Here is a link to the video reflection I completed during my internship as a student teacher at Salem Church Elementary. With this, I watched a video of myself teaching along with my cooperating teacher and we discussed and reflected upon the merits within it.
The link below is a sample, monthly newsletter for students and parents that I constructed for the home school collaboration and communication class. This particular example focuses on the month of November for a third grade classroom and the potential important events that may be taking place during the month. It features several, short articles highlighting events in the classroom, as well as, a monthly calendar for parents to use. It is formatted as a PDF file for convenience purposes.
This is a piece based on what the class has learned about trauma and how it can affect a child. This is a personal look on how I believe trauma impacts a child’s life, and how I might try and help a child with it.
Trauma Informed Teaching
Trauma is an unfortunate part of life, even more so when it happens to students. It is something that can completely derail a child’s life. And unfortunately, it is prevalent in all walks of life and comes in a variety of different forms. One of these forms can take the shape of poverty. This is an issue that a child, and sometimes their family, cannot control, yet it still impacts them greatly. A student who is living in poverty is unable to afford many of the essentials of life, including; food, clothes, and other necessities. Not only that, but impoverished areas also tend to have more violence and instability, which can also contribute to trauma. Without the essentials of life and a sense of security and safety, child will not be able to preform their best in school. This inability to excel in school manifests in a multitude of different forms, such as an unwillingness to participate, an inability to focus or really absorb information, and even result in aggression at times.
I have actually worked with a student with poverty related trauma and can attest to these ideas. He, the sweetest young man I have even seen, could not for the life of him focus in school. Not only was he always tired or focused on something else, in this case worrying about his mother and how she did not have a job or how they did not have a stable home, but he was also absent repeatedly which further hindered his learning. Usually the absences were health related as well, another result of not having all the essentials he needed. Unfortunately, he moved to a different school before anything could really done to help his situation, but I do hope that he is getting the support that he needs to be successful and get the knowledge he needs to succeed in life.
Another issue surrounding children with trauma could be from violence in the home. This can affect the child similarly how poverty can. Depending on the exact situation, the child could have physical or mental issues, or both, and that affects their work in class. They can lash out in anger and replicate the violence they see, perhaps as a result of not feeling safe at home and unable to feel safe anywhere else. They could also preform poorly with social or academic marks as a result of such trauma. Not matter the actual effect though, it is something that can greatly hinder a student and stunt their development as a person over all.
Personally, I have witnessed this sort of trauma with a student from a class I had no connection to. I had been shadowing the principal when we went to a class to try and calm down a student who was reacting with aggression towards an assignment that he did not want to do. It turned out that he was not feeling well, a result of his mother’s new boyfriend hitting him, and could not care to even attempt his classwork as he was clearly overwhelmed. He was escorted to the nurse’s office and a counselor came to help, though I am sad to say I do not know the specifics or the result of the confrontation.
Although I hope that none of my future students have to experience trauma like I have talked about earlier, I will definitely try and support them should they be going through it. For one, I will work my hardest to be aware of anything that might be happening to a child. It is key to not just assume that a student is a bad student if there is a problem and I will do my best to try and watch out for and be open to the idea that sometimes, children are going through more than we think. I will also do my best to be open with a student who has showcased trauma. I will do my best to make them aware that I am there for them should they ever need anyone to talk to or just need someone to be there. Though, I will also need to be aware of a student’s comfort and work at their pace, not at a pace I want to. I will also do my best to inform my class, as a whole, about trauma or experiences that are not good, but do happen. I will work on trying to build empathy with my students, without singling out anyone, so that they can better understand a classmate who might be different or act strangely because of something that has happened. As a whole for the school community, I will try to help and inform other teachers about trauma in hopes that they too can try and take an understanding approach when working with a student who has an issue. Hopefully, these students will better understand what is happening in their lives, as well as that at school, there is a supportive, caring family that is there for them when they need it.
