Throughout this semester, I have been given the wonderful opportunity to go observe classrooms in an elementary, middle, and high school. I thoroughly enjoyed my experiences at every school because I was able to see different ways of teaching and a wide range of learning abilities. Because of my observations at Mayfield Middle School, I changed my major from Early Childhood Education to Middle Childhood Education. My experience with the middle school was so positive and welcoming; I fell in love with the more advanced learning abilities! Although my major is now Middle Childhood Education, I did my individual observations at Gesu Elementary School and really enjoyed it! I saw how the teacher cared for her students in her own way and how she taught her students to learn to the best of their ability. She figured out that through learning games both on the Internet and on paper, her students can grasp the material in which they are being taught better. It was great seeing the students understand the material and then help their classmates finish up what they are working on. In the class I observed, there was a huge variety of learning abilities and it was great working with the students to actually see how they all individually learn. Working with the students helped me realize that each child is so different and each needs attention so they can learn properly. I am so grateful the teacher I observed allowed me to help her students complete their Math, Social Studies, and Reading homework because it allowed me to work with all different types of learning abilities and students. I am so happy that my Education 100 Class required me to go out into the classroom and observe because I would not have changed my major to Middle Childhood Education if I had not had early experience in schools!
For my “This I Believe” paper, I will write about my belief that caring for your students as a teacher is of extreme importance. The reason I am intrigued to research and write about the topic of caring in the classroom is because I believe it is one of the most important aspects of teaching. As sad as it is, I do not believe that teachers today are concerned with how they are caring for their students. I have not only seen this during my observations, but I have also experienced this with teachers during grade school as well as high school. That is why I would like to include my first hand examples in my “This I Believe” paper. The lack of care in classrooms is a huge issue in the broad field of Education because it can directly cause a decline in student’s academic success and personal well-being. Along with the research I will find to support my argument, my examples of personal experiences will help assist my argument.
This topic of caring in classrooms is definitely worth bringing attention to. It should not only be a concern for future teachers, like myself and my classmates, but it should also be a huge concern for parents of students and students themselves. Because of this, caring in the classroom is of crucial importance and needs to be dealt with properly and effectively. Ultimately, the “big” question I have for myself while I am researching about caring in the classroom is “How can caring in the classroom directly affect the student’s success and the student’s personal well-being?” From my annotated bibliography, I have already found sources that allow me to start writing about this topic in further depth and then use my personal examples to elaborate on this issue in the field of Education.
I will support this belief of mine by stating the reasons that caring for students can benefit them through improvement of their grades in the class as well as other benefits I will find in my research. I will also support this belief by referring back to both of the books we use in class, Educational Foundations and To Teach, the Journey in Comics, because both books offer great explanations as to why caring needs to be a necessity when teaching in the classroom. In both these books, the authors provide examples of how actual, real teachers have used techniques that help students excel in the classroom. I could also include these techniques in my “This I Believe” paper because they offer effective ways in which one can care for their students.
One way I will break up my “This I Believe” paper will be through examples. Not only will I use examples from Educational Foundations and To Teach, the Journey in Comics, but I will also use examples from my own personal experiences as a student, examples from what I observe when I sit in on classrooms to inspect classes, and examples from the sources in which I have researched. After my introduction, I will launch into the example portion of my paper. My first set of examples will come from memories of teachers who I felt did not care about my success as a student and how it directly affected how I was learning. I will also include experiences where I felt so cared for as a student and how that caringness affected me, which will greatly support my argument. This will allow me to write a personal connection to this topic of caring. Another area in which I will write examples about are my observations that my class has completed together and my observations I have completed on my own. I have seen many aspects that revolve around caring and being a great teacher that would support my argument of caring in the classroom, so I would like to include these observations in my paper. When I discuss my experiences as a student and as an observer, I will not be biased in my opinions; therefore, making my argument clear for my audience. Finally, my last few examples of caring will sprout from the examples I have been reading about in the sources I found about caring in classrooms. They offer a number of ways in which elementary school teachers as well as college professors can care for who they are teaching. This idea allows me to spread my argument across a large range of people rather than just focusing on one particular age group.
I will end my “This I Believe” paper with a conclusion that wraps up my thoughts on caring in the classroom. I will not bring up any new information and I will refer back to my thesis statement to bring the essay to a close.
