Overall I have really enjoyed my field experience. It has given me the opportunity to go visit schools that I would probably not see otherwise. Because I went to these schools I got a new perspective on teaching and what I want to be as a teacher. While not all my experiences were positive they all still shaped my ideas. Also being in the field gave me an idea of how the readings we studied were applied in a real classroom.
My experience at Shaker Heights high school allowed me to study how teachers teach older students. I don’t want to teach older kids rather I want to teach 1st or 2nd grade. With this being said I was still able to learn something. I specifically studied the idea of a stir and serve lesson plan with the teachers in the classroom. I did not like the idea of a stir and serve lesson plan because it gave me the idea that students are just receptacles for information. I was able to see a teacher who followed a stir and serve lesson plan and one who clearly did not. By seeing this I was able to support my belief that I do not like the idea of a stir and serve lesson. While these lessons were in a high school setting it made it possible to see that no matter what level you teach or environment you teach in there is clearly a way to make your lesson plan your own.
Being at Mayfield Middle School really changed how I felt about public schools. My brother graduated from a public school and I went to public school K-4 so I didn’t have anything against public schools I just felt like graduating from such a small school I wanted to teach in a small school. Being at Mayfield made me much more open to teaching in bigger schools because I was able to see all the aspects of small classes being applied in the same way for the bigger school. I think the biggest thing for me as a future teacher is giving the student individual attention and being at Mayfield helped me see that you can give your students individual attention even if the class is big.
My experiences at both Gearity and Lake Ridge Academy just furthered my decision to teach early childhood. At Gearity I was in a kindergarten classroom while at Lake Ridge I was in the first and second grade. Seeing each of these grades being taught finalized my decision to want to teach first and second grade. I was able to see the children very obviously make big connections in what they were learning. I especially liked being a part of their math lessons because math is a subject I like and being able to share that with children who are just learning feels great to me. I also saw three very distinct teacher styles. At Gearity it seemed to be really focused on what the children were learning and less focused on the students themselves. At Lake Ridge I saw a combination. I saw some tough love approaches and some very caring and softer approaches. I’m not entirely sure which kind of teaching style I want to use as a teacher but being able to see how each teacher had their own related back to our readings about making the classrooms our own.
I loved having an experience at each level of education because I feel like each school gave me a new perspective on how classrooms can be run. I will definitely keep these experiences in mind as I further my education and have more time in classrooms.
When I went to Lake Ridge this time I was able to spend the whole day in the lower school. I realized after my last visit that the grades I would want to teach is first or second because I like how I saw the teachers, teaching math and science and some more complex ideas than I would see teaching kindergarten. During high school I spent a lot of time in the first grade classroom so this time around I tried to spend more time in the second grade classroom. While I was there I saw the kids working on a Thanksgiving project in pairs, which was interesting to me because it was teaching them how to work in pairs and I was surprised at how well they did with it! I also saw them reading through a play and the teacher pointed out a big thing to me, which was that reading a play like they were gives the struggling readers a chance to read with expression that makes learning more fun to them. This made me think of the reading we talked about how teachers want to make lessons that would spark kids interests so they are more willing to learn. Also I saw a spelling test and I was really impressed with how they did it. First they split the two classes of kids into two separate groups. One group was for those who were a little more advanced in their writing and the other was for kids who took a little longer. Then when they gave the kids words I was surprised about how they did so. Instead of having them just write down each word the teacher would read a sentence that the kids had to rewrite and the sentences included their spelling words. After each sentence was completed the teacher had them underline their spelling words and circle their sight words. By doing this the teachers are able to track the kids progress in both spelling but in writing in general. I also think that this approach takes some of the pressure off the kids. In first grade I didn’t see quite as much academic work because it was the day before Thanksgiving break but I still got to see them work in centers and math. At centers they went to a center that worked with their teacher to go over the work they hadn’t finished yet, the next was a geography puzzle, then a listening center and lastly the kids worked with me to do a geography project that used the compass. The kids did really well with this and by having them go different places the kids didn’t get very restless. I also saw them work on math tiles, which is where they get number tiles 1-9 and have a worksheet that is a puzzle of math facts and they have to decide where the tiles go. It was interesting to see because while it was a math activity the kids had so much fun doing it. I think that is one of the best ways to approach teaching: having kids learn but doing so in a way that they enjoy. I saw this in both the first and second grade classrooms. Overall I was really impressed to see how the teachers worked with their kids and I loved seeing how the readings were put in place in a real life situation.
