Tag Archives: Continuous Professional Improvement

Reading Content Coaching – Second Observation Reflection

It has been a few weeks since I have posted. The week of March 2nd through the 6th was the USF Spring Break; however, I still came to internship on Monday and I was a substitute on Thursday and Friday, all of which were great experiences. The following week was the Hillsborough County Spring Break, and the past week I had my second and final reading content coaching observation.

I was really excited going into my shared reading lesson because I wanted to focus on what I discussed in the previous post-conference, which was making sure to use intonation and emphasis by reading the story with emotion. I had my observation on Tuesday, March 17th. We read the story “Little Rabbit’s Tale” from the Journeys text, which has the same storyline as Chicken Little. The rabbit is outside and when the wind blows, an apple hits his head and he thinks the sky is falling so he warns all of his friends and they tell his mother but she shows him the truth and he apologizes for making his friends miss out on different activities. The focus of my lesson was to analyze the author’s purpose for writing the story to determine what lesson thee author wanted to teach us.

1

One thing that I used to struggle with is my presence in front of any group of people. I remember shaking when I gave a book report in the 6th grade even though I had a poster board and was reading off of an index card because I just got so nervous speaking in front of people. Throughout the years, I have taken many steps to remedy this by making myself raise my hand and share my thoughts and present in front of others. I even went so far as to take a Public Speaking course at USF to give myself more practice. During my internship experience, I have had few problems, if any, speaking to students because I am truly passionate about helping them be successful so I focus on them instead of my own worries.

Part of this former fear; however, still lingered when I read texts because I did not read with enough emotion, so this time I made sure that really got into the text. I simply took everything out of my mind except for teaching and giving my students the best experience possible with the book.

2

For example, when the apple hits Little Rabbit, the text reads “Thump!” in large, red letters so each time I read that word, I leaned in next to a student and shouted while hitting the desk. The reaction from my students was immediately obvious—they laughed and became instantly engaged, which was great because I drew their attention in on the very first page. I kept reading the story like this, acting it out as well by skipping through the room like the characters as they “dashed” in the story. I also cheered “Hooray!” and jumped up like the characters.

I discussed this experience with both my collaborating teacher and the reading content coach. I was, and of course still am, very excited and I thought that I did a good job and I was pleased to discover that both my CT and the reading coach felt the same way. The reading content coach praised me for working on the skill that we had discussed and making such immediate and apparent improvement with the skill.

This current week is testing for students so I will be unable to teach reading since the testing takes up the entire morning; however, my goal is to take the lead on teaching and planning reading. For the entire last week, I took the lead on teaching the literacy block based on lesson plans that my collaborating teacher and I made together. During this week, I took the lead on planning all of the literacy block (phonics, shared reading, and writing) and I will be taking the lead on teaching it as well. My collaborating teacher will still provide support when necessary but we both agree that by taking the lead, I am gaining valuable experiences that will help me so much in the future when I am a teacher.

During this past week I also took the lead on teaching mathematics and science. The science unit that we have been learning is about living and nonliving things and we will be transitioning into plants and animals next week. In mathematics, my students learned how to tell time on both digital and analog clocks to the hour and half-hour. Although I did not plan these lesson, I taught all of the lessons on time and then gave the assessment on Friday. I am very proud to announce that out of 17 students (1 student was absent) all of my students passed with a 71% or higher on the exam. I then recorded all of this data on an excel spreadsheet that organizes it to show the scores of the students, what percentage of students got the question correct, and how many students missed each question, which allowed me to meet FEAP 4F: “Applies technology to organize and integrate assessment information.” Looking at the results, I noticed that some students still have misconceptions that I will be addressing with them during this week in the time after testing but I am so proud of my students and I am really happy to see the clear results of my teaching.

I will be taking the lead on planning mathematics for the upcoming week and I will be taking the lead on teaching it as well. I will have my mathematics content coaching observation on Wednesday. According to the district calendar, the next unit is 3D shapes but during a Professional Learning Communities (PLC) meeting with all of the first grade teachers at my school, we decided it would be more developmentally appropriate to do 2D shapes next and then 3D shapes.

