Thursday, February 24, 2011

In control

     Well today was crazy. My co-operating teacher was unexpectedly not there. At first I was told that I'd be taking over the class (omg!) but it turns out the class would split into the other two 5th grade classes. Not that my students assimilate into their class or anything, they kind of just sit quietly in the corner/s doing busy work for hours. Most of my day was spent going back and forth to each classroom helping the students with various problems. It was actually pretty tiring, and not quite as useful to my learning as actually teaching a lesson would have been.
     The being said, there were times when I was solely in charge of the class. I suppose overall I did alright, but I came to the realization I have very little control over the classroom. One I'm reflecting upon now is a particular student that engages in a lot of back talk. I am now considering in my mind that perhaps I enable this by engaging in the backtalk. That is, she yells "WHAT DID I DO?!" and I argue with her, or something to that effect. Anyways, I'm working on it. I am not going to go back on what I've said about being authoritative over authoritarian, but I suppose I am seeing why many teachers choose the authoritarian approach. It's easier. It's much less time consuming. There's much less thought involved. Where as the former shares mutual respect between the students, the other demands respect from the students. I've been told I have a "laid back" approach.  I'm still working on how I want to manage the classroom, but I know I don't want to take the easy route. I aspire to be one of those teachers that wasn't so hard on students. While this is proving to be a challenge, my belief in moving in this direction is affirmed by the large percentage of teachers I see that are indeed overly strict with the students. Still learning.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Belated Mathematics

     Well my time after school today was busy setting up for my belated valentine's dinner, so sorry about that. On that note, at school last Monday, everyone made kind of a big deal about Valentine's day. I guess with Chrismas and other religious holidays being unmentionable nowadays, a holiday like Valentine's Day which is just cultural (I think) and about showing affection is a popular thing to celebrate.
     So one of the students is struggling with their multiplication table. I guess they just don't get the concept. Even something like eight times two ends with an incorrect answer. The real problem is that we're on long division and fractions and because she is behind with multiplication she is having trouble with these algorithms too. I had been telling her to use the internet to find a multiplication table, or to ask her family for help, but let's just say she can't get any help and she hasn't been able to get on her computer. So I told her I would print out a multiplication table for her and bring it in. I'm sharing this because I thought it was a good solution to this student's problem. Of course, ideally I could give her strategies to figure out multiplication problems without the chart, but time is really pressed.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Adding Fractions of Voices

     So the issues with the hallway continue. I want the students to be able to whisper (no one must know this however.) The problem is, sooner or later someone goes from whispering to talking quietly, which is still ok. But then, someone starts to talk over someone else, and the noise just multiplies. Later, I tried to teach a lesson on a math subject that many of them are struggling with, but a few of them were being a bit disruptive. Even with my best efforts, I just couldn't get these students to quiet down; not until the teacher came back that is. Despite this, I still believe in my way of managing. I just think the problem arises when instead of me being the one dolling out a reprimand or punishment, it's "I'll tell Mrs. _____ on you!" Not that I worded it like that of course, but it is effectively the message that gets across.
     Now if you'll excuse me, I have a math test on fractions to type up.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

I am usually very patient, and seldom do I ever get upset.

     I'm mad. Well, just mildly upset I suppose. Why might I be mad you ask? Well, we are currently doing long division. About half the class gets it pretty well, while the other half of the class is relatively confused. We could take the students that are relatively confused by it and arrange them in a somewhat reliable order as to who is more and less confused by this, by I wouldn't do that. That is why I mad. I wanted to take all the students who were confused, seven of them, and go over the stuff again. Teach some mnemonics I thought of and some other stuff. My teacher thought I should take the students that kind of get it first, explain it to them quickly, then help the students that are totally lost. I disagreed with this, the biggest reason being there just wasn't enough time. I'd never get to the second group; the students that really need the help. However, that's what she wanted me to do so off I went. Sure enough, more and more of the students that apply themselves gathered around me for extra help and I ran out of time. Meanwhile, the students that are totally discouraged and need the most help are sitting at their desks just staring at their work with no idea how to do it. Then they're assigned homework that they have no idea how to do, and their parents apparently sleep all day so definitely can't help them with their difficult math homework, so yeah; I am mad. I am upset that the teacher did not let me focus on the lowest achieving students first. I also don't see how she (e.g. impossible) could have taught these kids the material in the short amount of time we had anyways. Hopefully I will get (that is, the kids will get) the opportunity to work with the students that truly need some additional instruction with this essential subject.
     In other news I have quite a bit of lessons I'll be teaching tomorrow. Things are going smoothly for me in general and although I have a lot of work on my to-do list that is piling up, I am definitely developing and have no doubt that things will end well—so long as I keep this up. Let's just say that February vacation will be a welcome break... just before the final sprint.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Stricks and stones

