This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
you do are in harmony.” Mahatma Gandhi
Part 1: Ideology
Why teach? Long story short, I teach because there are children. Children are society’s precious gems. In them, we see reﬂections of the past as they internalize the goals of our civilization, and take on our traditions. We see ﬂashes of the future. In time, their curiosity and ambition will rearrange the building blocks of our civilization. I believe all children deserve to have a stake in this decision-making process. People must have the freedom to choose elected leaders, career paths, where we live, and who we associate with, without undue inﬂuence from socioeconomic issues of birth. In our society, this freedom is not free for all. The culture of power has many gatekeepers. Lisa Delpit says there are many codes of power, from ways of talking, to how one dresses. These codes are a reﬂection of the middle and upper class because they deﬁne economic, political, and social success in our society. I believe all members of society, regardless of class or culture, should have the chance to redeﬁne these codes as time progresses. As Delpit says in Other People’s Children, “ I also do not believe we should teach students to passively adopt an alternate code. They must be encouraged to understand the value of the code they already possess as well as to understand the power realities in this country. Otherwise they will be unable to work to change these realities” (40). Giving students access to the culture of power is not my primary goal. The word “access” seems too passive. I want my students to take a leadership role in redeﬁning the culture of power. Freire says “The more people become themselves, the better the democracy” (145). I want to help create a world where people see themselves reﬂected in institutions of power. If I could see them in 15 years.... “Ability to redeﬁne the culture of power” is not an assessment criteria found on tests, rubrics, content standards, or curricula. It would be too easy for me to say “I want students to be critical thinkers”. Critical thinking has become a meaningless catch-all phrase for all productive behaviors. If I saw my students 15 years after I met them, I would want them to:
1. Be curious: To have a genuine interest in learning about the world. Not immobilized by fear of what they do not know or the hubris of thinking they know everything. 2. Develop their own process of research and investigation: To be conﬁdent in their ability to use their skills to investigate the world and ﬁgure things out. 3. Solve problems: To make value judgments using evidence and use these value judgements to solve intra- and interpersonal problems. 4. Work in a diverse community: To feel like valued members of a community and use interdependence to meet community goals. 5. To persevere: To set goals for themselves and have strategies for when they do not meet their goals on the ﬁrst try. These ﬁve traits are a combination of content knowledge, metacognitive strategies, and social skills. State and district content standards, school goals, and the goals of parents are important. I will help students devise their own standards of success while meeting the goals others have for them. How do students learn? I believe knowledge is constructed from experience rather than passively received from teachers. In order for students to construct understandings from experience, the experiences must: - Be developmentally appropriate: students need experiences that build upon understandings they already have while challenging them to formulate new understandings. Vygotski used the term “Zone of Proximal Development”. Learning requires a delicate mix of challenge, conﬂict, safety, and familiarity. There is not a single linear progression that ﬁts the learning trajectories of all students. - Stay rooted in students’ curiosities and experiences: If students are not curious about the topics, they will not engage in the material. In my experience, students tend to be curious about topics that relate to their experience in the world. Students have to make the choice to engage in the process and integrate new understandings into their lives. Freire says “When students come, of course, they bring with them, inside of them, in their bodies, in their lives, they bring their hopes, despair, expectations, knowledge, which they got by living, by ﬁghting, by becoming frustrated” (156). - Honor multiple intelligences: Students show strengths across multiple intelligences. There are many literacies students need to access information in our society - from numeracy and technological literacy to verbal literacy. Classroom environments must give students experience working in their preferred modalities as well as give students a chance to build skills in other intelligence areas.
