As I continue on with my reading of The Motivated Student by, Bob Sullo, I continue to make connections with what I am experiencing in my early field placement. In the chapter “Create Realistic Expectations”, Sullo discusses how many students get left behind as a result of student expectations being above their achievement level. They begin to feel that they will never be able to keep up in their classes and often think to themselves, “I’m not going to graduate, so I might as well just quit now”(Sullo 101). While reading this chapter I instantly thought about the students in my placement that are in high school as a result of social promotion and are extremely behind on a reading level. Students like this think that they are not good students and shut down when it comes time to read for class. An inability to read the material will only put a student farther behind.
In my early field placement certain classes are co-taught in order to help students that are behind move up the learning ladder. The extra one on one time that they receive as a result of having two teachers is the main the reason that some of these students are able to pass state exams. Extra one on one time is essential to helping these students further their learning and potential. Another helpful practice would be to evaluate students on their own personal progress and not in comparison to their classmates. “One practice to abandon is grading students against each other-unless, of course, our goal is simply to rank and sort”(Sullo 103). If students are continuously ranked amongst their peers they will continue to rank themselves. In order to instill a positive outlook in students, we as teachers must instill the same outlook on our students.
I am currently reading The Motivated Student by, Bob Sullo. It is an interesting read as I think about the students I am observing in my early field placements. In chapter 5 Sullo writes about classroom routines, ritual, and procedures: “While it will take time to teach students how to pass in material or ark permission to use the restroom, once students have learned how to do things efficiently, they will have considerably more time to learn, and you will have considerably more time to teach”(Sullo58). Upon reading this I instantly thought of a great procedure that my host teacher has put in to place with her students. Each marking period the students receive three passes. These passes are are to be filled out and handed to the teacher anytime the student needs to leave the room, be it for restroom purposes, locker, or other reasons. The students know to fill out the passes without question and hand them to the teacher without disruption the class or raising their hands. This allows them to leave quickly and without commotion. The students only get these three passes and they will not receive more until the marking period is over. With this practice, the teacher has limited the amount of times the students can leave the room, thus, limiting the amount of classroom disruption and gaining more time teaching. This is a great procedure that exhibits classroom management.
Another practice that my host teacher has put in to place is that students walk in to class and instantly hand in their homework into one tray placed near the entrance and remove the days class work from another tray. This has become a habit for the students that they act on the moment they enter the classroom. “It is important for teachers to work cooperatively and develop a common set of expectations for as many routine behaviors as possible”(Sullo59). The students at my placement exhibit these routine behaviors daily and it contributes greatly to classroom organization. The students are prepare and ready to go when the bell rings. These procedures that my host teacher has put into place are surely ones that I will adapt one day.
Recently, my class had the opportunity to Skype with teacher and author Penny Kittle. Any time we English majors get to interact with an author is practically a gift. It is so interesting to hear what they have to say, especially when they are also a teacher. I was able to ask Kittle what she thought about using canonical literature in classrooms. Her answer was one I had never thought of before. She said that she likes canon texts and that they can be used in class with some free choice. I had always thought of canon texts as ones that come without choice or independence, that is until Kittle suggested otherwise. One can bring in multiple canon texts and allow students to choose which ones they want to work with. They get some voice in their learning and canon literature still can be used in the classroom. I never thought that these books could be interesting to students if they themselves get to choose them. Teachers could easily bring in books like To Kill A Mockingbird, The Great Gatsby, Of Mice and Men, Huckleberry Finn and The Scarlet Letter and allow students to choose which text they want to read and work with. This could be a great way to incorporate group work as well. Students could work with their peers on a group presentation in order to teach their classmates about the text. Canon literature doesn’t have to be forced down the throats of students, but can be a choice the students willingly make. If the students are interested in their choice they might even avoid using internet cheat sheets and read the text on their own. Who knows what this idea could open up for in the classroom. What I do know is that it’s worth a shot!
A very interesting issue in schools today is the act of social promotion. Many eighth graders are passed off from the middle school into the challenging world of high school when they are not ready to do so academically. This imposes an important question: do we allow students that fail the eighth grade to enter the ninth grade so that they can maintain their social groups or do we hold them back to successfully complete the failed grade before moving them up? This is not an easy question. Yes, students should be with the peers in their age group in order to grow on a social level. However, how do we expect students to succeed on a higher level if they did not succeed on the prior level? If we promote students when they are not ready they will more than likely struggle to keep up with their peers and their grades will suffer.