Child Trauma Toolkit for Educators. (2008). Retrieved from https://wmich.edu/sites/default/files/attachments/u57/2013/child-trauma-toolkit.pdf
Above is a link to an article, created by the US Department of Health and Human Services, that I could use to help benefit children who have suffered through trauma. It offers a multitude of insights on not only what to do to try and help a student in need because of trauma based situations, but also what trauma can look like in its different forms and in children off all different ages. I could use it to be able to better pinpoint and be aware of what trauma based behaviors in children might look like, thus being able to intervene and help them sooner. It would also act to help children because it would allow me to have, in my own resources, more strategies and approaches that I could use to help a child try and cope with whatever issues they are dealing with. It would allow for a more diverse set of ideas that I could use in case the first attempt I make to help a student does not go as planned. Overall, this resource will let me help the children and benefit their well being because it will help me to better understand what to do and what to look out for.
This is a personal piece in which I formed my own thoughts on classroom management and discipline when teaching. It is an in depth analysis of my own thinking in regards to the subject, that helped to better understand how I would approach classroom management and hope to do so in my future classroom.
Beginning Philosophy of Classroom Management and Discipline
Like everything else in the world, schooling and a formal education hold a purpose. Such a purpose may not be as straight forward as others, for example the purpose of fish having gills is so that they are able to breathe underwater, but nonetheless, it is present within all forms of schooling. The purpose behind schooling or education is to help teach students about all the different aspects of the world, and to help them to reach a sense of purpose in the world, in which they know who they are and what they want to achieve in their life with the knowledge that they gain from their schooling both academically and generally. As such, a teacher’s role works to attain this goal. A teacher’s role is to guide his or her students to towards gaining that understanding of the world through their learning of various subjects and content, and to help students form ideas and perspectives about the world and themselves. They work to help their pupils grow in knowledge and understanding.
A good portion of the teacher’s job, as they work towards enlightening their students, is classroom management. This is, in the words of Carolyn M. Evertson and Edmund T. Emmer (2017, p.1), the actions and strategies that an educator uses to manage or guide class behavior. It is something that is critical to teaching, but how it is practiced within a classroom varies from teacher to teacher. There are many factors that can influence it as well, one of the biggest being a person’s socio-cultural background. For myself, I know that my own perspective on classroom management is indeed influenced by my own background. Because of this background, my ideas on management are very focused on organization and procedure. My family and my background, Chinese American, have traditionally always placed a heavy emphasis on perfection, a cultural trait, and to attain such perfection one must be well organized, know what to do, and be well prepared. I know that I will be sure to teach my students procedures for everything, and that we will practice them until everyone understands, as well as I know I will strive for organization in the classroom, teaching my students to be so as well in an attempt to help them to reach a ‘perfection’ for themselves in which they are doing the best that they are able to, even if it really is not perfect. I am well aware, however, that perfection does not exist, and I will not pressure my students into trying to obtain it. I will no doubt aim to be organized and make sure they know how to do everything, but I will not force them to be perfect. They will be in school, after all, and my job is to help them learn and grow, not judge them on little imperfections. No one is perfect and to try and force someone into that mold is not proactive. Instead, I will work with my students so that we can maximize our learning time with good management, and in turn, hopefully help them to be the very best that they can and learn all that they can while still making it fun and avoiding unnecessary stress of trying to be absolutely perfect.
Of all the different aspects of classroom management, one of the most important is discipline. And being so, it is important for every teacher to have an understanding of what kind of approach to discipline, and classroom management in general, they would use within their classroom. I, personally, would like to manage and discipline my class with a more authoritative based approach. This idea meaning that I would like there to be structure and order in my classroom with a clear notion that I am an adult and am in charge, while at the same time still giving students opportunity to grow without too much of a heavy hand on their shoulders and showing them warmth. I would want my students to understand there are rules that everyone needs to follow, but at the same time, feel comfortable in my class, even if they do make a mistake, and that what I ask of them is to help them to learn and better themselves.