When we went to visit Gearity I was very excited in since I want to teach elementary school, and have a passion for little kids. I was not entirely sure what to expect compared to the other schools that we have visited. Going in I wanted to note differences that Gearity had from my old high school, which was actually k-12. I went to a private school 5-12 grades but was in public k-4 so I have seen both types of schools at an elementary age. Some of the immediate differences I noticed was that the class size was much larger (24), the class was predominantly African American, and that there were three adults in the classroom. I didn’t think that I would like the larger class size, but because there were three adults it seemed a little bit more manageable. A similarity that I noticed was the carpet time. At Gearity along with my old school, singing was a part of carpet time, and the kids greeted each other. I think this is a great thing because it makes the kids interact with each other and makes things seem more fun. Another thing I noticed that my old school does not have was a behavior chart for the kids that told them about their behavior through the day. I think that is a really effective thing to use in a classroom because it is a visual for the students to understand their behavior. I also think there might have been a few special needs children in the class, and for the most part they seemed fine, but one little boy was not staying in his seat, moving his things around and going to different tables and no one was redirecting him. I did not like this, because I feel like he just needed more structure and supervision so he could really prosper in the class, it was just like the teachers were ignoring him. Overall I was impressed with Gearity and its teaching. There were differences that I noticed from my old school but nothing that really turned me away from the school. It was a good experience to observe teaching at an elementary level in a public school.
After reviewing all of my blog posts I have really noticed the main traits that I think are necessary for a teacher. To summarize the blogs we started the semester with more guided post like how we interpret certain quotes, which I do think was necessary because it helped me start thinking about what the values are of other people and helped give me a better idea of my beliefs. As the blog posts went on we wrote more and more about what we thought it meant to be a good teacher, and yes we still referenced our readings but our posts was not based on it. I really enjoyed writing these kinds of posts because it made me think about how my education helped shaped my beliefs. Like I have previously said in other blog posts, I really love my old school, and doing blogs that discussed different schools or different ways of learning further helped me realize how much I really valued my education. This being said as a future teacher I plan to interpret many of my former teachers teaching styles and make them into my own. I think a big theme in my blog posts have been the necessity for teachers to have a relationship with their students and see them as equals. I think this is based on my experience in my own education but further supported by the readings we have done. I have found that I have strong reactions to certain readings that go against my idea of a good teacher and I think I expressed that clearly over my blog posts. In conclusion my blog posts have strengthened my belief system of what makes a good teacher and gives me a better idea of the goals I want to achieve when I become a teacher.
I was skeptical going into a high school, because I just graduated so I am not much older than the students. Even with the skepticism I tried to go in with an open mind and developed a question that I wanted to answer. The question was: Do the teachers teach in a way where they really care about their students and are passionate about them, or are they teaching based off a stir and serve idea. The first classroom I was in was a health class and in the beginning I thought that the teacher was doing a good job, but as class went on I saw the teacher becoming more and more disengaged until finally she was just on her computer at her desk. That frustrated me and definitely gave me the idea that she was going off of a stir and serve lesson plan. Not only that she allowed the kids to be on their phones the entire time and not pay attention which gives me the idea that she was not truly passionate about what she was teaching. I also found the stir and serve idea when looking at the worksheets and notes she gave to her students. There was no creativity in the assignments and everything came directly from the book. After observing all of this I concluded that this teacher did teach based on a stir and serve lesson, and did not try to make the class her own. When I went into my second classroom which was a freshman english class I saw the opposite. The teacher had control of her students and they were sitting in their seats waiting for class to start. The respect of doing this for the teacher means that the students are responding well to the teacher. Also in this classroom the kids were much more engaged and interested in what was going on. I did not get to stay the whole class but when I was there I also saw them work on a worksheet on the book. I was impressed with the worksheet because the teacher made it fun by having the kids roll dice to know which question to answer. This seems the opposite to stir and serve because she is teaching what needs to be taught but still keeping it fun. I think the way the teacher paid attention to each student and didn’t call them out when they were misbehaving, rather walking to them and talking to them also shows how the teacher really cares about her students. In this classroom I was pleasantly surprised with the lack of stir and serve teaching. Because my experience at Shaker High School was so different in each class it is hard to draw a conclusion, but also think that supports the idea of how teachers need to make classrooms their own.
For my lesson I would want to teach how to make a cake. In chapter four, the idea of building bridges is the ability to connect a lesson that is being taught in the classroom to something outside the kids are doing or are interested in. The steps that are necessary to build a bridge are to first identify what you want to teach, then look at what the kids are interested in and try and connect your lesson to the kid’s interest. After doing that you can begin to plan a lesson plan, but while you teach you start with the big concept, and then start to narrow your idea to the specific lesson. For my lesson on how to bake a cake I could gain the kids interest by doing a physical demonstration and getting them involved which builds a bridge from my lesson to their personal interest. Then I could also start broad by just talking about cooking and the different types of cooking there is. Depending on the age of the students when I talk about making a cake and frosting it I can explain it like painting a picture so they get the idea. When I teach this topic I really need to consider what the kids will like, the resources I have available to me, and what the big idea is. I think I can use Freire’s idea of teachers just treating their students as receptacles and go against that by getting the students involved. If the students are involved they are less likely to get bored and feel like a receptacle. I can also consider Ayer’s idea of autobiographies and realize that each time I teach this I will have different students, so my lesson plan might need to change. By knowing my autobiography I know what I believe I should teach but I also know my students and how they need to be taught. This also connects to Ohanian’s idea that every classroom is different. Teachers need to be their own and adapt their style to their students. I can do so by showing that I am passionate about wanting the kids to learn to bake a cake and if I have a specifically active class try and keep them more involved so they continue to pay attention. Similarly the idea of being caring and compassionate towards my students and showing them my passion shows the ideas of DiGiulio. By using these people’s ideas on teaching I can better create bridges for my students to learn and enhance their learning environment as a whole.