I was so excited to finally have an opportunity to take the lead on teaching all subject areas. For the remainder of my internship, I hope to take the lead on both planning and teaching all subject areas (with some assistance from my collaborating teacher) to help me improve my teaching skills. I am so thankful for the support from my collaborating teacher, my instructors, and the content coaches for helping me achieve this.

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Weekly Reflection 2-24-14 – 2-28-14

 This week I had a meeting with my collaborating teacher concerning my goals for the FEAPs. I had looked at the FEAPs by myself on multiple occasions and I had selected some goals that I thought I would be able to meet. I presented these possibilities to my collaborating teacher today along with some evidence that I would use to support these goals. We decided on the goals that I will be working towards and so I am sending them to you in this email to be discussed tomorrow during out meeting.

For FEAP 1, “Instructional Design and Lesson Planning. Applying concepts from human development and learning theories, the effective educators consistently …”

  •  a) Aligns instruction with state-adopted standards at the appropriate level or rigor.

In order to meet this goal, I would like to look at the standards for the lessons that I have been working on, such as Word Wizard, so I can see how standards are integrated into lessons. I would like to design my own lesson which would consist of a read aloud and then a written response from the students. I would like to start by performing a regular interactive read aloud for pleasure and then working towards a lesson that is aligned with a standard.

For FEAP 2, “The Learning Environment. To maintain a student-centered learning environment that is safe, organized, equitable, flexible, inclusive, and collaborative, the effective educator consistently…”

  • b) Manages individual and class behaviors through a well-planned management system.

I have currently been doing this in my classroom and so I thought this would be a great goal for me since I have been working towards this throughout the year. In my classroom, there are a variety of methods used to manage behavior. Some students have specific behavior plans and when a student misbehaves, then he or she receives a warning which is marked on his or her card and/or a letter is taken away from his or her name which is written on the board in dry erase marker. If a student receives too many warnings, then he or she changes his or her color from green to yellow, then to orange, and finally to red. I have already been using this system with the students. I have taken letters away, written down the warnings on their specific cards, and made them change their colors in response to misbehavior. I have also been documenting the amount of warnings they receive and the colors that they end up on.

For FEAP 2, there is another goal that I would like to work towards that relates to my Inquiry question and the culminating assignment of this semester called the Story of My Professional Learning, which is a video that documents my progress throughout the semester and the inquiry that I have researched/performed.

  • h) Adapts the learning environment to accommodate the differing needs and diversity of students

My Inquiry Question is: “How do I accommodate for the visual, kinesthetic, and oral learning styles of my students in social studies, math, and English?” I believe that by working towards my inquiry, I will also be able to meet this FEAPs goal.

There are a variety of ways for me to meet this goal but one lesson that I have been teaching for the past two weeks called “Word Wizard” works very well for accommodating the learners in my classroom. Every day, the students have the option of choosing the job to be the “Word Wizard” for the day. In the morning, the Word Wizard goes to the front of the classroom and he or she chooses the methods in which we will spell out our current sight words. For the past two weeks, our sight words have been “play,” “little,” “and,” and “is.”

AA
The students can see and read the words on their index cards and then we say the words, spell them multiple times, and use them in a sentence.

AAB
My collaborating teacher has all of the index cards already written out along with matching sentences. This is a picture of the sentences for all of our current sight words for Word Wizard. Below are close-ups of the sentences.

AAC
Above is the sentences for “is.”

 AAD
This is the sentence for “little.”

 AAE
This is the sentence for “play.”

 AAF
This is the sentence for “and.”

Then, we spell the words based on the two methods that the Word Wizard has chosen. These methods are fun ways to act out spell a word. For example, for “movie star kisses,” students blow a kiss into the air for ever letter and then wave when they say the word. This lesson accommodates for oral and kinesthetic learners but there is little for visual learners since the words are written on index cards. I just asked my collaborating teacher today if I could make a poster using chart paper and write the words on this so they are larger and clearer. The Word Wizard could also trace the words when we spell them the first time so the students get to see how to properly write out the letters. My collaborating teacher loved this idea and I just made the poster and I will be introducing the concept in class before the meeting.