Some specific strategies I would use to try and reinforce this idea of an authoritative environment would include something like providing the necessary instruction for an activity to resolve minor behavioral issues. Often times, students act out because they do not understand the task at hand (Evertson & Emmer, 2017, p. 233). And as such, simply clarifying what is expected can resolve any issues. Words are powerful, as Paula Denton (2013) mentions in The Power of Our Words, and so it is important that we use them as needed to convey things directly and clearly, and to avoid unnecessary behavioral misconduct. Another strategy I would employ for minor instances would be to give non-verbal ques. Just as words are powerful, silence can be as well. In many cases, just giving a student who is off task a look or a gentle brush on the shoulder is enough to get them to refocus and continue on track. It offers a way to avoid further distraction and discretely resolves the problem itself. For more difficult issues, I would try withholding a privilege. It is a more serious repercussion that teaches the student that they need to change their behavior without actually interfering with their learning or their necessary actions for the day, like recess or lunch. Taking a privilege away could be as simple as not allowing a student to draw after a quiz and having them read instead. It is something academic, but also proves a point of needing to follow what is expected while not devaluing the actual activity that needs to be refocused on such as a reward incentive might do (Mercier, 2015). This strategy is clear cut and always for direct, easily understood consequences for inappropriate actions. And for extreme instances of problems in my class, I would try to use problem solving. It may sound very simple, but actually sitting down and working a major issue out with a child can effectively resolve it. It not only allows for direct communication with a student, but also exhibits to a child that you care for them. You are willing, and happy, to take time out of your day to work with them to get to the bottom of an issue and resolve it. There are of course many more strategies that can be used in classroom management to keep a serene, almost chaos free class, but these are simply a few that I feel are particularly effective, especially for the approach I would like to use.
A balanced, authoritative management approach is extremely important to use in a classroom. I can attest to such by way of experience. Within my practicum class this semester, I saw this approach being used daily to keep a class on track and flowing smoothly. For example, my cooperative teacher would often redirect students and make suggests, which were not really suggests, that they should continue whatever piece of work they were supposed to be focused on. She was sure to be stern with what she wanted them to do, while still being warm. She was always happy to help when they really did need it, but there was a clear line of authority and the students held respect for that. My cooperative teacher was also sure to be clear with her instructions, even amending them on the spot when the class did not understand them at first. She knew what they needed to stay on track and do their best, and did her best to cater to those needs. Over all, she exemplified the sort of classroom management philosophy that I hope to be able to implement into my own classroom one day. With a stern, but loving approach, I know that I will be able to guide my students in their learning and help them to achieve their greatest results.
Denton, P. (2013). The Power of Our Words, 2nd Edition: Center for Responsive Schools, Inc.
Evertson, C. & Emmer, Edmund T. (2017). Classroom Management for Elementary Teachers, 10th Edition: Pearson Education.
Mercier, T. (2015). Teaching Without Using Rewards, Retrieved from https://www.responsiveclassroom.org/teaching-without-rewards/
This is an essay created for classroom management that showcases my thoughts on what some of the procedures and activities for the first few days of school might look like in my future classroom. They work to show the various techniques that I hope to employ in order to help students adjust to a new school year.
First Days of School
Part I: During one of the first days of school, I would work with my third graders to create a responsive classroom by incorporating several different activities, including; a morning meeting, two energizers, a read aloud, and a closing circle, into their day.
I would begin with the morning meeting. I would start by having the class greet one another. But before I let them do anything, I would tell them about the greeting, model it by greeting all of them with something like ‘Good morning, I’m glad to see you’re here’, and ask them what they thought about it. I would then have a few volunteers try a greeting, and we would talk about that before finally having the whole class give it a shot, after which I would give feedback. I would tell them to then turn to their neighbor and welcome them. We would then move onto sharing, where I would tell them that we should share something about our lives, while explaining that it needed to be appropriate, and then, like before, run them through a process of me modeling before we got into the real sharing. The group activity would also follow this process, and would include a quick game of hot potato with a small bean bag. When the song would stop, the person holding the bean bag would tell the class something that they hoped to learn. The meeting would end with the message, that I would make sure to have posted. It would say something like ‘Let’s put our best feet forward to make sure that we start of the year great’.
For the two energizers, I would have the class dance along to a song, the Cha-cha Slide where the singer calls out different moves in a song and students must follow along, as well as have them play a game of Up Down, Stop Go, in which students have listen to the instructor give step and do the opposite, for example up would mean reach down, while also keeping up with the sequence. These would incorporate some movement and enjoyment into the class to help break up long bouts of sitting. But before we got into them, I would have to be sure to go over what I expected of the class during the activities. I would, like before, model how we are supposed to move and act, being respectful and controlled with our bodies, before allowing them do comment, model with a few individuals, and eventually model with the whole class.
