During this past week, I worked on my inquiry and I worked towards my FEAPs goal 2h: “Adapts the learning environment to accommodate the differing needs and diversity of students.” As I mentioned in my previous blog post, I have chosen six students to work with to determine how I can best accommodate their needs based on their learning styles using research-based methods. During the past week, I observed the students and took anecdotal notes. I was not surprised by my results. The visual and auditory learners in my classroom excelled throughout the day and had little, if any, difficulty paying attention during lessons. The kinesthetic learners; however, struggled when they had to sit down and listen for long periods of times. During read alouds, these students struggled to pay attention and they were frequently distracting other students.
I would like to clarify that this is not a negative comment toward the teaching style of my collaborating teachers. I believe my teachers go above and beyond in accommodating the needs of students. It simply is not possible to differentiate every single lesson that is taught in the classroom. In addition, it would be very difficult to differentiate a read alouds to accommodate kinesthetic learners. The students are too young to benefit from taking notes during the read alouds, but I am looking into other methods of engaging the students during activities like these.
On Monday, I will meet with my collaborating teachers as well as other teachers from the same grade level in a PLC meeting to discuss the plans for the next week. I will work with my collaborating teachers to discuss ideas for pulling the visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learners to accommodate their needs during a lesson. After I work in this small group, I will interview the students to determine whether or not they benefitted from my instructional approach.
During one of my college courses this week, my instructor presented the class with a quote and asked us to reflect on it. This quote really struck me and it connected to an event that occurred in my classroom later on in that same day. The quote is:
“I have come to a frightening conclusion. I am the decisive element in the classroom. It is my personal approach that creates the climate. It is my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher I possess tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated, and a child humanized or de-humanized.” – Haim. G. Ginott
This is a picture of the worksheet that my instructor gave me.
I really like this quote and I fully believe it. I never really thought about what power teachers have until I became an intern. I have observed the reactions that students have to my presence in the classroom and it is astounding. There was one recent incident in my classroom that related to this quote that I want to discuss. I want to make it clear that I will not mention this student by name, I will instead refer to her as A* in order to protect her rights and privacy.
I came into the classroom during the afternoon during math. The team captains were told to pass out the math notebooks for their table groups and I followed the students to make they behaved and that no one got hurt. I was scanning the room but something seemed off so I looked around and saw that one student was on the ground upset and another student, A*, was near her and looked sad. I asked the students what had happened. Although it seemed clear, I wanted to give the students an opportunity to explain themselves and I did not want to jump to conclusions. The girl on the ground said that A* pushed her so I pulled A* aside to speak privately with her. I asked the other student if she was okay and after she said yes, I asked her to return to the other classroom.
A* seemed nervous and I asked her to explain what had happened. A* said that she did not push the other girl and that the other girl fell by herself. Based on the situation and what I had observed, I was pretty sure that there was some mild foul play so I continued to question A*. I told her that it was okay to tell me the truth and that I would not get upset if she told the truth. A* started crying and she admitted that she tried to pull the step stool out from under the other girl so she could reach the math notebooks. I told A* that she was not in trouble but I made sure she understood why she should not do that and that she would not do it again. I comforted A* and helped her stop crying and see that she really was not in trouble. When A* was ready, we went back to the rest of the class and joined the lesson. I talked to my collaborating teachers about the incident a little while later so they could provide any additional advice for me and to check to make sure A* was okay.
In this situation, I held a lot of power even though I did not realize it. I could have ruined A*’s day by having her turn her card or yelling at her. Instead, I made the decision to talk to A* about the situation. I did not see any malicious intent in A*’s actions. A* did not realize the consequences of her actions and instead of yelling at her or punishing her, I talked to her in a calm voice so she could realize what she did wrong and why.
In this situation, I worked on my goal for FEAPs 2B: “Manages individual and class behaviors through a well-planned management system.” In my classroom, students typically turn their card (unless they have a penalized behavior plan) when they get in trouble but I made the decision to give this student a moment to explain herself. When students get in trouble, I usually try to talk to them and allow them to explain themselves before I dole out consequences. I want to make sure that students understand the expectations and that they understand what they did wrong and why before they receive a consequence. If I do not allow my students to have this opportunity, they will be unable to learn from the experience and grow so it does not happen again.
When I reflected on this incident later on that day, I thought about the power that I hold throughout the day in my classroom. I noticed that when I enter the classroom, I put any personal issues that I have out of my head and I focus on the students. If I am tired or upset, I put that aside and focus on helping my students. I always want to put my students first and not let them fall prey to my emotions from a bad day they did not cause. I aim to never let my emotions get the best of me when students misbehave. Rarely does a student have a malicious intent to his or her actions. Students typically want attention when they misbehave and I have observed that they react better to positive attention over negative attention. After this incident I try to keep this quote in my mind so I make sure to treat my students fairly and that I work to “humanize” them instead of letting my emotions and the power that I have in the room get the best of me.