Standard E:Meets Professional ResponsibilitiesTeacher Candidate: Jill CameronTeaching ScheduleSummary of Journal ArticleCommunication with ParentsInterview with Union Rep/EquivalentInterview with AdministratorReflective Essay No. 5
Teaching Schedule Time Topic 8:15-8:30 Morning Meeting 9:00-10:00 Workboard 10:00-10:15 Snack/recess 10:15-11:00 Special (Mon-Gym, Tue-Music, Wed-Library, Thur-Gym, F-Art) 11:00-11:50 Open Circle/Great Body Shop 11:50-12:20 Just Right Reading 12:20-1:00 Lunch/recess 1:00-1:40 Writers Workshop 1:40-2:00 Science/Social Studies 2:00-2:15 Dismissal The chart above shows the standard schedule followed by the students on a daily basis. In addition to what islisted there, between 7:30 and 8:15 I prepared for the day, organized my materials, took the chairs down, passed out themorning work (always a “Do Now”), and placed news and corrected items in their mailboxes. Afterschool I would stay anextra hour set up the schedule for the next day, update the lunch choices, set up the next day’s copy folder, makeadditional copies if needed and correct papers when time allowed.
Summary of Journal ArticleArticle: Planning and Realigning a Lesson in Response to Student ContributionsBoyd, Maureen P. (2012)Planning and realigning a lesson in response to student contributions. The Elementary SchoolJournal, 113(1), 25-51. Planning and Realigning a Lesson in Response to Student Contributionsis an investigation into the efficacy oflessons which do not achieve their specified goals because responsive teaching allows authentic questions and studentmeaning making to drive the discussion off its intended track. The author, Maureen Boyd, observed an ELL classroom inthe southeastern United States over a 6 week period and her experience challenges the conventional American paradigmof teaching, which is what attracted me to this article. The traditional paradigm relies on the idea that classic American teaching features few sustainedstudent andteacherinteractions and instead relies heavily upon teacher driven display questions that masquerade as discussion.Display questions are those that are designed, consciously or not, to elicit a recall response. Recall responses validate theteacher because they allow the teacher to believe that because a student is able to succinctly provide the “correct” answerto the instructor’s question, that the lesson is on a trajectory to achieving its stated results. These types of questions andresponses do indicate critical thought on the part of the student, or teacher. In fact, they feed into the “treasure hunt”(p.31) response in which a student, through experience, understands how to craft the desired response and can provideonewithout deriving any meaning from the action. This environment allows the teacher to feign flexibility and deprives thestudent of the opportunity to help shape the scope of the lesson, thus there is no risk involved for either actor. According to Boyd, the alternative to this style, or authentic discussion (as defined by Alexander’s fivecharacteristics of dialogical talk; collective, reciprocal, cumulative, supportive and purposeful (p.28)) does involve risk,and achieves broader learning goals even though it may not achieve the specific goals of the lesson being taught. If thisassumption proves true, it begs the question of whether or not lesson goals are in tension with larger learning goals. Boydcontends that by realigning your lesson in response to cues from students’ questions, you are allowing more time forexploratory talk and meaning making, provided you guide the discussion and anchor your responses to those of thestudents. One strategy she found particularly useful was restating, or echoing student talk to push them to furtherarticulate and support their reasoning. Boyd was able to observe this approach in the ELL classroom and found that after aprolonged period of student dominated discussion, students were able to use terms that once stumped them and applythem to make connections between texts. While they didn’t follow the intended path of the lesson plan, the broaderlearning goalswere achieved and were more significant because the teacher did not dictate the desired outcome orresponse. This style is just as and perhaps more effective, though not as seemingly efficient as the traditional paradigm. The tradeoff between the two styles being that success, like the example witnessed by Boyd,does not happenimmediately. The teacher using responsive teaching strategies must cultivate a class climate that is conducive to authenticdialogue. This type of adaptive instruction must be accompanied by contingent questioning to assess thinking, clarifyingstrategies, thought, flexibility and a feeling of safety and mutual respect. (p.48), features that are not typically a part of theusual paradigm.
