a positive and supportive environment, I believe any student can reach their potential.
“Exams used to be administered mostly to decide where to place kids or what kind of help they needed; only recently have scores been published in the newspaper and used as the primary criteria for judging children, teachers, and schools—indeed, as the basis for flunking students or denying them a diploma, deciding where money should be spent, and so on” (Kohn 2000). First off, I strongly believe that test scores do not show if a teacher is good or not. Secondly, I do not think that test scores should determine where a student goes to school or determine the type of special treatment that certain students receive. Test scores should be used to help students improve in areas that they are struggling, rather than point out what they not good at. Too often students are categorized by what they scored on a test. I think this makes it hard for students who aren’t great test takers because it’s just a slap in the face and reminds certain students time and time again that no matter how hard they work, it doesn’t matter. I believe that hard working students should be the ones that are catered to rather than the students who are “gifted.”
“Coming to know something is not a spectator sport, although numerous textbooks, especially in mathematics, and traditional modes of instruction may give that impression. As Dewey asserted many years ago, and as the constructivist school of thought has vigorously argued more recently to claim that “coming to know” is a participant sport is to require that we operate on and even modify the things we are trying to understand” (Brown 2014)
Brown, Stephen I., and Marion I. Walter, eds. Problem posing: Reflections and applications. Psychology Press, 2014.
Irving, Karen E. "The impact of technology on the 21st century classroom." Teaching science in the 21st century (2006): 3-19.
Sacks, Peter. Standardized minds: The high price of America's testing culture and what we can do to change it. Da Capo Press, 2000.
Kohn, Alfie. The case against standardized testing: Raising the scores, ruining the schools. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2000.
Biddle, Bruce J., and David C. Berliner. "Small class size and its effects." Schools and Society (2014): 76.
Freire, Paulo. "The banking concept of education." Educational foundations: An anthology of critical readings (1970): 99-111.