On Thursday, November 12th, 2015, I visited Gearity Professional Development Elementary School with my Education 100 Class. A question that I wanted to get answered by the time I ended my visit was: “How do the teachers of the class I observe show they care?” This will help me write my “This I believe” paper since I am covering the topic of caring in the classroom. There were two teachers in the preschool classroom that I sat in on to observe. One of the teachers seemed as if she did not care about her students and their learning process. She was not enthusiastic about helping the students and did her own thing during the class, rather than cooperating with the other teacher. The main teacher, though, had so much passion for teaching students at the preschool age. I could tell that she truly cared about teaching because she motivated the kids to work hard. She also encouraged the students once they did a task that required a lot of work or they used their “kind words” when speaking to a classmate. I also saw how the teacher wanted her students to excel in class. Some examples in which I saw this was when she had her kids restart a task if they originally did it wrong so they will not make the mistake again next time they attempt it. She taught her students responsibility by not allowing some of them to start an activity because they were not paying attention at first. She explained to them why they were not to start with all their classmates. Through her explanation, they learned to take responsibility over their actions, even at such a young preschool age. Finally, with little assistance, the teacher let her students complete a puzzle on their own to show that they are capable of finishing projects on their own. I really enjoyed my time I spent at Gerity Professional Development Elementary School because I gained a lot of insight about caring for students who are very young. This experience is definitely something I would like to include in my “This I believe” paper, as well as keep in mind for my years as a teacher.
To start off, I have never kept a blog before for personal reasons or for a class before. With that, I really enjoyed seeing my transformation over the past few weeks on not only what I have been learning in Education 100, but also how I have been evolving as a student and individual. One major change that I made since I began my blog was my change in majors from Early Childhood Education to Middle Childhood Education. I believe that a strong factor that helped me make that decision was rereading my blog posts and how I reacted to some of my experiences with a middle school compared to an elementary school. For that reason, I am so glad I kept a blog just to see how my views on the two levels differed, which is extremely important in determining my major. One theme that seemed to spark a lot of interest in me was the theme of caring for students. I believe that to be a great teacher, one must care for their students in order for them to succeed. I discovered this belief in To Teach: The Journey, in Comics and Educational Foundations based on many of the readings that were assigned in class. I really seemed to connect to what the authors were discussing and I constantly reflected back on many experiences I had as a young student in grade school. Some of these passages actually caused me to email some of my high school teachers who I greatly looked up to as a caring teacher of mine thanking them for all their hard work and effort they put into their daily jobs. This is also another reason as to why I am choosing to write about caring as a teacher for my “This I Believe” paper because it is a topic that very much intrigues me. To sum up, I am very happy I kept a blog throughout my course work in Education 100. It allowed me to figure who I am as an individual and who I want to become as a teacher in the education field one day.
Here is my Annotated Bibliography for my “This I Believe” Research Paper:
Carlisle, Susie. “Caring in Education.” Character 14.2 (2007): 8-9. Print
The article, “Caring in Education”, discusses how the author, Susie Carlisle, has cared for her students in the past through specific examples in her classroom. She also talks about the multiple roles one adopts once they become a teacher. She explains how she is not only a teacher, but also a coach and a parent. She also expressed that teachers “respect [students] as individuals, and [show] evidence that [they] do care – deeply – about their [student’s] character, growth, and unique talents” (9). This sentence and piece of advice really stuck out to me because, as a first year college student, I can relate to being overwhelmed and confused. This just reinforces the fact that my professors and teachers do truly care about me as a student. This article will definitely help support my belief in caring for students in my paper because it offers real examples as to how teachers in the real world have cared for their students. I can integrate these examples into my paper to support my belief and thesis.
Fink, Kristen. “Caring: At the Heart of an Educator’s Role.” Character 14.2 (2007): 10-11. Print.
Many people write letters to their children expressing words of wisdom and advice for them to hold onto for years to come. In this article, “Caring: At the Heart of an Educator’s Role”, that is just what Fink did for her daughters, who were expressing a future in the teaching profession. Mainly in her last paragraph, Fink sums up her life experiences for her daughters to follow as they pursue a future as a teacher. One piece of advice that Fink included in her aid for her daughters is to include learning activities to help her students build their character. I believe that building character in classrooms at an early stage in middle school is extremely important because it allows students to further explore who they are as an individual and allow them to understand who they are. I will use many lessons of Fink’s article in my paper because I think her advice relates to not only her daughters, but to people who are following their dreams of becoming a teacher, like me.
