Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Final Summative Field Blog Post

Throughout all my Field experiences in Ed 100, I have learned that if I am going to become a teacher, I definitely want to teach fifth grade. I thoroughly believe that my experiences have helped me to realize this. I always have known that I want to work with young kids, but I did not know what age group. Getting to see the many different ages through my field experiences has helped me to figure this out. My experiences have also helped me to see what I believe to be good teaching and what I don't. I have seen things that I agree with and hope to have at the school I end up teaching at and i have also seem things that I do not agree with. I realize that every school is different, but I now have an idea of the type of school I hope to teach at when I am older. I also now have a better sense of the type of teacher that I hope to be.

Field Post Blogs: Orchard Middle School (Fifth Grade Literacy Class)

September 28th
When I first got to Orchard, I got to witness their typical Monday morning routine. The reason I say Monday morning routine is because only on Mondays they have to come right in and clorox wipe their desks. After they washed their desks and did what was told of them, the students were all ready to begin their day. This Monday was a day full of test preparation. The class I had been observing was a literacy class, so the test preparation consisted of reading a passage and answering questions based on it. Something I noticed was how some students seemed more motivated than others. Some were eager to answer questions, and others sat there taking everything in. Mrs. Meyer kept calling out one student for not paying attention. At first, I did not feel as if this was fair, and I felt bad for the boy. I asked why she kept doing this, and she said it was to keep him on track because he does not usually pay attention in class. As another part of test preparation, they reviewed their homework from over the weekend. In addition, they went over what is expected of them when writing an essay for their test. They were also given a practice essay as homework. I was very surprised with the essays these 5th graders are expected to write. They have to find direct textual evidence to prove their points. I did not have to do such until seventh grade!!
October 5th
The day started a bit rough because the students would not listen to Mrs. Meyer. They were not doing the work she asked nor would they stay quiet. I do not think that the kids were meaning to be disrespectful, I just think they had a lot of energy. The class was started with something called "Status of the Class". This is where Mrs. Meyer checks on each students progression in reading. She asks what book they are reading and how many books they have read since the last "Status of the Class". After this, they change the classroom jobs. They get "good apples" if they follow through with their jobs. "Good Apples" are things that get turned in and pulled like a raffle. They are used as incentives for the kids to do their best on everything. The lesson of the day this day was about debatable versus undebatable aspects in different books. The students were asked to think about and look in their books for what was fact or what could be debated. They then had to provide evidence and explain their reasoning for why they thought the way they did. In the middle of this, an unexpected lock down drill occurred. This threw the students off and scared them as well. The teachers were not informed that a practice drill would be occurring, so everyone was caught off guard.
October 12th
Each Monday morning, I have observed that the students try very hard to speak and have a conversation with Mrs. Meyer. The kids will ask question on top of question to her. I feel like this is because she has created an environment where they all feel comfortable and want to share whatever possible with her. After she gets the students on task, doing what they need to be, their typical Monday begins. The kids were told to compare the two books that they were reading in class. The two books were Fly Away Home and Home of the Brave. I got to have one on one time with a student named Ashley because I read the story Fly Away Home to her. I was able to do this because she missed the day of class where it was read to them, and Mrs. Meyer asked me to catch her up. I was very surprised to hear all the comparisons that the students were coming up with. Their comparisons were so much more insightful than I was expecting! After this discussion, Mrs. Meyer did read-a-loud. Their read-a-loud book was Home of the Brave. The kids were beyond excited because they had not been able to do this for a week.
October 19th
This Monday, when I went to observe at Orchard, I observed a different classroom. This time, I went into Mrs. Elliott's classroom across the hall. While I was in her classroom, she was teaching the students about government. I noticed that to keep the students on task, she has a point system. If the students do something well or are on task, they earn points. Then, if they are not on task or not listening, they can get points taken away. In class this day, the students were reviewing for a test that they had coming up. The material they were reviewing was different types of government. The three different types that they were studying were democracies, dictatorships, and monarchies. When given a scenario, they had to determine what type of government it was. After they reviewed, a new project was presented to them called the social issue project. They were allowed to work with partners to create questions on social issues in society. They have to research the different opinions on the topic and present which they believe is the most logical. I felt as though this project was very complicated for fifth graders. They have to think very in depth and outside of the box.
October 26th
This Monday was also interesting and a different experience. At the time I was visiting, author, Gary Schmidt came to visit the school. He is the author of well known books, Wednesday Wars and First Boy. Many of the students at Orchard read Wednesday Wars in fifth grade and a select few fifth graders were reading First Boy at the time of this visit. Gary told the students about his writing process and that even when he's not in the middle of writing a book, he tries to write at least 100 words a day. He started the visit by telling the students how he believes that all good stories should start and end with a question. He also told the students that he found a lot of inspiration for his books throughout his childhood. He told them that throughout his books, he tries to leave things open ended so that the reader can interpret as they desire. In a way, he hopes that they create the story into their own. He also taught the students that in order to become a writer they must be avid readers, reading often, and they must write on a daily basis, as he does. The students were very engaged throughout the whole assembly, and they thought it was amazing to meet the author of a book they have all read!
November 9th
This was my last Monday visit and it was very bittersweet. By the end of my visit, I had somewhat created relationships with a couple of the students. They were all very disappointed to learn that this would be my last visit into their classroom! But, on this Monday they were learning the difference between sentences and phrases. They were being taught that multiple phrases can be combined to create sentences. At the beginning, many of the students were struggling to grasp this concept and create actual sentences. Although many were confused, they did better than I first thought they would. The second half of class was focused on guided reading. This is where Mrs. Meyer splits the class into four different groups based on their capabilities. Each group meets one on one with her to talk about the book they are reading. They are typically given the book and questions to answer after they read. They must bring this to class in order to be prepared for the discussion they all have as a group. For me, it was easy to tell which students were more capable than the others, but this is not necessarily noticed by the students throughout the class.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Field Post Blog 2 & 3

