You are on page 1of 5

Craig Kielburger S.S.

Reflection

1

Pre-Student Teaching Observation Reflection


EDU 667 Dr. Ahuna

Best Practice Focus


One of the best practices I observed was the use of classroom management techniques
in Liza Crawfords grade 9 essentials class.

The class is very rambunctious and there were

repetitive problems with the behaviour of certain students, especially when they sat together.
Liza gave them freedom to choose their own seats at the beginning of the year, but as problems
developed she advised them that continued disruptive behaviour would result in a new seating
arrangement of her choosing. She did in fact have to change the seating arrangement in order
to separate certain students, and when I saw the difference between the first arrangement and
the second in terms of the overall class mood and behaviour it was quite dramatic.

The

changing of the seating reduced the chaos in the classroom substantially, and many of the
students that were previously being disruptive actually were able to focus and seemed intent on
doing their work. The peer pressure associated with close proximity and egging one another
on was nearly eliminated, and since she had given them many warnings and chances to modify
their behaviour before she changed the seating plan, the students could see that her decision
was fair and that they were responsible for their own actions. This was an effective method of
classroom management, and I liked how she did not make the new seating arrangement an
unchangeable, permanent thing, but promised that if the students continued in good behaviour
they would have a chance to try again sitting beside the person they chose, with the caveat that
they would go back to the teachers seating arrangement if issues continued. I thought she had
good diplomacy and a sensitive approach to this strategy, and the students responded well.
Another best practice I observed was in Mr. Featherstones grade 9 academic English
class.

The best way I could describe this best practice is using physical interaction to get the

students involved in the learning process. He did this in two notable ways first, he was
teaching the students about performative skills in terms of presentation skills, speaking and

Craig Kielburger S.S. Reflection

2

diction and volume, etc. He had the students all get to their feet, and then led them through
a series of repeat after me drills, in which he taught them the corresponding elements of
good speech and presentation technique. For example, This is too fast, he said extremely
fast, followed by This is too slow said really slowly, and This is too quiet said in a whisper,
and This is just right said in a measured tone, and so forth. He was able to make it a really
fun and lively exercise by getting the students to stand up straight, speak from their
diaphragms, and by doing the call and response routine, he was also able to get the energy in
the room ramped up by getting them to do things louder or quieter. Rather than a dry list of
attributes of good public speaking on a sheet or lectured from the front of the class, the whole
exercise became a really fun interactive way of teaching these elements of public speaking and
performative skills.
Another example that I noticed in Mr. Featherstones class was the use of physical
surroundings to teach lessons concerning an element of a story. The students read the short
story Weeds in the Garden, in which certain genetic mutations had happened to the
environment and it was hard to tell the genetically mutated weeds from the good plants.
When illustrating this example, Mr. Featherstone used the windows in the classroom to look
out into the lawn in front of the school, and said he spotted some weeds out there that looked
rather like flowers, and could the students tell which one was a weed or a flower. Such a
simple use of the environment, but I noticed all the students heads turn at once toward the
window, and many students stood up and were peering intently at the lawn out front. This
engagement of the senses and use of the body as well as the mind seemed to me a very good
and profitable technique to make ideas come alive and become interactive for the students.

!
Setting
This experience took place at Craig Kielburger S.S., a newer high school in Milton,
ON, where I did all of my placement hours. I observed classes with five different English

Craig Kielburger S.S. Reflection

3

teachers: Grade 9 Essentials and Grade 9 Academic, Grade 10 Essentials, Grade 12 College,
and Grade 12 university level. The school is in a suburban area, and the demographics range
in economic, ethnic, and gender, with a rich diversity of each. No one demographic stands out
as dominant, there is a good balance throughout the school. I observed starting Oct 1st 2014
until the week of Nov 21st, and my hours ranged anywhere from 8am to 2:45pm. The teachers
I observed with were Joy Barnaby, Liza Crawford, Kate Stewart, Andrea Hyde, and Don
Featherstone. My hours were evenly divided for grade 9 and for the rest of the grades (10-12).
Description
In the academic classes there was far more structure and orderliness and actual deep
teaching happening.

The classes sat in their desks and were instructed in their lessons,

sometimes doing presentations and sometimes breaking into discussion or activity groups. In
Joy Barnabys class, for example, they were reading The Chrysalids, so I picked up a copy of the
book to read along so I could interact better with the class. In one class we broke into small
groups and had to make our own mutants by cutting out images from various magazines and
combining them to make a mutant creature (in line with themes from The Chrysalids).

Mr.

Featherstone began his classes with a mini-quiz to make sure people read the chapters of the
book that were assigned, and then had each exchange their quiz with another to peer mark
them. I observed him teach performative skills for presenting, having the class do a public
speech training exercise.

In Kate Stewarts grade 12 university English, there was more

lecture-format teaching with introductions to persuasive essay writing, literary devices and
poetry analysis, and how to cite secondary sources. The students in this class were more selfdirected and were able to go group work without much additional guidance. They also did a
big group project on The Stone Angels and had to prepare a big graphic display board of a family
tree and specifically symbolism for each character in the story.

Craig Kielburger S.S. Reflection

4

Some classes were dedicated to tests and quizzes, others included watching movies (this
is more common in the essentials classes). Liza Crawfords grade 9 essentials included Power
Point slides and a video clip to start each class, and the clip was discussed, and then the class
would break into an assignment or project. There was a lot of anti-bullying material in the
grade 9 essentials class. Students are all on IEPs in the essentials stream. Behaviour issues
are more prominent in these classes, and the students are often taunting other students or
generally acting in a disruptive way (playing loud sounds on their smartphones or iPads,
throwing things, refusing to focus on work, etc), so it was a much more challenging dynamic.

Analysis (Connection/Links)
There is a connection with Mr. Featherstones use of physical activity and group
collaborative activity with the performative skills teaching drill and the issue of diverse
learners and differentiated instruction.

Some learners may not respond at all or retain

information that is delivered through only one mode of communication (like a lecture-style
approach), and this activity would help them to retain the information. The students become
active participants rather than passive listeners only (ala the banking account theory of
students critiqued by Paulo Freire), and they are active not only with their minds engaged but
with their whole bodies.
Applications
I think Liza Crawfords seating plan best practice for classroom management will be
very helpful to me as a new teacher, because it allows me to see ahead the possible disruptions
that can come from a seating arrangement, and to plan steps to address that and make
standards and guidelines known to students from the outset of the course. That way, if issues
do crop up, the students will have been fully forewarned of the consequences and adaptations
that would result from misbehaviour relating to seating. This strategy helped improve student

Craig Kielburger S.S. Reflection

5

learning for the whole class, because just a couple students can easily disrupt the entire class
and derail their learning experience, so having this category in mind and being prepared to
make adjustments will definitely improve the learning experience for the whole class should a
change need to be implemented. Such a classroom management strategy would take a little
time to implement as I would need to see the behavioural dynamic of the class overall and in
particular the dynamics between particular pairs or groups of students, but I could implement
the seating arrangement plan after observing them for a short period.
For Mr. Featherstones class, using the physical surroundings of the classroom
environment as natural aids and props for lesson illustrations is something that can be done
with any subject or class, and would help promote creativity in lesson planning. Also, getting
the students out of their seats and into some form of physical activity to stimulate the senses is
a very practical and handy aid to any lesson, as it helps the students to refresh their senses and
gets their blood and energy going instead of them being burnt out or lethargic. I think both of
these practices could be brought into a teaching context very smoothly and conveniently.