- Focus on building relationships and bridging communities: Students are building their self-identities in school and ﬁguring out how they ﬁt into different communities. Students must have experiences at school that afﬁrm the codes they have learned in their homes and communities. Families are the ﬁrst source of student learning and students want to be active members in their home communities as well as their school communities. Schools should focus on the idea of community membership and validate the many communities students serve. Students must have the experience of working within a learning community. In school, students should have the opportunity to ponder social issues, talk about solutions, and begin to enact these solutions. What is my role in the learning community? Freire sums up the primary concern of my professional practice: “but the question is how to take advantage of the reading of reality, which the people are doing, in order to make it possible for students to make a different and much deeper reading of reality” (158). I believe the best way I can help students “make a deeper reading of reality” is to lead a democratic learning community. The learning community is democratic in the sense that there are structures built-in for students to take charge of the decision-making behind rituals and assignments. Myles Horton says “You experiment with people not on people. There’s a big difference. They’re in on the experiment. They’re in on the process” (148). Students learn when they have the selfdetermined goal of engaging in the learning community. In the end, I cannot control students, or make them learn. I can be a leader. I believe that given a structured democratic community, students can build upon their understandings of the world, and learn from their mistakes over time. It is my job to uncover the understandings students have and expose them to challenging experiences that help them grow. In Rethinking Classroom Management, Belvel and Jordan contrast lead teachers with authoritarian and rescuer/enabler teachers. They say lead teachers must help students process their own mistakes, interpret the behavior of others, and facilitate decision-making with appropriate questions. Lead teachers question and model rather than preach. We support students as they experience natural consequences. The focus is on relationships and decision-making rather than control and compliance.
Part 2: Speciﬁc Applications
Community-Building and Academic Activities Community-building goes through phases. I use the word phase rather than stage because students will not progress in concrete steps. They will phase in and out of behaviors at different rates and with differing levels of consistency. Although I put a time period estimation on each phase, the behaviors of my students will be the gauge of which leadership strategies I use, responsibilities my students have, and social goals. I highlight the community-building mechanisms of each phase in the following tables. I follow the advice of Gibbs’ Reaching All by Creating Tribes Learning Communities, Charney’s Teaching Children to Care, Kagan et al’s Win-Win Discipline, and other sources. The year begins with a high level of teacher-control and students take responsibility as the year progresses. Instructional strategies are increasingly studentdriven as I learn about students, and the students feel safe in the community. We will transition from lecture and whole class learning, to cooperative learning, and ﬁnally, to discovery learning activities. I direct lecture and whole class learning. Cooperative learning features students working in groups based on topics and strategies I initiate. In discovery learning, I select the topic and students choose how they are going to explore the topic, share their knowledge, and evaluate themselves. I facilitate problem-solving, use questions to alert students of new opportunities, and make sure students have the resources to complete their project. The following tables show which instructional strategies I will use as the year progresses.
Activity Lecture/Direct instruction High.
Level of Direction
When is it used? To scaffold concepts before student practice. To make algorithms second-nature after number sense and other concepts are established. Some worksheets are fun. To organize information, reﬂect, form relationships with other students and the teacher, and practice communication in all subject domains.
Medium to high.
Journaling (as a part of readers’ and writers’ work shop as well as science, math, and other domains)
Low to high. For example, in the ﬁrst weeks of school when students are learning how to keep math and science notebooks, I might give them a format for organizing their information. In readers’ and writers’ workshop, I will give them advice for strategies but will not make them use strategies. Low to medium. As students learn strategies for conducting investigations, they will need less prompting.
Investigation and case study (students are presented with a question or problem and have to work through possible solutions with their peers or individually) Debate, mock trial, role-playing, and readers’ theater type activities
Math talks and science investigations. Most domains will have investigation activities.
Low to medium.
When students need to internalize meanings and see things from a new perspective. Language arts
Readers’ and Writers’ Workshop
Low to high. I model strategies for students, they practice the strategies as a whole class, then write or read on their own. Low to high.
Classroom book and poster-making (jigsaw, think/pair/share, sharing investigation/project information, etc) Dialogical discussion groups
Using text from all domains, students lead discussions with peers. I help students clarify their own understandings by asking authentic questions and guiding their responses to peers. Language arts
Medium to high.