Shaker High School
During my visit to Shaker, I was in two ninth grade Honors English classes. I was surprised at how different each class was oriented even though they were seen as the same course. Both were reading different books and talking about different topics. One classroom was cluttered with books all over the room. Although it is an English class, it did not seem very organized. Because of this, the classroom did not feel warm and welcoming. But, this class style was very similar to what I experienced in High School. We would read sections of a novel, and then have big group discussions with the whole class as well as small group discussions about different aspects of the text. The next classroom that I went in to felt a bit more welcoming and organized. Something in this class that was similar to my experience in high school was how they have to take a quiz on what they read the night before. Essentially, it is a check to see who read or not, and gives more incentive to read the book because it counts for points.

Something that surprised me was the security precautions taken. There were security guards walking around the building in red shirts. This was unlike anything I have ever seen. I have seen security measures taken in order for people to get into schools, but I have never experienced it in the way that Shaker has implemented it. In my previous high school, which I believe is very secure, did not have what Shaker has. Theirs was much simpler. The guards walking around the school threw me off a bit. I think that this was only because it was something new, and something I am not used to. Something that also surprised me about this school was the use of cellphones. I saw some students occasionally check their phones, while others had them laying on their desks. This as well is a completely different experience than what I have had in the past. When I was in high school, our phones could not be seen or heard unless we wanted them to be taken by the teacher and turned in to the office. Although, as much as this shocked me, the students seemed on top of their work and not distracted by their phones. This may be different for the other classrooms at Shaker, but for the two I observed the phones were present and not a distraction.

Although I enjoyed my visit, I do not believe I would like to become a high school teacher. I do not believe I would work as well with this age as I would with the younger children. You have to have different tolerance levels for different ages, and I do not believe I have it for high schoolers.

My experience at Gearaty was unlike any school experience I have had previously. First off, this is because I sat in on a preschool classroom. The students were very thrown off when we first walked in, and I felt bad because the teacher then had to try and redirect their attention back to herself. When we got to the classroom they were going through their morning routine and singing the days of the weeks, counting, and even telling what the weather was like outside. Learning is somewhat indirect in preschool. I do not know this, but I do not feel like there are set "lesson plans". The kids are learning more about how to be social with other people their age than anything else.

I was surprised by how unwelcome I felt in the classroom that I observed in. There were two teachers. I could tell that one was the main teacher, and the other had to have been a helper or an assistant. Unknown to us, but it was not communicated to them that they were having students come from John Carroll to observe their classroom. I would have been frustrated as the teacher if this would have happened to me, but the teacher was not. She showed us compassion and excitement to have us in the class. On the other hand, the assistant was not happy to have us there. She was callous and rude to us the moment we stepped into the door, although we were polite and well mannered the whole time. She had a constant bad attitude and seemed to not only be upset with us, but annoyed with the children the whole time. This was very disappointing to me because I could not see her passion for her work or her compassion for the students. Those are two aspects I feel must be present in order to even be working in a school.

