Most methodology used by teachers involves an opening routine, lesson content, development through lecture, group/pair work, class discussions, seatwork, or independent study and a closing (summary of the day’s work, previewing for the next day, etc.). There are no fast formulas or recipes on what methodology is best. This is dictated by such factors as the subject matter or skills to be taught, teaching resources and materials available, the skill level of the students, and/or the characteristics of the students.
I expected methodology to cover the lessons/unit the teachers plan, the assessments and activities the teachers designed, and the strategies they used to teach their class. I observed exactly what I thought I would with this component. In addition, after discussion with teachers, I observed that the activities and lessons for the day helped to build the students up to larger projects. For example, in the many art classes I observed, the teacher would show the students a new technique and then have them practice. Eventually, the teachers assigned a large project that would require the different techniques they have learned and practice. So essentially, I observed that a great deal of planning and putting purpose into everything the teacher plans is extremely important. Moving toward technology, I expected it to cover just how teachers use different technological devices and programs as another method for the students to learn. That’s exactly what I observed with this component, and also that it’s not just a teaching strategy but also can be used in activity and assessment tool. For example, in one English class, the students had to write their thoughts on a character in a Google Doc, and then the teacher “live timed” read some in class. And in another English class, the project was a group speech. The teacher had the students put their research, notes, outlines, and anything they did for their speech on Google Docs, so he could look at the work process they did to get to the point of presenting. I observed, after having good discussions with teachers, that there is a lot of decision making that goes into whether some kind of technology will benefit the lesson they want to teach.
As I started to touch upon in the previous questions, I really got the chance to observe the products that come from teachers planning and making decisions with the goal of getting their students to learn the “big picture” of the unit. For example, in a science class, the class included lecture, discovery, and application. From a teacher’s perspective, the teacher designed a PowerPoint to give the notes to the class. But he also made the decision, to give the students a notes packet as well. So two decisions were already made about how he would present this information to the class. Then he also included a video that demonstrated a concept. Next, the class performed a quick experiment and they all explained what they observed, and the teacher helped them arrive to the conclusion of why they got those results. So he made two different decisions on how he would teach his class aside from just lecturing about the concepts. Lastly, the students worked on homework that was in packet. So the teacher has them immediately apply what they have learned to different scenarios asked in the packet. I connect this whole process of deciding what/how to do and whether technology should be involved with Blooms Taxonomy. I think for my future classrooms, using the graphic and verb chart will direct and focus my ideas on what I want my students to take away from the way I present the information to them. For example, if I just want them to remember something, maybe I will repeatedly state and write on the board or PowerPoint whatever it is I want them to remember. If I want to see if they understand what I just lectured on, maybe I will have them create a Venn diagram, either just in their notes or with computers, to compare and contrast the information. The possibilities of evaluating where my students are at, having them still learn, and getting them to deeper understandings are endless with Blooms Taxonomy and applying it to methodology and technology.
I think the most shocking component I observed was how much technology lies within the classroom. I'm not sure if it's time just moving forward (I'm only two years out of high school) or if the schools I observe have the money to buy technology that my school couldn't afford. First of all, I would like to address that I know school's policies have changed about cell phones. In my high school, you had to have them off and not on your person. Now, students can use them in passing periods and lunch period. In two schools I observed, students had their cell phones out at all times. They were on social media, Snapchat, texting, or listening to music. Also, the schools had extension cords and outlets, so that every student could plug in their computers. It was a shock to me when students would come into class and immediately every had a laptop on their desk. Overall, I'm just stunned with how much teachers now integrate technology into activities and assignments.
In terms of methodology, all of the schools I observed had effective lessons for the day. All the teachers were prepared as they had all class material and resources. They demonstrated their content knowledge through their lesson organization and presentation. I think what was great was that all had effective methodology and there wasn’t one way but multiple. Some teachers did the traditional lecture, other teachers had the students working in groups or working individually. By observing all these different ways to teach, different strategies, and assignments, I can truly appreciate that there is no single correct way to teach. Teachers develop methodology specifically in tune with their content area, their teaching style and philosophy, and with the students in mind. Again, I think the Blooms Taxonomy will be a great source to help me create effective methodology in the future. In terms of technology, I observed the disparity amongst schools. The presence of technology depends heavily if not solely on the financial situation of the school. Technology really has expanded on the different opportunities teachers can present, organize, assign, and asses students as they learn. I would like to note, however, that while technology can effectively benefit students, everything that the teacher does with technology can and has been done without it. So technology does not determine whether the lesson will be effective; it is only a tool that helps felicitate teachers teaching and students learning.