Phase Time Period Student Needs My Needs Leadership Strategies and Activities - Building and practicing classroom agreements and procedures - Discuss IMessages, conﬂict resolution, and reconciliation procedures - Personalizing the classroom space (ex: making laminated placemats with drawings and pictures from home; a self and family portrait activity - Whole-class instruction and work in temporary small groups - Establish safety signals - Guided discovery of objects and classroom spaces - Instructional objectives include scaffolding work students will do in small-groups later in the year - Establishing connections with parents and the community - Build relationships with my students by participating in whole class discussions and doing interactive journaling - Have class experiences like gardening - Guardians, students, and I craft social goals - Assign classroom jobs - Use “mouths, bodies, materials” (MBM) to direct students Evidence of Growth
Inclusion (Gibbs) Whole Class Learning (Charney)
First weeks of the year (September late October).
- Time to meet peers, learn names, and start making personal connections - A forum to express hopes, expectations, strengths, and needs - Acknowledgemen t from peers and the teacher - To deliberate about and create classroom agreements - To know parents are a part of the decision-making process and there is a home school connection - To feel successful - To feel a personal connection to the curriculum
I have the same needs as the students, plus: - To get to know parents’ hopes, expectations, and goals - To start learning about students’ academic strengths and curiosities - To begin to learn small-group and whole class dynamics - To start to learn about the school culture
Students: - Call peers by their names - Can locate classroom materials - Cleanup after themselves - Can listen to each other at meetings and make comments directed to the class rather than the teacher - Have had social and academic success in whole group and temporary group instruction
I: - Know student names - Can identify leaders, less popular students, friends, and students who have lapses of judgement more often than their peers - Have made at least one meaningful positive phone-call home - Know guardians by ﬁrst name - Help parents explain the academic and social goals they have for their children - Spend time in the staff room, at district functions, and at professional development activities
Phase Time Period Student Needs My Needs Leadership Strategies and Activities - Introduce permanent tribes and cooperative learning - “Freeze” situations and help students use I-messages and problem-solve in groups - Create opportunities for students to share their heritage and discuss differences - Guardians, students, and I craft academic goals - Start class, tribe, and individual reﬂection and progress tracking systems that include writing, graphical representations, and portfolios - Help students practice and rotate group roles - Start small group work and try to use heterogenous groups when possible - Go on ﬁeld trips - Craft individual and tribal contracts including selfmonitoring, selfinstruction, and self-reinforcement - Use the heritage board and other activities to help students understand when culture of power and heritage language and/or norms apply - Instructional objectives shifts to strategies (ex: how to choose a ‘just right’ book and choose a place to read) Evidence of Growth
Inﬂuence (Gibbs) Paradoxical Groups (Charney) (Called paradoxical groups because you teach pretend to teach the small group while actually teaching the whole class)
From early November until the start of winter break.
- To feel safe expressing diverse opinions, working on areas of improvement, and asking questions - To have challenging academic and social experiences where they can try out strategies - To respect differences - Begin to share leadership responsibility - To start keeping track of progress - To have experience working through conﬂict in whole class, tribe, and individual settings - To reach out to other classrooms and the community - To show their heritage - To deepen relationships
I have the same needs as the students, plus: - Keep parents informed about student progress - To continue to trust my students even when periods of restlessness and conﬂict arise (and to see these conﬂicts as a positive sign students feel safe enough show frustration) - To collaborate with colleagues and pull together school resources to help students - To begin to transfer responsibility and decrease my control - To involve myself in positive aspects of the school culture
Students: - Choose tasks and workspaces when given choices (individual or small-group) - Cooperate during teacher-led and peer-led groups - Moderate volume and physical movement - Stay on-task most of the time and engage in problem-solving when they are not on-task
I: - Assign successful heterogenous groups - Use classroom activities, PTA groups, and other experiences to build a parent community -Invite the principal, my colleagues, and parents to observe my classroom - Acknowledge and solicit constructive criticism from students, colleagues, and parents - Can identify “funds of knowledge” students bring from home
Leadership Strategies and Activities - Discovery-based learning activities - For some projects, all members of the group receive the same grade - Groups collaborate with me to design rubrics, projects, and timelines - Students have experiences where they choose individual, group, and class problemsolving strategies - Students lead student-parentteacher conferences - Some classroom assignments have a community impact - Help students identify growth over the whole year and think optimistically about the next year
Evidence of Growth
Community (Gibbs) Independence and Responsibility (Charney)
From the middle of January until the end of the year.
