Methodology and Technology:
Prior to observing, I already knew that Danville High had very little technology compared to schools such as Metcalf and University High School here in Normal, the resources just aren't present. Therefore, my expectations were very small in that regard. My expectation was also that teacher methodology would be very leaned on their procedures for how their class is ran. I figured this would be critical to proper classroom management.
After observing, I found that many classrooms had smart boards installed, and a few had a few laptops equipped as well. But how much use are a few laptops to a class of 20+? A couple teachers followed a very rigid procedure with their students, but many teachers depended on the respect of their students for classroom management. If the class began to go out of hand, many teachers would simply stop talking and wait for students to stop talking. This was actually very effective.
It surprised me to find that MANY teachers used Kahoot, a game that can quiz an entire class to study for an upcoming quiz or exam. When I say many, I mean at least 75% of the classes I observed had used Kahoot to study for an upcoming assessment. I think this is because of the lack of technology, students were able to take out their phones and use that as a way to log in and participate in some sort of technological learning.
In different sites that I visited, a common methodology was the no phone policy. I think this is critical because when students are allowed to have phones out, they become distracted and tuned out to what is taking place in class. In my opinion, a no phone policy unless said so is definitely best for the education of all students.
I found that many schools are scraping for resources, but we have to make the most of what we have. If students do not have everyday access to technology, class may have to be help more often than not in the library where students can spend time on computers. I feel like I am able to notice when students are not experiencing technology at home when others may not. You have to understand the background of your students in order to better their education.
Professionalism and Understanding Learners
I combined the two of these components because I feel as if they go hand in hand, and hopefully after reading my reasoning you will agree.
I figured that teachers would have to uphold utmost professionalism in order to maintain the respect of students and as an authoritative figure. This expectation was actually denied multiple times. I discovered that you definitely have to always remain professional, but theres also time to relate to your students and stoop down to their level in order to have a healthy relationship. This can better student learning and actually keep students respectful at the high school level. This obviously changed my perception of the component, and I definitely want to be a teacher who can relate with their students. It's a large part of why I want to be a Spanish teacher and share my passion of the subject with those who don't have a rich passion for another language.
I was surprised to find that teachers who could not relate to their students rapidly lost their interest. Being an overly authoritative figure can lead to disrespect from students and no interest in the material being taught.
Students become excited to be in school when they were with a teacher who could relate to them and draw them into what was being taught in the subject. For a very small moment, students didn't actually care about their grade, but actually material being taught. I took a lot from this in my observation with some great teachers and it had a strong impression on me. Hopefully, I will be able to hold strong relationships with my students and make a strong relevance to Spanish in their lives. Hopefully that will make me a successful educator and help me maintain my drive to impact kids. If we can understand learners, their personalities, and what drives them in school, we can spark motivation and lead them to success.
Here we have an overly authoritative teacher,
a teacher who is drawing the class into discussion, drawing a common interest into the class and sparking thought.
Management of Physical Environment
Prior to observation I expected typical classrooms, not much on the walls, desks in rows, and the teacher/board at the front of the room in which students are forced to face. This expectation ended up being denied. All the Spanish classrooms I observed had useful conjugation charts on the wall, images of Spanish-speaking cities and attractions, as well as the flags of Spanish speaking countries. About half of the Spanish classes had desks in groups so that students were able to communicate (in Spanish) in small groups, keeping classroom volume to a minimum.
This is extremely relate-able to my future classroom because I have already began buying Spanish-speaking country flags to decorate my future classroom, (currently decorating my apartment room). I have bought inspirational posters and feel as if I'm already investing in my future classroom. I think it's great to see how other foreign classes are laid out, because it can help draw students to the culture and even bring relevance to the class. I was surprised to see how full the walls were and how seating was outside of the typical rows you always so in a class.
At different observation sites, classrooms were decorated in a similar fashion. Walls were full of inspirational posters, as well as classroom rules or procedures. This is a great approach in my opinion because students can remain reminded of why they're in school to learn, as well as reminded what the teacher expects in their class.
I will definitely take everything from my observation of the physical environment of a classroom. I will most likely require my upper level Spanish classes to speak Spanish, and allow no English in those classes. I will probably have reminders up in the class as well as seating that accommodates students conversing in Spanish groups. I think getting a heads up on how I want my class to look can help motivate me and keep me focused on why I'm currently in school as well.
Diversity and Demographics
I expected diversity and demographics to play a huge role in how students were taught and learn, hindering most students since some are not blessed with the resources others are given. No expectation prepared me for what I witnessed in my secrets to success observation. This class was the most diverse I had observed, a class designed to motivate potential drop outs. My expectation was confirmed, as most of these students had very little resources at all.
This observation taught me to never assume that all students have what they need to "finish that report by a set deadline" because they may truly not have access to a computer or printer. I feel as if in my future as an educator I need to make sure to recognize a student that is not as fortunate as others quickly and help accommodate the needs for such students.
I was given the opportunity to word one on one with a student named Mike in the secrets to success class. It was amazing to see the amount of respect that Mike had for me as a college student off the bat. I had his utmost attention and he bombarded me with questions on college as well as why I wanted to be a teacher (specifically a Spanish teacher). He may have been curious, but I found that sometimes the students you may expect to be very disrespectful will actually be some of your best students if you can find some way to interest them and relate with them.
In other sites I observed, students of diverse and low-income demographics background acted very similar to Mike. They were attentive and truly wanted to learn. It was amazing to see that they were at many times more attentive than students of high-income demographics. From this, I will take away that observing made me hold a pretty strong desire to teach in a school of high need, because I was happy with what I observed. I was excited to see the respect these students gave their teachers, and their willingness to learn. These students made a great impression on me and hopefully I can relate to them as well as the teachers of Danville High School have.