My final visit to my cooperating teacher! But it is certainly not my final visit to a school. After this semester I realized that I have a long way to go in a new world of education and excitement for my future. I have learned with all of these great visits, how important is to “feel the experience” of education in order to understand the career I want to excel. Personally, I always knew that I love to share my knowledge and experience with others to help them improve or reach their goals. However, professionally I never knew how wonderful, exiting, difficult and organized the education field could be. Seeing my cooperating teachers “in action” was amazing to me, because I was able to see how the process of education starts from day one. I learned from Mrs. S. that your students “earn your respect” and then you will allowed them to be part of a great school year. With Miss M. I learned that kids could be more intimidating if you don’t know how to control your class since the beginning of the year; but most importantly that you make your classroom rules for a reason; “to have your students follow them”
When I started this semester, my goal was to become a high school teacher. I knew that working at a high school level was going to make me to feel happy and exited about becoming a teacher. Although, after I entered into a middle school, I realized that this “unknown” world was as incredible and full of experience as a high school could be. I learned during my field the experience that kids at any age can spark your day with the most amazing questions, but at the same time they can make you feel that you are not providing the necessary tools for them to excel in their learning process. Although, now I know that only experience, dedication and practice can help you to create more great memories and rich experiences for your students.
What I am more amazed about this whole experience is that I though I was going to help students to learn during my hours at the school; but instead, I learned, I learned and I learned. There was so much to learn during this experience that I can end this post next year if I mention everything. But just to mention a few, I learned that everything I was thought during this semester with Professor P. and last semester with Professor S. was put in practice in every classroom I visited. I experienced seeing talented kids, kids with special needs in an inclusion class; I experience special Ed. helping in a teacher’s classroom. I experience seeing the “classroom rules” to be used, I learned the use of a smart board, I was able to experience so much technology in a classroom that I never thought could be possible because I was in a low income area. I learned that I would never end my learning experience because kids always thought me something new. I learned that no matter how much I knew there was always an opportunity for me to learn something... even as an educator!
As I always say: “I will not change anything from my experience this semester because every experience in life has made me the person I am today. I will analyze every single aspect of all of my experiences in order to learn from them, and I will use my knowledge and experience to help others when they need someone to guide them"
During this visit to my new cooperative teacher Mrs. M, I was able to observe a 6th grade classroom. I was fascinated for the energy involved in this class and the different methods of communication the teacher had with her students.
Mrs. M is a language art teacher and she currently has her students on a 30-book marathon. She needs to have them read 30 books by the end of April and it started since February. Because of that, students need to carry the current book that they are reading with them at all the times. When they walk into her classroom they need to sit in their assigned places and start reading it for the first ten minutes of her class while others are getting ready in their places. If any of her students do not have their book and they are not reading anything she just needs to ask: “Where is your book?” and they will run to the books shelve and start reading it or they will grab it from their book bag. Students are very quiet during these first ten minutes waiting for Mrs. M to run the class; but they already know what she is waiting for while she stands at the door greeting all of them!
I believe she does not have an intentional message for any students regarding to their ethnicity, religion or gender; she maintains a fair class with rules and directions to all of them regardless of their background. Mrs. M. physical presence in the classroom brings tranquility and direction to her students because she is not a strict or angry teacher, but she maintains a very organized class with proper directions.
Also, the correspondence that the teacher maintains with her colleagues and parents is through emails and written documentation. Although the school is trying to go paperless during year 2013-2014 they still have written communication with students and parents because they are working on exploring this new way of communication by having parents and students enrolling on Facebook, emails and other online websites such as Genesis. This could possible end with written communication on a near future but meanwhile this seems like a smooth transition for all of them so far. With all of these changes I think that I can’t get enough of how much school system is changing and trending in an advanced and technologic way for our students’ future.
Assessments are one of the most important areas in education. It proves knowledge and understanding of any subject matter we want to provide to our students. Many teachers have their own way and other teachers may drive their assessments base only on the standard curriculum. I believe that whatever is the way they want to do it, what’s important is that we make sure we follow up with those students who were not able to comprehend the lesson we have given them in order to help them be at the same level of their classmates.
I was able to observe a new cooperating teacher at a different school this time; her name is Mrs. M. I was able to analyze her informal evaluation and she likes to explore her students understanding by asking question during the lesson. Mrs. M. also likes walking around the class and reviews her students’ work. She had mentioned that she has talented students in her class and they are not placed in different classroom; therefore, she needs to push these kids a little harder in order to provide them the level they need for their capacity.