The read aloud would consist of the first chapter of a book called Save Me a Seat by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan. It is a chapter book that focuses on two students each starting a new year at a school and how they grow to become friends. It would be a good text that would help the students to relate to something, as they are starting a new year too. Before we started to read though, I would explain how I would want the class to act while I read. I would then procedure to show them how to get up quietly and move to the rug before sitting down with my legs crossed and my hands in my lap. I would remain quiet for a moment before explain that they should remain quiet and hold any questions for after the reader is. I would also explain that should the class should be respectful of others. Then I would allow some volunteers to show me what a good listener looks like before having the class comment and try it out themselves. Only after they had gotten the procedure down, would I then read them the first chapter of the book.
Finally, for the closing circle I would have the class join me on the rug, following the procedure they learned for the read aloud, before telling the students that we were going to end the day by thinking about what we have learned. I would give them an example, mentioning what I learned about them that day, and then ask for a few students to also model what they learned. As they finished, I would go around the rug and have each student share something before asking if they had anything they wanted to tell me about the day or the closing circle.
Part II: For the most part, my teacher has provided strong scaffolding to allow her class to meet the goals of a responsive classroom. She has worked to create a warm environment where students are comfortable and know they are cared for. At the same time, the students know how to behave and what is expected of them academically and procedurally. Such is evident by the students doing exactly what they are asked. Very rarely will my teacher have to stop and redirect them. For example, the students know how get something from their cubbies, like their whiteboards, in an orderly fashion, with the flow of traffic all going the same way. At the same time, the students are clearly comfortable with the class. Everyone is not only willing to learn, but happy to do. The only real area that could use some more support is with maintaining an appropriate noise level. There are times where the class becomes too loud, and it takes a few reminders to get them to stay at the right level. But despite that, my practicum teacher has clearly spent time working with her students on procedures and expectations as well as getting to know them to help create a responsive class.
My practicum teacher does use teaching language that includes reinforcing, reminding, and redirecting. And while she does a good job using it in an effective, appropriate way, there are instances in which she could improve. One time, in particular, was when she tried to quiet a group of students down during centers. She went out of her way to point out they were rude, not their actions, and over explained why they were so. Instead of that, she could have tried another approach that would have been more effective. For example, she could have simply used more direct, reminding language and said that they needed to be quiet. She also could have phrased it as a question and asked them if it was appropriate to talk during centers. That way, she would have avoided giving the students the impression that they were rude or bad students, while still achieving the desired result.
This is a project that was created for classroom management. It showcases my ideas on what an ideal classroom would look like, as well as why I chose to set up a room in such a way. It contains my thoughts on all of the different aspects that should be present within a classroom that supports optimal student growth.
Classroom Design Exploration and Practicum Classroom Reflection
When designing a classroom, it is very important to consider Steele’s Six Functions of the Classroom Setting. As such, I tried my best to implement them when creating a classroom for fourth grade. First, I made arrangements for groups of four desks with a supply station in the center of each. These groups would help to encourage social contact between students, while also facilitating task instrumentality with the supplies easily accessible. The desks would also act as vessels for growth. They were placed so that all students could see the board with ease, and the seats could also be turned, of course after some training, so that class could have a whole group discussion. Growth was also supported with the stations in the room. The computer station, the library, the listening center, and the writing center would all aim to engage students and grow their learning with meaningful, differentiated activities. These group work areas would also promote a sense of pleasure and security with the addition of items like rugs, lamps, bean bag chairs, and other homely things. Coupled with my own personal items, around the teacher’s desk, some posters, and student art, the room would give students a sense of comfort along with symbolic identification. They would be able to see not only some of me in the room, but themselves as well, which would create a sense of individuality and belonging. Finally, I emphasized security and shelter again by planning out routes around the room and making sure there was a place for the students to line up. Everyone would have a place and would know how to move around. All in all, I did my best to try and create a room that was everything the students needed without being too much.