 AAG

When I performed Word Wizard on Friday, I pulled aside the Word Wizard and I discussed this new concept. He was really excited about the idea of tracing the words. He was able to accurately trace the letters; however, he traced the letters slower than we said the letters. I was a bit distracted because I wanted the students to be able to see the Word Wizard trace the letters as the class said each letter; however, I do not believe this will always be possible and I want students to be focused on orally spelling out and saying the words. I believe it will be easier to use this addition as I get used to being in the front of the classroom and performing Word Wizard.

My collaborating teacher who normally performs Word Wizard will finally be returning to the classroom on Monday so I will have a discussion with her about how my involvement in Word Wizard will continue for the rest of the semester. I would love to practice team teaching with her but I am not sure if I will completely take over Word Wizard when I am available in the mornings or if we will simply co-teach. I would be very happy with either option.

For FEAPs 5: “Continuous Professional Improvement. The effective educator consistently…”

  • b) Examines and uses data-informed research to improve instruction and student achievement

This goal also incorporates my Inquiry and my Story of My Professional Learning. My goal is to incorporate the research that I find for my inquiry into the classroom in order to meet my goal for FEAPs 2h. I believe this that goal is very straightforward because I will find research, study it in my personal time, and then take what I have learned from the research and implement it into the classroom.

I will continuously track my goals and collect evidence of my actions towards my goals. I am currently video taping and taking pictures of everything that I possibly can in the classroom. I am very excited to have these goals to guide me, especially since I have been already working on some of these goals.

Weekly Reflection 10/7/13 – 10/11/13

This week I would like to discuss the Florida Educator Accomplished Practices (FEAPs) and my work towards each of the FEAPs so far in my classroom.

The first FEAP that I would like to discuss is under the fifth heading: “Continuous Professional Improvement” and the goal is to “use a variety of data, independently, and in collaboration with colleagues, to evaluate learning outcomes, adjust planning and continuously improve the effectiveness of the lesson.” Last week, I attended my first PLC, or Professional Learning Community. My CT (collaborative teacher) and I discussed my attendance to this meeting when we discussed the FEAPs on September 19th, 2013. The meeting took place on October 3rd, 2013 and it began at approximately 7:40am. I arrived at my school very early that day so I would be ready for the meeting; however, the conference room was dark and no one was there so I was nervous. I asked a few of the staff in the office about the PLC and two women confirmed there was a PLC but they each said different grade levels. There was a PLC for my grade level (which will not be discussed in order to protect the privacy and rights of my teacher as well as my students) that day and after I had asked the two women in the front office about the PLC, some of the teachers had arrived for the PLC.

The Professional Learning Community was about the topic of reading levels. My CT and I agreed that it would be beneficial for me to attend this meeting because I watched her perform some DRAs (Developmental Reading Assessments) of the students as well as helping during FAIR testing.

The PLC was led by the reading specialist and she discussed a variety of topic. The first item that she mentioned was fluency. Sometimes students struggle with fluency but the reason behind this struggle can be confusing. The reading specialist showed a graphic organizer to remind us of the various reasons for fluency issues. This chart will be shown below:

fluency

The reading specialist emphasized that a teacher must consider that fluency problems can be caused by a variety of issues and that as teachers, we must discover what each student need helps with. We also discussed that for most students if they have fluency issues they will most likely have little or not comprehension of the text that they are reading. So if a student has a poor score in the fluency section of the FAIR test as well as a low score in the comprehension part, then the comprehension may be suffering due to a lack of fluency and the teacher should focus more on fluency than comprehension, if he or she can see that fluency is the major issue. A teacher must compare data from other assessments, such as DRA, to determine if fluency is an issue or if the formatting of FAIR may have influenced the results.

We discussed the FAIR data of all of the students. The teachers had to find all of the students at and under the 30th percentile rating for the fluency and word analysis sections. The teachers also had to figure out which students scored at the 40th percentile and below for comprehension on FAIR. All students who fall into this category need interventions. We discussed a variety of interventions such as having the students go to the computer lab in the morning to learn and work on specific skills. Another tool mentioned was the Fluency First book. This book provides a variety of texts that allows the reader to practice his or her fluency.

