Methodology and Technology
What I expected for methodology was a typical start to a class, which was the teacher having expectations for the students to be prepared and then the teacher starting off class explaining what they are doing for the day. I figured the class would flow based on the students pace while the teacher helped keep them on schedule. As for technology I figured there would be a no phone policy, and that students wouldn’t be able to use them. After observing all my expectations were confirmed except for the phone policy. For a few of my observations the students had their phones out the entire class and the teacher never said anything.
One thing that changed from the observations was if I would allow technology in my classroom. I originally thought I would have and phone policy but after the observation I found the phones could sometimes help students with their work. For the future I will allow students to use their phones at the start of projects to wither help them with ideas or give pictures to help them with their work if they need a visual reference.
What was most surprising from my observations was the amount of students who were allowed to use their cellphones. Its only been three years since I have been out of high school, but phones were not allowed in any of my classes, and I was extremely surprised to see how many teachers either implemented or allowed them in their classroom.
I observed at NCHS, NWHS, and the alternative school, and each one had a different policy regarding phones. NCHS had the least strict phone policy from the classes I observed students were on them constantly in the classes I observed, and I observed a couple of times with subs and noticed students used their phones even more. At NWHS none of the classes I observed allowed phones, only once did I observe a teacher who finished his lesson with extra time and after a student asked if they could use their phones were they allowed to do so. Lastly, for the Alternative school, I noticed the students were allowed to use their phones to listen to music while they worked. However, besides listening to music the students didn’t really have their phones out for any other reason. As for Methodology between the schools NCHS and NWHS were quite similar, teachers tended to start off class explaining the lesson for the day, and moved through class introducing new topics and work as the class period went on. But for one class in particular which was English for sophomores the teacher specifically had the first ten minutes of each class period dedicated to reading a recreational book. Students weren’t allowed to read the book they were reading for class, but instead one of their choice. I thought this was interesting because ten minutes everyday is quite a bit, and I wondered how the teacher still managed to get through everything he has to teach. Adding on, regarding class work I noticed there was a mix of group work and individual work with all of the classes I observed. However, the Alternative school was much different. The teachers didn’t start the classes in any way. The students were already doing their work on the computers. The teachers really only checked students quizzes periodically. However, the Alternative class I observed ended class work about 15 minutes early everyday. During that time they would watch a news video or podcast, and if it was good day spend the last couple of minutes watching impractical jokers. This didn’t seem to affect learning at all and in fact seemed to get the students excited before leaving school everyday.
One thing in particular I will take away from these observations was the teacher having the students read the first ten minutes of every class period. While of course I am an Art major I needed to tweak this methodology to fit into my classroom. I thought about it and if I decide to teach high school I would like to dedicate the first 5 minutes of my art classes to drawing regardless of the type of art class the students are in. Only because drawing focuses on one of the biggest cores of art. It forces a student to truly analyze what they are looking at and not draw based off prior ideas of what they believe something looks like, but to truly study a focus matter and draw from that. I say this, because I have seen students struggle with this all the time. While it only uses 5 minutes of class time in the end I think it would be awesome to look back and to see how the students 5-minute sketches develop and grow over the course of the semester, and to see physical improvement.
Before coming into observations I expected Teachers to be respectful, prepared, and professional in the sense of being a role model for students almost as an authority figure. Meaning that teachers were dressing well, handling situations, having control over classrooms, and mutual respect between teachers and students. From what I observed I found this was the case for most of the classrooms, except for one moment in particular which I will talk about in what surprised me.
I found the teachers I observed were very professional, but I also found no matter how professional a teacher is they can’t “control” any of their students. I always figured if the teacher was respectful to students, students would be respectful back. However, sometimes you deal with a student just having a bad day or a student verses student conflict in which a teacher has no control of not happening. However, I realized the teachers have control over how to try and end the situation, and trying to keep a peaceful learning environment.
Now if there was one thing that surprised me from the observations, was how one teacher handled his emotions. Now I really enjoyed this teacher and knew he had good intentions for his students but once I truly felt he did not handle a situation very well. One class period a few students showed up late and that is a rule in his classroom. Now I understand the teacher was mad but how he managed the class after was pretty unprofessional in my opinion. He began to teach the lesson for the day but was doing so in a very sloppy matter and was actually stating to the students “Well you guys don’t care about your learning so neither do I”. Not only that but when a student asked a question about the content matter, the teacher blatantly ignored him. I found that that this was a horrible way to handle the situation at hand. I understand as a future educator how important rules are in a classroom, but I don’t think its fair to punish an entire classroom due to a few students breaking of the rules. The class atmosphere was uncomfortable and you could tell students were sorry for they had done but eve thought the teacher was lashing out. The teacher did make up for it later and did apologize, but I still believe the situation should have never led to that amount of unprofessionalism by a teacher.
In each of the sites I observed it seemed all teachers were held to the same amount of professionalism. All of them except for that one incident remained respectful to students, used appropriate language, dressed appropriately etc. The only thing different that I saw was how some teachers handled misbehavior. Some teachers I noticed ignored it depending on the severity, while some took immediate action in ending the misbehavior. I found both options work. I think some thinks are so minuscule that ignoring it keeps the situation from getting any bigger. But in some cases the misbehavior or students was over the top and it was crucial for the teacher to step in.