- To share responsibility for tribe and class outcomes - To acknowledge success in others - To give and receive constructive criticism from peers - To celebrate accomplishments - To choose activities with an increasing degree of challenge - To take control of classroom management structures
I have the same needs as the students, plus: - To feel comfortable letting students have a higher degree of choice in the academic curriculum and classroom management strategies - To celebrate growth from all members of our community (including myself) - To assume a higher degree of leadership in the school community - To facilitate parent interaction with other members of the school community
Students: - Identify problems and solution strategies without teacher intervention - call for problemsolving class meetings, reconciliation, and conﬂict resolution on their own - Set-up and care for materials and spaces - Choose strategies, make a plan for work time, and stick to the plan - Choose rewards and logical consequences I: - Make a professional development plan with input from my colleagues - Look for opportunities to raise concerns at staff, district, or union meetings - Join professional organizations
Prevention, Moment of Disruption, and Reparation Structures Prevention The foundation of my classroom management plan is community-building and engaging learning experiences. In his theory of Cooperative Discipline, Albert says students have a genuine goal of belonging. When they do not gain acceptance they pursue the mistaken goals of attention, power, revenge, and withdrawal. Glasser says quality curriculum, supportive climates, lead teaching, and encouragement help students have a quality existence in school. As I learn more about the students, activities will bridge their curiosity with my instructional goals and content standards. Students and I will create our classroom discussions after small group and whole class discussions. After group brainstorming, we will synthesize statements into ﬁve agreements. Four of them will closely resemble the Tribes agreements: Attentive listening, Appreciation/No put-downs, Right to Pass and Participate, and Mutual Respect. Everyday, we will meet as a community circle in our morning meeting. The main goals of morning meeting are to make connections between home and school; teach the agreements, procedures, and problem-solving strategies; learn about eachother; and have fun. Problem-solving meetings will be called as the need arises. Agreements and procedures will be modeled by students and posters will be hung around the room. Morning meetings, community-building activities, democratic decision-making, and chores have the aim of giving students a personal stake in the classroom. Although I will draft procedures (routine steps Should I use the pencil sharpener? students follow to complete tasks) before the school year The pencil sharpener is noisy.... begins, I will not present these Should I use it after school? YES step-by-step in a Wong-style boot-camp. The guided Should I use it before school? YES discovery (Charney) process is used in phase one of the school Should I use it during recess? YES year. It is a process for What about during reading and work time? NO “introducing materials, opening areas in the classroom, and If I cannot use the pencil sharpener, I should put my preparing children for different unsharpened pencil in the cup and grab a new pencil from the pencil chest. aspects of the curriculum” (48). I will post procedures around the room in ways that scaffold student decision-making. The community-building and right to pass create a “brainbased” low stress environment.
In terms of my day to day interactions with students, I plan on using Win-Win Discipline and question-based teacher-talk without a focus on traditional praise. As Alﬁe Kohn says in Why Self-Discipline is Overrated, genuine displays of enthusiasm are great, while praise with the aim of manipulating future behavior is questionable. Charney says teacher comments should come in the form of acknowledgement that reinforces efforts, reminds students of agreements, and redirects student behavior. When students need guidance, I will take Jones’ advice to contact (have the student explain the problem), prompt (point student to scaffolds or instructions, ask students a question, or tell them to consult their group), and leave (exit the situation quickly and keep an eye on the student from a distance). After students form tribes, they can follow the “ask three before me” rule.
Words of Acknowledgement: “You remembered to carry the scissors point down.” “I notice lots of different ideas and ways to draw trees. It’s cool that people have different ways to do things.” “You worked hard to solve that problem on your own!” “Before we use the computers, remind me, what are the three things you need to do?” “Who remembers where to ﬁnd a dictionary? Show us.” “Remind us of what happens in our class if someone makes a mistake.” “I see you wandering around the room, remind me, what’s your job right now?” “This mountain is huge! You sure used a lot of colors!” “Look at Abigail’s face! She seems pretty happy you complemented her work!” “Are you proud of your work? What’s your favorite part?” “Let’s take a few minutes to complement each-other on our work today.”
