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Catherine Shea

Professor Suk
April 2018

I. Observation #8 - Instruction
II. Junior Honors English
III. Setting
The class I am observing today is an 11th grade honors level English class that has
twenty three students and one lead teacher at a high school in a rural area. There are 12 boys and
11 girls.
IV. Pre Observation
As I am coming to a close on my time observing this classroom, I have learned,
witnessed, and researched a tremendous amount on the topic of secondary education. I have seen
the class over an extended period of time and learned a lot about the teacher’s methods of
instruction, overall attitude, and more about the climate and nature of the school. I am getting to
know the students more and understanding their likes, habits, and attitudes towards learning, the
lead teacher, and myself.
V. Data
I came into the classroom several minutes before class started and discussed with the
teacher what was on the agenda today. He told me that today the students are being tested on
their outside reading. Since this is an honors class, in addition to their required reading for
regular class, quizzes, and tests, they are assigned one extra book during each marking period to
read at home, and are assessed on it in class. This marking period text was ​The Perks of Being a
Wallflower​ by Stephen Chbosky. Compared to the other novels they have read this year, this is a
much more accessible and ‘easy’ read, and the content matter is geared more towards their age
level. “I selected this reading because it follows a teenager through their first year in high school,
and I feel as if it’s incredibly relatable for them. In many schools its a banned book, but I think
it’s important because it features all the things that they will unfortunately have to learn to deal
with in their teenage years”, the teacher explains to me. Some of these issues include unplanned
pregnancy, exploring one’s sexuality, drug and alcohol usage, abusive relationships, family
issues, and the social difficulties that come along with adolescence. “I feel that this book can
provide an outlet and could possibly change their lives”, he added. The teacher was very
passionate about this book and had made it clear to his students how much he valued the
message the author was trying to convey.

As the students came in, they were talking and reviewing the book with one another and
they seemed anxious for what would and would not be on the exam. The teacher stood at the
door and greeted each one of them, asking how prepared they felt. The students joked around
with him, saying they thought they would fail, and the whole exchange was very lighthearted.
The teacher laughed and assured them that if they read the book, they would be fine. As soon as
everyone was seated, he passed out the test and the scantrons. The test was 45 questions long,
and as I reviewed it I believed it to be an extremely fair and straightforward assessment on the
reading (I have read this book several times). The teacher prepared the test with student success
in mind; the questions were not incredibly challenging, however some of them contained
answers that were straight from the movie, not the book.

After the students were finished, the teacher informed them of an assignment they’ll have
that will give them the chance to add some extra points to the marking period. The assignment
provides several choices, including an essay, a collage, or an illustration, that creatively and
uniquely demonstrates a theme or motif of their choosing based off of their interpretation of ​The
Perks of Being a Wallflower​. He explains that this is almost like an end of year treat, since at the
Honors level, they do not have the chance to do a lot of creative or artistic assignments. They
typically focus on more formal writing assignments. He had a rubric and criteria projected onto
the front screen that demonstrated what specifically he was looking for in the assignment.

Afterwards, the class walked to the library to get their next novel for classroom reading,
Their Eyes Were Watching God​. It gave the students a time to regroup and decompress from the
assessment. Getting back into the classroom, the teacher gave them a brief overview of the book
and explained what it is about, the setting, and its importance culturally. He explained its
importance because it is written almost entirely in dialogue and in ebonics, so it is highly
regarded in African American culture for its accurate portrayal of the south. “This type of book
does not happen in literature often enough - it has a very strong black female protagonist. We
need to see more characters like her. You can all get through this book, but it’s going to be
tough. But you can do it. You’re capable”, he told the class. He then outlined and broke up the
chapters so the students knew what chapters needed to readed for which classes in the next few
upcoming weeks.

“Alright, we need some happiness right now. Let’s do some satire”, he exclaimed. The
students were so happy to take a much needed break from their studies, considering they have
been preparing for Park testing next week. The teacher had two video clips prepared that spoofed
both ​The Great Gatsby​ and ​Of Mice and Men​. The mood in the classroom was jovial and excited
as they laughed at the satire, and when they were over, with the last 15 minutes in class, the
teacher lead them through a discussion of ​The Perks of Being a Wallflower​, since they have
never actually discussed it together as a class. The students were told to write whether they
loved, liked, disliked, or hated the book on a slip of paper. From there, they needed to provide a
reason why they felt the way they did. This sparked a discussion, but the catch was that they
needed to provide examples for their reasoning for the way they felt. The teacher explained this
was in preparation for the SAT’s where they would need to provide citations and quotes to back
up their thesis statements. The discussion went very well, as the teacher critiqued their responses
not based on their opinions, but rather on their examples provided for why they felt the way that
they did. The bell rang shortly after and the students headed off to lunch.

VI. Analysis
Today’s class went unbelievably well, and I felt as if the students truly responded well
and appreciated the lesson. They were engaged, enthusiastic, and conversed well with the
instructor in a very friendly but respectful way. I particularly appreciated the way the instructor
incorporated the importance of the student’s opinions into the lesson, but did not argue with or
judge them for their thoughts. This was a nice way of letting their opinions be heard, but not
getting into a debate or telling them that their opinions were wrong, which is something I
unfortunately have experienced as a student. I believe that the students are more inclined to
participate when they can speak from their heart, and not so much an academic standpoint.

Also, I was very proud of the teacher for his viewpoint on the importance of ​Their Eyes
Were Watching God​. This high school has a predominantly white population with very few
students of color, and the students could use a healthy dose of diversity. This novel will expose
them to the opinions, outlooks, feelings, and experiences of black Americans that they otherwise
would not have been exposed too.

VII. Recommendations
For this lesson, I do not necessarily have any recommendations for the teacher, as I did
not find any fault with his lesson or application of instruction. I felt as if he included everyone’s
opinion,assessed the class fairly, and exposed them to other cultures. Maryann Carroll and James
T. Tyson state in their journal, ​Good Teachers Can Become Better​, “ teaching is a science as well
as an art”, and I believe that the teacher I am observing has mastered both the application, study,
and research that goes into teaching effectively as well as the art of relating, motivating, and
conversing with young adults.

VIII. Post Observation

After this observation, I felt very inspired and enthusiastic about the prospect of teaching.
I believe that this lesson contained everything I want to do as an instructor - from the high
standards of learning, to the mixed bit of humor, important discussions, and hearing from my
students, I believe this is what a high school classroom should look and feel like. This was an
excellent lesson and it was delivered professionally, personally, humorously, and most
importantly, it got through to the students and helped them understand their material on a deeper
level. I hope one day I can recreate a lesson that my students respond to so well.
IX. Citations
Carroll, Mary Ann, and James C. Tyson. “Good Teachers Can Become Better.” ​Improving
College and University Teaching​, vol. 29, no. 2, 1981, pp. 82–84. ​JSTOR​, JSTOR,

X. Appendix