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Field Notes 02/05/13

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Field Notes #2

February 5, 2013


Last week at the end of my praxis visit, the main classroom teacher and I decided to implement a system of notes to guide my visits to her classroom. This is mainly because she has a meeting for 20 minutes when the students first arrive so there is another teacher in the classroom directing morning meeting. So, when I walked into the classroom today, there was a box labeled “Teacher Ellen” that had several sticky notes inside of it.


The first sticky gave me instructions for the beginning of the day: “please take down the New Years posters on the bulletin board at the back of the classroom and put up the new posters in the box.” The classroom has several bulletin boards, each of which consistently display student work. However, not all student work can be displayed on the board because this teacher teaches the entire 6th grade language arts/social studies classes. Sometimes, the work that is displayed on the boards is chosen randomly (as evidenced by the system I used last week to hang up posters in the hallways, basically put them up until there is no more space). However, sometimes, the student work chosen for display is based on the grade that the students received. Today, that is the case with the student work that I was asked to put up.  All of the work in the pile to hang up had a received a grade of A+, A, or A-.


Before the beginning of first period, the teacher leads the students in morning meeting where they go in a circle and say good morning to one another followed by a brief lesson about what it means to be a hero and how different people can be heroes for different reasons.


Following morning meeting, students move into stations (4 in total) when the main classroom teacher comes in. Most of the stations are self-directed. The students have to continue research on their topic for their first research paper, draw a picture and write a caption about a fact that they find in a book, work on a glossary for their research paper, and work with partners to go over questions that they encountered during researching.  During these activities, it is expected that the students remain silent other than the students working with one of the 4 adults in the room.


The main classroom teacher has me work with two students who I worked with last week in the first station and again during the second station.  Last week, the teacher had indicated that she would try to work with the same group of students consistently so that I can establish a rapport with them rather than working with different students each week. While this had seem like a perfectly fine decision to me last week, it began to raise some questions for me this week. The group of students that she assigned me to work with were ones who the teacher had identified as “middle of the road” students, ones who contributed in discussion but were struggling with reading and writing assignments. Later in the day, the main classroom teacher introduced the class to a new reading specialist who would be working in the class and indicated that she was there to help the students who were “having some trouble with reading and needed some extra help.”


At this point, I realized that all of the adults in the classroom other than myself (main classroom teacher excluded) were there for extra help: the special ed teacher, the reading specialist, and the testing/math specialist.  The fact that these adults were in the classroom for students who were struggling in a certain area was made explicit to the students when they were introduced, as with this new reading specialist. While my role in the classroom is considerably less defined, I wonder whether the students think that I am being assigned to work with struggling students and what such a perception could do to the dynamics in my interactions with them.


After completing the first two periods, this class leaves and the other 6th grade class comes in for the same lesson. However, the main classroom teacher has the students complete the activities in the reverse order from the previous class. Despite the fact that this class came in late, the majority of the partners managed to get farther on the assignment than the previous class. What role does practice play in the enacting of a lesson? The main classroom teacher hinted at the idea that it helps make the lesson run more smoothly when she stated that they reverse the order that the periods that the classes come in every day so that they aren’t always the first ones to be taught a lesson.F