When discussing the word analysis section of FAIR, a variety of strategies were mentioned to help with spelling. The first of which is to teach students spelling for words that have different spellings with the same sound. My CT introduced this into my classroom over the past two weeks. The students learned about workings that make the long “i” sound such as “ties,” “bright,” “fight,” “buy,” etc. I graded the spelling tests for my class and (although a few were absent and did not take the test at that point in time) everyone that I graded received at least an 80% on the test and showed significant improvement in their spelling as compared to the pretest.

Another strategy that was mentioned was to teach students If they are not sure how to spell a word to write the word out in different ways. For example, if a student was trying to spell the word “bay,” he or she could try:

          bay                          beigh                               bai

The student would then have to decide which word looks correct. In the example above, the student should chose the “bay” spelling of the word. This is an interesting strategy; however, since it requires the student to have an idea of how the word should look, it may not always work for all students.

This PLC was very insightful. The reading specialist constantly reminded the teachers that we must look at each student individually and compare what we have found from assessments such as FAIR and DRAs as well as what we have observed in class.

I went to another PLC on Monday. As I have mentioned in previous posts, every Monday all of the teachers of the same grade level meet up and discuss the lessons for the upcoming week. This week, we discussed math as well as science.

In math, we discussed the lessons concerning the Associative Property, the Distributive Property and Combinations. The students would learn about how to multiply 7s and 9s. I asked if the teachers taught the “finger method” of multiplying by nine. In this method, students hold up all ten fingers.

finger counting 1

The student puts down the finger which is the factor that is being multiplied by 9. The finger that the student puts down is counted from the left to right. So for example, if the problem was 9 * 2=___ the student would count two fingers from his or her left hand. He or she would put down his or her left ring finger (marked by an “X” in the picture).

finger counting 2

Then the student counts how many fingers are on the left side of the “down” finger. In this example, we have one finger. Each finger on the left side equals ten. So in this case we have ten so far. Now the student counts the number of fingers on the right side of the “down” finger. The student would see that he or she has eight raised fingers. This number is in the single digits. Now the student combines the two numbers, 10 + 8, which equals 18. So the student would learn that 9 * 2 = 18.

I was very eager to contribute this strategy; however, I was glad to see that the teachers already use this strategy.

The teachers discussed having a small quiz as well as making a test. My CT was concerned about having two math tests in a week, as would be needed for the schedule. Eventually the teachers designed the test that would cover the entire lesson and they pulled questions out of the math books and discussed whether or not their students would be able to answer the questions based on the lesson. When the teachers discussed science, they did virtually the same thing. The teachers had been teaching the students about energy and they were ready for a test. They chose questions from a few different sources as well as an exam that they had used last year. They discussed whether or not students would know the answer to the questions based on the lessons and how the lessons were taught. For example, the teachers decided that the students most likely would not understand what “work” means because the teachers did not use that word in class.

We also discussed a science lesson that my teacher had created and implemented last week. This lesson consisted of the students working together in a group using flashlights to discover how light works. The students would receive a basket with four mirrors, a piece of paper with a hole in the middle, a piece of aluminum foil and a flashlight. A picture of a bullseye was taped to the wall. The students were directed to stand facing the opposite direction of the bullseye and get the flashlight to hit the bullseye.

light experiement

The students would accomplish this by using a mirror to reflect the light. This was the first of five challenges that the students were given to complete. The students only had to complete the first two challenges and make diagrams of what they did in order to receive credit for the lesson.

My CT and I practiced this experiment together after school one day to make sure that everything was feasible. I personally really liked the experiment and the students seemed to enjoy it as well. The students were very creative and most picked up on what they had to do immediately.

My CT and I discussed our experiences with this lesson to the other teachers and we discussed the lesson. The other teachers decided that they would like to do this lesson as well. My CT and I agreed that the students needed to have a longer period of exploration time than what they had in our class. The best idea would be to have students explore on the first day. One the second day, the students would read a few pages in their science textbook and learn that light reflects and travels in a straight line.