     So today I happened upon a girl (not of my class) rather upset and gathering a crowd around her explaining how some people had picked on her older sister. Not sure how to handle it, I just observed, until the group dispersed. I forgot about the event until later when I heard more details regarding this specific event from teachers discussing it. Apparently there's a bit of bullying going on. I thought it was interesting how the teachers all discussed it together and decided how they would handle it. Options included: "Just separate them. Problem solved." "Tell the Assistant Principal, then it's 'their' [the administration's] problem." "I'll talk to so-and-so. Then I'll get to the bottom of it." And etc. But what really is the best way to deal with bullying? After all you can't make someone like someone else. The more you force something like that the quicker it's going to not work out.
     So much time has passed since I was in elementary school, it's easy to forget that I had my own perception of each other student in the class. It's easy to think that everyone in class are friends with each other but more often than that students seem much more apathetic to each other. Certainly, some have their friends, but some don't make strong connections to anyone, day by day. If only the students could all band together under the idea of us vs. the man. If only the students could all see how similar they all were and how if they worked together and everyone was friends with each other, they could help each other. Oh well, that's why we grow up, I guess. Anyways, I'm really against bullying, and in my own classroom I plan to have a bunch of strict rules about it and stuff.

Monday, February 14, 2011


     The lesson plan on light went great! I was not sure how much the students knew about light so I decided to have a bunch of little experiments around the room at stations for the students to circulate about in small groups. It worked out! The students seemed pretty into it and mostly worked well together. Upon reflection, my directions on the handout I had typed out and given to everyone were not clear enough, which turned into me explaining each of the five stations 5 times each as the groups cycled through. Although I am just realizing now  that that actually worked out better for me. Giving my supervisor plenty of opportunities to see me interact and explain things to the students is probably a good idea. On the subject, my supervisor liked the lesson too. Inquiry based learning is the way to go when it comes to teaching science. Also, I had prepared these five experiments, he noticed all the different materials I brought in. I was freaking out the night before and didn't get enough sleep, but it all worked out in the end.

Friday, February 11, 2011

The rise of a new dictator...

     I had to lay the hammer down today. Put my foot down, enforce the law, "be the man," or whatever you want to say. Not because of my teacher though, it happened because if me. Well, because of the sudents to be exact. I've mentioned the hallway before. Well basically I've been letting them do as they please, for the most part. However, there are classes going on, so the volume they produce has to be reasonable (we can all agree on that.) One student was screaming and pushing today and I had to quiet her down; unfortunately she wouldn't listen. This same student acted similarly yesterday too, and that day as well she just wouldn't quiet down. Something had to be done. I even gave her plenty of chances today, but she just kept at it, so I had to do it. I had to report her behavior to the teacher and watch some privledges get taken away. I got her into trouble. I guess this is what teachers have to do sometimes. I think I'll feel better about it when it's my own classroom and my own rules that I'm enforcing.
     Concerning punishment and the enforcement of rules, I do think a great deal about it. I think about the behavior that is being enforced or discouraged from any particular punishment. I think about the changes this might influence on a developing individual. If there's one thing I'm for, it's individuality. I love people expressing themselves and being themselves. I worry how strict rules and guidelines could mold people to be unquestioning and too passive when it comes to authority. After all, as we can see all over the world right now, there are times when one should not and must not listen to authority. How do we teach that? On the other hand, self control is a practical and nessecary ability in today's world. While I think if someone wants to start singing and dancing randomly, then they should. It's a beutiful thing. But then again, if I started doing that say, in the classroom when I was supposed to be say, teaching—I may not be becoming a teacher after all... and then there's being inconsiderant and disrespectful too, which is what was happening in this case, as I pointed out to the student several times.
    I know I didn't do anything wrong, but I sure feel bad about it. I guess I'm just a big pushover. Hopefully my philosophy of "give respect; recieve respect" will be an effective classroom management strategy. Well, as long as I don't become that teacher that has obviousyl let power gone to their heads and get off on punishing students then I think I'll be ok. I guess some people just aren't prepared for handling the power that one has over these kids as their teacher and it really changes them. I wish I could study that more.