The students finished up this week with a lesson on density, mass, and volume, which Mrs. Lane has been alluding to for the past few weeks, as there is a specific puzzle that can only be solved once the students learn density. Therefore, all of the class lessons have led up to this particular topic. All of her lessons are weaved together to concoct learning material and an environment compacted with curiosity that urges the student to succeed in school. Mrs. Lane's ability to encourage that excitement and curiosity in the classroom is very respectable, and inspires me to emphasize the wonder in learning, for myself and my future students. In these six weeks, I've become very accustom to challenging students to expand the information they already know into a deep knowledge of the material that will be applicable throughout their careers. Observing in a sixth grade class has been so inspirational for me as a student and a teacher as it has reminded me of love my love for learning, and has explained how a teacher can instruct those emotions in the environment, and how this can be demonstrated throughout all grade levels. I've enjoyed so much of the rapport I was able to build with each of the students. I've received several e-mails from many of my students since the last day of observations, and I'm so proud of the abilities I've been able to establish with each of those students. Unfortunately, my reasoning for refraining from becoming a middle school teacher occurs in the structure of middle school, as it seems to be very hands off with most of the students seated for the majority of the class, and the teacher stands in front of the classroom and lectures. It's not what I want for my future, and not the method I desire to inspire my students with. Although I love the age of 6th graders, I'm afraid middle school just isn't for me. Hopefully if I attend a university out of state, I will obtain a licensure that allows me to teach k-6, so I can teach this age if I desire.
My mentor generally is bounded by the regulations the state gives her, as she is very careful to emphasize the topics that the seventh and eighth grade curriculum rely on for their lessons. With each activity, she highlights the activities that will better prepare them for not only the rest of their education career, and their position as future Doctors and future scientists. Topics such as matter and osmosis are crucial for their future careers, and those topics are often portrayed in manners that excite them about careers in medicine, such as pretending they're surgeons operating on Mr. Potato Head. Each lessons is strategically planted to intrigue the students to ask questions and to encourage curiosity among the students, so they believe learning is fun. She desires for the students to develop a passion for learning and science that they'll be able to carry with them throughout their entire lives. Once students reach sixth grade, the teachers generally refrain from holding the students hands, so most of the information is generally channeled through the students. When information becomes crucial, Mrs. Lane communicates to parents with a group e-mail to portray information to a mass amount of people. Additionally, she posts any information to her classroom webpage that she hopes parents check weekly or daily. This week students are furthering their knowledge on matter, and have done several experiments to test each of the laws. Recently, the students were given iPads to utilize during school. Although they are spectacular learning tools, there have been several incidents that are concerning to iPad safety, as science experiments and fragile pieces of technology are not very compatible. I think it will be interesting to see how the iPads are used, and how long they last.
As a former student of Mrs. Lane's class, I know why many students continue their relationships with her after they graduate, and that reason contributes to my reasoning for returning to the classroom. I immediately felt comfortable with her ability to encourage my learning with positive reinforcement. While teaching specific lessons that may be difficult to the students, she slows down her lessons to match the need of the students, careful to listen to their feedback, which shows she truly cares for each student and their feelings, as she wants to respect the individuals. Occasionally when someone shares an incorrect response to the class, instead of quickly moving on to the next student, she takes the time to weave little hints into her sentences to guide them to understanding the learning. Once they eventually arrive on the "aha" moment, the students feel this wave of success, and they are suddenly eager to participate in class due to Mrs. Lane's belief in their intelligence. Assignments that are turned in to Mrs. Lane always leave her hands with positive comments, which represent her pride for their work, and the belief that the students possess the ability to learn. The entire environment is based off of positive feelings with the idea that success can be accomplished with hard work. The students just began a unit on matter, which the students seem to be very interested in. But, the specific details are more challenging to grasp than I first assumed, as though they seem to confuse the terms weight and matter. Mrs. Lane is taking the time to reiterate the differences each day to make sure they're content on the learning. Finally, the students were trying to find the volume of the box, but it was interesting because Mrs. Lane told me not to tell the students the formula to solve for volume even though they didn't know it. Thus, the students sat confused and didn't accomplish any work. I thought it was bizarre that she didn't want them to know the formula, and then they wasted part of a period sitting there not doing anything, and at the end of the time she didn't explain the formula; therefore, when I become a teacher I don't think that's a method I am going to utilize in the classroom. Overall, this week was very educational, and gave me a new perspective to who I will become as a teacher.
