Classroom Management Skills

After my second week of pre-internship, I have been able to experiment with and learn the most about classroom management. During classes, it is easy to say what your classroom management ideas are, but I found that it quickly changes when you are set in a classroom. Personally, I enjoy a classroom with more structure. When there are classroom discussions, I cannot handle having everyone blurt out their answers at the same time. This week, I tried to emphasize the importance of raising hands to share. I would ignore students who did not raise their hands, which was difficult for me to do at times, but it helped enforce the rule of hands up. I felt that by having the students raise their hands, it made it clear that everyone was able to share, but that it had to be done in a way that would allow everyone to be heard.

One situation I found difficult this week was knowing what to do with students who are not willing to work. Some teachers have the mind set that “as long as they are not disturbing anyone, they are fine”. However, I do not agree with this. I feel that if a student is in my class, they have to participate so that I am able to evaluate what information they have been gathering. During one situation, I noticed a girl who was drawing pictures rather than completing the assignment that I had given. Usually, the classroom teacher would allow this to happen, but I chose to sit next to her and work with her side by side to ensure that she was staying on task and completing what she had to.

Classroom management is something that I will constantly be learning about as I enter new classroom settings. However, after this experience, I feel comfortable with my classroom management skills. I was able to keep the class on task, as well as stay calm and make changes when unexpected situations happened.


Chaos and Courage

The first week of pre-internship was one of the most overwhelming, yet fulfilling, weeks I have had in university thus far. I was able to teach health 09, ELA 09, psychology 20, and environmental science 20. In the beginning, I thought that the entire experience was far too overwhelming. I was comfortable teaching health, but everything else made me cringe. I was scared about how I would plan the lessons, what would happen if a student asked me a question about the subject matter and I did not know the answer to it, and whether or not I was providing beneficial lessons to everyone. However, after teaching a lesson in each, I have come to realize that I have been paired with four amazing cooperating teachers who are always there to help, and who constantly remind me that this is the time to make mistakes and try new things. They helped me to understand that I will not always know the answer to every question that a student has, and that not all of my lessons will excite everyone. However, all I can do is try my best.

One of the best experiences I can take from the week is having the opportunity of going out to Grand Coulee with some of the students and providing therapeutic work. I was able to run a music station, and physical education station, to some of the students from both schools who have disabilities. It was an experience that I was able to learn a lot from. I learned about making adaptations quickly, as well as how to deal with certain behavioural issues that can arise. I took a lot from this morning out in Grand Coulee and cannot wait to go back again this week and see what else I can learn.

The last thing that I got to experience was planning for students who need additional assistance. Since I would like to become a student support teacher, I will have to think a lot about modifications for students who need more help. I was lucky enough to sit in on a teacher and parent meeting that dealt with finding additional support. I learned about what support is out there, and what all a school can provide.

Overall, though chaotic at times, I have enjoyed my pre-internship a lot and cannot wait to see what this week has to offer.

Assessment in the Classroom

Assessment is a necessary factor in a classroom. I think it is important because it helps teachers to understand what the students already know, what the students need to know, and what activities worked well or did not work well. I think that assessment can be used in order to benefit the students, by showing them what they are learning and what they can work on. I also think it benefits the teachers by helping them get to know what forms of assessment work best for certain students. Assessment is also a necessary factor because it indicates whether or not the outcomes for each subject areas are being taught effectively or not. If students do poorly on some form of assessment, it can show the teacher that this area needs to be worked on longer in order for students to have a strong grasp on it.

I think that teachers can ensure assessment is benefiting the students by creating assessments that are engaging and incorporate student strengths and abilities. For me, anything having to do with a test is not an appropriate way of demonstrating my knowledge. I know that sometimes it has to happen, but when I used to be in math classes, I could get 100% on every ‘homework check’, and then fail the test. This is because I would get so panicked in test situations and forget everything I had learned. Based on that experience, and since I plan on teaching health, I might give some exams because it will benefit some students, but I plan on having the majority of my assessment revolved around students demonstrating the knowledge they gained. I think that this helps for me to assess whether or not students have a true understanding of the material, or if they are just memorizing the information given. The assessment I plan in my future classrooms will be based on the students in my class, and the content I am teaching.