What I will take away from the observations is the importance of mutual respect in a classroom. For the most part all teachers were respectful to students but some teachers more than others. I found that in the classrooms with more mutual respect remained a more peaceful and inviting classroom. I felt the teachers who didn’t have this idea of being the students superior and instead being some one to guide and educate the students had more efficient class periods and a comfortable environment.
My expectation for this component was seeing that in each one of the classrooms the teachers would treat every student as an individual and be mindful and accepting to all students. Regarding to learning styles making sure every student understands the material and is able to teach to different learning styles to ensure this.
After the observations I found most teachers involved different types of learning into their classroom. Teachers used power points, had students do group work, independent reading etc. Teachers also gave equal attention to students I didn’t notice teacher ever favoring a group of students.
If anything was surprising from the observations it was that I did find one teacher who basically completely self-taught. I know we talked about this in class about when the teacher only talks to teach which is actually more exhausting for a teacher and less beneficial for students. I found really only one teacher who did this during my observations, however I only observed that class once so I don’t know if that was how he always ran his classes.
For each site I visited the students were always treated the same. In one site in particular at NCHS I came upon a student who didn’t speak any English. The teacher didn’t really address this student any differently so I did wonder if the student was always aware of what was going on. From what I witnessed she seemed to just follow the other students. As a future educator being in that situation would be thought. Since it was an art class though I would try and demonstrate what I wanted the student to do to help them understand. While there is a language barrier visually I could show the student.
What I will take away from my observations in obviously taking each student as an individual. As a teacher I want to make sure my lessons incorporate all different learners and that each student feels that they are getting the help they need to succeed in my class.
Management of the Physical Environment
What I expected for management of the classroom was organized classrooms, rules (possibly even stated on a poster in the room), white boards, chalkboards, kids getting up and waiting by the door before the bell would ring, and classrooms primarily set in groups at least for the art classes. However, it was pretty obvious that all of the teachers I would observe would have different procedures.
My perceptions of this component were slight changed after the observations with new ideas and ways to implement classroom management and physical environment. For this component in particular did I discover a lot more than I thought and learned new things due to the vast differences in this component between the teachers I observed.
What surprised me during my observations well was more of something I found ironic, but the alternative school I observed had all desks in pods or groups, yet in that school students only did individual work. Also, there were no bells in that school, kids simply worked based on the time they needed to certain assignments in one subject and then switched to a new subject when they were finished. This is so different from your average school, but also was very interesting to see how differently schools can be run.
The sites I went to NCHS and NWHS were more similar then the alternative school. If anything I found students more on task in the alternative school. I don’t know if this was simply because of independent work, but I found the students were off task and having more side conversations at NWHS and NCHS. This did lead to the teachers having to get students back on tasks much more frequently at NCHS and NWHS.
After my observations I noticed some class management skills I thought were good to implement in the classroom but also ones I wouldn’t want in the classroom. The art class I observed seemed to not be the most organized. I know it is hard to keep organized because there are just so many tools and materials, but I think it is beneficial for keeping an ordered classroom. However what I did see in the art rooms in which I would love to implement in my classroom was the painting of the ceiling tiles. This was the first time I saw this, but the ceiling tiles in the art room all had different painted designs on them done by students. I just thought it was so cool, and really think the students would enjoy doing that as a project. The walls were also loaded in student work and I will most definitely do the same in my future classroom.
Diversity and Demographics
Before my observations I was expecting to observe very diverse classrooms, considering the whole premise of the observations in this class was to be in a diverse setting. I figured there would be a mixture or races, income levels, and cultures between the classes. However, NCHS and NWHS were not as racially diverse as I had thought they would have been.
My perception of this component really changed after I observed the alternative school. Unlike NWHS and NCHS, the vast majority of students in the alternative school were on food stamps. This was the first time I observed a school in which so many of the students were part of low-income families. The first couple of observations I had were all at NCHS so when I finally went to the alternative school a got a real sense of diversity among the students, and I truly think my observations at that school were the most beneficial.
What surprised me from these observations was how involved the alternative school was with their student’s lives. The alternative school did more than give the students an education; they seemed to be a lot more invested in the student’s lives. The school made sure the students were fed and they even started their own store, which was filled with free clothing and items for the students as well as Bloomington community. This was the first time I have really been in a classroom that was so invested in each one of their students well being inside and outside of school.
The ethnic diversity between the NCHS/NWHS and the alternative school were quite vast. In NCHS/NWHS every class I observed was still predominantly white. However, in the alternative school there was a larger variety between ethnicities. However what did remain the same were the teacher’s attitudes toward the diversities of the students. In every class observed I noticed the teachers having the same expectations for all students.
What I took away from these observations is to have a bond with my students. I know this is so hard because you have so many students, but if I have the chance to work in a smaller school I would like to. I think the reason the alternative school is more involved with the students is because of the numbers. Teachers have time to be more personal with the students while still being an educator. I also think the idea of that store is something all schools should implement for schools with a large majority of low-income students. This allows students to take clothes as needed as well as food or other items. It would be convenient for students to have the access to these things right at school and would a very useful resource for students in my future school.