While I often receive feedback from my mentor teacher and university coordinator, I believe the untapped source of feedback for teachers in the classroom is the students. They watch us teach every day and are the ones most impacted by our lessons. How often do we get their responses? In order to gain a better understanding of how my students feel about my teaching, I gave them a Student Perception Survey. According to Hanover Research, these surveys “can provide valuable feedback to teachers that may ultimately help to improve their effectiveness” (2013, p. 14). Using these types of surveys can help me to exemplify professionally-informed, growth-centered practice (HOPE principle E1). The results of the survey I gave opened my eyes to some areas on which I can focus.
While many of the survey responses were very positive, one or two students had a very negative outlook across the areas I surveyed. While this survey was anonymous, this data tells me that perhaps there are one or two students that feel more neglected in my teaching than others. My first step would be to ensure that I am giving adequate attention to the needs of each student. After averaging the data (See Image 2), I decided to focus attention on the area which scored lowest: “My classmates behave the way my teacher wants them to.” While this area did not score drastically lower than the others on average, it would still be a good starting point for fostering growth.
For a long time, I tried to stray away from the idea of dominance, as it seems like an idea akin to threatening and intimidation, but there is a certain level of control a teacher must have within their classroom. Marzano stated the idea in a more approachable way, even for someone who wants to have positive relationships with their students. He says that assertive behavior based on body language, appropriate tone of voice, and persistence can help a teacher maintain control of the classroom (2003). As I begin my first year of teaching, I will try to focus on those three things in order to be a presence that students will respect as an authority.
Hanover Research (2013). Student perception surveys and teacher assessments.
Marzano, R. J. (2003). Classroom management that works. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Students are at unique places in their lives. Classroom management systems should accommodate for this, as each student has different needs that must be fulfilled. In order to honor student diversity and development (HOPE principle H1), our management strategy needs to fit each of our students where they are, as well as help them work towards where they should be. In our classroom, students know the expectations and understand why we have them, thanks to hard work on my mentor’s part at the beginning of the year. While we have students with different behavioral quirks, we use the same system with each of them, with slight modifications. This system is centered on a behavior chart (see Image 1) posted at the front of the classroom.
During lessons or transition time, my mentor teacher would ask a student to “move up your number” or “move down your number” in order to positively enforce good behavior or have students acknowledge that the teacher noticed their misbehavior. For some students, we enforce simple behaviors that they are working on, such as not shouting out and raising their hand instead. For others, who typically exhibit good behavior, the expectations are slightly higher before they are bumped up. Regardless, students who have a whole week on “Good Day” will be bumped up for the final day in order to reflect a week without serious negative behavior. This classroom management strategy is useful in that it allows the teacher to constantly reward behaviors, both positive and negative. Some students need additional motivation for positive behaviors, so a few students receive small rewards for achieving the “Great Job” status multiple times per week, such as a special pencil or notepad.
Parents get notified daily of their student’s standing. Students reflect what their standing is on their behavior chart on the back of their reading logs. Part of the daily homework is that parents acknowledge and initial their student’s standing for the day. This constant updating allows parents to express their concerns before students receive a grade on report cards or progress reports and opens the avenue of discussion about student behaviors. Additionally, the data allows my mentor teacher the ability to track behavior long-term (see Image 2). In my classroom, I will have a similar system in order to both monitor behavior and keep long-term records of changes in behavior or a student’s behavior trends. This data can help the student’s both current and future teachers understand the best way to create a learning environment with few behavioral distractions.
Prior to my Classroom Management course (EDU 6130), I had heard many things about students with special needs in the classroom. Given the lack of funding but wealth of legislation, the statistics say it is inevitable that I will soon have a student that requires something different from the rest of my students. While only a fraction of teachers are trained to deal with the special needs of these exceptional children, every teacher can be called upon to do so. I am glad to have read papers on the legislation and techniques relating to differences in learning. These papers, that I found so helpful, were from The Province British Columbia’s (2011) and Laprairie, Johnson, Rice, Adams, and Higgins (2010). It made me much more confident in my ability to Honor Student Diversity and Development (HOPE Standard H1). Before, I had thought that my whole classroom would have to be turned upside-down by the incorporation of a student with different needs. Edith, a classmate, said in discussion that all students have different backgrounds and are unique, therefore they all have different needs from one another. That gave me a whole new perspective on the situation. While more time and effort will need to go into planning for their strengths, I should be planning for a variety of different learning styles and abilities already. When we wrote a lesson plan in class, our group had already addressed so many types of learning, even before we had placed special emphasis on students with special needs. Though it may be a challenge finding out what works, I believe a strong relationship with parents and other teachers the student might have had in the past can go a long way in developing a curriculum that will allow the student to flourish.
Knowing more about specific learning disabilities, as well as specific types of legislation, were also benefits of the readings this week. The Province of British Columbia (BC) article was especially helpful in laying out the different ways a certain disability might present itself. Even after dating someone with dyscalculia, what he called “number dyslexia,” for three years, I had no idea how it would present itself in the classroom – or even what it was technically called. The BC article also laid out suggestions for adaptations that can be made – something I will be referring back to when I get my list of different abilities in my classroom. The Laprairie, Johnson, Rice, Adams, and Higgins article was useful in defining and describing legislation that affects teaching students with different abilities. There are so many acronyms and so much special jargon thrown around, especially in our classes that include the special education ARC students, and now I feel better prepared to understand most of what to which they are referring. These two documents will be in my resource kit for years to come.
Province of British Columbia. (2011). Supporting students with learning disabilities: A guide for teachers. [PDF]. Retrieved from http://www.bced.gov.bc.ca/specialed/docs/learning_disabilities_guide.pdf
Laprairie, K., Johnson, D. D., Rice, M., Adams, P., & Higgins, B. (2010). The top ten things new high school teacher needs to know about servicing students with special needs. American secondary education, 38(2), 23-31.