Knowing the Learners

Based on the reading Implications for Diverse Learners, I think that one of the most important factors in ensuring that you are helping each student to reach his/her highest potential, is to get to know each of your learners. Whenever I enter a classroom, I start off with some form of ice breaker activity. One I used recently was having the students pick as many toilet paper squares as they wanted, and then they had to share a fact about themselves for each square. I also participated in the activity. It took a matter of 10 minutes to complete, but it helped for all of us to feel more comfortable with each other, in my opinion, which made them more open to discussion and questions during the lesson. By getting to know the students, it makes it easier to plan lessons because you will know what will work, and what will not work. It will also make it easier to have lessons that incorporate the needs of the students, and make any adaptations that might be necessary.

One area of diversity that was touched on in this article was sexual orientation. As a future teacher, I want to be able to support my students whenever possible, and to always have an environment where the students feel safe to express who they are. At the school I am currently placed in, everyone wears a guitar pick that is red with a pink equal sign on it. This is done because the students and staff are showing that they support LGBT rights. I would like to have something like this in my classroom, and try to spread it to the rest of the school, as a way of showing that everyone is supported and respected, no matter who they are. You could do this with other areas of diversity as well, which would help to make students  feel welcomed when they enter the school.

Goals for Pre-Internship Experience

After having two days worth of observation in the school I will be completing my pre-internship experience in, I am feeling nervous and excited. I am nervous because I now know that my experience will not be like I had anticipated. I do not have one co-op teacher and one subject area. I have four different teachers who all specialize in different subject areas. However, despite this feeling of nervousness, I am excited to learn from all of my co-op teachers, the students, and the rest of the school about what it is like to be a teacher. I have set myself three goals for my experience that I hope to complete in order to make my experience more successful. They are as follows:

Goal #1: Take Chances

My pre-internship experience is going to be different than I had anticipated. I thought I would mostly be in a health class, since that is my major. However, I have four co-op teachers and will be planning for health, psychology, English, and environmental science. When I first found this out, I was overwhelmed, and I still am. However, learning this has also made me set myself the goal of “taking chances”. Even though I might not be comfortable with psychology, English, or environmental science, I am not going to let it hold me back. I am going to try and plan engaging lessons, and all I can hope for is that I learn from them. I know that my co-ops will help me in any way, so I want to take this opportunity to try something new without being scared to fail.

Goal #2: Stay Organized

I have already become overwhelmed with the amount of work I find myself having to get done. Between planning for four different subject areas, going on an out of school trip each week, and having university assignments on top of that, I am having difficulties finding time to get it all done. My goal is to stay organized, and get my lessons and homework done at least a day before it is due. I have the tendency to do everything last minute. Having everything done a day before will lower my stress levels, and will give me more time to review the lessons I am implementing.

Goal #3: Ask Questions

The third goal I have set for my pre-internship is to ask questions. I generally do not like to ask a lot of questions, but I think this is a great opportunity that I have to take full advantage of. My goal is to ask at least 3 questions each day, and write down the responses. I think that by asking questions to different people within the school, whether it is my co-op teachers, students, or other staff members at the school, I will be able to improve my teaching skills. I plan on using this information to help shape the teacher I become, so the more I learn, the better.

I am looking forward to this experience and hope that these goals help to guide me in a successful and positive experience.

