My CT’s Classroom Management

Although I had originally hoped to be in an upper-grades class (since I had never seen one before) I absolutely love my placement classroom.  The students are wonderful and we have very few issues when it comes to behavior.  The common behavior management strategy in my school is a flip-card system in which students flip their card from green to yellow to pink each time they break the rules or expectations.  It is a negative or a punishment system.  In our classroom, however, we changed the system around.  Ranther than punishing for misbehavior, we reward for good behavior.  Students are asked to flip their card when they are caught doing something good.  Stickers, certificates, and a trip to the treasure box are all rewards that come from this PBS system.  The students were rather confused at first because the system had been negative in their first grade classes.  They have gotten used to it though and seem to like the new behavior management system.

One of the only concerns I have about my CT’s classroom management is inconsistency.  Students who are always exceeding expectations and being “model students” are often overlooked.  Sometimes the expectations apply and are enforced and other times they go completely by the wayside.  Not only does this confuse me as a student teacher, but it obviously confuses the students as well.  Expectations were not clearly set up at the beginning of the year, so it seems that students are still “testing the waters” even in the second semester. 

I have spoken with my supervisor about this, as it makes me nervous for when I take over the classroom.  The only advice she could give me was that I needed to establish my own expectations as soon as I am the “teacher in charge” and do everything I can to remain consistent with them.

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Classroom Management in Inclusive Settings

As inclusive education is becomeing more and more prominent, it is important for us as new teachers to be ready and prepared to reach these students.  I know it will be hard for me to change my traditional view of classroom management, but I will need to do so in order to meet my students’ differing needs.

It is interesting to think about how the term “classroom management” usually has a negative connotation, when effective classroom management should actually be a positive and proactive experience.  I am a strong believer in the importance of “community” within the classroom, fostering a sense of belonging, membership, and acceptance in all students.  But it is not enough just to put all of the children in the same classroom…they must be supported by the teachers, parents, and other school staff.  I really liked the way the article discussed how “some schools actively strive to fister friendships among children.”  It is so important for students to feel accepted and loved not only by their teachers, but also by their peers.  As we learned from the “Peter” documentary from last semester, ALL students can greatly benefit from interacting with students with special needs. 

It is important not to forget the influence of families on a student’s educational experience.  As parents must be given the opportunity to collaborate in decision making, they should also be involved in the everyday experience of the classroom.

My current placement classroom does not include any students with severe disabilities.  We do, however, have students with attention challenges and other focusing needs.  It has been interesting to see how my cooperating teachers has modified her teaching to meet these students needs.  I have realized that teachers don’t always need to develop a formal IEP or personal behavior plan.  Sometimes the modifications are made almost subconsciously.  I think this is a sign of an experienced, involved teacher who wants the best for her students.

I was glad to see that the article touched on supporting positive behavior in all students.  Punishment and expulsion are not necessarily the best techniques for changing behavior in children, and they can actually exclude students from the classroom community.  I firmly believe that positive, preventive interventions are more effective. 

My placement school does not have a school-wide Positive Behavior Support plan in place, but my teacher has just this year changed her classroom behavior policy from a negative to a positive card-flipping strategy.  At first this was a difficult concept for the students to grasp, since it was a drastic change from their experience the prior year.  But the students seem to be responding well to the new policy.

This article definitely helped me to look again at the “big picture” of inclusive classrooms.  As teachers we will have so many decisions to make every day that will impact the lives of our students.  It is crucial that we are well informed of the benefits and drawbacks of various classroom management techniques so that we can make the best decisions for our students.

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Congratulations, Sterling!

 And the Tar Heels win it again!

http://tarheelblue.cstv.com/

http://www.newsobserver.com/sports/college/northcarolina/story/228678.html

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513 – Taking A Broader Look: Reading Literacy Education

“When literacy educators become more politically involved, they have more influence on the legislation that affects their own lives and their students’ futures.”

I was very interested to read this article by Edmondson about the importance of understanding the politics of education.  I often feel like the political aspect of education is beyond my control, and that I must simply roll with the punches in terms of new legislation. 

I completely understand what it means when the article discusses “trends” in education.  It seems like there is always a new

The Jeep analogy, while somewhat of a stretch, did manage to illustrate what’s been going on in the education system…temporary fixes for real problems.  The real issues with literacy are often overshadowed or ignored…quick fixes will not remedy them.  We must take a broader look at what the big picture problems are.  One statement in particular stood out to me.  It read, “There needs to be an explicit rsistance to policies that do not reflect the values of educatiors and the communities in which they teach.”  So true.

