Teaching Platform

Version 2:
In this version, I will reflect on the important themes and big ideas that I observe and experience throughout the year, and also discuss how I could possibly put them to use in my future classroom.


Establishing Expectations & Rules
One of the most important things I have learned so far from my experience as an intern has been how to most effectively handle the first two weeks of school. Although I have had the opportunity to spend time in different classes and schools throughout the past few years, I have never gotten the chance to witness how a teacher sets up a classroom. Setting expectations within the first week or two is such a crucial aspect of the school year and I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to observe and participate in it. From my classroom, I learned that establishing expectations quickly helps prevent behavioral issues that could take away from learning time. Rule setting goes along with establishing expectations. The students need to be made clear of what the rules are in the classroom so that there is no confusion as to what is acceptable behavior and what is not. In our classroom, we read aloud Officer Buckle and Gloria, which talks about some important safety rules. After this, the students came up with their own rules that they thought would be important to follow in our classroom. We made a classroom book with these rules, and the students all signed their name on a "contract" stating that we would follow the rules.

In my future classrooms, I will definitely spend the first few couple of weeks (in particular the first few days) making my expectations of them very clear. Any time we have a transition, I will tell students how I expect them to behave before we even begin the next task. For example, as the students enter the first couple of days, I will have instructions on the board for what they should be doing, and once everyone is in the class, I will explain the morning routine. When it's time to transition for morning meeting, I will explain how to do so, and have a discussion about how I expect students to participate and behave everyday during our morning meeting. The same will happen for bathroom breaks, walking down the hall, behavior during lunch, recess, and specials, language arts, stations, free time, etc. I really liked the idea of having students come up with their own classroom rules. I will explain that students need to come up with rules that they feel will "enhance our learning experience, and allow for everyone to have an equal opportunity to learn." I think it's important to come up with a few essential rules that cover most of the smaller rules, because having a few "catch-all" rules to remember will be much easier than remembering many small rules. Even if we don't get a lot of "academic" things accomplished the first week, I will feel very accomplished knowing that our school time will be more meaningful because students will know how to behave and what is expected of them.

Providing a caring & nurturing environment:
Providing students with a caring and nurturing classroom environment is very important to me. I feel that children of any age need to feel as though school is a place they will be safe and cared for. My goal is for every student to come to school feeling comfortable and know that someone will always be there if they have concerns or need to talk. I have observed this in action in my classroom this year. My mentor teacher is sure to always be sensitive and respectful of students' feelings and personalities. Every student is an individual and it is important to see them and treat them as such. Some students prefer to stay quieter and more to themselves during the day, while other students ask for (and maybe need) lots of hugs! Regardless, it's important to give them all the adequate attention they need and deserve, and for the teacher to make him/herself available during the busy day if a student is feeling troubled.

In my future classroom, I will definitely make it a point to let my students know that I am genuinely interested in sharing their joys and their concerns with them. My second grade teacher, the one who inspired me to become a teacher myself, did an excellent job of making all of her students feel cared for. She took time every morning to listen to us talk and whenever we needed someone to talk to. I can remember one time when my family got in a car accident. No one was hurt, but when I told her about it the next morning, I could see in her eyes her genuine concern and sadness for what we had gone through. She gave me a hug and asked if I was ok, and I could really feel how much she cared for me as an individual. This is exactly how I want my students to feel, because when students feel cared for and loved, I believe their learning will reflect that. In my classroom, I will plan on having journals available for students to write to me. The students will write on a weekly, or on an as needed bases and it will be a place where they can just let me know about their week, or share anything they feel like sharing.

Teacher & Student directed classroom:
Setting up a classroom environment where students feel involved and "part of the action" is another thing I think will get students more engaged and eager to learn. In our classroom this year, we have done many things to have the students feel that they are helping run the classroom. Even from the first day of school, students got the opportunity to make a puzzle piece that fit together with everyone else's. We spent some time having the students be the presenters and share their own puzzle piece or someone else's. My mentor did this as a way to make each student feel like they are a big part of making our classroom fit together, and to right away introduce the idea of everyone being involved in making our classroom work. Another thing we did in our classroom was to allow the students to create their own class rules. Students also have classroom jobs, and are allowed to lead us in many activities such as morning meeting and calendar math.

I think it's important for teachers to set expectations and boundaries, while at the same time giving the students freedom to help run the classroom. This will make them feel more in charge of their own classroom and in turn their own learning, hopefully leading to intrinsically motivated learners. In my future classroom I will definitely do some of the things we are doing in my class this year. Having jobs available for the students really gives them a sense of responsibility for the success of the classroom. Along with the jobs, I will have my students take turns running different classroom activities like our classroom meeting for example. Another thing I will do to achieve this is letting the students come up with their own classroom rules along with their own consequences for breaking rules. It really is important to make all students feel that their ideas, input, and assistance in the classroom is what helps the class run smoothly.

Teacher Preparation & Organization:
I now have a first hand understanding of how important it is for teachers to be prepared and organized for all the different activities and events that occur throughout the day. My mentor has been a great example of how to stay organized with her ways of planning and also how to be flexible when things don't go exactly as originally planned. With children of all ages, and especially with primary grades, it is expected that everything planned will not always happen. Being organized really helps keep the day running smoothly which allows students to have a better learning environment.

In my future classroom I definitely plan on taking some of my mentor teacher's methods of planning and preparing. They work very well in our classroom, and it keeps the school day running smoothly. My mentor does most of her planning during the weekend, and it leaves a great layout for the following week. It gives us a chance to have a general idea of what the week will look like, but with room to move things around as necessary. Being prepared for having students on many different academic levels is also a challenge, but something that a teacher needs to be ready for. A teacher will always have students at different levels and in order to make it the best learning environment for each, the teacher needs to be prepared to work with these different students.


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