Sunday, July 31, 2011

"First Days of Learning..." Unit C

To better comprehend the text in Unit C I asked these questions
1) What is the goal of this chapter?
  • To show how you can integrate environment, rules, and procedures to have a smooth and effective learning environment
2) What are some "take-away's" I can use in my own teaching?
  • Sending an email to students & their families before school starts can make students feel welcomed
  • Posting class information outside the door helps students not feel lost
  • Greeting students at the door on the first day is a good way to make them feel welcome
  • Stating my expectations on the first day is important
  • Outlining/scripting can help the first day go smoothly
  • Arranging the seating communicates expectations to students
  • Having an activity ready (e.g. bell ringer) for students when they enter your room helps keep things on track and posting assignments in the same place helps build trust.
  • Starting class with a roll call could be a bad idea--start off with an assignment instead. Take roll on your own time
  • Explaining that broken rules will be followed by consequences, not punishments. 
  • Part of effective management is keeping students on task at all times AND getting them acquainted with the proper procedures. 
  • Having advanced work ready is a good way to prevent wasted off-task time
  • Utilizing a silent-system for getting attention or having the class get quiet looks very useful (e.g. cups, standing books up, signaling with fingers)
  • Handling transitions is very important and giving students a "heads-up" can help this go smoothly
Reflection: I think I've pulled several useful comments from this section and will have to refer back to them as I plan what my class will look like. It's evident to me that classroom management takes a LOT of time and effort to get established, but is well-worth it in the end. Truth be told, management has always been my biggest unknown in education. It's an area where I still lack confidence. 

"First Days of School..." Unit B thoughts

Questions/comments that came up during the reading:

  1. Why are all the quotes on pg 39 from famous men? I don't see any feminine representation
  2. It doesn't sound like the authors on pg 42's "Development" box believe in the growth mindset
  3. I wonder how much the results of the experiments discussed on 41-42 were due to teachers inferring correct answers vs accelerated development taking place (did the teacher influence the learning or just subconsciously slant the results?). 
  4. I wonder if there's anything wrong with dressing in field gear sometime. It would be fun to bring some out-of doors inside
  5. Why do most of the examples in this book seem to come from elementary school teachers?
  6. It can take a lot of effort to maintain a positive outlook and when you get drained it can get harder and harder, potentially drawing out that "shadow persona" who feels pessimistic and spiteful. I wonder what tips the authors would give for refilling this energy store and getting in good habits of mind.
  7. Who are the intended readers of this book? 
Questions 3, 6, and 7 are still unanswered by the end of the chapter, but they kept me thinking about the material. I wish I knew who the audience was though because this book sometimes feels like an over-grown "feel-good" pamphlet. I think the materials and messages are valuable, but they've been drilled into my head so many times that when I start to read something warm-hearted I want to start dabbling in dark humor so I don't keep rolling my eyes.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Personal Statement as of July 26

Here is my 5-word personal statement thus far.

"Empowering students as independent learners"

If it looks similar to Nate's that's because we've got similar goals and he totally stole the word "empowerment" from me--I got it from my Krav class.

First Day Vision

On the first day of my class students will shuffle into the room and find a seat wherever they please. I'll greet them at the door and get class started after everybody's in. We'll start off with introductions and maybe a fun activity--I could leave an item on groups of desks and give students an opportunity to discuss what it might be, then share the object with their classmates. The items would be related to something we're studying during the year-perhaps an insect exoskeleton to symbolize comparative anatomy? We'll see
The first day I would also take time to go over my general expectations for students and then have them flesh-out the details. This is an idea I picked up from Steve who suggested this truncated means of getting students involved while staying on schedule. 
I would also want to do something that asks what they hope to get out of this class. I could do this as an exit ticket or maybe an extended survey, depending on what kind of time we have. 
The key parts to this first day are that I show the students I care about them, that we all know the procedures in the classroom, and that we all have some idea of where the course might head in the days to come.

Unit A First Days of School

Connections: I contrasted the readings in this first chapter to what I'd overheard about teaching. One of the sayings that stood out was "don't smile until Thanksgiving" meaning that students should get the idea that you expect them to conform to all of your classroom rules and that they should consider you a serious authority figure.
Considering conversations I have had with my Uncle, Mother, the teachers of this class, and my peers I now think that rule is pretty silly. I don't think you have to put on a tough front to get students' respect--I think you earn it by being genuine and showing that you are concerned for them. I do think you need confidence and to have a plan to go by and that you need to consistently remind them of the classroom rules, but these things aren't in opposition.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Lab S.O.P.'s

Here is a start on my lab's 10 Standard Operating Procedures (S.O.P.'s)
1) Put away ALL food and drink!
2) Stow all luggage: Get bags tucked out of the way
3) Look around you: Identify anything that could be a potential safety hazzard (spills, equipment, etc)
4) Come prepared: Read the materials ahead of time & bring them with you to class
5) Get in the zone: Read the board and think about what you'll be doing today
6) Keep track of chemicals, glassware, and other equipment
7) Take care of your peers by taking care of yourself (no horseplay)

8) Clear the area if something goes wrong
9) After you're clear, notify your neighbors and the teacher

10) Before you leave, clean your materials and table

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Questions for a great teacher

1) How can you tell that your students are really "getting it" as opposed to just telling you what you want to hear (e.g. "I'm learning a lot")

2) What were some of your most successful methods for motivating students to get engaged in materials?

3) What were the largest "resistances to learning" you found in your students and how did you deal with these?

4) How often did you collaborate with other teachers when working on lessons/units and what made these interactions successful/unsuccessful?

5) If you had to describe the three things in teaching that will make your life miserable should you do them, what would they be? (in other words, what should we avoid doing to make our classrooms run smoother)