The article outlined three important things to remember and look for when presented with proposals for new policies in education. 

  1. Follow the money
  2. Who are the players?  Where did they come from?  What are their values?
  3. Who is likely to benefit?

It is interesting to think about all of the behind the scenes information that is completely left out when education proposals are presented to educators.  it is important that educators and all members of society take a critical stance and take care to really examine what kind of legislation is being passed.

Although this artile was a far cry from the typical texts we have been reading for our methods courses, I thought it was a good way to wrap up our final semester of “real” classes.  We are slowly moving into the real world of teaching and it is important for all of us to realize that it is about more than what books you read or what activities are in your lessons.  We are a part of the big picture, too.

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513 – Working with Struggling Readers and Writers

Hello everyone!  I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday!

In this week’s reading, Flint ch. 12, the author explores what it means to be a struggling reader and/or writer.  Of course, as teachers, we recognize that these students are 1 or more years behind grade level, but there is much more to their situation.  There are many different ways in which students struggle with reading and writing.  Some have difficulties with cognitive processing while others have problems with motivation and attention.  It is our responsibility to find the source of these students’ difficulty and cater our instruction to meet the students’ needs.

This concept is clearly apparent in my placement classroom.  Almost a third of the students in our class would be described as struggling readers, and they definitely have varying issues when it comes to literacy.  My CT and I try to identify the students’ needs and create guided reading lessons to speak to some of these.  Also, the reading specialist and the ESL teacher both pull students out to work on reading and writing skills.  But there are still other issues that cannot be addressed with these methods. 

Thankfully, this chapter provided quite a few examples of classroom strategies for struggling readers and writers.  Some of them I recognized from my own classroom, and I hadn’t even realized their beneficial purpose!  We do numerous read alouds each day, and I never realized how beneficial these are for struggling readers.  My class does not use the buddy reading system on a regular basis, but I wish they did.  I think my CT has tried it, but with little success.  It probably depends greatly on the individual students in your class.  It is a great idea, though, and I would like to maybe try it again next semester during my full-time teaching. 

This chapter also discussed the four popular reading intervention programs, which were interesting to see fleshed out, especially the Four Blocks program.  I also enjoyed looking at the analyses with my case study in mind.  I recognize that his motivation often lags because he is slower at completing tasks than his classmates.  This discourages him from pushing harder to succeed.

I have really enjoyed these posts.  They have made me think critically about the Flint text and how it is applied to “real-life” in real classrooms.

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514 – Parachutes with 4th Graders at Haw River

At Haw River Elementary last Monday, we did the parachute activity again with the students.    This time we worked with 4th graders, which was a very different experience for me.  The students had been excited all morning about getting to do this activity, and we thought it was our best science experience yet!    As opposed to the 2nd and 3rd graders, these students were very vocal in expressing their opinions and ideas about the activity, discussing gravity and parachutes and how they work.  I did feel a bit restricted by the amount of time we were able to devote to this activity.  My students were more interested and involved in this science element than in any of the other subjects we worked with.  I would have liked the science, math, and literacy activities to have been INTEGRATED so that they flowed more smoothly.  I think this would make our time more beneficial for both us and the students.

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513 – Intermediate Readers and Writers

I was excited to read this week’s Flint chapter, because it focused on intermediate and advanced readers and writers in the classroom.  As teachers, we know it is our job to help those who are struggling with literacy development, but it is also our duty to encourage the other students to continue to grow.

In my classroom, I have definitely seen the tell-tale signs of students reading without comprehension.  The boy who “reads” his 50-page chapter book in one day (I am in 2nd grade, btw), or the girl who completely makes up the plot of the book when asked to describe what’s going on in Henry and Mudge.  It is quite heartbreaking to see students miss out on the joys of Junie B. Jones and other such engaging texts, simply because they cannot get engaged in the reading.

As always, I enjoyed Flint’s interspersed lesson ideas and classroom activities that foster a love of reading in the classroom.  The little example at the beginning about the teacher and the boys with their comic books, however, seemed a little unlikely.  I cannot see any of my male students using their reading time to make lists of anything, let alone adjectives describing a character in a book.  Now I completely agree that, as teachers, we must create interesting literacy tasks which both engage and focus learners, but it is not always as clear-cut.  When students are off-task during literacy in my placement classroom, they are usually talking or doodling or staring off into space.  I realize that it is my job as their teacher to figure out what interests children in my class and how I can use those topics and ideas to form my classroom lessons and activities…but that is no easy task.  Finding the right balance for a particular classroom, I think, takes a good amount of trial and error…and lots of tweaking!  But that is all part of being an effective teacher!

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