I think the most important thing I that I observed and learned was scaffolding. Because essentially, all that I have described that goes into methodology and technology, is breaking up the “big picture” unit into manageable and effective lessons, that is what to do and how to present the lessons to the students. I think this makes any educator better because they really have to have the students in mind. The teachers are already experts and understand their content; the students do not. So the teachers can’t just throw the students into lessons and expect them to understand let alone demonstrate and apply their understanding. Scaffolding is taking the baby steps to deeper and meaningful understanding and learning through the achievement of effective methodology and technology.
Understanding students’ lives in the heart of effective instruction.
I expected this component, understanding learners to cover the recognition and application of students learning in different styles. While this was observed, I also discovered that it goes more in depth from understanding the backgrounds of the students can affect how they learn. Like if they are ESL students, have low SES, or a minority could impact the way they perceive learning. This component also includes if Maslow’s hierarch of needs or students’ needs are being met so that the student is in a state of mind to learn.
As I described in the methodology section, I observed a great deal of different teaching styles and activists for the students to learn from. I think it reassured me that teachers understand students are diverse and different so they need to have many ways and opportunities for the students to learn and demonstrate their knowledge. In class, we took time to discuss and do a project on standards. I think the United States education system forces a student to conform to the system rather than creating a system that conforms to the student. Acts like No Child Left Behind put stress on teachers and students to pass standardized tests, thus resulting in standardized teaching. It makes me realize that I can take the extra step to make sure my class caters to my students by planning different activities and different ways to expose my students to my content knowledge.
From my observations, I was surprised to see the diverse ways teachers taught. I love observing the different ways teachers presented or the student interacted with the content knowledge. From discussing real life happenings to working with Google Docs to watching a film. It was very nice to see teachers moving away from standardized methods.
From my observations, I found it very interesting that there are very little teachers who do traditional teaching. And by traditional teaching I mean by only lecturing the students, and they take notes. And this is despite all having to obey the same set of state standards. I think this shows that the teachers care because they are going beyond what standards tell them they have to do. It’s also very promising that they consider the students, realizing that they are not experts and need not only scaffolding, but different ways and opportunities to learn and apply their understanding.
The most important thing I learned from this component is diverse students means they learn in diverse ways. I think being aware of the students will naturally make the teacher inclined to give the students not only more ways to learn and apply but also in different methods. Additionally, if teachers step away from the traditional lecture and notes method, maybe the stigma of learning being boring will drift away. There is a widely accepted theory in child development and psychology that students can only focus on receiving information in one way from their age plus two minutes. So freshman are only focusing for sixteen minutes before they start to zoning out. So teachers can avoid this with the different types of activities because it would provide a change in pace. Teachers would be better educators because they are catering and showing they care for their students.
How a teacher presents him/herself within their class will affect a student’s learning. The teachers’ physical appearance in dress is often the obvious, but also the language that they use, their organizational skills and their respect for students are also a part of professionalism.
I expected professional to cover how teachers comport themselves. I definitely did observe this, but I was surprised to learn there is much more details to this component. Like how the way a teacher dress, the language they use to teacher and interact with students, their organization, respect for students, their professional knowledge, and their attitudes can effect student learning.
I observed what I expected in that teachers should be professional. To me, professionalism is just an extension of them being good teachers. If their methodology is effective (and the teachers I observed did phenomenal jobs as I discussed in the previous clinical filed component), their professional is good as well because it does not hold themselves back from teaching effectively nor from the students learning.
I’m not sure surprised is the right word, but I did throughly enjoy seeing many positive student-teacher relationships. It was the little things, like the teachers asking students what their weekend plans were, bringing the teacher coffee, or rewarding the students handwork with a magic show. I view this as an extension of good professionalism because the teachers do not cross the boundary line of turning into the students’ best friend. They still talk and behave appropriately despite not discussing academically. They relate with their students by trying to use slang or asking the students about their lives outside the class (in a non creepy way) because they genuinely care for them. And they do this all without losing the integrity of professionalism.
All of the schools I observed had the same expected model for their teachers. They all held the teachers to standard of professionalism, and by seeing them teach effectively and interact with students shows to me that they met the standards. Additionally, by not observing any rule breaking or inappropriate behavior, also demonstrated good professionalism. At one point, a teacher had to reprimand a student. But after class, instead of the student glaring at the teacher, the teacher and the student discussed and laughed at what happened. It resulted in the student saying he will be better and won’t do it again. I think this shows great professionalism because of the respect the teacher and the student have for each other. In our class, we acted out skits and issues. I think this was a great activity to get us future students to think about not only handling situations effectively, but also professionally. Because the best approach will also be the most professional approach.
