Throughout my hours of observation, I noticed a trend throughout the entire school. Most of this project has been devoted to one specific teacher in one specific class, however, I would like to address that the levels and types of professionalism that I observed were consistent throughout all teachers that I observed. Years ago when I was in high school, it appeared to be a very formal environment for teachers. At Normal West the teachers appeared to be extremely casual from the way they dressed to the way the interacted with students. However, I noticed that casual does not necessarily imply unprofessional.
Although all of the teachers that I observed had a fairly casual dress code, it was especially apparent in the Health class that I observed. The teacher often wore gym clothes simply because she would also teach Physical Education classes. On days that did not have physical activity for the teachers (such as test days), she often wore jeans and a nice shirt. I very rarely observed any teachers or staff members dressed in anything nicer than jeans. Despite the dress code being fairly casual, students still appeared to have the utmost respect for the staff and teachers. Students did not appear to treat the teachers any differently or interact with them any differently because of their wardrobe choices. If anything, it made the teachers seem more relatable which made the students more comfortable in the classroom.
Verbal language throughout the classes was fairly casual. Teachers were not afraid to joke with the students or show their sense of humor as long as nothing could be construed as offensive. This allowed students to be comfortable around their teachers which led to a more effective learning environment. Slang terms were used fairly often in specific classes because of the nature of a Health class. Many students did not know the scientific terms for various parts of the anatomy and reproductive system, therefore slang had to be used in order for the students to understand the material. The teacher's grammar and definitions were excellent and extremely clear, leaving little room for miscommunications. There was little to no bias in verbal speech unless talking about some less than scientific studies, which seemed appropriate in context. Overall, the teacher had a pleasant tone of voice and appeared and sounded happy to be teaching.
Teachers appeared happy and pleasant most, if not all, of the time. However, in the Health class, some students would ask ignorant or inappropriate questions on purpose and it could become difficult for the teacher to hide her look of disappointment. If the student truly did not understand she was happy to clarify, however, it was extremely apparent when students would try to annoy others. in these cases it was not always easy for her to hide what she was thinking. Additionally, she moved about the room fairly often to ensure that all students could hear and see her. She held good eye contact through every class which allowed students to remain engaged throughout the lesson.
The teacher in the Health class that I observed was highly organized, however, not so organized that the students were afraid to make mistakes. Organization does not inherently imply strictness. She always had her materials ready to go, would start class on time, and would have a clear and concise lesson prepared. This allowed maximum time for educational instruction during the class period. She would explain assignments clearly, but would also leave time for any clarification questions.
Respect for Students
Overall, the teacher had the utmost respect for students which encouraged the students to have the utmost respect for her. She did not use any discriminatory language unless she was explaining something pertinent to the lesson. She also made sure that students were not ignored in the class by talking to shy students individually after class to make sure they did not have any questions. Generally, she made sure she could spend the most time possible which each student who sought her attention as well as making time for those who may not have necessarily asked for it. She had an excellent rapport with her students which allowed everyone to feel comfortable in the classroom. She usually arrived in the class early to ensure that there was time for students to ask questions both before and after class. Informal time with students was fairly rare, but usually it was filled with pleasant conversations about school activities or other classes. Little time was spent with students outside of class because of the time during the school day in which the class took place.
The teacher had excellent professional working knowledge of the content area and was able to clearly convey that knowledge to her students. Her method (or pedagogy) was professional and efficient because the content of each lesson is so important for the students to learn. She was able to organize her class in a way that was most conducive for learning and allowed the optimal time for content instruction. The teacher rarely experienced questions that she could not answer, indicating that her knowledge of the content area was excellent. Many of the subjects she talked about were pulled directly from the same content area classes I am taking this semester.
The instructor was overall very predictable. She usually started and ended the class hour in the same fashion, but would use different teaching methods during the actual lessons. It was good because the students knew what to expect, but it would probably keep the students slightly more engaged if she tried to mix up her style a bit more. However, her repetitious teaching style contributed to her excellent classroom management. Although students were often loud and talkative, they were usually talking about the lesson and asking questions, which demonstrated that they were paying attention.
Although the instructor informed me at a later time that she holds Christian values, those values were not apparent in her teaching. She did not appear to hold any sort of religious bias unless a student specifically asked for her opinion and it was appropriate to respond.
Generally, the teacher appeared happy with her job. She was excited to teach class every day and, although the students tested her, she never faltered her pleasant attitude. She would point out fairly often that the school was very good about offering multiple services (such as guidance counseling) and was honest when appropriate about the state of politics regarding the subject area.