During the past two weeks, I have done a lot in order to meet the standards of the Florida Educator Accomplished Practices. I hope to continue to learn and grow as I work with other professionals in my field. I will be attending the next PLCs with my teacher so that I can continue to meet the FEAP under the fifth heading, which is “use a variety of data, independently, and in collaboration with colleagues, to evaluate learning outcomes, adjust planning and continuously improve the effectiveness of the lesson.”

 

Acknowledgments

  • The image of the hands was taken from Google Images. I was unable to locate the original source of the image. The blue outline of the hands with the numbers, the first picture of the hands, is the original image. I added to the image for the second appearance of the image in this blog post.
  • The MS Paint pictures were created by me.

Weekly Reflection – 9/23/13-9/27/13

Weekly Reflection – 9/23/13-9/27/13

*Please note that in order to protect the privacy of my collaborating teacher (CT) and my students, I will not mention the name of the school, students or the teacher. I will also avoid mentioning the grade level of my classroom. This is done to protect the rights and privacy of everyone that I work with.*

This week, I had a meeting with my Partnership Resource Teacher (PRT) and my collaborating teacher (CT) about making goals for myself for the rest of this semester. Before I talk about this meeting, I would like to clarify what PRT and CT are. As I have mentioned before, my CT is the teacher whose classroom I intern at every single day. My PRT is one of my professors who works with all of the students that are interning at a specific school.

This meeting was about the Florida Educator Accomplished Practices (FEAPs). I had talked with my CT before this meeting about what goals I could set for myself under the FEAPs. We had decided that under the second subheading, “The Learning Environment. To maintain a student-centered learning environment that is safe, organize, equitable, flexible, inclusive, and collaborative,” I would focus on “model[ing] clear, acceptable oral and written communication skills.” In order to complete this goal, I will perform a read aloud as well as modeling a writing assignment for my students. I will also consistently model clear directions that I communicate throughout the day for activities such as lining up, ‘getting ready for the day’ (our classroom term for students getting homework out form last night and copying down the homework for tonight into their agenda), etc.  As I do this, I will also “convey high expectations to all students.” I will do this throughout the day with everything that I do in the classroom.

During the meeting with my PRT and my CT, we discussed these FEAPs in greater detail, discussing what I would specifically do to meet my goals, what I would need, and how I will be assessed. We talked about me watching my CT perform a read aloud and then performing one myself. My CT will be reading a Halloween picture book for October and then tie this reading into a writing assignment by having students write a narrative using creepy and gross words and phrases. I will be going to the school library to try to find another good Halloween book. If I find one, then I will do a read aloud with that book; otherwise, I will probably read the second half of the picture book that she already chose.

At that meeting, we also decided that I will be in charge of one of the reading groups in my class. For this reading group, I will focus on historical fiction because many of the students in that group prefer to read fictional book in their spare time with a few nonfiction/informational books. The first book that I will use is Number the Stars by Lois Lowry. In order to make sure that my students will be able to fluently read and comprehend this book, I will perform ‘Running Records’ on my students. I learned about Running Records at a faculty meeting that I attended this week. A Running Record is basically having a student read about 100 words and tracking their fluency through their phrasing, rate, punctuation, and expression. After the student reads the passage, the teacher asks the student a few questions that deal with comprehension. These questions help test whether the student understand the story elements, can organize the events of the story, his or her interpretation of the story and whether or not the student needed prompting to answer the questions. So far, I have performed two Running Records on two students. My teacher performed Running Records for these students as well and we compared our answers and how we would assess each of these students. So far, we have decided that Number the Stars is an appropriate text for these students. I will perform Running Records on the remaining students in my reading group and then we will start reading Number the Stars.

I am not sure what other books I will use with my students later on in the year, but I am extremely excited about working with these students. The Running Records were a bit difficult to assess at first because the students read very quickly; however, the guidance from my CT as well as all of the information I learned during the faculty meeting really prepared me for performing a Running Record. I will also do a Running Record of a student in the class that I am mentoring. (I talked about this student in a previous post, referring to her under the pseudonym, Amanda. (As I mentioned earlier, I will only refer to this student with a pseudonym in order to protect her rights and her privacy.)

