Thursday, January 24, 2013

Chapter 13

1. Based on our readings and class discussion, how will you create a learning environment that is conducive to learning?

To create a learning environment conducive to learning, I would make sure that my classroom was arranged in the best set-up possible. After getting a feel for my class I would decide if they would work best seated in pairs or clusters. I would try to consistently engage my class through discussion and interaction, and have plenty of stimuli on the wall for them to look at if they need a "brain break".

As a whole, I want my classroom climate to just be happy. In class, we talked about how children may control the weather but as a teacher you control the overall climate. Since I plan to teach elementary age children, I will create a classroom where everyone shares some sort of class responsibility designated by rotating classroom jobs. I plan to create a really safe environment where kids can be themselves and respect each other and their classroom. I will do this by CONSISTENTLY not tolerating the breaking of classroom rules and have absolute zero-tolerance for any type of bullying or putting-down. I want to continually show my children love and support throughout the day and make an effort to praise them when they succeed and give constructive criticism when they do not. I want to show children the same kind of respect that I want them to show to me! After reading the book, I realize how important it is to have the same kind of relationship with all of the kids in your classroom. Even if you have that one problem child that you continually have to get on to throughout the day, it is important to be just as kind and loving to them as you are to the rest of the class.

I want my future classroom to be a community, so I plan to make time to share together and really get to know each other. I want to make everyone feel like they belong and like they are so important to the classroom. When a classroom feels like a community, I think that students will be much more inclined to adhere to rules and guidelines to make the classroom function at the highest possible level.

Next, I want to come up with interactive and interesting ways to teach the topics we are studying. Elementary children work and concentrate best when they are entertained, so I want to find fun ways to teach the topics that we have to cover.

Overall, I really just want to create a happy and fun environment where students are free to learn and be themselves. I want students to challenge themselves and hold themselves accountable for their own learning. I want my classroom to be a community where we can all be comfortable with each other and feel like everyone is just as important as the next. I think that these key aspects are the essential elements to creating a classroom that is conducive to learning.

2. CSEL Case Study: Develop a full continuum of responses for dealing with the misbehavior of your case

You engage your third grade students in cooperative learning activities at least twice a day, changing heterogeneous group members once every four weeks. You have agreed upon routine procedures that your classroom community uses within their small groups, including the roles and responsibilities of group members. Lately you have noticed that one small group always seems to have difficulty grasping material and completing their project in an acceptable manner.  You observe this group carefully and find that Lisa seems to be the catalyst for their problems.  She gets angry with others if she does not get the job she wants and refuses to do her part in contributing to the group’s learning.  She constantly interrupts others in her group.  She does not pay attention when her group prepares for class presentations.
  • Clearly, something is going on with Lisa. From this case study, I would want to know if Lisa has always acted out or if this is just starting. If it is a new behavior, I would pull Lisa aside and try to find out why she is behaving this way and explain how it is hurting others. In this example, it really seems like Lisa wants attention. I would probably ignore the situation at first and see if the group members can work it out on their own. If not, I would not give Lisa the recognition in class and pull her aside privately. I would tell her that her behavior is disruptive and she being rude and unkind to her group members. If that doesn't work, I may start offering rewards to group that are cooperating and being really productive in class. This way, Lisa would see that her behavior is the reason she is not receiving the reward that other teams are. This would also really encourage the teammates to hold Lisa accountable for her actions. If neither of these strategies worked, I would probably move Lisa to a seat alone where she will have to complete the same work and do the same presentations individually. Although that is not the most ideal situation, there is no reason for other class members to have to suffer because of her disruptive behavior.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Chapter 11

1. Consider the theories of motivation that we discussed in class. Which theories are most helpful and instructive for you? How can they enhance motivation and affect your students?

Many of the motivational theories we discussed in class are very helpful to me in my profession as an elementary teacher.

Although not a "theory," I found the information on both extrinsic and intrinsic motivation very useful. The text talks about how we need to build intrinsic motivation in our students rather than focus on extrinsic motivation (such as a reward for reaching a certain AR point goal). I really think that we are responsible for showing students that motivation needs to come from within, in order to better yourselves, rather than teaching them that when you behave a certain way you will receive a reward for it. Teachers are responsible for teaching children that the way to accomplish goals is to motivate themselves, rather than being motivated by a outward object.

I think that Maslow's hierarchy of needs is another important theory of motivation (although not COMPLETELY correct). I think that a school setting is such an important area where you can satisfy all of the basic needs: physiological, safety, love and belonging, esteem, and needs for self-actualization. As talked about in class, Maslow said that these happened independently and in a sequence, but, other studies have shown these are not independent of each other and happen in no sequence. As a teacher, I think that it is really important to satisfy all of the needs of children so that they can strive towards self-actualization. When they reach self-actualization (which Maslow says is very rare) students will be intrinsically motivated to strive to be the best that they can be. An example of this is the Pond Gap video that we watched in class. In this video, we were shown an example of an after school program in Knoxville. Pond Gap is a school where 80% of students are on free and reduced lunch. Many students have hard home situations, and Pond Gap has reached out to them with a free after school care program that tailors to their needs. Pond Gap's after school staff focuses on providing a safe, happy, and stable environment for children, much like those hierarchy of needs that Maslow listed. Hopefully, this Pond Gap program will make a huge difference in the lives of the children it reaches out to and, in turn, give them a love of learning that motivates them to be the best that they can possibly be!

I also think that cognitive theories are really important to motivation. Teacher's have a responsibility to find out what interests students and then build on that. When children are interested in a topic they will be much more motivated to learn it. I also think that setting goals is so important within a classroom. When children set a tangible goal, they will strive to reach that goal (motivated to reach that goal).

Overall, I found the motivational theories discussed in class and chapter 11 very useful. As a teacher, I will strive to find what motivates my children and provide a safe and happy environment where they can feel comfortable enough to push the boundaries!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

First PLE post

So far, I think I will really enjoy Educational Psychology. I think that we will cover a lot of really relevant topics that will really benefit me in my teaching profession. The questions we discussed the first day as we introduced ourselves really made me think about my personal goals and my beliefs as they stand now. I plan to challenge my beliefs in this class and really try to learn all that I can. Here's to a great semester!