Hargrove, Kathy. “What Makes a “Good” Teacher “Great”?” Gifted Child Today 28.1
(2005): 30-31. ERIC Institute of Education Sciences. Web. 3 Nov. 2015
In this article of “What Makes a “Good” Teacher “Great”?”, the author, Hargrove, writes about how one good teacher can evolve into a great teacher in a classroom full of gifted students. Hargrove uses many analogies and comparisons to Socrates and even a personal trainer. These connections really helped me picture in my head what she was explaining and I believe that including these explanations, while giving credit to Hargrove, would benefit my belief in caring. One specific hint that jumped out at me was when Hargrove discussed Socrates. “Think of yourself as a 21st-century Socrates. Socrates was never content with just one question; rather, he continued to ask guiding questions that would help his students discover the answers for themselves” (31). This would be an excellent quotation to bring forth from Hargrove’s article because it offers a creative and different way of teaching a class of gifted students. This is a great source because it is a very broad topic, yet it focuses on only a few areas to discuss on how a teacher can better themselves while teaching gifted students.
Killian, Shaun. “What Makes a Great Teacher?” The Australian Society for Evidence Based
Teaching. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 Nov. 2015.
In this article of “What Makes a Great Teacher”, Killian expresses ways in which teachers can become great in their profession. Killian is an experienced teacher and principal, so he has background of being in the classroom with students. Because of this, his advice can be trustworthy and credible. Killian offers specific recommendations for how teachers can care for their students. He says that great teachers “genuinely care about [students] as people in much the same way that a loving parent would care about their child” (Killian). I think this would be an excellent quote to include in my paper because it expresses the importance of caring for students and I believe that to be a great teacher, you need to care for your students needs first. Killian also provides a great explanation on why teachers need to have passion about what they are teaching and who they are teaching. I will definitely include this article in my paper because it clearly supports my argument and belief about great teaching and caring for students.
Lerner, Bernice. “How Do We Care? Let Us Count the Ways.” Character 14.2 (2007): 6-8. Print.
The beginning of this article, “How Do We Care? Let Us Count the Ways”, starts off by explaining how a public high school in Boston has developed around students with low self esteem, students who are exposed to drug addiction and violence, and students who have low expectations of themselves. The author, Lerner, describes that even though this school is on the wrong track, it can still be turned around with caring teachers who follow a few guidelines. These guidelines include teaching students right from wrong, encouraging students to take responsibility over their actions, and motivating students to desire to do good in their community. I can use these rules in my paper as examples as to how teachers can care for their students, even in the most threatening situations in a school. A quotation that really caught my attention that I believe would strengthen my paper is “No matter where or what we teach, the goal to which our efforts should be aimed is to help our students lead good lives” (7). I think this quotation would help my argument in what makes a great teacher because it should not matter who we are teaching or in what environment we are teaching in. All that matters is that we care to make a difference in our student’s lives.
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By: GG, Adam, and Rachel.
Prior to observing high school classes at Shaker Heights High School, I had a few questions regarding the differences between high school and middle school teaching and their teaching methods. Another question of mine was “How do teachers incorporate ‘stir and serve’ into their lessons?” My first class I observed was a German 4 class. Although I did not know what they were saying, since I am not familiar with the German language and because the whole class was spoken in German, I did learn a lot about being enthusiastic with your students and showing your character to your class. The teacher of this German class was extremely fun and uplifting. I was laughing at her even though I did not know what she was saying! She danced and sang the answers to her students, which made the students pay more attention to the topic of the day. During the class, the teacher went around to check if her students completed their homework. Many of them did not and even though she was disappointed with them, she empowered and encouraged them to finish it next time because it does truly help them in the long run. This is one quality a great teacher should have when teaching a class and I believe she possessed it. Her schedule for the class was completing a basic worksheet and reading a passage on the board. So even though her lesson plan wasn’t necessarily creative and in a “stir and serve” technique, she still made the atmosphere of the class fun and stress free because of her great teacher like attitude.
The next class I sat in on was a Freshman Honors English Class. To be honest, I did not see anything eye catching during this class period. I did realize, though, that the class was very racially diverse. I was not use to seeing that because the majority of my high school was the same race. During this English class, the students took a quick quiz and the teacher presented them with their next project. Her sarcastic attitude made the class interesting and the students seemed to appreciate her!