Although I enjoyed the experience in this preschool classroom, I do not believe this age level is for me either. I love to watch and interact with young children, but I do not know if I would have the tolerance to work with them and teach them on a daily basis. The job seemed more demanding than I thought it would, and I definitely had my eyes reopened. I still believe that middle childhood would be the best option for me and my abilities.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Blog Post #10: Overview

I feel as though I have really grown throughout this course. I've grown in my knowledge and my beliefs. I have learned what it takes to be an exceptional teacher. I always knows that doing the bare minimum does not make a good teacher. Teachers need to go above and beyond for their students. They need to get to know them and their needs personally. This is necessary because teachers need to know how to cater to each of their child's specific needs. Further, teachers need to realize that not all students have the same needs, and that everyone is different. Not only do they need to cater to their students needs, they need to be accepting of them as well. Students will come from all different kinds of families and cultures; their upbringings all different! Teachers need to create an environment where all of their students feel comfortable and as though they can speak freely. I believe a teacher is a role model as well as a person to turn to. I hope that I not only inspire my students to be the best version of themselves, I hope that they feel like they can come to me in any situation. I want them to see me as open and easy to talk to. I also learned that not all schools do things the same way. I experienced this through all of my field experiences. Not one of the schools I visited were remotely the same. Teachers are the exact same way in this sense. No teacher had the same teaching style. Through all the readings we have done, they have taught me how and what is necessary to become the best teacher possible.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Blog Post #8: Lesson Plan

If I had the choice, I would like to teach a lesson on the history of the United States. I have always loved history, and I specifically love U.S. History. When Bill Ayers talks about building bridges, I believe that he means for students to be creating connections; connections from what they're learning, to real world situations. One activity I could do is have the students create an alternative history. An example may be: What would history be like if Hitler would have conquered the United States during World War II? Here, they would have to think about what our world is like today and be able to foresee what would be different. They would need to look into current events and change them based on this different occurrence in history. This would make the students aware of what our current history is and force them to build bridges in order to see how history has impacted current events today. Further, it would help them to be able to predict what a different future may look like. Another activity that would help students build bridges within history would be to look into the building of this country and the changes that happen within our government. I could have the students review The Bill of Rights, evaluate it, and pull current examples of what it has done to form this country and change the history. 

In order to teach my lessons well, and get the points I want to across, I need to keep my students intrigued. I need to be creative in what I assign and how I teach my lessons. I will be enthusiastic, because the students will need to see my passion for them and what I am teaching them. I need, and also want my students to feel that I am fully dedicated to helping them; that my job is to help them learn and succeed. I want them to look up to me, but not fear me. I want them to feel as though they can come to me for help on things other than just school work. I need to be open to all of the different cultures, languages, and situations that I will encounter. I need to make all my students feel welcome and comfortable in my classroom as well as my presence. I want my classroom to be a judge free zone where everyone feels they can act and speak as they wish, without fear of what others may think. All of these points that I have made, are points I learned from the readings of Freire, Ohanian, DiGiulio, and even Ayers. 

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Blog Post 6; PostIt

While reading the Paulo Freire article in my Educational Foundations book, I noticed that he makes many key points about what is wrong with our educational system, that I believe all teachers should be aware of. In one section of his text, he makes points that the banking concept believes;

  1. the teacher teaches and the students are taught
  2. the teacher knows everything and the students know nothing
  3. the teacher thinks and the students are though about
  4. the teacher talks and the students listen
These concepts are oppressive, like Paulo says, and generalizations that can hurt students instead of help them. I believe that the statements about should also be read in the opposite direction. An example being that the students teach and the teacher is taught. I believe that everybody has something to learn from someone, no matter who its from. I think that it is important for teachers to be open to what students think and believe, because I definitely believe that the teachers can learn from their students. Whether they learn a new fact from their student, or learn how to be a better teacher, that can all be taught by the student. 

I think that this is so important to me because of the school district that I came from. Where I was taught, the teachers were very open to listening to whatever their students had to say. Many of them were also very concerned with helping us to form our own opinions on real world matters. They wanted us to think for ourselves, without the influence of their own opinions. I think that this goes hand in hand with learning from your students, because, yes the teachers have to aid their students in the learning and growing process, but along the way teachers never know what their students will bring to light, and what their student may teach them along the way.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Blog Post #5: Rofes

I personally have never experienced homophobia or heterosexism where I attended school. Aurora is a very accepting community and the school district does a very good job at making the learning environment accepting and welcoming. At Aurora, in all the schools, there is zero tolerance for any type of bullying. I have never experienced or even seen bullying occur at my school, and I do not believe it is due to this policy. I genuinely think that all who go to Aurora are kind and genuine. I know that people in Aurora may not agree with the decisions others make, the morals others may have, or the philosophies others preach, but I have never seen a person bullied or picked on because of this. In Rofes' article, he depicts childhood in a way that many people would feel uncomfortable or upset. He says that children basically have no rights and are neglected. He also believes that a child should be allowed to play with whatever they desire, as well as participate in whatever activities they want. A radical distinction he addresses is that he believes as a child you are not "born" homosexual or heterosexual. He believes that this is a decision you make on whether or not to become so. Later on in my life, I hope to be teaching in a school similar to where I grew up, but that may be more focused on individual students needs. I also hope to teach in a district where everybody is accepting of everybody. There is always going to be judgement, but I hope to work somewhere where the judgement is not made obvious.