Today I had the opportunity to go back and visit my old school: Lake Ridge Academy. While I was there I observed mainly the first grade classroom, but also got an opportunity to see a lesson taught in second grade and a kindergarten gym class. While I was at Lake Ridge in high school I spent a lot of time mentoring the lower school, and it was interesting being back, and seeing things from a new point of view. I think for me the most interesting thing was being able to see how the teachers made their lessons “their own”. I even had a discussion with the second grade teacher who said her notes from the lesson she was teaching last year were completely different than this year’s. I thought that this was really great in since we had just discussed in class making teaching your own. Also because I have had the ability to see these classrooms before especially the first grade room, it was really interesting to see how the teacher stayed the same but yet each year something was different. I think that has a lot to do with the fact that you should be teaching in a style that works best for the kids that year. I saw that, that was done in these classrooms and I hope to do the same in mine. I was also really impressed by the use of technology in the first grade classroom. They had the opportunity to work with a partner on an iPad and research different types of spiders. I really admired this because it was showing the kids how to do research starting very early, and all the information that they were getting from online was current, whereas some of the books they might have looked at may have been outdated. Because I graduated from Lake Ridge I knew that the teachers where amazing, so I expected the same going in as a college student, and I did see that. The difference was that as a college student I now have a few more perspectives of other types of teachers, or teachers that weren’t as great so going back and seeing these teachers that were so passionate, and so amazing with the kids was a great experience. One of the things I admired most in these teachers was how validating they were with the kids. I hope to be as good of a teacher as the ones I observed today. I also found it interesting to observe the kids and their social interaction. When I first got there the first graders were working on making a Halloween picture with a fence, pumpkins, moon, leaves, a bat, and wind, they all had these necessary requirements but each of their pictures was so different. It was refreshing to see kids showing their creative side and ability to do what they like. Later I saw as the kids were working individually on a math assignment, they still talked and interacted with each other, while still being productive. I was really surprised by this because that seems like a very big accomplishment for a first grader and I have seen other kids that age struggle with the concept. The gym class was a very different experience all together. It was nice to see the kids interacting with each other in a different way than they would in the classroom. It was much more laid back. Overall my experience visiting Lake Ridge was really great and I feel like a saw a lot of things from a new perspective. I am very much looking forward to going back.
While reading Paulo Freire’s “The Banking Concept of Education” I think the two most important concepts that came up is teachers learning from their students, and just thinking of their students as receptacles. Freire talks a lot about teachers being the source of the data and the students being receptacles for the data. I think that if teachers choose to teach this way, then they are unable to learn from their students. Some of my most prominent thoughts that I had while reading this, is that in my high school experience I have never felt like a receptacle. I find that teachers can learn the most from their students if they choose a teaching style where they can respect their students, look at them as equals, not just receptacles. A very concerning thing that I believe is an issue in schools today is teaching students as they are receptacles. This limits not only the student but the teacher as well. As a future teacher my goal is to look at my students as equals. While I can see how teachers think that using their students as receptacles can be effective, because their students are learning the information, they are limiting how the students can apply the information. The students can get bored and receive the knowledge but then have it go in one ear and out the other. The teacher can also get bored teaching. If the teacher chooses to look at students as an equal they are allowing student to apply their knowledge, and the teacher can learn something new from the students.
Going into the first class field trip to a public middle school I had some assumptions going in. Coming from a private school, I expected to walk into classrooms where the classes seemed huge, and the teacher would be unable to provide accurate attention to each student. My very first impression of the school was that it was incredibly different from my school. I found it to be huge, and the inside seemed overwhelming to me, however as the trip continued I realized that not all my assumptions coming in were correct. I found that in both classrooms I spent time in, the teachers were very involved and wanted to give each student individual attention. While yes, the classes were bigger than my school I was not overwhelmed that the classes were way too big. I was very impressed with how the classrooms were decorated. They had motivational sayings, and I was vey impressed by the one where it was posters asking the students to write what they think the classroom, or teacher should be like. I was also very impressed that school did not believe in using quizzes, instead non-graded checkpoints to see where they were in the learning process. I think a lot of the trip my observations were in comparison to my old school, but I was also able to see the differences and how public schools might not be as different from private schools as I thought.