Remote Ready Biology Learning Activities has 50 remote-ready activities, which work for either your classroom or remote teaching.
Education 225 - Handbook Entries Forum
Comments are posted in the order in which they are received, with earlier postings appearing first below on this page. To see the latest postings, click on "Go to last comment" below.
Date: 2005-01-19 09:52:33
Link to this Comment: 12102
Date: 2005-02-20 20:35:52
Link to this Comment: 13045
Date: 2005-02-21 20:47:49
Link to this Comment: 13079
Name: Rachel Fra
Date: 2005-02-22 23:25:10
Link to this Comment: 13148
Name: Allison J.
Date: 2005-02-23 17:23:24
Link to this Comment: 13182
Name: Amie Clair
Date: 2005-02-23 20:22:59
Link to this Comment: 13191
Date: 2005-02-24 07:58:09
Link to this Comment: 13201
Name: Heather Da
Date: 2005-02-24 11:50:05
Link to this Comment: 13207
|Preliminary Notes for Handbook
Name: Caitlin O'
Date: 2005-02-24 12:09:17
Link to this Comment: 13208
Date: 2005-02-24 12:48:41
Link to this Comment: 13209
|Transmition of Community
Date: 2005-02-26 11:16:33
Link to this Comment: 13233
Date: 2005-03-02 09:27:01
Link to this Comment: 13339
|On Becoming an Effective Praiser
Date: 2005-03-24 00:29:45
Link to this Comment: 13953
As a tutor assisting first graders with their writing, one of the difficulties I have experienced is not knowing how and what to praise. In my fieldwork, I offered general praises for a variety of purposes: to encourage or motivate a child, to express admiration for a piece of work, to recognize a child's efforts, to draw a child's attention to the useful strategies that he or she used. Consequently, I felt it was necessary to expand my vocabulary of praises to go beyond the usual "good job" and "well done." I assumed that my praises would achieve their desired positive effect, and that the child would understand my intentions. In addition, I expected the child to beam with joy upon receiving praise and experience an elevation of self-confidence. I naively thought praise could only induce good feelings in the child. However, the children I have worked with led me to reexamine my ideas about praise. By speculating on the diverse ways in which my praises could have been interpreted by the recipient, I hope to underline some important considerations that would help tutors refine their skills in delivering effective praise.
On one occasion, my tutee rejected my praise about her writing. When I said, "You are getting good at this," Lena replied, "That's not true." I was taken aback by her blatant objection, which also made me feel like a liar. I expected the child to savor, rather than reject, my praise. I realized that if I had meant to acknowledge Lena's effort and provide encouragement, then my praise must be more specific, referring to particular aspects of the child's performance (Brophy, 275). If I had wanted Lena to be aware that she is showing improvement and making progress towards mastery, then my praise should contain these elements: the standards which I use to evaluate the child, the things she did that define or promote performing well and thus her attainment of those standards, and my expectations for the child in that particular context (Henderlong & Lepper, 786). For example, I could say to Lena, "I am glad that you remember to capitalize the first word of your sentence and leave a space after each word."
Because I did not know Lena well enough, I should not have alluded to her progress. Consequently, my praise was as an evaluation. Brophy proposes that one should praise children only when it is likely that they view their accomplishments as deserving of praise, or when they would recognize their performance when it is pointed out (276). Assuming that children are capable of appraising their accomplishments, Lena might view me as a tutor who has made a disingenuous attempt to make her feel good about herself, especially since she is aware that she does not write as easily and as well as others. In the long run, this could hurt my credibility with the child. Damon believes that children are also sensitive to empty flattery and like adults, they are capable of asking themselves these questions: "Why do people feel they need to make up things about me? What is wrong with me that people need to cover up? (74)" While my intentions were good, my praise might negatively impacted Lena’s confidence in her own ability.