Also Mrs. M. has a formal grading where she daily is grading her students’ work base on the experience they are having. For example currently she is teaching them a persuasive lesson where at the end of the marking period students will be graded based on the New Jersey Scoring Rubric for essays writing, on a scales of 6 points. She mentioned that it is so important to use this rubric in order to feel you are providing them a fair grading, and even though she sometimes has to provide more homework for talented kids she keeps them on the same scale.
Homework is also part of grading at all the times; this is what Mrs. M. considers a reminder of what they have learned at school during the day and it helps them to think about questions that students may have and will bring the next day to prove knowledge and help them to improve their understanding.
Now as a future educator I understand that for every situation our students have there will be a purpose, and therefore we need to look up for our students’ future. We need to think on every single aspect of our day to help them achieve their maximum and help them understand how they will do it. We with the necessary tools as educators we are building an army of educated, responsible and knowledgeable people for the future of our country. Not matter how much we may hate assessments that we have to review or we have to take, they help all of us to be better on what we do, let’s educate!
Visiting the High school for me was like a new world compared to the school I went to when I was a kid. I could not be more amazed by the great technology sources the students had for their knowledge and learning experience. The classroom I had to observe earned a grant this year to obtain ipads for all the students at this high school. All of the school’s classrooms have become paperless and there were not notebooks at all and students had to do all of their assignments in their ipads and any communication with the teacher is by email.
All of the students use their ipads and the teacher also uses her own mac computer in order to present and prepare any class. Students and the teacher seem to be very adapted to the new use of technology as I can appreciate that they all always listen to the teacher as she provides instructions and none of the students have questions on how to do research or navigate the school’s website.
While I had to observe a few classes I was able to notice how great technology was use when they needed to do a research at the library regarding the Elizabethan era. Students were able to take pictures of pages they wanted to refer back once they were typing their essays, they were able to look up information on their ipads to compare notes and information and be ready to type their essays.
I loved the use of an interacting boards and all the technology used by students and teacher. I believe this provide a great experience for students to be prepare for the “outside” world they eventually will have to face once they are out of school. With the inclusion of technology at schools many great things can be accomplished such as having students from different economic levels at the same level of knowledge regarding technology. This provides students the ability to be exposed to things that are hard to “reach” because of their parents’ economic status; and this will help them to be able to take over a job where technology use is necessary.
Also In my opinion there were also some cons that can come with technology used in the classroom. One of the down points I found in the classroom was the long time kids spend in the Internet and not talking or interacting with their classmates. This eliminates social interaction and I feel this is causing a lack of social skills. I would like for classrooms to be a little noisier as I remember during the time I was in high school. Once I become a teacher I will encourage and will have in my classroom plenty of team work and group interaction using the technology because I believe that anything new is always for our good but it needs to be mixed with the great system we already have in place.
My fourth week observing BBHS was about observing beyond my novice eyes. It was about putting the pieces of my puzzle together to understand a classroom environment and the “why” teachers prepare their lesson’s plan the way they do it. We all as students are used to a routine where teachers have the “game plan” of the day, the “during the class time”, also the time to review homework period, the check the progress of the students and the wrapping up time where the teacher closes the day and give us the “why” we needed to have that class.
As a future professional in the field of education I love to see how everything has the purpose improve education or to help our students’ learning process. I was able to observe this happening at Mrs. S’ class. I witnessed how Mrs. S. offered “extra credit” to those students who were falling behind in their grades. However, they had to show her that they care about the class and they had to behave well during the week in order to participate in her “extra credit raffle”. This extra credit raffle was with the idea of having a bucket filled with names of students from her class, and once a week she will pick a piece of paper from the bucket, and will read the name of the student of that week and will offer that opportunity to the student as long as she or he was well behaved in class the previous week. I liked this idea because it is a motivation for a student to know that they can improve their grade and also help students to behave well in class and look forward for that opportunity.
Another technique Mrs. S. likes to use when she wants to check homework is to show her emails to the entire class trough her LCD screen that mirrors her laptop’s image and she will read all of the names that gave homework and those who did not complete homework on time she reminds them that they will have to stay with her 2 hours after school until they finish any essay or research that was requested; and then she adds: “IT IS NOT NEGOTIABLE”. She treats every student equally and she does not seem to expect less or more from anyone; in front of her students they all are treated equally and there is not secret for the students who gave homework on time, or what is expected for all of them, or who will stay with her for a longer period of time. Rules in her class a black and white and expected to be accomplished and if they are not, then students also know what will be the consequences of their actions.