Examples Taken from Charney, Kohn (Five Reasons to Stop Saying “Good Job!”), and Blevel and Jordan.
Moment of Disruption
In her Inner-Discipline approach, Coloroso makes the distinction between punishment and discipline. She says punishment is psychologically harmful treatment that provokes the three F’s: fear, ﬁghting back, or ﬂeeing. Discipline leads students to understand what they have done wrong, give them ownership of problems, provides strategies for solving problems, and preserves their dignity. Kagan et al’s Win-Win Discipline approach uses moment of disruption structures where students and teachers are on the same side, collaborate to ﬁnd solutions, and learn responsibility over time. It is important that all responses are “same-side chats”: students and I need to understand we are all working together and that there are solutions to problems that beneﬁt all parties. Responses to inappropriate behaviors differ from responses to unacceptable behaviors. As Jones and Blevel and Jordan point out, my body language, tone, and facial expressions carry 80% of my intervention message. I must make sure intervention strategies are used consistently without disproportionate use by gender, race, ethnicity, English language learner, or other group status.
Response Acknowledge Student Position Example “Is it hard for you to concentrate? That makes sense - I have problems concentrating too. Would it help if we took a stretch break/if you moved to a different seat/if you focused on a more hands-on part of your project?” There is a familiar, predictable, and consistent procedure for students. Some students need to take a break to cool down while others can use the “centering time” approach to think through better choices. At the end of the time out, a bargaining meeting can be used to negotiate reentry into the activity. See words of acknowledgement box Kagan et al Source
Time Out, Bargaining Meeting, Centering Time (also a logical consequence)
Charney, Gibbs, Blevel and Jordan
Charney, Blevel and Jordan
Thumbs up/Thumbs Down
“Are we thumbs up, thumbs middle, or thumbs down? Raise your hand and tell your classmates why. Don’t name-names.” “Freeze! Rewind the video tape what do you see? What do you hear? How should it look?”
Freeze, Run the Movie Backward, What’s Happening?, Picture it Right
Example “I feel confused when people shout at me.” Moving close to students who need to make better choices. Making physical contact (hand on the shoulder). This is usually for attention-seeking behavior. I do not focus on inappropriate student behaviors. Instead, I go about my business or focus on students who are on-task. Use nonverbal facial cues to convey surprise, acknowledgement, etc. I do not respond to the content of what students are saying. In a neutral tone, I repeat the same intervention over and over again until the student changes their behavior. If students are bored by whole class activities, break them into groups and use jigsaw, think/pair/share, etc. Removal of the person or materials. “Pencils are for writing, Stephen... [Take pencil away]. When you are ready to use the pencil appropriately, tell me and I’ll give it back.”
Source Gibbs, Nelsen and Lott, Gordon, Blevel and Jordan Blevel and Jordan, Jones
Silence, Selective Listening
Blevel and Jordan
Blevel and Jordan
Altering the Setting
Blevel and Jordan
Charney, Blevel and Jordan
After the Moment of Disruption: Contracts, Consequences, and Reparation These structures are used to enhance social learning. I will use some of these at the the moment of disruption or use them after the moment has passed. I emphasize reﬂection, individual or group problem-solving, self-monitoring, listening to others, goal-setting, and optimism. Charney says logical consequences must respond to choices and actions rather than character, address of the demands of the situation rather than authority, be applied with structure and empathy, and cannot be applied until after the teacher assesses the situation. As the year progresses, students can call problem-solving meetings to order, decide which logical consequences to apply to a situation, and lead conﬂict resolution sessions. Crisis management involves using a combination of moment of disruption structures, goal-setting, progress-monitoring, and community
problem-solving activities. I want negative phone-calls home and trips to the principal’s ofﬁce to be the last line of intervention rather than the ﬁrst.