If my remark were a sincere observation of her progress, then Lena's reply may reflect her existing view of herself as a writer. According to Henderlong & Lepper, children's response to praise may depend on whether the praise is consistent with their views and beliefs of themselves (779). If Lena held the belief that she is an incompetent writer, then she is likely to reject a praise intended to help enhance her confidence in writing. However, praise can still be effective if it is specific, genuine, and given sparingly (Henderlong & Lepper, 779). Clearly, it is important to examine one's motives for wanting to praise a child before delivering praise. As a tutor, I had viewed 'praise' as synonymous with 'affirm' and focused too heavily on the effect which I wished my praise would have on the child. Consequently, there is a discrepancy between my intended message for the child and the message conveyed by my praise.
While effective praise is beneficial, tutors must not be overly anxious to deliver praise, especially when they are still getting acquainted with the learner. Henderlong & Lepper explicate the importance of a learner's relationship with the educator, "[T]he same praise statement given in the context of a more conflict-ridden or less-secure relationship may be perceived as manipulative, controlling, or as a sign that the teacher feels sorry for the student" (779). I noticed that when Lena is working with her teacher, she seems to respond well to both general and specific praises. Lena's close relationship with her teacher might have also led the child to perceive the praises as genuine and helpful. When I first worked with Lena, I used praise to open conversations because I thought that would be a good way to build rapport with her. Lena, however, remained aloof and withdrawn. Therefore, it may useful for tutors to monitor how praise is being received by tutees in order to avoid giving empty praises.
A student, Bel, once came up to me with her journal to share a new story. While reading, I was actively searching for praiseworthy details. I responded, "Good job!" and praised the child about the content and her ability to write long sentences. There was an awkward moment when Bel looked up at me, as if expecting me to ramble on, and I thought to myself that I had run out of things to praise. With a shy smile, Bel said, "And I remember to leave a space between the sentences and put in the periods." Her simple remark helped me view the issue of praise from a different perspective. Bel wanted me to be the audience of her story, not a reader who assesses its merits. As a writer, she could recognize some of the things that she did well; she was probably more aware of her accomplishments. In a sense, my praise was unnecessary unless it conveyed that I enjoyed the story or admired her work.
More importantly, I realize that adults can help children "praise" their own work; my usage of the word "praise" conflicts with the conventional notion. Kanouse, Gumpert, & Canavan (1981) define praise to be "positive evaluations made by a person of another's products, performances, or attributes, where the evaluator presumes the validity of the standards on which the evaluation is based" (Henderlong & Lepper, 775). I feel, however, that regular praise could diminish a child's ownership of his or her work. Children may eventually measure the value of their work by the praises they receive. Consequently, they are motivated to put in their best efforts for the sake of receiving praise, not for the purpose of the task or the enjoyment they may derived from it (Persaud, 2004; Cleary, 1990).
Praise that is meant to convey competence, if not carefully offered, may also encourage children to compare their performance with their peers' (Henderlong & Lepper, 785). Children as young as 7 or 8 are capable of using normative information to draw inferences about their individual competence (Henderlong & Lepper, 785). Although social-comparison praise is more likely to negatively impact older children's intrinsic motivation and response to challenge (Henderlong & Lepper, 785), I feel that social-comparison praise may also affect younger children's developing perception of success. One should also be aware that children who receive continual praise may feel undue pressure to repeat their praiseworthy accomplishments (Cleary, 25). This could take the enjoyment and challenge out of learning and could hurt a child's subsequent performance.
Praise is often assumed to have positive effects on the recipient. Yet, we have seen how praise may have detrimental effects on children's view of their own ability, attitude towards learning, performance, and intrinsic motivation. Therefore, tutors should also help children to appreciate their work. After reading Bel's story, for example, I could have invited her to share the writing process: Did she enjoy writing the story, and why? Which is her favorite part of the story? Which did she think she has done well? Praise may be more informative and effective when it is given after one has solicited the child's opinion, especially when one does not already have a good gauge of the child's abilities.