One difference I saw between middle school and high school was that high school was more laid back with the students and the teacher. The teacher did not seem to be so pushy and stressed. They had more of a “go with the flow” attitude with the class! Also, I saw the teacher’s passion for teaching more in high school. This may be caused by the more advanced learning sense of the students when compared to middle school classes or that in high school teaching, teachers are required to major in their focus. I really enjoyed my visit at Shaker Heights High School and I learned a lot from this experience! I am very grateful I got to observe high school classes and be on the other side of the classroom for a change!
During my visit at Gesu Elementary School on October 21, 2015, I observed a writing and a spelling class in a first grade classroom. During the writing class, I noticed how well behaved the students were. They raised their hands every time they answered a question, rather than shouting out the answer. They also paid close attention to the teacher and how she was writing. During this time, the teacher walked around the room and helped students who were struggling and commending them for their efforts and good work. I noticed early on that one student may have have been a little different than the other students. He was purposely writing with the wrong hand and did not follow directions as well as the other students were. His desk was placed at the front of the room and the teacher was giving him a lot of personal attention.
The next activity they did was a spelling chant. When the students spelled a word, they crouched to the ground if the letter had a “tail” on it, raised their hands if the letter was “tall”, or put their hands on their hips if the letter was supposedly normal. It was great seeing how excited the kids would get when they spelled a word correctly and if they had to crouched down or not. The exercise was very a effective teaching method, yet a fun way to teach. This may be considered a “stir and serve” teaching technique. The students hurried into another activity after that. I did not like how fast paced everything was. Immediately after something was finished, the class moved on without any hesitation. I would have liked for the atmosphere to be not so hectic and fast moving. I’m assuming the teacher set the schedule up this way, though, to keep the students on task so they would not get distracted.
The set up of the room was very attractive! The theme of the classroom was superheros and almost everywhere I looked there was artwork done by the students hanging on the walls, labels reminding everyone of the daily schedule, or hints at being a great student and friend. I find that decorating a room like that is very important because it creates a positive atmosphere for the children! I really enjoyed my visit at Gesu Elementary School and I am excited to soon go back!
The teaching and learning experience that I want to implement into my classroom one day is connecting lessons that are being taught in the class to real world examples. I can achieve this teaching goal by taking issues that are occurring in the outside world and use them as examples in class. This learning experience is very similar with what the term “Building bridges” is. In my opinion, when someone asks what “building bridges” is and how it is related to the classroom, I would respond with this: “Building bridges” is connecting the ideas of what students are learning in the classroom with what is surrounding them outside of school in the real world. Topics could be linked to global, national, or local issues. “Building bridges” could even allow students to actually go out into the world and address the issues that are occurring. Many courses would vary in their “building of bridges”.
For example, a science class could be discussing the topic of pollution. To “build bridges” in that class, and connect students to issues outside of the classroom, the teacher can plan a field trip that allows the students to clean areas of their community, depending on where they live. This actually gives students something to link the lesson to, as well as make a difference in their community. Another example would be for a government class. If the class is learning about the duties of each branch of government- the executive, judicial, and legislative branch- the teacher could require his or her students to take time to sit in on a city meeting with the mayor. This would benefit the students because it will help them learn the issues that are occurring in their community and come up with possible solutions to solve them. This was something I had to do for my government class my senior year of high school and I learned about the problems in my community that I had not known about prior to the meeting. I am very happy that my teacher required us to take time out of our schedules and have us attend a city hall meeting. I learned about some of the complaints and issues that members of the community were dealing with and when I brought these issues back to the class, we discussed possible solutions. I found that the class was “building a bridge” to the world outside of the classroom.
In my planning to teach lessons that can connect to real life examples, I know that I will need to keep these four hints in the back of my mind:
1.) Care deeply about my students- Robert DiGiulio
2.) Incorporate “stir and serve” lessons into my daily schedule- Susan Ohanian
3.) Allow for the students to teach me, the teacher- Paulo Freire
4.) Self criticize myself to better my teaching skills- William Ayers
First, I have to show my students that I deeply care about them. I can accomplish this by teaching my students to become responsible and to ask for help when needed. I want my students to know that they can come to me when there is an issue that has arose in the classroom with another student or at home with a family member. This, hopefully, will provide them with a sense of warmth and security, knowing that they can trust me with anything that comes their way. I also can show that I care about my students through my enthusiasm in class. Judging my expectations of others off of my experiences in grade school and high school, my students will probably learn a lot better from a teacher who is enthusiastic and passionate about what they are teaching rather than from a teacher who is boring and unpassionate, like I did. This reinforces the idea that I need to show my students that I want them to learn and retain the information I am teaching, just like I want them to enjoy what they are doing in class.