Response Let’s Talk, Client-Consultant, Tribal Agreements, Problem-Solving Class Meetings, Behavior Baskets Example These are Tribes strategies where students talk through problems. Over time, students lead these strategies. Parents, specialists, and other community members can also be involved. A third-party (can be a teacher or another student) helps students work through a conﬂict. Participants agree to ground rules and agree to solutions. Students design a list of ways to repair damage from poor choices. Choices often include: making a card, writing a letter, greeting a person in morning meeting, helping someone go to the nurse, and helping clean up a spill. Students and I design goals. I scaffold a process for students to monitor their behavior, choose appropriate strategies, reﬂect, and reward themselves. These goals can be academic or social. When students are not responsible they lose a privilege. There are ways to earn the privilege back. “You ignore me when I speak to you, which tells me you don’t care to be in my group. You are welcome to return when you are ready to show respect”. Modeling Social Behaviors (also preventative) This strategy is very important especially for students who are delayed in learning social skills. This includes breaking down larger behaviors into smaller ones (teaching students how to tuck in chairs, walk to the carpet, and choose a space) and making the implicit explicit. Charney Source Charney, Gibbs
Conﬂict Resolution (teacher and student-lead)
Caring Menu, Reparation, Restitution/Resolution/ Reconciliation, Apology of Action
Coloroso, Charney, Blevel and Jordan
Self-Monitoring, Self-Instruction, Goal-Setting, Self-Reinforcement; Contracts
IRIS Module, Charney
Losing a Privilege
Response Students write a letter home
Example I want students to communicate their in-school behaviors with their parents. This could be a daily activity for some students - they can talk about positive and negative things that happen during the school day.
Source Personal experience
The Physical Environment When my students walk into the room, there are ﬁve things I would like them to notice:
1. Their progress and life connections. I want the work of the students to dominate the space. I will work with students to display work in stimulating ways and show work in all stages of completion. During the ﬁrst days of school, students will start the process of personalizing the space. One of the ﬁrst lesson plans I have thought about is having students bring in photos, draw pictures, and use collage methods to create placemats that I will laminate and use for table spaces. There is a dedicated unﬁnished work display space in the corner of the room. By the end of the year, I want students to make choices about which projects we display and how they want
to display their own work. A prominent display in my classroom will be a Heritage Board (explained in Delpit). For example, I might show clips from published work or student writing that uses the students’ heritage languages. I will build on these examples to talk about the difference between our heritage cultures and the elements of the formal culture we are learning (standardized language, art techniques, etc). There will be a classroom calendar with student birthdays and other information. The class will publish books from week one and we will display those throughout the classroom. Students will keep track of their progress using spreadsheet/graphing software or handmade graphs. These will go in binders and we will create class and small group progress displays using this information. 2. Stimulating investigation spaces. I would like my room to have bright and inviting colors. Supplies will be easily accessible to students. Over the course of the year, the class will develop norms and routines for how to pass out materials, handle spills, and treat materials. I will set-up dedicated investigation spaces on the tops of low supply tables. Students will choose the topics of the tables after the ﬁrst few months of school. For example, students could create a sketching table and bring in objects for other students to sketch, check out sketch technique books from the library, and have the supplies out so students could explore this during the day. 3. Community, small group, and individual work spaces. Although the focus of my room will be cooperative group work, I want my students to ﬁgure out which spaces and situations help them engage in the material. By the middle of the year, I hope students can choose appropriate work spaces depending on the project (for example, one group may choose to work with clipboards in the library because they need books while another group might prefer the round tables because they need to have a meeting). The tables are round because round tables invite participation and engagement of all members of a group. There is a “cool down zone” surrounded by low supply tables so students can take a break and refocus. 4. The open and comfortable space. There is a comfortable chair next to the library. My desk is in the middle of the room (I contemplated making my desk part of the student circle of desks but decided against it). There are no barriers in the classroom that prevent students or I from seeing other parts of the room. I hope my classroom has windows so students do not feel suffocated and we get natural light. We could grow a few plants inside if there is enough light. Over time, I might try to acquire soft lighting sources, bean bag chairs, and other pieces of furniture that make spaces appealing and comfortable. 5. Scaffolding. There will be a designated space on the board for example work and steps to completing projects. Depending on the grade, I will buy appropriate name tags. For example, third graders are transitioning from D’Nealian to cursive. I would purchase nametags that feature the alphabet in cursive, a number line, a ruler, and other tools that the students can use to help them complete work. After students
