Week 1: Intro to Classroom

It’s hard to believe we’re already two weeks into our second semester and have the opportunity to spend two full days in an elementary classroom. Unlike last semester where we were limited to time and opportunities to participate this year we will be responsible for lesson planning and administration, sitting in on meetings and conference nights, conducting a case study on a student and more time to learn from the teachers actions and performance.

This week I finished the first two days and one of the first thought I had was that my comfort level was significantly higher then my first experience observing at the school. Of course I had time to develop a relationship with my coordinating teacher who I gratefully refer to as my mentor but I am also armed with more knowledge and practice. The more I observe and actively participate in the classroom in addition to studying and research the more confident I feel in my teaching skills and abilities. Bottom line, these opportunities are so beneficial to my learning and are effectively molding and preparing me for my full time internship this fall.

Upon arrival I realized there is much to be done before the morning bell rings. My coordinating teacher is very prepared but random and unexpected tasks seem to pop up. On the first day there was a new student and on the second day the students had to take a countywide reading comprehension test so we were prepping the room and students. The phrase managed chaos comes to mind.

The classroom I am in has two classes (AM and PM). I was able to jump right in with the AM class because we were able to work together during my observations last semester. After walking around and helping out with bell work we moved into guided reading. I sat in with a small group and the reading coach. The students were initiating book clubs so I was able to witness the start of something new. The reading coach reviewed reading techniques referred to as reciprocal teaching (predicting, questions, clarification) and had them write out notes to create a folder. These would be used to help guide students through the readings as well as provide them with talking points during their book discussions. For the next rotation, I was trusted to lead my own group. I got to take the group to the reading coaches room where I helped them pick a book for their book club. It was nice getting to explore the resources the school has for the students and teachers and the kids appreciated the “field trip”. Unfortunately, I did not get to finish the entire preparation before it was time for the students to go to specials but I did feel the instruction and participation was thorough.

When the PM class came in I had to formerly introduce myself and advised them that they could call me Ms. S. After introductions my coordinating teacher used my last name to do a quick “lesson” on how complicated the English language can be. She wrote school and Scholl on the board and had them sound out the differences. She then ended the conversation advising the students to call me by my full and formal last name. I thought her approach was such a great way to teach students about the difficulties of language and to help them learn how to pronounce my name and recognize me as a professional who should be identified formally and respectfully. I imagine I will introduce myself in the same way she did as I get my own classroom and students.

Another moment that I would have liked to improve on took place when I responded to a student with “because I said so”. I always hated that phrase because while it may suggest that I have power in the classroom it lacks explicit reasoning and therefore seems ineffective to me. However, it slipped out of my mouth and left me thinking about what I could have said. One idea I came up with is “because these are the rules we have established”. I’ll still think of other things but I really do not want to be a teacher who runs her classroom like a dictator.

We have a lot ahead of us this semester and I know I’ll be learning so much! I look forward to sharing my trial experiences and thoughts as I continue down the road to becoming a successful and effective teacher.

Until next week,

Erica

Advertisements

Day 1: What Classroom Management Means To Me

Course: EDE 6506 – Creating & Differentiating the Learning Environments in Elementary Schools (Classroom Management)

Week 1 Recap: Prior to class we read “It Mattered that I Came” and “Morning Meeting”, two chapters out of The Morning Meeting Book (Kriete, 2002). In the reading, Kriete recalls the moment she realized the importance of student/teacher greetings and conversation. As a former student was dropping out of school, Kriete received a letter thanking her for the way she greeted the student every morning and left her feeling as if her presence in class was valued. “It touched and pained me that something which seemed so small to me…had meant so much to her,” (Kreite, 2002, pg. 1). Vowing to learn something out of the situation she would make a habit of greeting and welcoming students to class. We are then introduced to the concept of Morning Meeting. Per Kreite, approximately thirty minutes should be spent every morning (or at a specific time throughout the day) in which the whole classroom gathers together in a circle for a greeting and sharing time. Morning Meeting should include these four components to be most effectual: Greeting, sharing, group activity and news and announcements (Kriete, 2002, pg. 3). In the next chapter “Morning Meeting”, Kriete discusses the purposes of Morning Meeting, provides implementation ideas and troubleshooting advice.

After the Reading: I was definitely moved by the emotional appeals Kriete had made to encourage teachers to implement Morning Meeting into their routine. I visualized what my classroom might look like, how many students I might have and how I wanted to include Morning Meeting with my teaching style. The idea of a safe place where all students are given a platform to speak and engage with their peers and teacher(s) is important to me. When I decided to take the journey to become a teacher it was my goal to create a classroom that would not only encourage academic achievements but also to encourage personal growth and development. My experiences have led me to believe that it takes growth in multiple areas to develop the confidence needed to reach ones maximum abilities.  I feel strongly that the Morning Meeting concept will definitely be applied in my future classroom and will help to set the expectations of how we will operate as one unit.

In Class Activities: The following day I entered class and was soon directed to gather on the floor with my classmates. In my first Morning Meeting I was one of the students and my professor and TA were running the meeting. We went through the steps as suggested in “Morning Meeting,” (Kriete, 2002). I learned names, background information of my peers and professors, and received a brief snapshot of what I could expect throughout this course. We then returned to our seats and as I felt more relaxed and comfortable as we moved on to other tasks.

For the next assignment we were given five minutes to “free write” about what Classroom Management means to us. I described an environment in which students feel free to express themselves without the fear of judgement from others. I described how learning should feel comfortable even when challenging because outside factors such as a cultural, social and academic differences are not holding anyone back.  Following the free write we were then instructed to “mold” our concept of Classroom Management as we had written down. Then as a class we circled the room and checked out everyones interpretations leaving small notes to the left (see below). For the most part the message was clear to my peers.

Below, is what I came up with. A circle with the words “Safe Zone” inside. I chose as it reminded me of the setup of Morning Meeting and that during these meetings and throughout the day I wanted a place where learning would not be hinder by a lack of safe feelings.

 

My Play-Doh vision of classroom management

My Play-Doh vision of classroom management

 

Implementation Goals: The combination of reading about Morning Meeting, engaging in a Morning Meeting and creating my definition of classroom management has led me to new concepts that I look forward to embracing in the future. I imagine that many of my naive beliefs or visions I have of teaching will change throughout the MAT program and teaching experiences but my concept of classroom management will not. I will make sure that students feel safe, welcomed and feel supported enough to choose to learn. My goal is to learn creative ways of conducting and participating in Morning Meetings so that I can be a more effectual teacher.

 

Text covered:

Kriete, R. (2002). The morning meeting book. Thunder Falls, MA: Northeast Foundation, Inc.

 

 

Until next week,

Erica