Differentiation

In our class, we are having to plan an unit plan that has multiple aspects. This project has helped me to really think on a deeper level when it comes to planning multiple activities, lessons, assessments, and a performance task. It takes a lot of time and thought when planning a unit that will be engaging, interesting, fun, and beneficial for all students in the classroom. When planning lessons, it is important to remember that all students have different needs that need to be met. Teachers must plan activities that will be beneficial to all students, but the teacher must also adjust lessons or activities to meet all of the individual needs of the students which is called differentiation of instruction. According to Reading Rockets, “differentiation means tailoring instruction to meet individual needs. Whether teachers differentiate content, process, products, or the learning environment, the use of ongoing assessment and flexible grouping makes this a successful approach to instruction.” Differentiation is an important factor in education because it gives every student the opportunity to learn the material and succeed in the classroom.

Mistakes in the classroom

I was tutoring a student today and he needed help with his math homework. Math is not my favorite subject to teach and it is not one of my endorsements so I don’t plan on teaching a math class unless it is in a self-contained elementary classroom where I teach all the subjects. We started working on the different problems and I realized I told him the wrong way of doing one of the problems. I corrected myself and apologized. He said it was okay because he was confused too. He explained that his teacher had accidentally taught them the wrong way and was having to go back and reteach it. This opened my eyes to the fact that even though we are teachers, we do not know everything. Students might have the perception that teachers know everything there is to know about a subject, but teachers are human and make mistakes too. Even when I was in school, I remember thinking that my teacher should know the answer to every question I ask. Sometimes when teachers don’t know the correct answer, they will act like they do and give false information. It is better to be honest and tell the student, “I am not sure of the answer, but I will get back to you and let you know” or the teacher can say “that is a very good question, why don’t we research this right now to see what we can find out.” Teachers should not be expected to know all the answers, but teachers should continue to grow in their knowledge and understanding of the content they are teaching. I believe it is important for teachers to acknowledge their mistakes, apologize, and find the solution to the problem. This is a factor in building positive relationships with students. Rita Pierson mentions this in her TED Talk: Every Kid Needs A Champion. She talks about how when teachers apologize to students that the students are just shocked. She also mentions a time where she taught a whole lesson wrong and the next day apologized to the students. When teachers are able to acknowledge and apologize for mistakes, it allows the students to see their teacher as a person and not just their teacher which results in improving positive relationships.

English Language Learners

This week our class had the opportunity to meet with a professor that is fluent in spanish. I have never taken a spanish class so I was lost while she was speaking to us because I had no idea what she was saying. This allowed me to see how it feels for English Language Learners in schools. ELL students might not be as engaged in the lesson or activities because of the language barrier. ELL students are already having to learn the english language so it is our job to not make the learning process even more difficult for these students. I have been in a few classrooms that had an ELL students. In these classrooms, the teacher was great in planning lessons, activities, and assessments that would accommodate the ELL student. The teacher included visuals that would help the students understand what the words said and meant. When it came to reading levels, the teachers gave the ELL students reading material that were on a lower reading level that consisted of easier words so that the student could read the material and comprehend it. Being able to understand what an ELL student may go through better prepared me for my future classroom. I will remember how lost and confused I was which will allow me to be there for my students to help them through this process. Also being able to observe how other teachers plan for ELL students gave me ideas and tools that I will use in the future.

Social Justice

This semester I have learned so much about social justice in the classroom. Before taking this course, when I thought about diversity in the classroom, I automatically thought about race. This semester has helped me to acknowledge and reflect on how I can plan for my classroom to benefit ALL diversities. Besides race, diversity in the classroom includes ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, ability, religion, age, and socioeconomic status.  Teachers must plan instruction that is appropriate and beneficial to all students. The teacher must also provide a welcoming and inviting classroom environment. Teaching is more than just planning instruction and setting up a classroom. Teaching is about building positive relationships with all students and being supportive of every student. Teachers must believe that every student in their classroom will succeed and has the ability to succeed.

This We Believe

I have been reading “This We Believe: Keys to Educating Young Adolescents” which is a document from AMLE that discusses the essential attributes that teachers and schools should implement when planning for a successful middle school. The 4 attributes are developmentally responsive, challenging, empowering, and equitable. This document also discusses characteristics of young adolescents. It is very important for teachers to be aware of these characteristics. There are also 16 characteristics for a successful middle school which are split into 3 different categories which are curriculum, instruction, and assessment; leadership and organization; and culture and community. These 16 characteristics are helpful in implementing the 4 essential attributes. Although this document is geared toward middle school, I believe that it can be beneficial to teachers of all age groups. All teachers must plan instruction that is developmentally appropriate for their students. When planning instruction that is challenging, it is also important to keep students interests and abilities in mind. Teachers of all ages must plan for family and community involvement. Teachers must become knowledgeable of the age group they are teaching so that they can be prepared to teach them to the best of their ability. There are many aspects that are involved in becoming a successful teacher. I believe that this document is a beneficial guide that will help all teachers learn and become better educators.

Students seeking help

This week I read an article titled “I Need Help!” Social Class and Children’s Help-Seeking in Elementary School by Jessica McCrory Calarco. This article was very beneficial to read because it opened my eyes to issues students might have when it comes to asking for help. This article discusses middle class students vs. working class students and how they approach seeking help from teachers. The article mentions that middle class students are given more opportunities which sometimes makes the students feel entitled. For example, in the article Calarco mentions that middle class students would sometimes interrupt the teacher or go up to the teacher for help. If the teacher would respond with “I will be with you in a second,” the students would keep asking until the teacher helped right away. This behavior would make teachers think that these students actively wanting help meant that the students were more motivated to learn. On the other hand, the working class students were less likely to actively seek help. These students would try to either figure it out on their own or try to listen in as the teacher explained it to another student instead of asking for help when they didn’t understand. Sometimes the teacher would take it upon themselves to give guidance and support without these students asking, but most of the time the students would go without receiving the help they needed. This article helped me to reflect on my past experiences in the classroom as well as reflect on how I want to run my future classroom. Sometimes students might not come out and say they need help, but those students are most likely the ones that need help the most. I must make every student feel comfortable enough to come to me with any questions or concerns. I also must take the time to demonstrate strategies students can use to ask for help. This will help students to understand how they can seek help from me as well as their peers. No matter the race, gender, socioeconomic status, etc. of my students, I will make sure that all of my students feel equal and feel that they will receive the same help that their classmates receive.

Students’ interests

During this weeks tutoring session, they allowed the students to play games. Instead of tutoring, we interacted with the students by playing games or talking with the students. I feel that this helped me get to know my student better and build a better relationship. We were playing the card game called UNO when my student’s mom came to pick her up. My student wasn’t ready to leave because she wanted to finish the game and win. Usually when we are tutoring, as soon as her mom gets there she is up and out the door.  This helped me to realize that I need to make the learning experience just as fun and enjoyable for her as UNO is to her. I could try to relate the content that we are working on, such as math, to something that she enjoys such as card games. It is important for teachers to connect the content to something that the students find interesting. This will help the students to be more motivated to learn, but it will also help them to understand the information on a deeper level. Students are more willing to learn from someone that takes the time to learn more about them and their interests, but also from someone that takes the time to build relationships with them. Throughout this tutoring session I was able to build a better relationship with my student, but also I got to learn more about her interests and things that she enjoys doing in her spare time. I believe that this will help me to become a more effective tutor for my student as well as future educator.