make decisions that inﬂuence the classroom (agreements, steps to reconciliation, etc), I will have students put this information into a book or posters we can display in the room. This way, when students break classroom agreements, we can reference these items. Technology I will use technology in my classroom when there are relevant academic challenges for students. Digital storytelling, research, and display of quantitative information are areas my class will explore. I hope my classroom has 1 - 2 computers or access to a computer cart/lab. Over time, I would like to acquire a digital camera, camcorder, and a computer projector. Agreements for computer use will be discussed along with other agreements in the beginning of the year. I will make sure work with technology is done in the classroom so students without access to technology are not disadvantaged. Assessment and Grading Assessment is an ongoing process of gathering information about my students. Turned-in work, personal reﬂections, verbal responses, and observed attitudes while working with peers are examples of evidence I can use form hypothesis about my students’ strengths and curiosities. The primary use for rubrics is to link observed behaviors to learning outcomes. It is my job to reconcile student needs, interests, and strengths to content standards, goals of parents, and my personal goals for students. Although most assessment in my class will be criterion-referenced, I will conduct standardized tests on behalf of the school, district, or state. I will encourage students to do their best on these tests, and give them strategies for success, but I will not pass on my professional anxiety about test scores to my students. The school will determine how I report progress to parents. I will remain transparent in my grading. When assignments require grades, there will be opportunities for students to discuss their grades. As the year progresses, they may even choose the criteria for how their work is graded. Regardless of school standards, students will make portfolios and learn how to lead student-parent-teacher conferences. I will make sure students receive feedback on most of their assignments. This feedback will focus on strengths and give advice for how to improve the next time.
Homework I agree with Alﬁe Kohn when he says we need to rethink homework. It is my job to help students develop healthy study habits at home. If assigned thoughtfully, homework can build home-school connections, serve as a running assessment, and give students time to reﬂect on their school activities. I will assign 15 minutes of reading six nights per week and have a reading log for parents to sign. This can be silent reading, reading to a family member, helping a parent read a recipe or directions, or listening to a read aloud. Three - four nights per week I will assign math, science, or social studies homework. I will make sure students do not spend longer than 20 minutes on these assignments. If I assign math homework, it will take the form of data collection from home, one required problem and an optional challenge problem (both will require students to show written work), playing math games, or doing practical math using recipes, newspaper advertisements, and other sources. Science homework might take the form of open-ended probes, data collection, and scientiﬁc sketching. Social studies homework might include polling family and friends, reacting to news or historic events we covered in class, bringing in items that reﬂect their heritage, and working with newspapers. Whenever I assign homework, I will preview it in class and brainstorm strategies with students. In the second phase of the year, I will have discussions with students about which homework assignments are helpful, how long it takes them to complete their homework, and the system we should use for grading homework. Parent and Community Partnership Parents are already involved in the education of their children - they choose which schools to send them to, help them thrive in their home and neighborhood communities, pass down heritage and morals, expose them to problem-solving situations, and expose them to “funds of knowledge” at home. It is my job to connect the learning the learning that happens at home and in the community to our classroom community. Many parents are nervous about coming into the classroom. Some cultures see teachers as professionals who are in charge of the school domain. Parents may also feel like they do not ﬁt in with other parents or the culture of power at school. There are also practical concerns including care of young siblings and grandparents, busy work schedules, and lack of access to transportation. As I learn more about students’ communities and school culture, I can take more leadership in giving parents opportunities to engage in our classroom community. I want to start the year with meaningful positive phone calls home. I will provide translated documents in students’ home language (by school and district translators, other parents, or community centers). I can try to hold events like back to school night and conferences at a variety of times (in the morning, evenings, and on the weekends),