Generally, one should praise children for both their effort and ability to perform well (Brophy, 276). Compared with children who are praised for effort, children praised for ability are more concerned with performance goals, tend to attribute their successes and failures to ability, and are less likely to persist at a task after experiencing failure (Henderlong & Lepper, 781). However, one should not overemphasize the amount of effort expended by the child to achieve success, as the child may interpret this as an indication of his or her lack of ability (Brophy, 276). Previously, I had not known how to add variety to my praises. Thus, I might have overpraised a child for his or her effort. According to Henderlong & Lepper, one should also praise children for other process-oriented factors as well, such as "the sorts of strategies, self-corrections, or thoughtful concentration underlying children’s achievements" (781). In my fieldwork, I found this advice to be useful and observed that children seem to respond well to such praises.
Brophy states, "[n]o teacher will be able to praise effectively on a continuing basis and yet simultaneously accomplish all the other tasks of teaching" because of the factors-time, focused attention, and effort to individualize comments—involved (277). I believe that this is where tutors could come in useful, especially if they work one-on-one with a child or with a small group of children. To become effective praisers, tutors must be conscious of their intentions before praising a learner, and thoughtful about the words they use. Effective praise, when offered at the right time in the right words, could serve to empower the learner.
Brophy, Jere. On Praising Effectively. The Elementary School Journal 81 (1981): 268-278.
Cleary, Linda M. The Fragile Inclination to Write: Praise and Criticism in the Classroom. The
English Journal 79 (1990): 22-28.
Damon, William. Greater Expectations: Overcoming the Culture of Indulgence in America’s
Homes and Schools. New York: The Free Press, 1995. 74.
Henderlong, Jennifer, and Lepper, Mark R. The Effects of Praise on Children’s Intrinsic
Motivation: A Review and Synthesis. Psychological Bulletin 128 (2002): 774-795.
Persaud, Raj. Overdose of Praise Can be Toxic. The Times Educational Supplement 24 Sep.
How can I deliver effective praise?
1. Before you praise a learner, be aware of your intentions for offering praise
2. Be thoughtful about the words you use to prevent miscommunication
3. Offer praise that is sincere and specific
4. Add variety to your praise
5. Acknowledge both the learner's effort and ability
6. Avoid praise that refers to progress unless you are familiar with the learner
7. Praise sparingly to avoid creating undue stress for the learner
8. Avoid social comparison when offering praise
9. Monitor how the learner is responding to praise
10. Balance praise with efforts to help the learner appreciate his or her own work
Date: 2005-03-24 08:55:58
Link to this Comment: 13962
|Creating a Productive Space: A Guide for Extra Cla
Name: Allison J.
Date: 2005-03-24 10:18:46
Link to this Comment: 13967
Name: Rachel Fra
Date: 2005-03-24 10:23:11
Link to this Comment: 13968
Date: 2005-03-24 11:03:22
Link to this Comment: 13970
Name: emily schn
Date: 2005-03-24 11:55:37
Link to this Comment: 13975
|handbook entry - really this time
Name: emily schn
Date: 2005-03-24 11:56:41
Link to this Comment: 13976
Name: Caitlin O'
Date: 2005-03-24 12:39:25
Link to this Comment: 13978
Date: 2005-03-24 15:52:09
Link to this Comment: 13985
Name: MaryBeth C
Date: 2005-03-24 16:45:31
Link to this Comment: 13988
|facilitation (draft, s.n.f.)