Under the fifth heading “Continuous Professional Improvement” my goal is to “use a variety of data, independently, and in collaboration with colleagues, to evaluate learning outcomes, adjust planning and continuously improve the effectiveness of the lesson.” I will do this by attending a PLC meeting next week where the teachers will discuss the FAIR results of their students and plan lessons based on this data. I have already been attending meetings each week where all of the teachers of the same grade* get together and discuss the lessons they have already taught and what worked and what needs more work, where they are in terms of the standards that guide their lessons and how much time they need to complete their lessons, and what methods other teachers can use and what they need to do for the next lessons. I have not yet contributed to these meetings; however, I am learning a lot about how teachers work together constantly to help teach students to the best of their abilities.

One example of teacher to teacher collaboration put into practice dealt with learning multiplication and division. Last week, my CT was having problems teaching my students how to use a number line to perform repeated addition/subtraction, which would help the students figure out a multiplication or division equation for the problem. My CT discussed how her students liked the drawing picture or using manipulatives (little blocks that can be used to represent items in a problem) in order to figure out multiplication and division problems. The other teacher did not have this problem, and so she mentioned how she had modeled using a number line multiple times in order to help her students learn how to use them. My CT listened to this advice and the next day, she modeled how to use manipulatives and then a number line. She used repeated subtraction written in an alternate way in order to explain the problem. I will explain with equations below.

The problem was about taking 12 objects and diving it by 2. Normally repeated subtraction looks like this:

12 – 2 – 2 – 2 – 2 – 2 – 2 = 0

          The students would then count how many times 2 was subtracted, and they would get the answer as 6. The students; however, had problems transferring this to a number line, so my teacher modeled repeated subtraction in another format: (All of the italicized numbers were blank areas and my CT filled them in as she explained the problem).

Subtraction

My teacher explained that when you do the subtraction, you take the difference (the result of the subtraction sentence) and then make that the minuend (the starting number) of the next subtraction problem. As my teacher solved the repeated subtraction, she drew out a number line and then subtracted by two each time she subtracted by two above.

Numberline

As she did this, she had the students copy what she wrote. After this modeling example, she had the students try it for themselves and many students finally grasped the concept of using a number line for multiplication or division.

At this point in time, I am not entirely sure what I will specifically do in the classroom for this FEAP; however, I will be able to talk more about this after I attend the PLC next week.

Another part of FEAPs that we had discussed was subheading 6, “Professional Responsibility and Ethical Conduct. My CT and I discussed always acting professional and ethically, whether one is inside or outside of school. We also discussed the importance of being a role model to students. My PRT told me that I will be taking the Code of Ethics training in the spring. For this semester, my goal is to continuously act in a professional and ethical manner inside and outside of the classroom.

***

            During the past few weeks, I have been reading the book Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America by Barbara Enrenreich. This is an interesting novel about a woman who attempted to live off of minimum wage jobs in various areas in the country. Her experiences are interesting and she has many insightful quotes that already reflect my own personal views. For example, she mentions a belief of her that states, “If you’re going to do something, do it well. In fact, “well” isn’t good enough by half. Do it better than anyone has ever done it before” (Erenreich 18). When I was in high school, I remember seeing this poster in one of my math classes that stated: “If you don’t have time to do it right, you must have time to do it over.” (As seen below.)

Do it right poster

This phrase stuck with me and has always guided my personal efforts. I always try my hardest in everything that I do. Although this phrase is not worded appropriately for elementary school students in my opinion, I believe the message behind the poster is important. I talked to my CT about what she believes is the most important rule. We agree that “students must put forth their best effort” is the most important rule in the classroom, and it follows along the message of this poster. I really like this guiding rule because it can be applied in all subjects and all areas of the classroom. For example, students should always put forth their best effort in their work, but they should also put forth their best effort in communications with other people by respecting others. Students should also respect the belongings of other people and the school and treat them with care. For me, it is extremely important to mention this to my students.