Another problem tied along with social promotion from middle to high school is connected to the student’s beliefs and attitudes. After being passed on to the next level without academically deserving the promotion the student grows to believe that no work is required in order to move on in high school as well. Especially if the student in question has been socially promoted throughout their entire middle school career or even in elementary school. Unfortunately, high schools have an entirely different system in place compared to middle schools. High schools are credit based which means that in most cases the student must in fact pass their classes in order to move on to the next level. A large majority of socially promoted students end up failing their freshman year and have to repeat classes with the same teachers. The students often blame the teacher for their failure as they have now officially failed for the first time. They resent the teacher for being held back instead of questioning where they themselves may have gone wrong. This is a discouraging situation that could more than likely be avoided by not socially promoting students from the get go. If students that need extra time are held back early on they will grow to form new social groups with their classmates and will hopefully grow as a student before the situation gets complicated.
For some more information on the pros and cons of social promotion in schools check out Repeating a Grade: The Pros and Cons!
Today I came across a very interesting piece of information regarding New York schools. Assemblyman Al Graf has proposed a bill that will allow New York to withdraw from Race to the Top and the Common Core. This is huge. If this bill is passed, many educators will once again be able to fully enjoy their career as teachers. The effects that these daunting policies are having on our schools are disheartening. Teachers no longer want to teach and students no longer have the desire to learn. With this bill, creativity will be restored to the classroom along with the inspiration that put teachers there in the first place. Students are constantly being pulled out of the public school system by their parents and are placed into private schools. As private schools do not have to implement these policies and module learning practices parents see it as their best and last option for the sake of their children’s education.
According to the Graf’s bill, this is “an act to amend the education law, in relation to the common core state standards initiative and the race to the top program”. The bill describes the Common Core Standards and Race to the Top as detrimental in regards to their impact on students, parents, teachers, administrators and school budgets. These initiatives cost schools more money than the state is giving schools to continue them. These initiatives are tearing schools and their communities apart at the seams. With this bill in place, schools can regain their standing and along with it their students. It is time to make public education the best it can possibly be and in order to do that a positive change must be set in motion. Al Graf’s proposal may just be every teacher’s dream. There is a petition in place to truly get the ball rolling. A total of ten thousand signatures is necessary. To learn more about this bill, Al Graf or to sign the petition to get this reform started visit Fix New York Schools.
I have finally started my early field work in a high school setting. It has already proven to be an exciting and intellectual experience. The other day I decided to explore the hallways a little in search of the Library. It is an open atmosphere that the students seem to find comfortable and welcoming. They can even use a keurig while they are in the library for a small fee. As I browsed the rows of books I stumbled upon a familiar title. The Diary of Anne Frank sat on the shelf, completely untouched. As I suspected the book had not once been signed out of the library. The binding had not even been cracked. When I moved on to the young adult literature it was a completely different story. Books such as Twilight and Glass had been signed out by the students so many times that they were in need of new log sheets.
This says so much about students today. They find comfort and interest with contemporary novels. They want adventure and striking realism. Despite when some may think, the school is filled with readers. These readers just have a particular taste in books that can not be adhered to in most traditional classrooms. I also found it to be very exciting to see that there are still many readers in high school. The power of the imagination is magnificent and I hope that these students continue to read throughout their years. You may not be able to judge a book by its cover, but you can certainly judge it by its library log.
Can Emotional Intelligence Be Taught?
In this NYTimes article it is questioned whether or not emotional intelligence can be taught. It starts us off with kindergarten teacher James Wade having an interesting conversation with his students. He asked them if any of their parents yell at them at home. After a response from one emotional student, Wade opens up the conversation and asks if any other students have been yelled at and how it makes them feel. He then goes on to ask them how they can deal with it. What can they say to their parents that may resolve the issue? The students played out the scenario between themselves an resolved the issue, leaving them happy. The strategy Wade used was social-emotional learning. The goal of this teaching strategy is: ” to instill a deep psychological intelligence that will help children regulate their emotions”(Marc Brackett pg.1). The article also touches on coping strategies in the classroom. I personally believe that these are very important strategies that should be instilled in the classroom. Students need to know how to deal with their emotions and anxieties in the classroom. How can we expect them to focus and do good quality work if they are overcome with emotion and distraction? If we work with students and help them find coping strategies that are right for them it could completely change their classroom experience.
According to the article: “Depending on our personalities, and how we’re raised, the ability to re-frame may or may not come easily”(Richard Davidson pg.4). This is something that I had never considered. Children learn to cope or deal with situations based on their experiences growing up and watching their parents. This article remarks on how after a year of social-emotional learning preschoolers showed a decrease in physical aggression, stress and anxiety. If this works, why are we not instilling more of it into schools for our students? I think that if we use social-emotional learning in the classroom our students will be changed for the better. They will be able to go through their day to day lives on a more mentally stable and healthier level.
To read the complete online article simply click on the tittle of the post above!