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Week 2 Post

paperairplane's picture

 Last year I did an externship at a diverse surburban middle school. I observed two classrooms that were covering the same concept, yet had two completely different classroom environments.

 For one period I observed Ms. A's "mainstream" classroom of 18 6th grade students. (Mainstream, meaning the students had been in the American school system all their lives.) I was impressed at how smoothly the class ran. The kids were extremely well-behaved, engaged, and Ms. A also had them playing educational games that kept their attention. She had a very caring attitude, listened, and somehow maintained a motherly yet playful relationship with her students. In my notebook I wrote, "This class was amazing."

 For another period I observed Mr. B's classroom of 14 6th grade ESL students. In my notebook, I wrote, "Why does he just let them talk? This teacher looks sad and defeated. Students talking back to the teacher... :( This makes me wanna cry." Mr. B's students were all ESL students; primarily Haitian, and with one Chinese student as well. There were several Haitian students sitting together who would frequently talk to each other in Creole, while the teacher was trying to explain something. Some students talked back to the teacher and gave him an attitude. Half of the class was very well-behaved, but Mr. B spent more time trying to get the other half of the class to cooperate, than actually successfully completing an activity.

  Mr. B's class was difficult to watch. It raised a ton of questions for me... What's with the huge disconnect between Mr. B and his students?! What can be done to improve this situation? I considered the following elements: cultural differences, pedagogy, support/lack of support for the ESL program, etc.... There is no straight answer to the disconnection. But I couldn't help myself from feeling like I could have done his job better than he did.

 In terms of my perspective now, I realize it's easier said than done to do a better job than Mr. B did... If I could go back to the school and further explore or implement some kind of changes, I would start with trying to improve the relationship between Mr. B and his students.