I really admired the way Mrs. S. had her class prepared for everything and also how well prepared she was for all of her lesson plans. I would love to apply that to my future classes and just like Mrs. S. have a purpose for the students (just the way education should be) I want to create an impact in a student’s life and observing Mrs. S. made me feel she truly accomplish that. For example, Mrs. S. had one class where her students were exposed to watch movies and then compare the written books and online analysis. I was very lucky I observed how Mrs. S. chose and old movie and book “To kill a mockingbird”, a kids’ movie and book “Hugo” and a current movie but with actors over 60 years old “Young at Heart”. Mrs. S. told me how she knows her students will never rent or read those types of movies and books; but she wanted to show them that they could find a nice experiences over things that they will think are “boring” or less attractive to their young eyes while she was applying her lesson plans with the core curriculum requested for the age of her students. And at the end of every movie I could not agree more with her; her students watched every single movie just as if they were watching a video game in their ipad! And without knowing it students were also were having an amazing learning experience.
My third time visiting the school I was assigned, I was very lucky to continue in the same classroom with Mrs. S. Every week has being very pleasant and I feel students now can identify me as part of their class and I can see who belongs to which class, who is a freshman, a junior or a senior. Also, I was able to identify different opportunities according to the students need. For example Mrs. S. always reviews assignments and essay first with those who are in her class but are considered in an advanced class of English, or with those who she knows were transferred from and ESL class to her English class and need an “extra” help. I believe this is very important for them because like Mrs. S. says to me all the time: “ I will be right back, because I need to take control of these two students or I will be having them navigating in the internet on things that will not help them with their writing; they really need extra time with me and I have to correct their work now or it will get worst” She really care about her students in every single aspect of their work and life. This class is not about teaching and talking; it is about advocate and educate her students. Love it!!!
Mrs. S. does not have any other teacher in her class to help the students that have special needs or language difficulties; however, she is aware that they go to other classes because they need help to improve in different areas and she keeps that in mind when it comes help them with assignments. Although, her students are considered equally knowledgeable in English, I can identify those students who are bilingual and need extra help for the English class. Mrs. S. assigns the same type of work to all of her students; she also expects the same level of work from everyone in her class. I did not see her grading them differently; on the contrary, she asks them to work all together and she will have the three classes I observed make a presentation for a “mini museum” that they will have from the Elizabethan era without any exception or any special assignment to anyone. She does provide more feed back to those in more need but she will not make them feel different in this class, or at least I did not see this happening at all!! I think this is important for the students as well because this way they don’t feel treated as if they have a “problem” or as “special” kids and will try the best to be at the same level of their classmates.
I may not be an expert in education as a teacher yet; but I went to high school a few years ago, and at that age you want to “fuse” with the rest of the class. You always want to feel like a normal kid by your friends, but you wanted that extra help from your professors. Mrs. S. is really good at doing that, she is empathetic, she cares, she asks for more to those she knows are gifted and she pushes those who are in need. More than ever, I believe than an educator is more than a person “preaching” in front of a class. As an educator you need to have a heart for people, you need to know that you are there to built the foundation of our future and you are in a classroom to make the difference for those who parents will not make the difference. You as an educator have in your hands the future of someone who will be somebody or no body! We need to choose what kind of educator we want to be and what kind of students we want to have in our future! We need to decide today because tomorrow it will be too late for those who were in your class… I made my choice, what about you?
During my second visit to the high school classroom, I was assigned (again) to my previous class and my cooperating teacher Mrs. S. During this visit, I had to examine the class from a different prospective. For example, I had to analyze her lesson presentation and the way she engaged her students throughout the lesson. I noticed how when she wants her students full attention, she goes to the front of the classroom and ask her students to put their ipads away. Then she uses her computer to mirror everything she is explaining on a LCD projector and she asks students to provide their opinions about what she is saying.
After she explained her goals for the new book and movie they were going to watch, (How to Kill a Mocking Bird) Mrs. S. asked them research online about the movie and the book. They needed to look up for information regarding guilt, innocence and fairness connected to the settings and the plot of the movie. The students also had to make personal connections to the theme and experiences related to the movie and the film. Once the students have finished their research Mrs. S. ask them to share their information in four groups of four. This way Mrs. S. have the time to walk by the groups and over hear the conversations and the students understanding of what the movie and the text book are about.