Outside of my own design and thoughts for a classroom, I was able to visit my practicum classroom and see another teacher’s ideas as well. I have to say that over all, I was very impressed with my practicum teacher’s room. The set up promoted security and warmth, the desks were placed to help task instrumentality and social contact, and so on. I could see everyone of Steele’s functions being implemented into the room’s design. What really stood out to me, though, was the teacher’s desk. The desk itself was actually a table typically used for small group work. The teacher had her side, with her laptop on it, and made sure to keep the rest open and clear for students, who were able come and sit down when they needed to ask for help or talk about something. It was just a design that I felt was instrumental to making sure that the students felt secure and comfortable in the room. They knew they could go to their teacher and were welcome into her space, which will make it easier for them to talk to her over the course of the year. She helped to establish a sense of trust, which will help both her and her students avoid and resolve issues quickly and help promote more time in learning.
While most everything was set up very nicely, there were a few areas that I feel could be strengthened in the teacher’s room. One particular area was with the lighting. The room itself was very dim, even with lights on, and so I feel adding a few lamps or another light source could help to improve this. This could help with pleasure, giving the room a new, softer atmosphere, as well as with security and shelter, in which more light might make students feel more comfortable, especially those afraid of the dark, or keep sleepy heads more alert. Over all, students would have more comfort and a better ability to focus. And with more focus and attention, the students would better be able to take in what is being taught. They would be getting the most they could out of their time at school by learning all that they could without unnecessary distractions.
This is a written assignment for Classroom Management that showcases what I have learned in the class about rules and procedures. Not only did I explain what each is, but created my own rules and procedures for several different elements within a school day that will, hopefully, be implemented into my own classroom one day.
Part I: Rules
Rules are simply a set of general ideals or expectations about how one should behave. They are simple in concept, but should not be confused for procedures. A rule is an expectation put in place that one should adhere to, while a procedure is means in which to achieve this rule.
In my own, future classroom I will try to develop rules in a logical way. First, I will review the school handbook and look at what is expected. Then I will try to create general, classroom rules based on this. It should work to satisfy whole school expectations and my own all in one. Then, once I have a list, I will present them to my class and have them help decide if they are; good and clear, realistic and doable, and ones that the students feel are necessary. Once we have had a discussion about rules, I will write them down and post them where everyone can see them. I will then finish by explaining that these rules are for everyone, including myself, and that we are all not only expected to follow them, but should take pride in upholding them to make our class the best class it can be.
Rules For My Classroom: 1. Be Prepared; 2. Show Respect for Yourself and Others; 3. Follow All School Rules; 4. Do Your Best
Part II: Procedures
- Going to the Restroom
- Procedure: Stay in seat and raise your hand to ask to use the restroom; Wait until the teacher or a classmate is finished talking; Only ask to go when you really need to; Wait for others to come back from bathroom before asking; Be prompt and quiet
- Teaching the Procedure: First, I would simply explain that we have procedures for using the bathroom and then share with them the info listed above. Then, I would roleplay for them how and how not to ask to use the restroom and have the class discuss why we would do it one way and not the other. After that, I would ask if everyone understood and clarify discrepancies.
- Storing Personal Items
- Procedure: Keep unneeded items in backpack; Keep supplies for the day inside or on desk; Keep desktops and backpack area neat; Be respectful of others’ property
- Collecting Homework
- Procedure: Place homework on desk when asked; Wait quietly for it to be collected by teacher or classmate; Be honest about not doing or finishing it
- Teaching the Procedure: For this, I would simply have the students watch as I modeled how to place homework for collecting. I would sit in a desk and have a student collect my work, before finishing up by telling them the info above and answering any questions.
- What to do when Assignments have been Completed
- Procedure: Stay seated; Remain quiet; Keep hands to self; Allow classmates to finish their work; Read a book or work on homework or any other allowed activities
- During whole-class lessons
- Procedure: Stay seated; Be alert and listen to speaker; Raise hand and wait to be called on to answer questions; Remain quiet; Sit up straight; Keep hands still and eyes on speaker; Wait for lesson to finish to ask something
- During Transitions
- Procedure: Remain quiet; Move quickly and carefully; Be mindful of other’s personal space; Listen for directions from the teacher before moving
- Teaching the Procedure: I would start by telling the students how to transition and what I expect of them. Then, I would model it myself with a few volunteers. After that I would have the whole class model it with me. I would have them stand up and move around, making sure we practiced a few times so that everyone understands what good transitions look like.