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Field Notes 4- 2/20/13

mschoyer's picture

1. Collect Stories (italicized the one I'm expanding on)

  • Third grade has a field trip coming up and the new Chinese student, Joey, brought his money but not his permission slip and he did not understand the problem (due to lack of English). Nina wanted to help the classroom teacher deal with the situation.
  • Standardized testing- testing one student with an IEP in a small classroom with another who doesn’t have an IEP. One student gets more time, extended directions, and the other doesn’t.
  • The office staff seemed extremely overwhelmed. Nina and I needed to contact the secretaries a few different times and it was either difficult, or I felt that I was inconveniencing them because they had so many other people waiting on them.
  • I was set to sit in on a meeting with my teacher and the principal and then the principal asked that the meeting be confidential. It was about Nina’s increasing course load at Elementary School 1.

2. What Happened?

  • Nina told me that before I arrived, there was a faculty meeting to address meeting the needs of gifted learners. A third grade teacher, Mrs. M., expressed concern and especially stress because she has students of many levels and it is hard to meet all their needs. Additionally, she has Joey, the new student from China. When I arrived, we went right to Mrs. M’s classroom. The third graders have a field trip coming up and Joey brought his money but not his signed permission slip and he did not understand the problem (due to lack of English). Nina and I, specifically Nina, spent the next 20 minutes trying to explain the situation to Joey, looking up how to translate certain words from Chinese to English, calling his house to track down the permission slip and let his parents know, and most of all, making Joey and Mrs. M. feel comfortable in their situations.

3. Why Did it Happen?

  • Coming off the meeting from the morning, Nina knew that Mrs. M. was stressed with the many demands of her classroom. Part of Nina’s job, albeit unofficially, is to make the classroom teachers with no ELL experience feel comfortable with the challenge of having a student who they cannot or can barely communicate with. Nina and I did a lot of running back and forth between classrooms, and ran behind on our testing schedule, but Nina kept stressing to me how important it was to address this issue. She told me that she often thinks about the saying, “people before papers.” Although standardized testing was put on hold and Nina got behind on her daily schedule, Nina felt as if she needed to help her colleague, Mrs. M., reduce her stress level. Nina knew that she is the only person in the school who could efficiently help Mrs. M, so instead of attending to her schedule, she focused her attention on Mrs. M, and also Joey.

4. What Might it Mean?

  • Relationships between colleagues are very important in schools. They are essential to reflective practice. Nina recognized a colleague that needed her support, and immediately provided it. I also saw an example of just how much stress teachers are under. While a teacher might be doing their very best, some situations are simply out of their control, such as, receiving a class with extremely diverse learners. This can make a teacher feel helpless.

5. What are the Implications for Practice?

  • After reading McEntee, specifically chapter 11, I recognize ways to further strengthen colleague-colleague relationships. Activities such as a writing workshop, even though it’s a bit untraditional, could help this staff. From what I understand, Mrs. M.’s reaction at the meeting was the first time that any of the other teachers and administrators had really learned about the issue. Perhaps frequent staff activities and professional development events based on Reflective Practice could prevent this from happening again.