Mrs. S. likes to use the technique called “Jigsaw”. This is a technique used to develop communication. By using it, Mrs. S. helps the students to understand and retain information. The jigsaw is used to develop collaboration in groups and help the students to become “experts” on a specific text or body of knowledge. It also asks the students to share that material with another group of students. This strategy is most effective when students know that they will be using the information they have learned from each other to create a final product, participate in a class discussion, or acquire material that will be on a test.
After this type of discussion Mrs. S. starts playing the movie and tells the students that they need to compare, and find the differences between the movie and the book. What is missing from the book?, What is different from the book? And what is necessary from the book that the movie did not provide? Mrs. S. asked them to type an essay that includes answers to the previous questions. This is the way for Mrs. S. to grade the students about their ability to read and comprehend literature. Also, Mrs. S. ultimate goal is to help her students to be able by the end of grade 11 to write complex essays, independently and proficiency.
While they are typing their essays Mrs. S. likes to bring them one by one to talk to her. She likes to start with those who have the hardest time writing essays and she explains them for approximately five minutes what they are missing on their thesis or what they need to improve, etc. For those who Mrs. S. was able to review, I felt they were also the ones who want to improve their writing and are taking this class because they need it to graduate.
Although, there are others who even thought Mrs. S. provides plenty of time to write and prepare their essays, they are not taking advantage of this time as much as they should. Some of the students are playing video games on their ipads, others are more concerned about shopping online, and others are just talking or wasting valuable time!
I know this is valuable time because one day, or I should say: soon! They will be in college and they will not have someone to sit with them, and help them to correct their writing on a one to one basis. Some day, they will look back at the great work their teacher was doing with them and for those who took advantage of it will be a great memory. However, for those who just wanted to have a “good” time and relax in this class; they will be the ones who will regret and feel the pain of being in a non-credit class because they did not take high school seriously.
As part of my assignments from my class Field Experience, I had to observe one high school class for five weeks. I was assigned to observe an English class at one of the high schools where my sister graduated a few years ago. My family and I had bad experiences and memories from this school and the perception and the opinion I had about the school was not the best. However, when I walked into this school and the English class that I was assigned my opinion changed completely.
I experienced a warm welcome by some of the staff members of the school. Also, the students and my cooperating teacher. Mrs. S. welcomed me into her classroom of seniors, freshman and juniors very nicely. I remember the first thing that Mrs. S. said to me that day was: “don’t let “my” student scare you because they are full of dreams and they are very nice”. This showed me immediately how much she cared about her students. Also, as I walked into her class, I felt the room was very quiet and empty! Or I should say very white and without any decoration. I thought that was going to be a boring class where I was going to sit and just learn nothing! It made me think that probably students were not going to be very respectful about the class and I was not going to enjoy my next five weeks. Again, I was wrong! I was truly amazed when I witness the students as they walked into the class and they were greeting Mrs. S. asking her questions about the previous class and what they needed for their future homework. I found this very interesting because it made me feel that all of them, or almost all of them were engaged and they were showing her the rapport they maintain in her class.
One of the best moments I had during this experience, is what I call the “aha moment”. This happened when I observed how the “white and boring classroom” I walked into that morning was transformed into a place where students felt confortable and in connection. The students knew that Mrs. S. maintains hand cream, candy, pens and other supplies in her desk and they all take them when they need anything. They are allowed to go in her desk and use what she keeps there. This simple aspect of her classroom made me realized that students feel so comfortable in it, as if they were in their own house. Although, they did maintain the respect Mr. S. asks them for.
Until this moment, I could not appreciate how something so simple could make a difference on a student’s life. When Mrs. S. explained to me how the classroom feels very dry during winter and they need hand cream, lotion or anything she can offer them to “wake them up” at 7:30 am, I finally understood why she had her classroom guidelines set up that way. This is the approach she likes to use to get the students ready for her class. Everything she had in the places she chose had a purpose for the students, but not for a visitor like me. Though, I was there for the first time with curious and careful observation, I was able to identify the great work and love Mrs. S. had put into this class; where “her” student and this little school community shares time for one hour and four days a week. This may sound like a lot of time, but when you need full attention from your students and provide individual attention to them, this time is precious and it flies so quick that when the bell rang and no one was ready to go all Mrs. S had to say is don’t forget to check your email!