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Praxis Post

paperairplane's picture

My placement is at Sunnyside Elementary in Philly. I'm in a third grade class with Ms. Williams (African-American), who's been teaching at this school for several years. She has 22 students: primarily black, and with several hispanic students; there are more boys than girls in the classroom, and they're all about 8-9 years old. Ms. Williams has a classroom aide, Ms. Blue (African-American and Muslim), and one of the students has a therapeutic aid, Ms. Green (white). Their schedule includes a morning activity, a block of reading, and a block of math. The students' desks are organized into small groups of 4-5 around the classroom. As for student leadership, some students are assigned to be team captains, and messengers, and these roles rotate weekly.

The classroom itself is very bright and colorful with lots of different and nicely designed materials on the walls revolved around different subjects like spelling, grammar, and literature themes. They have specific places to leave their coats and backpacks, writing utensils, a writing corner, a space in the front with the smartboard and a rug, and another space in the back with a rug. One of the behavior tools in the classroom is hanging on a door in the classroom, with clothespins labeled with each student's name. Throughout the day, the students might move their pin up and down the sign to reflect their behavior, e.g. “good day, ready to learn, think about it”.

The biggest challenges I see are attending to the range of behavioral needs of all the students and classroom management. Ms. Williams spends a lot more time getting the kids to pay attention and follow directions than getting through the lessons. There are some students who are consistently obedient and quiet. There are others who give attitude back to the teacher and often get called out for misbehavior, but eventually they calm down. There are some other students, though, who often wander around the classroom, can get extremely emotional very quickly, and even find ways to run away from the classroom? It can get very distracting and loud in the classroom. To manage the students, she yells a lot and includes threats of calling their parents. She has to repeat instructions many times to get the kids to follow them.

I have come to this placement twice so far. The first time, I felt overwhelmed with the loud volume of the class, seeing kids run out of the classroom, crying throughout the 3-hour block, banging body parts on the floor or the radiator; all I saw was chaos. But I wonder if I'm looking at this situation from a damage or desire based framework? The second time, I began to look at the classroom as more of an organized chaos. Ms. Williams knows this classroom much more than I, and I want to try my best to understand where she and where each of the students are coming from.