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Field Notes #3

dshu's picture

Friday, February 2, 2013 - Field Placement Visit #2

Ms. Bard greeted her students as they entered her classroom. They came in doing the usual routine, which is to settle down and work on things listed on the do-now paper. Students walked into the classroom carrying their binders, folders, books, and other materials they needed. No backpacks were seen in the classroom. All students left their belongings on their blue rectangular desk. Each desk could fit only two students. However, I found these desks too small for some of Ms. Bard's students. It caused them to slouch in their chairs in addition to having their legs spread out very wide. While peering over one student's desk I noticed clean copies of Maus I and Night wrapped in a rubber band. I assumed that they were reading these books in 10th grade English. Seeing these books made me recall my 10th grade English class where I also read these two books when learning about the holocaust.

The class began as what I have observed two days ago on Wednesday. Students faced the same routine of their 10th grade geometry class: the do-now paper, DI (Direct instruction), IP (Independent Practice), and exit ticket. While going over a problem, student Laura called out "I didn't get 9.1. Can we do it?" Mrs. Bard responded that she didn't want to take class time to go over it now. I was wondering if prompt response is one of the teacher's responsibilities to help his/her student when he or she had a question? Ms. Bard's classroom has a set of time to do each of the tasks during the period. Even with this set of time, could she have altered her "schedule" to reserve a certain amount of time for student to ask questions?

There was a lot of praising when students were on-task. Ms. Bard calls out, "I see Kyle writing... I see Anna writing." She pointed out students who were doing their work. Was what Ms. Bard doing unsuitable for the age group (10th grade)? Although she pointed out who was doing a "good" work, what about the students that had a harder to settle down or focus on their task? In chapter 4 of Charles Payne's So Much Reform So Little Change, it says "with difficult kids, treat them like you care and they'll be there every day" (107). Not surprisingly when Ms. Bard called out one of her students who was not usually praised, the student quickly made eye-contact with her showing his astonishment.  It was like he was saying to himself, "Did she really call out my name?"

Standing in the back of the classroom, I had a very good view of the last row of students. Even though I was present, these students worked on other assignment(s) rather than focusing on math. Instead of paying attention to what Ms. Bard was teaching, they were focusing on different tasks. Before I began my placement, Ms. Bard expected me to look out  students from the back of the classroom to see what they were doing since standing in  the back  gives me a wider view of the classroom.

During the last period of placement, I kept hearing the word "demerit" or "you just have earned yourself a demerit" as Ms. Bard would say. What was a demerit I was wondering? I then looked up those posters that hung on the wall. There was one poster that matched into the wall, since it was white. It says, "How to Earn a Demerit." To "earn" a demerit, you have to be

  • Disrespectful  
  • Disruptive
  • Body Language (ie. hitting)
  • Late
  • Uniform
  • Contraband
  • Unprepared
  • Language

Seeing the behavior of some of the students, a demerit should have been earned. I feel that having this system in this classroom is necessary because there are students who do not focus, listen, or act in a proper manner. In addition, it is really difficult for them to settle down even told so many times by Ms. Bard.

During the second period, a student came to the back of the room try to find his folder. He was unable to locate it so I asked for his name. He replied that he was a new student for the school year and assumed Ms. Bard did not have a folder ready for him. However, I was able to find his folder and he thanked me afterwards. This was my very first time interacting with one of Ms. Bard's students.

One student in the back named Steve is one of the targeted students whom Ms. Bard expects can improve academically this semester. It seemed to me that he was struggling with the material and asked a fellow classmate of his, named Tom, who sat across from him for help. Ms. Bard kept looking at these two students talking back and forth because it had caused a disruption to the class.  I believed that Mrs. Bard saw the benefit for Steve and had allowed Tom to help Steve out during the class. Tom did help Steve out by telling him to use which formula to solve the problem. Tom explained the process to Steve very fast and also wrote out the steps for Steve rather than just gave the answer.