Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Clinical Overview

Overall, I feel like our clinical teaching experience went really well. The chapter of the Educational Foundations book we had was Chapter 23, which was entitled "Teacher Unionism Reborn." Starting off, I barely knew anything about unions in general, and even less about teacher unions. After reading the chapter, I was still confused, but I was more educated than before. The chapter was very heavy and filled with lots of details which sometimes made it hard to grasp. But eventually after reading and talking about it, we all picked up on the main points and started to think about what to do with our 50 minute period.

We decided that to start off our lesson, we would do a Post-It Note exercise. We would hand out one sticky note to everyone before we even started talking about the topic. On this piece of paper, they were to write what first came to mind when they heard the words "teacher unions." After they were finished, they were to stick them on one side of the chalkboard. When we read over them, a lot of them had things like "riots," "negative," and "corrupt" on them. Others had things written on them that made it clear to us that, just like we were before reading the chapter, there was some confusion about the topic.

The next thing we did was start going over a PowerPoint. A lot of the period was us just reading straight from it and trying to throw in some additional information off the top of our heads. If I could go back and change anything about our presentation, it would be that we would not just talk so much at the class, but have them participate and be more active in the conversation. Because the topic was so difficult and not a lot of people knew about it, it was something we had to do, so I'm not sure how we could rework our lesson.

Another thing I wish we could go back and change was the video that we showed. We searched hard and long to find an unbiased one, but there were honestly none out there. I feel like the video we showed might have shaped some students' opinions about teacher unions before they were even able to think for themselves. When we chose the clip, we said that our aim with it was to get the class thinking of the pros and cons to the issues that come along with teacher unions, but I feel like it might have done more than that.

Something I think we did really well was the union activity we planned. In the chapter, the author mentioned four main problems and issues that teacher unions have to address. Since there were four tables in the classroom, we thought it would be interesting to give each table an issue. They were to become their own little union and think about what they would want to do with that issue. I believe this got them thinking about the pros and cons that come along with so many different aspects of being an educator and how they would hypothetically fix them. This activity really got them thinking and interacting with each other, not just listening to us lecture them.

I really enjoyed the process of being up in front of a class teaching. In doing this experience, it helped me realize that it is something I could see myself doing for the rest of my life. Even though it was a college classroom with a topic I would not teach about in the future, it was good to see how to plan a lesson, work with your colleagues, and actually go up and teach. I found this to be a very positive experience and I feel with some more hard work and dedication, we could all be fantastic teachers.

Field Blog #8

Orange High School

For my final visit, I again stayed on the same track as the last few visits and went to two different teachers. For the first period of my visit, I sat in on the class I had been in for the whole semester. This class kind of just seemed like a make up period for anyone who needed to get something done. Some of the students had to give presentations because they did not have time to do it the previous week. It was cool to see the final product of the project I walked around and helped some kids with. They all tied the information together nicely and were able to engage the class in the information they had just researched. When they would finish, the teacher would ask them a question or two, engaging in conversation, and more times than not, they were able to answer it without any problems. It was clear to see that they had effectively mastered the topic that they chose to learn about. The other part of this period was dedicated to studying and working on a review sheet for a test coming up soon. The teacher was available for questions and help if they needed it.

My second hour of observing was spent in the classroom next door, which was a junior psychology class. Right when I walked in, I knew it was going to be different. My initial teacher always talked to me about how this class was very misbehaved and didn't really respect the teacher at all. In all the other times she had me go to other classes, she avoided this class, but she felt I should see it at some point. When I walked in, the students all just started talking to me, drilling me with questions about everything from school to my personal life. The teacher didn't really do anything about it and it didn't bother me, it just seemed like he didn't have full control over the class. In this period, they were finishing a movie and reviewing what had happened. Right when the movie came on, more than half the class either put in their headphones, laid their heads on their desks and slept, or started talking to their neighbors. Two girls actually were talking on the phone and braiding each other's hair, but nothing was done. When the movie was over, the teacher tried to engage the students in discussion. There were a few kids who really wanted to be there and participated in class and I felt bad for them because the rest of the class was such a distraction. At one point, the teacher actually said to a student either keep completely tuning me out or go to the office because you can't sit here and be disrespectful. I felt bad for the teacher because it seemed like no matter what he did, a majority of the class just did not care about anything he had to say.

Overall, I absolutely loved my visits to Orange High School. I am so glad I was placed here because it really opened my eyes to what being on the other side of the classroom is like. These visits helped me look at different grade and academic levels and see how they are different. This school operates in a very different way than the high school I graduated from, so it was good to experience that diversity. When I first came in, I felt very welcome and by the end, I felt like I belonged with them. It was so sad to leave on the last day, but I think that just proves how positive of an experience I had.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Field Blog #7

Cleveland Heights High School

This visit was unlike any I had gone on in the past. The way the school operated was very different than any I had experienced in the past, it seemed very unique. Something I really enjoyed about my visit was seeing how small the class sizes were. I feel like in having your room be physically smaller, you are forced to limit the class size to a certain number of students. When there are less students in your class, you are better able to develop relationships with your children and are able to figure out a way of teaching that is most beneficial to them. The sizes of the classrooms I observed were generally pretty small and it seemed to work very well for both the students and the teachers. Something I found interesting about the school was the policy on cell phone use. It was very open and basically said that students were allowed to use their phones whenever they wished. I feel like having this policy be so loose was not a good thing and developed a disruptive environment. While students were being taught or were supposed to be doing work, they would often be on their phones. When I was in high school, cell phone use was prohibited and we were forced to leave them in our lockers for the day. When I went into my senior year, the rules were changed and we were allowed to have them during non-instructional times. Though some students abused and took advantage of that rule, I feel like it generally worked well and should be adopted in more schools, such as Heights HS. Overall, the experience was a positive one and it seems like a good school, there are just some things I believe need to be worked on.