Name: susanna fa
Date: 2005-03-24 22:49:42
Link to this Comment: 13995
Date: 2005-03-24 23:51:08
Link to this Comment: 13997
Date: 2005-03-24 23:51:09
Link to this Comment: 13998
|Class Room Aides - How Can They Be Most Useful
Date: 2005-03-24 23:52:44
Link to this Comment: 13999
|(Formerly) Traditional Students in the Revolutiona
Name: sky stegal
Date: 2005-03-25 15:03:17
Link to this Comment: 14012
|Response to Chapter Drafts
Name: Alison Coo
Date: 2005-03-27 05:36:24
Link to this Comment: 14038
Date: 2005-03-27 09:47:03
Link to this Comment: 14040
|Group 1: Suzie, Sky, Alison
Date: 2005-03-27 12:42:44
Link to this Comment: 14046
|Responses to Handbook Drafts
Date: 2005-03-28 21:59:33
Link to this Comment: 14119
|review of handbook draft
Date: 2005-03-29 09:31:37
Link to this Comment: 14133
|review of handbook entry
Date: 2005-03-29 09:50:30
Link to this Comment: 14134
|Handbook Responses to Samantha and Elena
Name: Rachel Fra
Date: 2005-03-29 10:18:58
Link to this Comment: 14135
Date: 2005-03-29 15:44:30
Link to this Comment: 14139
Date: 2005-03-29 18:46:07
Link to this Comment: 14146
Name: Jody Cohen
Date: 2005-03-29 20:51:05
Link to this Comment: 14149
|review of handbook draft
Date: 2005-03-30 11:39:55
Link to this Comment: 14162
|Response to Christina
Name: Mary Lyon
Date: 2005-03-30 16:46:30
Link to this Comment: 14166
Date: 2005-03-30 19:42:21
Link to this Comment: 14170
|Handbook Response to Rebecca
Name: Rachel Fra
Date: 2005-03-30 21:49:05
Link to this Comment: 14172
|comments for Xuan-Shi, Allison, and sky (from susi
Date: 2005-03-30 22:21:57
Link to this Comment: 14173
|Response to Susie
Name: Therese Be
Date: 2005-03-30 23:14:58
Link to this Comment: 14175
Date: 2005-03-31 00:12:41
Link to this Comment: 14176
|review of entry
Date: 2005-03-31 01:26:22
Link to this Comment: 14177
|Handbook Response to Rachel's Entry
Name: Nikki H.
Date: 2005-03-31 02:51:31
Link to this Comment: 14180
Name: Rebecca Ka
Date: 2005-03-31 07:32:02
Link to this Comment: 14182
Date: 2005-03-31 10:20:14
Link to this Comment: 14186
Name: Rahel Ayal
Date: 2005-03-31 10:46:56
Link to this Comment: 14187
|Review of Handbook Entries for Emily and Rebecca
Name: MaryBeth C
Date: 2005-03-31 11:33:08
Link to this Comment: 14188
|Response to Christina
Name: Caitlin O'
Date: 2005-03-31 12:15:30
Link to this Comment: 14190
|xuan-shi, allison, and susie
Date: 2005-03-31 12:39:42
Link to this Comment: 14191
Name: Barbara Ha
Date: 2005-04-01 12:07:31
Link to this Comment: 14201
Name: Rebecca Ka
Date: 2005-04-03 08:41:59
Link to this Comment: 14229
|Heather's Handbook Entry
Name: Heather Da
Date: 2005-04-04 04:15:21
Link to this Comment: 14267
Name: Heather Da
Date: 2005-04-04 04:17:05
Link to this Comment: 14268
|Adult Learners: The Promises of Voluntary Educatio
Name: Amie Clair
Date: 2005-04-04 14:38:29
Link to this Comment: 14276
|Response to Amie Claire's Handbook Entry
Name: Caitlin O'
Date: 2005-04-04 20:03:21
Link to this Comment: 14296
|response to heather
Date: 2005-04-04 23:00:40
Link to this Comment: 14302
|Comments for Caitlin
Name: Amie Clair
Date: 2005-04-04 23:29:39
Link to this Comment: 14305
|Response to MB
Date: 2005-04-04 23:32:57
Link to this Comment: 14308
|Comments for Christina
Name: Amie Clair
Date: 2005-04-04 23:46:10
Link to this Comment: 14310
Date: 2005-04-04 23:59:19
Link to this Comment: 14311
|Response to Emily
Date: 2005-04-05 00:45:00
Link to this Comment: 14317
|Response to Rebecca
Date: 2005-04-05 02:17:23
Link to this Comment: 14320
Date: 2005-04-05 13:06:23
Link to this Comment: 14324
|response to heather
Name: Jody Cohen
Date: 2005-04-05 20:33:54
Link to this Comment: 14334
Name: Anne Dalke
Date: 2005-04-05 23:51:18
Link to this Comment: 14337
Hello, learners/teachers/writers-and-thinkers-out-loud. Thanks to you all (especially to Samantha) for inviting me into the drafting-and-responding stage of your handbook-making; I feel privileged and excited to participate in this project, and look forward to reading the final version.
