Table of Contents
General Education Observation
The first thing that caught my eye upon entering the classroom was the sitting arrangement. Ms. Felix had adopted a flexible sitting arrangement that could accommodate both teacher-centered and student-centered learning. The students were sitting in clusters of 4, with each learner having a personal desk. Each student had a unique number assigned to him/her. The same numbers were used to indicate where a student was to seat during the instructional lessons.
At this time, most learners were doing their independent work at their respective sitting positions. However, two students were not at their respective sitting positions. The first student was seated on one of the three chairs located at the backspace, and the other one was having a conversation with the tutor at the teacher’s desk. Later, I learned that the three chairs were used to give a break to students who would show uncompliant or disruptive behavior. The student talking with the teacher had behavioral problems too.
Using the acting-out-cycle, Ms. Felix found it necessary to converse with him to identify the triggers behind the constant disruptive behaviors. The two students had disrupted the learning process by provoking their desk mates, making noise during instruction, and failing to complete the assignments. Sitting on the isolated three chairs was used as reinforcement to manage the behavior. I later learned that the two students had red and yellow behavior card respectively. The instructor was using the Turn-A-Card behavior management plan to manage the students’ behavior. After some minutes, the teacher instructed the two students to join the others on their desks and complete their assignments as soon as possible.
The classroom rules hanged at the right side, next to the white interactive board. Each of the six rules was legible, written in a different color, and a picture attached at the end. The classroom was well-organized in a manner that would minimize distractions, facilitate easy movement, and expedite teacher instruction. Traffic areas such as the pencil tin, computer, dustbin and teacher’s desk were located behind the student’s desks. There was enough walking space, and each student was bordered by a walking space giving the teacher access to every student. The windows were placed on one side of the classroom directly opposite to the back space and were large enough to allow for ventilation, thus, maintaining optimum classroom temperatures.
After the students completed the individual assignments, the tutor asked them to bring their books to the teacher’s desk for marking. The students brought their books one by one in an orderly manner. Starting with the student on sitting position one, the learner came and left his book on the teacher’s desk, and the learner on sitting position two only rose after number one had sat down. This process recurred until all the students handed their books for marking. This procedure was a classroom norm that I could tell was established early enough and practiced throughout the year.
During the transition to the instructional lesson, the teacher asked the students to leave their desks and sit at the instructional carpet. Most students left their seats carrying nothing and sat at their respective sitting spots. Two students were late for the instructional lesson after they got into an argument of who has the bigger school bag. Instead of sitting on their respective positions, the two started pushing the already settled classmates in search for a sitting position. The teacher guided them to their teaching positions and repeated the procedure of joining the instructional carpet. Ms. Felix taught the 2 and 3-dimensional geometric shapes, and no distractions were noted during the instructional period.
The one observation that could help in improving my practice as a teacher is a pedagogical strategy where the teacher triggered critical thinking during the instructional lesson. She gave lead instructions that ensured that the student not only understood the underlying concepts but also applied it to the things they know. Ms. Felix asked the shape of various things inside the class and later referred to home-linked objects such as the television and coffee tables. This got students in healthy arguments with some differing with others about the shape of their home objects such as the coffee table. However, the teacher intervened to explain the differences, and this seemed to deepen the students’ understanding.
Special Education Observation
In Ms. Truitt’s class, students were seated in rows. The class rules were posted on the right side of the class, colorful and legible enough to be read from any corner of the classroom. The walkways were large enough to facilitate easy movements within the class. The class had 5 special needs students; 2 physically challenged boys who used crutches to move and 3 partial hearing impaired students (1 boy and 2 girls). The physically challenged students were seated next to the door to ease their movement in and out of class. The 3 hearing impaired learners were seated at the front column just next to the whiteboard.
The teacher was about to start a mathematics instruction lesson. Before starting the days’ business, she checked the hearing aids for three students using a hearing aid stethoscope and a battery tester. The teacher also welcomed the students to the classroom with a smile and a cordial salutation. Her movements and actions signified that she had created a rapport with the students, which brought about a sense of belonging for the three students. This made the students feel like a family, a factor that I linked to the circle of courage philosophy, precisely to the sense of belonging parameter.
Ms. Truitt taught addition and subtraction of fractions for about 25 minutes. The class was characterized by minimal disruptions, as each student was attentive to the lesson’s content. No one spoke during the instructional period unless for three students who raised their hands to ask for clarifications. This reflected to be a norm that had been practiced for long in that if a student wanted to speak during the lesson, he or she had to raise his or her hand until the teacher permitted to speak. After the 25 minutes, the teacher gave 5 mathematical problems that were to be solved individually.
