Classroom Management

I would be naive if I said I didn’t think I would go into a classroom and establish my one rule as having respect for yourself and showing respect for others.  The blog post, “The Great Respect Deception” has altered my views on the “one rule” classroom so to speak.  I think it is valuable to understand the difference between values and rules.  The blog notes that “values explain the why of behaviour, and the rules explain the what.”  In my Educational Philosophy I talk about the importance of creating a positive environment for the students to learn in.  When I ask myself how this would be created, I now believe that their needs to be specific rules put into place for this positive environment to be created.

Establishing a positive environment in the classroom is a value, not a rule.  Therefore, I must ask myself, what rules would I put into place to ensure this value is met.  I think some of my classroom rules would be: raise your hand, do not speak when others are speaking, help others.  However, I also write in my Educational Philosophy that physical education is important for all students, both for physical health and emotional/mental health.  I believe this would be another value in my classroom, and a rule that might correspond with it would be implementing brain breaks at least once per period.

Classroom Management is crucial to building a strong classroom that fosters students’ learning and growth.  The blog, “Inner Ninja: Using ClassDojo for Classroom Management” speaks about a tool that can help keep students working productively and respectively.  Sure, this could be a great way to incorporate technology into the classroom while helping students stay on task, but I think it would need to be used cautiously.  First off, you don’t want to embarrass students with their scores, which could lead to worse behaviour in the classroom.  Also, you need to consider the age level and maturity level of the students.  I do not think this tool would work in the grade eight classroom I am pre-interning in because they would not take it seriously.  In a sense, they would act immature about it because they are too mature for it.  There are other strategies that work well with the class I pre-internship in, and I believe this tool would just cause chaos in the classroom.

Inquiry Project Planning

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This is the result of our group plan for an inquiry project that was carried out by a grade eight class in Regina.  The goal of the project was for students to design and implement a way to sell crab apple jelly to give back to their community (donate the earnings to some form of charity).

We started the planning for our inquiry project with an open ended question: What are ways we can help our local community? Giving students an open ended question allows them to brainstorm ideas.  This phase is not about being right or wrong, but instead is focused on expressing all of the students’ thoughts, feelings, and ideas in order to find a starting point or narrow down what it is the students will research.

If we had more time, our group would have created a timeline in order to map out exactly what the project would look like and how it would unfold.  The benefits of an inquiry project like this is that it is cross-curricular. Some negatives about this project would be time commitment.  Finding the time for students to carry this project out would involve a lot of work outside of school hours.

Assessment for Learning

Assessment has evolved over the years to meet the needs of different learners. Earlier ideas of assessment were based around assigning homework, giving tests, and reporting grades. In fact, assessment could be viewed as a form of ranking. I can relate to this type of assessment when I reflect on my elementary and high school years. I was often given work out of a textbook, answered questions, took notes, and then was tested on what I remembered at the end of the unit. However, this form of assessment may not be appropriate for all learners. Summative testing does not showcase what all students have learned. These previous ideas of assessment are shifting to a more loosely based approach whereby assessment becomes more authentic.

Both readings, Our Words, Our Ways, and Learning to Love Assessment highlight the importance of assessment for learning. As a future educator, I believe it is important to allow for multiple assessment strategies in the classroom. This gives students choice in terms of how they are evaluated. For example, allowing students to visually represent their understandings, or verbally record their understandings are examples of multiple assessment strategies. As Tomlinson describes, this helps to shift from, “assessment as judging to assessment as guiding” (Learning to Love Assessment). I believe this is important in order to focus on student accomplishment rather than ranking students.

Another factor to consider in terms of assessment is that informative assessment does not always have to be formal. This idea resonated with me as a future teacher because I think students deserve the opportunity to show what they know in an everyday setting. Tomlinson explains that this can be accomplished by using a clipboard to take notes of student learning. I believe that assessment strategies need to be fair for all students. As educators, we need to take into consideration that students have different cultural backgrounds that affect the way they learn, and students have different aptitudes for learning. As teachers, we need to be able to provide different strategies for assessment to meet the needs of diverse learners.

After reading these articles I have formed a basis for how I believe assessment should be treated in my future classroom. However, I am still struggling with the idea of grading students. How do you informally assess student knowledge without assigning a mark? For example, if a student demonstrates knowledge towards a particular outcome during class, but fails to do so on a unit test, how do you assign a mark that accurately represents this student’s level of knowledge?

Response to Nel Nodding’s Article – Learning from our Students

This article presents some interesting arguments for the future of the school system and student requirements.  Noddings claims that, “[w]hat we learn from students should induce us to reflect on all we do and all we are asked to do” (para 2).  This is an essential point for educators to understand.  This means that what worked best for us as students may not work best for every student.  It also means that reflection is very crucial for teachers.  As teachers, we need to be able to assess the work we have done, evaluate whether it met the needs of all of the students, and modify our ways of teaching for the future.  I agree with the point Nodding makes about teaching to the aptitudes of our students to meet their needs, but I struggle with understanding how a teacher accomplishes this when there time restraints and a mandated curriculum to cover.

The article also addresses the issue that most teachers had a positive experience throughout school.  This is important to recognize, because teachers need to understand that students come from different backgrounds and have different learning styles. One idea that resonated with me is that putting more effort in is not simply the answer for all students to do better.  I was naïve by thinking that if a kid is not meeting the requirements or what is expected of them, it is because they need to put more effort into their work.  Although this might be the case for some students, I think it can be misleading.  Certain students may simply not acquire the skills to be able to answer a certain question and may need their lesson adapted. This leads to the subject of minimal courses.

I support the fact that students have different aptitudes for learning.  Some are mathematically inclined, others are kinesthetically inclined, so on and so forth.  For this reason, minimal courses are making its way into the current schooling system.  I recognize this in the current mathematics curriculum at the secondary level where students choose which strand of math best suits their needs. However, I struggle with some of the points made in this article for the same fact that concerns a majority of parents: how do students know what occupation they want to pursue?  If students are not required to study the same material, how will this change the future of post-secondary education? What happens if a student does not study a particular subject area in secondary school and then five years down the road, realizes they need that course for their occupation?  All of these questions lead me to question the transition of minimal courses into the school system.  It also has me question the idea of whether grades should be based on a percentage or pass/fail criteria.  I can understand arguments for both sides and cannot settle on an answer.  I am interested to learn more about this topic to be able to form an educated decision.