I've been thinking about teaching and learning, and re-thinking my teaching and learning, and revising my re-thinking about teaching and learning for decades now (you read this semester one of my more recent attempts--along with some colleagues--to write about our current notion of Emergent Pedagogy: Learning to Enjoy the Uncontrollable – and Make it Productive. So that's where I'm coming from...
...when I say that (like Alison) I want Samantha to slow down and do some explaining first! Before you start describing all the ways to be a role model (all great ways, by the way) I need to be convinced why role-modeling is valuable in teaching-and-learning. I actually shiver @ that phrase, and both its parts:
...I worry that, in trying to offer ourselves as role models, we can/could restrict the possibilities of our students' lives--for they will surely grow beyond the confines of ours (I think it's in The Peaceable Classroom that Mary Rose O'Reilley talks about rebellion being the job of youth--they are supposed to push against the roles we give them)...
...even when we are trying, as teachers of "emergent pedagogy," to be role models for the kinds of inquiry in which we want our students themselves to be engaged; even when, as evolvers of new intellectual communities, we are trying to model for our students not only a willingness but an enjoyment in multiple ways of learning ....
...we need to remember, as Cherrie Moraga also said, that the clan mentality can be (strategically) useful; but the identity of the clan must be malleable, open to shifting and changing. How to model that--that our students should not try to become like us, but *only* fully themselves--something new and never-yet-been? (How's that, Sky, as a way of thinking about revolution?)
|p.s. re: resistance to being understood
Name: Anne Dalke
Date: 2005-04-06 07:50:49
Link to this Comment: 14340
...found the O'Reilley quote, along w/ another suggesting that, the more insistently we structure our classrooms, the more insistently resistance will be produced:
"The natural work of young people is to subvert and challenge the authority of teacher and parent, no matter how 'enlightened.' This is perhaps their primary learning experience. They are, in some strategic sense, the opposition" (Mary Rose O'Reilley, The Peaceable Classroom 68).
Patti Lather gives a similar account of student dislike of "being understood" by their elders and asks whether teachers' attempts to overcome such resistance are appropriate:
"'"You really hate an adult to understand you. That's the only thing you've got over them, the fact that you can mystify and worry them." Contemporary youth have cause to be wary of giving up their anonymity, of making their private and lived voices the object of public and pedagogical scrutiny.' To what extent is the pedagogy we construct in the name of liberation intrusive, invasive, pressured?" (Patti Lather, Getting Smart: Feminist Research and Pedagogy With/In the Postmodern 143).
Date: 2005-04-06 12:22:37
Link to this Comment: 14350
|On Sky, Alice, and all for involved for inviting me to be a part of this project. It is a truly remarkable exploration of new ways of thinking/doing, of seeing what might be done with the web and using that to rethink education more broadly. No one who thinks there must be better ways to "educate" can fail to be greatly encouraged by the commitment and creativity of this work in progress. I very much look forward to its future incarnations, here as well as in the work you all go on to do in other classrooms that will inevitably, because of what you have done here, be increasingly and desireably committed to education as exploration.
As have others, I found Sky's draft entry compelling and rich with personal examples, and wanted, for those reasons, a bit more at the outset about what is "revolutionary". Maybe taking seriously the concept of "education as exploration", ie creating an environment not to most effectively convey particular pre-defined bodies of information and perspectives but rather to encourage students and teachers to work together to develop ways of thinking about things beyond those with which they start?