I think the most important thing I that I observed and learned was student-teacher relationships. At one school, I attended the alma mater of my friend. After class, I enjoyed observing the connection my friend and her teachers still had despite graduating. Teachers don't have to be cold, cruel, or distant from their students out of worry they will break professionalism. They can show that they care and put more effort into seeing their students succeed and still have that professional relationship. The connection between teachers and students only make the educator stronger because students might feel more comfortable or want to try harder because they enjoy and respect the teacher. They might put in more effort or not mind asking for extra help from the teacher because they want to perform well to make the teacher proud or impressed.
Management of Physical Environment
Management of a classroom environment is a key component to a successful classroom. This must be done in an organized purposeful way.
I expected this component to cover how teachers create and manage their teaching space, aka their classrooms. When I say create, I mean by how the teachers designed the room from seating to what is on the walls. I observed this in addition to how teacher up keep their rules and procedures.
From observing, I appreciated more how teachers create their classrooms no matter what content they teach. The environment of a classroom can help or hinder student focus and learning. For example, a classroom I was in had no windows. So it could have negatively impact the students, however, the teacher put up lights around the room to brighten the “mood” of the class room. I also appreciate the way classroom seats are set up. From group tables to rows or individual seats in a circle, seating can make or break a lesson plan.
As I stated in the professional component, at one point, a teacher had to reprimand a student. But after class, instead of the student glaring at the teacher, the teacher and the student discussed and laughed at what happened. It resulted in the student saying he will be better and won’t do it again. I think this shows great management because of the respect the teacher and the student have for each other. Even though the student disrespected the rules, the teacher handled the situation effectively.
All of the classrooms have their own rules and procedures, but in the end they all subscribe to creating a space that is safe and conductive for learning. I observed this by the way the teachers expect and implement students respecting each others opinions. And as I briefly stated before, the teachers can make the space bright and positive. I observed a moment where a student was proud when she saw her work up on the wall, so teachers can provide motivating recognition to the students just by displaying their works.
I think the greatest take away from this component by observing classes is managing rules verses procedures. This is something we also discussed in class. The procedures regard bell schedules, bath room breaks, phone usage, etc. Rules are more related to the teacher’s teaching philosophy. For example, the safe learning/discovering environment where students respect each others opinions and feel safe to participate and share with the class.
Diversity and Demographics
The belief that a teacher can promote learning in all students regardless of their background. The teacher has specific and demanding goals that are consistent with effective planning and expectations for each student, and there is active involvement of the learners.
I expected this component to cover recognizing that students are diverse, they are different and they come from different background. I observed this in addition to observing ethnic, gender, sexuality, socioeconomic status, and culture diversity.
I think I came in with the perceptions all teachers should be aware and embrace diversity. And maybe this is because I am a minority, so I have experienced both the education system teaching my culture or ignoring it. But despite the classrooms were very diverse, I felt like there were many opportunities the teachers could incorporate diversity. In my classroom, a specific way I want to incorporate global awareness is having diverse literature from authors with different cultures, sexualities, gender, etc.
I think the most surprising observation was what I didn’t see. The schools I observed were very diverse, yet as I mentioned, I felt like there ways the teachers could expand the lessons to a global and diverse settings. I think the only experience that encouraged students to embrace and share their backgrounds with the class was a speech that described their family history. But, especially in English and art classes, the teachers can make up assignments that encourage students to express themselves.
So although there was no outright observation of diversity, aside from the students being diverse, there also was no outright racial bullying or other oppressing manners from what I observed. It’s good that the schools have policies that promote acceptance of diversity. The extracurricular activists that the schools provide are also an extension of bringing awareness to diversity and global experiences. For me, as I mentioned, I will address diversity through literature. But also, I want to create a book club that reads diverse books and a Spanish club that promotes Hispanic culture.
I think the most important thing I learned from this component is the importance of culturally responsive teaching. Teachers can demonstrate their acceptance and value culture differences by devoting time to students, taking interests in their culture. Teachers are impactful mentors, so if they are building on students’ backgrounds, other students will follow suit and continue to acceptance and embracement. Teachers should encourage students to shard and promote students.