She went from one desk to another assessing and helping the students with various tasks depending on the child’s needs. Later he gave three sums that were to be solved in a group. The students quickly reshuffled into form a group because their desks were flexible enough. During the group work, students were able to share knowledge and clarify certain points for students with difficulties, a parameter I linked to the circle of courage generosity pillar. At this time, the teacher was sitting at her desk, but regularly visited the group to assess their progress and help with tedious mathematical problems.
One of the observations that can be used to improve my career was the use of a sticker chart reward system as a means of managing the students’ behavior. Ms. Truitt used a sticker chart that had the name of each student on it. If a student earned ten stickers, the student was allowed to choose a prize from a small prize box. However, the student could opt to save their stickers, and if they earn 20 stickers, they can choose a prize from the larger box. Not only does the sticker chart method help in managing the students’ behavior, but also aids in motivating the students to have self-inflicted positive behavior. The chart was colorful with different stars (stickers) having distinct colors. Apart from the sticker chart reward system, I noted that it is important to check whether the hearing aids are functioning at the beginning of the lesson.
General Education Interview
- What guiding principles did you use to establish your classroom management plan?
According to Ms. Felix, effective learning was the fundamental parameter considered while designing her classroom management plan. As such, she considered certain factors such as effective class arrangement, rules, and desired expectations. A good combination of these parameters would give rise to a robust plan that will, in turn, escalate the effectiveness of the learning process. The class arrangement helps in minimizing distractions and maximizing the students’ concentration levels while the rules outlined the expected students’ behavior. The rules adopted for her class were:
- Respect your classmates, teachers, and property.
- Be kind and to others.
- Be in class on time in the morning and after breaks.
- Work hard and always do your best.
- Raise your hand in case you want to speak in class
- Listen to your teacher and obey school rules.
Ms. Felix outlined that the six rules covered a vast area of behaviors, and this was better than having many rules that become tedious for the students to comprehend.
- What are the key components of your classroom management plan? (Please focus on rules, rewards, consequences, positive reinforcement, etc.)
Ms. Felix outlined that apart from the classrooms rules, rewards are a good way of managing the behavior of the students. She awards the best-behaved boy/girl per month with random presents. The award winner must have a green card throughout the month. In case a student breaks the rules, they are set to take breaks at the three isolated chairs in the backspace and sometimes lose privileges such as failing to participate in fun games on Fridays. Periodically, she acknowledges the students with the good behavior, and asks the other students to clap for the well-behaved students. This motivates the students to maintain the desired behaviors to receive acknowledgment and the monthly reward. Ms. Felix cited that the present could be a customized book with a student name on it or a customized bag.
- What are the most common behavioral issues? (Disruptions/non-compliant)
The teacher outlined that the most common behavioral issues are talking during independent work sessions, unauthorized movement during the class, and provoking other students by either touching or physically disturbing them. Ms. Felix attributed these behaviors to the students’ age and sitting arrangement. Being young and subjected to a cluster-like sitting position of four, students lose concentration of their independent work and start talking irrelevant stories. However, she constantly reminds them to maintain silence and raise their hand in case they need to talk or move from one point to another.
- How do you deal with disruptive, aggressive, or inappropriate behaviors, especially from populations that may need extra support?
Based on the behavior card assigned to each student, the teacher had specific strategies to deal with the students with disruptive behaviors. If the student possessed a green card, a silent stare or a verbal correction would be enough to modify their behavior. However, swift action was taken for those with red cards. First, the teacher can ask the student to take a break during the lesson and lose few minutes of the fun games played on Fridays. The disruptive behavior also eliminates students from winning the best-behaved students award at the end of the month. In case the behavior persists, the teacher looks for triggers by performing a background check, and at this point, she calls the parents and inform them about the student’s behavior. I admired the systematic procedure outlined by Ms. Felix on dealing with disruptive behavior subject to the Turn-A-Card behavior management system.
- How do you accommodate for English Learners and Cultural/Linguistic diversity? Include intervention strategies appropriate for English learner.
Ms. Felix acknowledged that her class is culturally diversified and she used various inclusion strategies to ensure that the English learners understood the rules and the instructional context. First, for the classroom rules, the teacher had attached a picture explaining the rule visually. She also exploited visual books during instruction to facilitate the ELL learners’ comprehension. Whenever possible, Ms. Felix also pre-taught the ELL students vocabularies that are expected to be encountered in a passage.
- How do you collaborate with you or special education partner?
Ms. Felix meets with the special education partner weekly on Fridays to assess the performance of the students on individualized education programs during the week, and plan the students’ education for the coming week. This help in keeping a good performance track of the students in and outside the class. Apart from the weekly meetings, Ms. Felix outlined that they communicate via emails in case an urgent issue regarding student welfare or behavior arises.