The Practice In An Elementary School Intermediate Resource Room

This has been an eye-opening three weeks of observations and practicum in an elementary school intermediate resource room. Everything from severe behaviors in students to the simple question of how does a new teacher create a library of books for the classroom without needing an extra thousand dollars? When I initially reviewed the handbook for this class it was clear that it was going to be a struggle. Moving forward, when the lesson planning instruction was introduced I was sure that this was the end of my placement as a Rodman Scholar. I am a high school dropout, and writing has been my weakness and the bain of my existence throughout my college experience. I can barely create a proper paragraph, let alone creatively write a script from the ground up. Nonetheless, I endured and feel that my growth and success has compounded exponentially. I have gained a confidence and comfort in many new skills that were introduced these few weeks. The on-site experience was challenging in the beginning because I knew that I ultimately want to teach in high school, but after a few short days I was enjoying interacting with the students and the mentor teacher was quick to answer any questions that I had for her, as well as regularly providing valuable information and experience with an array of topics that first year teachers will inevitably be confronted with. What makes effective teachers so good at teaching? A major component of effective teaching is being aware of the many factors that affect student learning, including: growth and development, diversity, and management. Teaching is not the same for all students and will require knowledge about the developmental level of each student.

Effective special education teachers will consider the abilities and skill set for each student when creating IEPs, lessons, and providing instruction. Providing differentiated instruction, which is the ability to adapt the methods of conveying information to the students' level of learning, is crucial to a successful learning experience for a class. Madame Esme is an expert at this when it comes to the literature section of her curriculum for her inner-city Chicago public school 5th graders. She exposes her class to an extensive collection of novels with a differentiated experience of acting on stage, making costumes, directing skits and student led book discussions. With a passion for teaching, effective management skills, and strong interpersonal relations teachers are able to determine what teaching strategies and activities are appropriate for their students, establish what will provide the highest success, and adapt them for students with exceptionalities. As a new teacher, figuring out how students gain knowledge, such as by a variety of experiences or by listening, and thus choosing my teaching method accordingly will be an exciting challenge. For instance, is there an objective truth in the world or is knowledge only based on individual perspectives? This changes teaching methods because I may want my students to learn how to find a specific object reality or I may want my students to criticize their own thinking since their own knowledge determines their reality. I also believe I will take values and ethics into consideration. This affects both the morality of students, such as in cheating and bullying, and the moral code of teachers. For instance, according to my values, I will choose to emphasize certain behaviors in my students.

A great example was when Esme took away the books from the class when one student stole a comic. This exemplifies the creativity in Esme’s rationale. Taking away the students’ books taught all the students a lesson about responsibility. The student that stole the comic eventually returned it to the bookshelf providing a positive outcome for the class. I can only hope that when confronted with a parent such as the one Esme had over this situation, that I will have the composure and professionalism to respond appropriately. My classroom management philosophy is that every child will be treated equally. They will not be labeled or disrespected verbally, physically or otherwise. Every student will have the right to learn and a safe environment to learn in. I will show respect to my students and expect them to respect me. I will give my students high expectations so they will learn to their fullest potential. My students will respect me and their classmates. They will have the respect that everyone in the classroom wants to learn and will maintain the highest respect of all who is in the classroom. My IEP students will know what to do and what is expected of them when they have a problem.

The most successful techniques Madame Esme used in her class taught the kids valuable life skills responsibility and integrity. I will have the rules and procedures on more than wall, like I witnessed in my mentor class, for all to see what is expected of them. We will model these procedures from day one and continue to practice even after they are habit. I will make my students responsible for their own learning, which was my big takeaway from the textbook in class. They will have consequences when they do not abide by my rules and procedures. Having effective classroom management in place will allow students to understand what is expected of them, learn what the rules and procedures are and be aware of what kind of consequences are in place for the classroom which will give them a great classroom experience. There are many resources for new teachers. I will be spending some time in the near future determining some classroom objectives, including modeling and procedures, rules, consequences, and a reward system. Esme encountered a variety of students in her classroom. For example: one student cried everyday in class, some had issues with their home lives, some were defiant, and in the case of the bookshelf some even stole from the class. To be a teacher you are required to be open minded. Students come to you from all backgrounds and are all unique in how they learn. Esme was very intuitive and sensitive to her range of students. She observed their behavior and reacted accordingly in her teaching methods. One of the most important things you can do for yourself during in your lifetime is stand up for yourself. Throughout her diary, Esme always stands up for what she believes in. Although sometimes a bit aggressive, she persists in her ideals.

For example, one overlooked moment is when Esme insists on being called Madame Esme instead of Ms. Codell. The principal insists that she remains Ms. Codell, when there are no rules stating she must be called that. In reality, her asking to be called something else is not hurting anyone, nor is it inappropriate. Regardless of what the principal tells her, she continues to request to be called Madame Esme. Though this is minimal, it demonstrates a key personal development skill. It is incredibly important for people, especially teachers to be able to stand up for themselves. Throughout our career we will be confronted with administrators, staff and parents who will try our patience as an individual. Mastering the skill of self-advocacy will serve those relationships well. When we can be successful at advocating for ourselves in our own lives, it will be a smooth transition to pass this skill along to our students. Not only is it necessary for all children to learn to find this voice, special education students have an exponential value on mastering self-advocacy. They will be spending their lives battling the outside predispositions that are placed against them. Having this kind of tool in their toolbelt will be instrumental with gaining success in their lives.

18 May 2020
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