Field Blog #6

Orange High School

For my next visit, I did the same thing as the previous visit. I stayed with my regular class for one period and then switched to a new teacher for the second period. For my normal class, they were doing the same thing as the last visit I made. They were spending another period just researching information and putting together their PowerPoint with their partner. Again, for most of the period, I walked around and helped the students with whatever questions they had about their project. One group in specific did the Harlem Renaissance and the people who were a part of that movement. In high school, I did a whole research paper on that, so it was cool to be able to connect my own personal experiences to something they were learning. Being able to help them with something I knew a lot about gave me a good feeling.

The next class I went into was a junior United States government class. This was just the regular level class, so it was a lot different than the AP one I saw in my last visit. First off, there were maybe ten or so kids in the class. It was different to see how small of a class it was, but it seemed like it was more beneficial to the kids; they were better able to interact with their teacher and develop more of a relationship with him. The first few minutes of class, they all just talked; about their days, what they did on the weekend, the homework they had to do, and so on. But soon enough, the teacher pulled up the PowerPoint and started going over it. They would go through the information and every once in a while, he would throw out questions from the book to see if people actually read for homework. If they didn't get it right, they could give the question to another student, but they had to answer the next one, and the process continued in that way. They continued on with the PowerPoint and that took them to the end of class. Throughout a lot of it, they got pretty off topic and that got the teacher upset. He just stopped teaching for a while and said that they would have to teach the rest to themselves and that they would be quizzed over it the next day. I think this small class made it easier for them to all get to know each other, but it made it a lot more difficult to focus and stay on track with their learning.

Field Blog #5

Orange High School

On my next visit to Orange High School, I spent one period in my normal classroom and then went off to visit another teacher. In my normal sophomore honors U.S. history class, they were beginning to work on a project. This project was kind of like a research paper, but they just had to make a presentation and share it out it to the class. The broad topic was the 1920s and each student (or pair of students) got to choose a more specific aspect from that period to look up, such as fashion, phrases and sayings, sports, and so on. They had to go onto the internet and find their information off of reliable sources, not just by typing their topic into Google. The teacher gave them some ideas for databases that would be acceptable and ones that the school had online access codes to. They spent the whole time just finding information and making a PowerPoint presentation they would share to the class in the next week. I walked around for part of the class and got to interact with the class, helping them with anything they needed.

The next class I went to was a junior AP government class. The class was mainly lecture from the teacher at the students, but sometimes he would go to them with questions and see if they were able to answer. At one point, he pulled up a website from the U.S. government's website and applied the information to real life. Even though it was an AP class and people generally stereotype them as uptight and full of rules and structure, this class seemed more open and fun. The way the teacher interacted with the students was mainly lecturing them, but he found a way to make it more enjoyable. The enthusiasm he had for the topic made it easier to focus and retain the information.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Field Blog Post #4

The Agnon School

Our visit to the Agnon school was unlike any visit I have been on. The school was a lot different than any I had gone to in my life, it had very unique characteristics. One thing that really jumped out at me was how laid back the school itself seemed, whether it be the rules enforced, the way the teachers choose to educate their students, the open space throughout the whole building, and so on. The most interesting thing to me though was how the students address all of the teachers and administrators by their first names. I have never seen anything like that and it was interesting to hear young children get the attention of their teacher by saying their first name. I was always taught to call someone older than me by "Mr." or "Mrs." so it was just really interesting to see this not happen. The room I observed in was a second grade class where the children were really focusing on their reading skills. Each table was a different station and every fifteen or so minutes, they switched to a new activity. They were in groups of four or five kids, but something that struck me was that they rarely made any conversation with each other. All of the kids were very well behaved, but it seemed a little odd. They are so young and usually children at this age are excited and kind of rowdy, but these kids never even made a peep; I don't think the teacher ever had to discipline them one time. Hearing about how the school was private and was able to teach the curriculum any way they wanted was interesting. Ideally, I would want to teach in a private Catholic school, so it was cool to hear how truly open the possibilities are in the classroom. One last thing that really was new to me was how there was Hebrew written all throughout the school and how so many students were already able to speak and read it. Never have I been to an elementary school were a new language was taught and so stressed, but here, it was a vital part of their educational experience. It seems like the children that go to this school are being shaped into great students at such a young age, and that will help them in life as they grow older.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Post #10

Blog Post 10

Over the last ten weeks of this class, I have not only learned a lot about the concept of education, but also about myself. When I first started class, I was very unsure about my major. I had always had the idea of education in the back of my head, but I never really put serious thought into it. But between visiting schools in class, my own observations, our readings and discussions, and more I have found out that I am 99% sure that I want to continue on studying education. If I had not taken this class, I would probably still be in the dark, in regards to my major and what I wanted to do with my life. Something else I learned from being in this class is what it's like to not be a student in the classroom. Gaining the new perspective of a teacher was something that was good to do early on, so I can decide what good qualities to have are. Being a good teacher is something very difficult, but it is worth it when you watch your students succeed and thrive. To be a good teacher, the main aspect, in my opinion, is to be engaged with your classroom. You need to make it a community where everyone feels safe and comfortable to talk, take risks, and really just make the most of their education. We talked a lot about the classroom and what a good one looks like, reading essays, watching the video about Summerhill, observing physical classrooms on our visits. We talked controversial issues such as standardized testing, LGBTQ issues dealing with education, and more. This class really helped shape my ideas on these topics and opened my eyes to all of the different aspects of education.