Incorporating Treaty Education into Health Education

For our lesson, we created an activity for Wellness 10 that incorporated treaty education. During the beginning stages of creating this lesson, we struggled to come up with ideas. It was difficult to find a health outcome and treaty outcome that fit well together. It was also difficult to think about the type of activity that should be done in order to make the learning experience meaningful for all of our students. We ended up creating a lesson that allowed students to learn about treaty education, and also allowed the students to relate the learning to themselves. Since health is a holistic subject area, we tried to show students how treaty education is interconnected with their lives. Personally, I thought that the most difficult part of the planning was trying to make the lesson relevant to both curriculums, and to the students’ lives. I did not want to create a lesson that introduced and brought in treaty education one time, and then was never looked at again. I think that teachers should try to incorporate treaty education often, and make sure that it is not just random facts, but rather a useful and engaging teaching/activity.

One piece of feedback that we received on our lesson was for our group discussion activity. The students will be placed into groups of 8, and within these groups they will be assigned a specific quadrant of the medicine wheel, and will be asked to discuss it and come up with a group definition. Since the students could have come up with a lot of information and not know where to beginning the discussion, we were told that providing some guide line/essential questions could be beneficial. I agreed with this piece of feedback. I think that by providing each group a list of guideline questions for their quadrant, it will help for the groups to make good use of their time, and to ensure that everyone is on task. This will help the students with the discussion, and assist the teacher with classroom management. We also received feedback about the closure of our lesson. Originally, students were going to share the goals they set with the class, and then hand in the posters they created. However, this closure seemed to abrupt. Rather, we will end the class in some way that will introduce the next lesson. This might be a short activity, or an exit slip as a pre-assessment tool. This will make the activities less random, and have less of a sudden stop.

After listening to other groups talk about the lessons they created that incorporated treaty education, I realized that since it is a more recent topic, it is sometimes difficult to tie it into subject areas. After listening to some individuals talk about their lessons, I found that even though people might not think that their lessons are useful right now, it is just the beginning. Bringing in treaty education to different subject areas is something I have just recently been introduced to. I think that trying to make lessons that incorporate this education is a big step in the right direction, and will become easier with more practice, education, and experiences.

Rocket Ships and Justin Beiber for Management

I have found a blog (click here to access it) that has a lot of different strategies for classroom management. However, two of the posts stood out to me. One post is about student achievement and one post is about dealing with “tattletales”.

The first post is about student achievement. The school shows recognition to students who score highly on their standardized testing. They have a bulletin board in the school hallway, and post the pictures of students who have done well on the testing to recognize their work. Now, I do think that it is important to recognize student achievement, but I find that this way of recognition would be oppressive, since only select students are put on display. I would use this idea in my classroom, but I would do it to recognize an achievement of all of the students in my class. Whether it was about a high grade, or a sport achievement, or anything the student is proud of, I would put it on display for everyone to see in order to motivate my students to continue with the achievements. I think by recognizing a talent in everyone, it will encourage positive behaviour and success.

The second post I noticed was about dealing with “tattletales”. It is common, especially in the younger grades, to hear the students tattle about someone else. This blog post uses a classroom management tool I would not have thought of, and would not use myself. In the classroom, the teacher posts a large picture of someone famous (Justin Beiber was the example but it is supposed to be age appropriate) in the back corner of the classroom. Every time a student wants to tattle on someone, rather than telling the teacher, they are told to “go tell Justin”. These students go to the back of the classroom and tell their problems to the picture. I do not agree with this strategy. I think it is is oppressive because it makes this student look ridiculous, and it doesn’t form any skills about how to deal with situations. It puts attention right on this student, which will cause more problems, and be a distraction to the class.  The classroom management strategy that I use is “big deal or little deal”. I have used this strategy at the camp I work at, and it has been very successful. At the beginning of camp, when providing the rules, I tell them “big deal or little deal” as a way with dealing with problems. I tell the student that if no one is being harmed, and if it can be dealt with in a non hurtful way, it is probably a little deal, but if it is hurtful (physical or continuous bullying), it is a big deal. By giving this example, it helps the kids to problem solve on their own, which I think is an important skill. I am going to use this in my classroom to try and minimize the little tattle taling, but so that my students also know that I care rather than sending them to the back of the class.