have the school provide childcare or allow other children and family members to attend meetings, and host events in convenient community locations. I will give parents many ways to contact me: phone, email, blog, and ofﬁce hours. Parents will be invited to volunteer in the classroom and learn with children during bi-weekly brunch, community reading, and board game events. Other ideas include include themed workshops for families (example: math night), giving parents volunteer opportunities at home (sending scissors and papers to be cut out for class), and developing parent tribes. Many of these ideas require collaboration with other teachers, school leadership, and community leaders. Professional Development Principle three of the New York State Code of Ethics for Educators is “Educators commit to their own learning in order to develop their practice”. The ﬁrst step of my professional development is to learn about the culture of my school, students, and surrounding communities. I must form relationships with my colleagues, students, and parents so I am aware of strengths and goals. I will eat in the staff lounge, attend professional development sessions, and ﬁnd other ways to learn about my colleagues. Next, I will collaborate with within my Professional Organizations grade level and ﬁnd mentors. The topics of collaboration can range from planning academic lesson plans, to parent - National Science Teachers Association partnership events, and ﬁeld trips. I - National Education Association Council of Teachers of would like the opportunity to observe - National Mathematics classrooms in my school and neighboring schools. After I become a - National Board for Professional Teaching Standards part of the school community, I will seek memberships in professional - Teacher Leaders Network organizations, write grants for my classroom and school, attend conferences, and ﬁnd leadership opportunities. Within the ﬁrst year, I would like to fulﬁll all of the requirements to turn my conditional initial certiﬁcate to a regular initial certiﬁcate. After three years, I will become a National Board certiﬁcation candidate.
“You experiment with people not on people. There’s a big difference. They’re in on the experiment. They’re in on the process”. - Myles Horton, We Make the Road by Walking (page 148) Mission Statement: I strive to create a classroom culture that helps students realize their promise and self-worth, function as members of diverse learning communities, and excel in academics.
“On the other hand, internalization can take place more authentically, so the behavior is experienced as “volitional or selfdetermined.” It’s been fully integrated into one’s value structure and feels chosen”. - Alﬁe Kohn, Why Self-Discipline is Overrated
“...we must take the responsibility to teach, to provide for students who do not already possess them, the additional codes of power. But I also do not believe we should teach students to passively adopt an alternate code. They must be encouraged to understand the value of the code they already possess as well as to understand the power realities in this country. Otherwise they will be unable to work to change these realities. And how does one do that?” - Lisa Delpit, Other People’s Children (page 40)
“The primary purpose of this work is to develop innovations in teaching that draw upon the knowledge and skills found in local households”. - Moll et al, Funds of Knowledge: Using a Qualitative Approach to Connect Homes and Classrooms
Charney, R. S. (2002). Teaching Children To Care: Classroom Management for Ethical and Academic Growth, K-8 (2nd ed.). Massachusetts: Northeast Foundation for Children. Charles, C. M. (2002). Building classroom discipline. Boston : Allyn and Bacon. Delpit, Lisa D. (2006). Other people's children : cultural conﬂict in the classroom. New York : New Press : Distributed by W.W. Norton. Gibbs, Jeane. (2006). Reaching All by Creating Tribes Learning Communities. Windsor, Ca: CenterSource. Horton, Myles and Paulo Freire. (1990). We make the road by walking : conversations on education and social change. Philadelphia : Temple University Press. The IRIS Center. "Module: You're in Charge! Developing Your Own Comprehensive Behavior Management Plan." The IRIS Center. Vanderbilt University. 01 Nov. 2008 <http://iris.peabody.vanderbilt.edu/par2/chalcycle.htm>. Kohn, Alﬁe. (2001). "Five Reasons to Stop Saying 'Good Job!'" Young Children. Alﬁe Kohn. 01 Nov. 2008 <http://www.alﬁekohn.org/articles.htm#null>. Kohn, Alﬁe. (2007). "Rethinking Homework." Principal. Alﬁe Kohn. 01 Nov. 2008 <http://www.alﬁekohn.org/articles.htm#null>. Kohn, Alﬁe. (2008). "The Risks of Rewards." ERIC Digest. Washington, D.C. 01 Nov. 2008. Path: Http://www.alﬁekohn.org/teaching/ror.htm. Kohn, Alﬁe. (2008). "Why Self-Discipline is Overrated." Phi Delta Kappan. Alﬁe Kohn. 1 Nov. 2008 <http://www.alﬁekohn.org/articles.htm#null>.
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