When a child doesn't earn the results he or she originally desired, you hear him whining "it's not fair." And the truth is, it probably isn't fair, but there's a positive amount of equity that may be occluded from the naked eye, as the other child may have earned a little extra to assist him in attaining the results the primary child coveted. But, this wasn’t because this student was lucky and randomly assumed the extra help, it was because he needed that help to reach the same starting point as the first child. Equity is related to a student on an individual level, while equality meets the class as a whole. Imagine if a child’s parents are trying to find a satiating pair of shoes for each of their three children. Equality means each child receives the exact same gift, so each child would ip open the paper to find a pair of pink sparkly shoes. The five year old girl may be the only one who actually is pleased by the gift, while the other two may toss the shoes into the garbage. It is fair, for the children each earned the same exact item, not one was more expensive than the other, but only one of the kids was pleased. That is equality. Equity is if each pair of shoes represented the interests of the individual, so the five year old girl might open a box of pink sparkly shoes, and a thirteen year old boy may open a box housing a more expensive pair of basketball shoes, but they will put a smile on his face. The parents must pay more to boost him to the same level of excitement as the girl. Similar to education, as the teacher must insert more effort in the learning of a student who may struggle, and less effort into a student who already understands some of the learning to result in a complete knowledge of the curriculum.
In my mentor classroom, Mrs. Lane assigned a project about osmosis and diffusion that asked the students to follow the guidelines on the rubric. Each student received the same exact instructions, which is equality. When she was grading the project, the students who didn’t perform on the same level as other students were given the opportunity to summarize their knowledge in a paragraph after class to prove they comprehended the material. That is equity, for it was individualized to only the students who needed the extra help to assist them to the coveted grade. Because she offered this extra assistance, the students left the classroom knowing they did their best, and that they received the grade they had hoped for.
Osmosis and diffusion are difficult topics in science, lessons that I didn’t stumble upon until Honors Biology last year, and that has been the main concept of the student’s learning while I have been in the class. But, Mrs. Lane has explained this process in a sophisticated manner, as she has broken down each individual step to accommodate their confusion, with examples and analogies. She has even acted out diffusion using a hula hoop! When we return from break, everything is going to shift into a technologically advanced state because the students are receiving their iPads, and they’re thrilled to contain this opportunity.
I received an authoritative score on the quiz, which I think describes me accurately. I love to have fun with my students and create different and enticing activities, but I realize that it's just as important to have a class that's focused and ready to work. As a student, I've picked up on which teachers find a good balance between fun and focus, and they're always the teachers I like the most. Mrs. Lane was one of those teachers for me as a student, and as her intern I'm seeing the same characteristics in her teaching methods. She loves to highlight interesting activities by initiating experiments such as with Mr. Potato Head, but yet still keeps the class relatively quiet, and has them working. Occasionally she can be more strict than I would've been in certain scenarios. For example, one day the bell rang and the students dispersed from the class before Mrs. Lane reached the door to say goodbye. Later that day, she found the students, and punched their tiger tickets, which proves she does not bend the rules at all, and likes everything to be one way. I didn't think the students leaving should be something they deserved to be reprimanded for, but to Mrs. Lane that seemed appropriate because of the strict way she often runs her class. Depending on the teacher, different things can cause the person to become more strict, for Mrs. Lane that was a trigger, but for me that was irrelevant.
The Map of the Learning World
Along with me as your tour guide, you'll also find I've added my daily journal entries, or blogs, to help guide you through the learning world. Feel free to check them out!