Another quote from Nickel and Dimed that I really liked was, “If you seek happiness for yourself you will never find it. Only when you seek happiness for others will it come to you” (Ehrenreich 20). I personally believe that all teachers feel this way about working with students because as teachers, we work very hard to help our students succeed. I know that one of my own personal goals is to help as many people as possible. I decided that I wanted to be a teacher because I was always helping my classmates when I was in high school in every subject area. I remember studying with some of my classmates for a Biology exam and being asked to explain the process of glycolysis, one of the steps in breaking down sugars in the body. Glycolysis involves breaking down glucose into pyruvate so that it can be broken down even further in other processes. I remember working with my peers in math class and helping them solve difficult pre-calculus problems. I was always eager to help my peers, enough so that one of my math teachers in high school joked that I was the ‘teacher’ of her class. I continue to work eagerly with everyone that I come in contact with and helping them succeed because it brings me so much joy to watch someone else do well. I also enjoy watching someone learn a new concept and then applying that to something else or helping someone else understand.

I always aim to help my students succeed in every manner possible. This is why I am very in favor of teaching students in a variety of methods that accommodate students with the various learning styles of visual, reading and writing, kinesthetic, and aural. I also want to accommodate my students by providing a variety of assessments in my classroom. I will always remember Albert Einstein’s famous quote: “Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid. Not every student is a good test taker, therefore, other assessments such as oral exams, group projects, and individual work must be considered with tests to determine student’s strengths and what is needed to help some of their weaknesses.

I believe that every student has the ability to succeed and as a teacher, I must foster this success. Not only should I help students succeed in their academic subjects but I must practice “gender, socioeconomic, racial and cultural equity” in my classroom because “males and females from minority and majority races and cultures, whether rich or poor, receive equal opportunity to participate, such as being given equally difficult questions to answer during class discussion, along with adequate verbal and nonverbal support” (Diaz 320). Sometimes it is difficult to understand some of the hardships and struggles that students face: “Teachers who were themselves primarily socialized in mainstream American culture may not be aware of the challenges faced by individuals from non-dominant cultures as they strive to succeed in U.S. schools” (Diaz 257).

Although I have faced many struggles throughout my life due a variety of issues, I recognize that it is hard for me to understand the struggles that all of my students may face due to their gender, race, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, etc. Therefore, I strive to learn various methods for helping my students and understanding their situations so I can best meet their needs.  Diaz’s book mentions methods for fighting for fairness and equal opportunity: “Teachers should consider that all learners deserve, ethically and legally, equal access to curricular activities (i.e., higher-level mathematics and science subjects) and opportunities to participate in all athletic activities (i.e., rather than assuming all students of one race will play on the basketball team and all students or another race will play on the tennis or golfing teams). […] Teachers who invest time to get to know their students, as individuals as well as cultural beings, address issues of fairness through a personal commitment to equality of treatment and opportunity” (Diaz 258).

I make an effort to say good morning to my students every day and try to learn a little bit about each other them. I try to connect to my students as well as make connections from their experiences to the classroom. I do this because “Curriculum that is organized around themes, that strives for depth of a topic rather than breadth, that is cross-disciplinary, and that has meaning to students and is relevant to their lives provides students with the opportunity to achieve academic success” (Diaz 177). I believe it is important to show that everyone, students, teacher and even parents, are valued in the classroom and that each student has an equal opportunity to learn and grow as an individual. I want to make sure that the environment of my classroom is warm and comforting so that everyone has the ability to openly share without being judged.

 

          In my opinion, it is extremely important to help everyone succeed. If I don’t take the time to do in my classroom, I do not have the time to “do it over” later on. Therefore, I must do my best to continually learn and grow as an individual so that I can do my best to help my students succeed each and every day and “do it right” the first time. I understand that mistakes can be made but I aim to learn and grow from my mistakes in order to become a better individual and teacher.

Acknowledgements

  • Díaz-Rico, Lynne T. The Crosscultural, Language, and Academic Development Handbook: A Complete K-12 Reference Guide. N.p.: Pearson Education, 2014. Print.
  • Ehrenreich, Barbara. Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America. New York City: Picador, 2010. Print.