Communication with Parents I went in to my practicum understanding that communication with parents is essential to fostering communityinvolvement and student success, and knowing that I only had two months with which to worked, I took advantage ofevery opportunity to interact. My supervising practitioner notified parents that I would be student teaching before myarrival and my first personal interaction was initiated during after school pick up. Whether observing or teaching, I walkedthe students out the door every day so that I could meet their families or babysitters, it was a good way to introducemyself and initiate discussion. The second opportunity came only a few weeks into my practicum: the Peirce Schoolhosted a parents’ night, which I attended. I was a little surprised by how little interaction there was during the open house,I had been expecting a lot of questions, but the parents seemed less interested in meeting with any of the teachers andmore interested in the layout of the room. Unfortunately, there were few new opportunities following the open house.Admittedly, this did bother me, however I suspect it’s not all that uncommon for student teachers to experience limitedparent engagement. Although I wasn’t able to get to know all the parents in the class, I did get to know all of their children andwanted to find a way to thank them for being my teacher. On my last day, I sent the students home with this poem: You’re a very special person And I think you should know How I loved being your student teacher, And how fast these months did go! Try hard to learn all you can, There is so much to know! The one thing I hope you learned, To last your whole life through, Is that you are very special Just because you’re you! -Thank you for being my teacher this winter!- Mrs. CameronInterview with Union Rep/Equivalent
The Peirce School was operating without a union representative during my practicum. Fortunately, the previousrepresentative was available and happy to be of assistance. She happened to be a seasoned teacher and special educationspecialist, with a very frank manner which I thoroughly enjoyed. The thing that really piqued my interest, was the fact thatshe was the union representative. I immediately wanted to know why she gave up the function and she, in her fashion,answered my question very honestly: special education has so few resources that she wanted to be able to apply her fullattention to improving the situation this school year, and she no longer enjoyed working as a liaison between the unionand the administration or the teachers. The idea of the union representative as a liaison was a new concept for me. In my current profession, I associatethe term “rep” with a salesman, whereas “liaison” implies partner. The woman with whom I spoke impressed upon methat the importance of the representative lay in her power to partner with different interests, attend meetings and relaysubsequent information to her peers. This information could range from changes to maternity leave to vacation policies,from pay scales to navigating parent difficulties. The relationship the union representative develops with other actors,provides teachers with an additional layer of knowledge and support and can be a resource in the legislation andnegotiation processes. Personally, she believed that having a representative was a positive thing because “happy teachers mean happystudents”, and she feared that without representation, expectations on teachers would increase without correspondingcompensation.Interview with Administrator
My administrator interview was with Mrs. Karen Hartley, the Peirce School Principal. I am relatively naïve aboutthe role of the principal, aside from the obvious task of managing teachers, so I didn’t divert too far from the interviewguideline questions. The benefit of having no preconceptions about her role in the school, was that I left the interviewfeeling a little more informed. According to Mrs. Hartley, her approach to management is relatively liberal; she endeavors to surround herselfwith well-educated educators who truly love their careers. They must be enthusiastic, express interest in social andemotional programs, have a proven track record showing successful parent-teacher communication, be able to provide onthe spot suggestions for differentiation and scaffolding sample lesson, and they must be open to new professionaldevelopment options. The logic behind this goes like this: if you hire a teacher with the right attitude and the right tools,he or she should not be micromanaged. I think that’s a wonderful philosophy that probably allows for more creativelessons and more engaged students. There is one area in which she does admit to over managing, and rightfully so in lightof recent events: her most important job is to ensure the safety of the students and the building, and she takes this veryseriously. She believes that a part of student safety, is personal safety which can be encouraged through a challengingacademic curriculum that also supports children’s emotional development. Prior to becoming a principal, Mrs. Hartley taught for 15 years. She believes that this experience makes her abetter manager, though she admits that she does face difficulties. Some of the largest and most consistently apparentlychallenges she faces are: inspiring parents to stay involved with the school in a balanced and meaningful way, respondingto budget challenges (example: Arlington has 10 schools and only 1 librarian and the Peirce School is sorely lacking fortechnology), she also finds balancing the demands of the PTO with current regulations to be trying. Her experience as a teacher has also impacted her views on teacher evaluations, the major goal of course, beingteacher improvement. She believes that the most valuable evaluations involve face to face interactions which fosterdiscussion and hopefully provide the teacher with immediate feedbackReflective Essay No. 5