Incorporating “stir and serve” lessons in my daily schedule will, I believe, greatly impact the learning abilities of my students. The big idea behind “stir and serve” is finding new ways of teaching. As the teacher, I will need to seek out these new ways to teach the lesson in a way that interests the students and keeps them engaged in the topic. A way I can incorporate my plan of connecting the students and the lesson to outside experiences is to introduce fun topics that they can relate to. Teaching math using a fun baseball or kickball game to keep the student’s interests levels high or even introducing a creative way to count money and then use that lesson to tie it in with another subject are just a few ideas that revolve around “stir and serve”. There are multiple ways and new ideas that I, as the teacher, can use the “stir and serve” method of teaching to my advantage for the students.
As one of my previous blog posts discussed, I have to allow the students to teach me instead of me teaching them to help them understand the lesson better. In my previous blog post, I talked about how one of my high school teachers incorporated this method of teaching in his schedule. But what about at the early childhood level? How will I have the students teach me? Well, this can begin at a basic level and grow as they grow into preteens, teenagers, and even adults. At the beginning phases of their education, I can have students create examples as to how they can connect the lesson of the class into something that pertains to their life. At this point and at this age level, I would expect to receive answers back describing experiences with their pet or a summer vacation they went on in the past. Although these ideas and answers would not be fully developed, it still allows them to grow in their ideas because, hopefully, this method of teaching will be integrated into their schedules and core as they travel through the next few grades of their education.
Finally, I have to allow myself to critique my methods of teaching. I should constantly be asking myself if I am teaching the lesson in an effective way and if the students are truly understanding the material. If not, I have to change my ways of going at the lesson. If I am not critical of myself, like Ayers points out on page 98 of “To Teach: the journey, in comics”, “[I] will become dogmatic, [and] los[e] [my] capacity for renewal and growth.” This is the last outcome I would want because it directly affects my students and not only me. It will cause my students to not retain the information properly. So, I have to ask myself daily what I can improve on and how my lesson can become better to benefit the students and how they are learning.
I believe that greatness in teaching requires “getting over the notion that its sets of techniques and methods” because this allows for teachers to explore different teaching methods. If all teachers taught the same way year after year, class after class, there would be absolutely no excitement in the classroom. The interest levels of the students would be slim to none and no students would find any enjoyment in attending school. Being a great teacher requires you to “stir and serve”, “build bridges”, and showcase your passion in what you are teaching. From past experiences, I have had many teachers who follow a set technique and do not incorporate new ways and ideas of teaching. I dreaded attending those classes because they were boring! In my eyes, those teacher did not achieve greatness. There were other teachers that I had who did engage with the students on current issues in the world and were enthusiastic about their way of teaching. In these classes, not only did I excel more, but others around me did as well. We were intrigued about what we were learning and eager to come back the next day and show what we learned. I hope that when I become a teacher in the future, that my students will feel the same way I did in some of the classes I was enrolled in. I hope they will feel welcomed and fascinated by the greatness of teaching.
As I was reading through Chapter 8 of Educational Foundations: An Anthology of Critical Readings, my mind could not help but wander to the memories of my junior Honors English class. That class, to my surprise, was one of the most difficult classes I took in high school because of the heavy work load, challenging tests, and confusing readings. I could not help but think that my teacher was out to get my classmates and I because of all the homework and tasks he assigned. What I just realized, though, was that my teacher was using a problem posing technique to help us achieve the lesson of the class daily. One specific project we were assigned to complete was making a Wikipedia page for a certain character in the Canterbury Tales by Chaucer. As one may know, there are numerous characters portrayed in this collection, so each student was given their own character to analyze and discuss. I remember my teacher saying that we had to become “experts” on our character and present them to not only my class, but to him as well. This method of teaching can be considered problem posing because it encouraged the students to use their creativity. For my character, I chose to dress up like her because she had a very distinct appearance, which showcased my creativity. The group I presented with, chanted a rhyme that shared the main characteristics of our roles, also in which showed our imagination. This way of teaching falls under problem posing because my teacher allowed us to teach him, rather than him teaching us, his students. My teacher was “no longer merely the-one-who-[taught], but one who is himself taught” by his students (110). I greatly admire this technique in teaching since students are provided the chance to become creative in their own way and allows for the setting of the classroom to be flipped. I am sure I will incorporate this method into my lesson plans one day in hopes of capturing the interests of the students in my class.