I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to complete a practicum, despite being a full time employeeelsewhere. The experience was invaluable. Over the course of the last five years, I have slowly worked my way throughEmmanuel’s MAT program, during which time I worked as a data analyst and became very accustomed to the lifestyleone takes on when they work in an office. Because of this, I went into my practicum feeling very nervous. My largestconcern was this: I’ve been doing this for so long, what if I find that I don’t love teaching the way I did when I was astudent at Quinnipiac in 2006? Fortunately, the experience cemented my resolve; I left my last day knowing that I wantto teach. Of course, that isn’t to say that I didn’t face challenges along the way. Coming into the practicum with the perspective of a career changer allowed me to view the role of a teacherthrough a very different lens. Teaching I unexpectedly found, is a very physically demanding career. Adapting afterleading the sedentary lifestyle of the office worker was very taxing and the backache I felt after my first full week wasakin to the back pain I experienced after I ran my first half marathon- on a whim. To say that it was unexpected would bean understatement. Thankfully, by the end of the second week, my body had adjusted, and I started to feel exhaustion innew ways. Teaching is mentally challenging; even as a sales representative for a think tank, I was never “on” to thedegree that teachers must be “on” to manage the needs of their students. However, I was more motivated than discouragedby these observations; feeling so alive and in the moment was a welcome change. I only had a few weeks to observe, thusI had limited time to enjoy these novelties. As I mentioned, I only observed for a few weeks before I started my takeover, consequently, I needed to get up tospeed very quickly. Fortunately, I had experience from which to draw: I spent a year in Connecticut as an in-housesubstitute and coached gymnastics for a few years in Central Massachusetts. I felt relatively well equipped to manage theclassroom and develop a rapport with the students. Incidentally, it was the experience as a coach which I found the mosthelpful. I think that the demeanor I used as a coach was more successful in making students feel comfortable, safe andresponsive. I wanted to set high expectations that they would want to meet, not feel compelled to meet. As a result, myteaching style is very conversational. I strive to push the students to elaborate when explaining their answers or talk untilthey come to the answer on their own. I think that I often feel like this approach is frowned upon because it does takelesson plans in unintended directions, or results in “creative noise”, however, after reading Maureen Boyd’s article, I feltas if my personal observations were grounded in research and thus more valuable. My previous experiences also impressed upon me importance of maintaining an open and ongoing dialogue withparents. It is essential. Not only does it enrich the student’s experience, but it keeps the teacher abreast of what is going onat home and how to best support in the classroom. One of the communication practices I observed, and will use myself,revolved around birthdays. Instead of bringing in a treat to the classroom when a student had a birthday, one of theirparents would come in a read a story. The students loved it; it fostered pride and comfort in them and by encouraging anopen door policy, my supervising practitioner provided many opportunities for parent engagement. Of course, not everyparent did, or was able to take advantage, which leads me to one of the biggest challenges I faced while student teaching;apathetic parents. The largest pain point for me, was trying to reach one student in particular, who just didn’t care. Being in firstgrade, he was too young to feel so jaded. I can admit that at first I took his disruptions, lying, and negativity personally,
however, the more time I spent with him, the more I realized how attention starved he was and how ill equipped he was tohandle his feelings. He was self-destructive and sought to be a victim in order to elicit sympathy from children and adultsalike and sometimes, this lead to calls to DCF, something which did happen during my practicum. I felt that my ability tohelp him was limited due to my own status as a student, but I was heartened when I realized how supportive theadministration was for me, this student and my supervising practitioner. The student had a whole team of adults in hiscorner, with whom his mother fought to no end. However, as the school principal told me during our interview: her largestresponsibility is the safety and emotional wellbeing of the students. She was a huge pillar of support for the teachers andsocial workers trying to work with this student and his family.This experience is just an example of what I ultimatelyfound to be the most challenging part of my practicum: learning how to deal with the baggage children brought to theclassroom. The experience I described above, in a roundabout way, speaks to why I think unions are important. Granted, Idon’t fully understand the role of teacher unions yet, but based on my conversation with the former representative for thePeirce School I have come to the conclusion that they are necessary. I believe that the protection provided by unionsallows good teachers to be more effective because they don’t have to fear reprisals. I think the union’s also play a role inensuring that teachers are compensated for all the work they do, not just what they do in the classroom. While I wasstruggling with the student I mentioned, my supervising practitioner was having daily meetings with his mother and hissupport team, before, after and during the day. This additional work is more than work, it is emotionally taxing, and it’sinvisible.While advocating for children, teachers benefit from having a union representative on their side. I understandthat this is a rather immature analysis, so to further my education I have been attending meetings held by various membersof the school board leading up to the April 6th election. Recently, someone said to me; “teaching is the most rewarding profession there is, but you have to be crazy to doit.” I think this is an apt summary. The two months I spent at Peirce School were the most rewarding of the last eight yearsof my professional life, and I found myself being expressive and silly on a daily basis because it was what worked for mystudents, but I wouldn’t change that kind of craziness for the world.