Sky has outlined a number of challenges with this approach, particulary from students, and suggested from his own experiences a number of useful ways of dealing with them. For my part, I'd downplay a bit the "studies have shown ..." approach, on the grounds that it is asking students to accept an authoritative posture that may not in fact be (it depends a lot on what is being assessed) and is, in any case, a posture that itself might be seen as not entirely consistent with the concern for helping students see their own curiousities/initiatives as a primary driver of the process. I'd be inclined instead to talk with students (as I do) about the pressures on them (and others) to think of education as a mastery/certification process, the ways they themselves know that inhibits effective learning, and the kinds of experiences they recall from their own lives (not necessarily in classrooms) when they learned most effectively.
"Explain what you are doing, and why" is indeed important in my experience. Even more so is being consistent in doing it. This has certainly been my accrued experience over the past several years, to the point where I have made such major accomodations as no longer using textbooks or having graded exams (cf Bio 202 for both explanation and other course particulars). This is, of course, not possible when one is providing extra-class support for some other educational enterprise but I'd favor pushing the spirit as far as possible with the notion that that would in turn impact positively on people responsible for the courses themselves.
"Get to know your students’ needs and motivations". PARTICULARLY the motivations, I'd say. It is starting where students are, wherEVER they are, not only in their needs but also in their motivations that is required for a genuinely exploratory classroom approach. In order to create an interesting/stimulating/challenging environment one has to take seriously that students should NOT be expected to be interested in what the teacher is interested in. Its the reachers role to find the student's interests that will engage them with the exploration.
"Is it a lot of work to engage students in a revolutionary system? Definitely. Is it worthwhile? I say, even more definitely". Amen and I would add that it is worthwhile not only for the students but for the teachers as well. An exploratory classroom is as much one that engages teachers as students, one that makes both want to be there for the sheer joy of both individual and shared discovery. And an engaged teacher of course makes for engaged students which in turn ...
Happy to be here both student and teacher, to have the opportunity to share discoveries. Thanks again to Sky and everyone else involved. Revolution is hard work, takes patience, but with that can be deeply satisfying.
I really enjoyed reading your entry. Working wth adults is a serious topic that feel is often over looked simply because the students are "over the age of 18." Just because we reach a certain age does not mean we do not stop learning or that or educative process is less important. Your piece does a great job of illustrating this.
My suggestion would be to offer more practical/hands on approaches to working with adults. You offer us some insight into your experiences thus far working with adult learners, however, what steps are you taking to deal with some of the concerns you raise (i.e. am I an authority?). I would also explore those feelings of self doubt and your role--are you an authority in a sense that you have all of the answers, or in a sense that you can help them find the answers themselves?
Extra-classroom teaching is used to describe a broad range of teaching and learning environments, but often serves as a label to identify teaching that occurs outside of the regular classroom or as a way of describing a teaching and learning experience that extends beyond the scope of the regular classroom. The latter suggests that, while the teaching is taking place within a classroom, it is offering the learner an experience that extends beyond the scope of the regular classroom. This is done by inviting mentors, tutors, and other types of “teachers” into the classroom to provide learners with an opportunity to experiment with material and pedagogy not included in the regular classroom curriculum.
An Introduction to the Importance of Team Teaching
I find it necessary to add to the discourse of collaboration among teachers and of creating communities of sharing based on my observation that urban teachers are often isolated and detached from other teachers and therefore continue the pervasive cycle of isolating and silencing learners in their classrooms. Before I ever entertained a discussion of team teaching for extra-classroom teachers, I began to reflect on my observations of the regular classroom teacher, Mr. Parker, at my first team teaching placement. I gathered from my conversations with Mr. Parker that he felt like he had little or no support from other teachers in the school and administration. Teachers did not take the time to talk with one another constructively about what they were teaching and how they teach it. Teachers in this urban public high school were left to deal with and solve teaching challenges on their own.
The more I thought about, and reflected on, the lack of a support system for teachers like Mr. Parker to express his frustration and get positive feedback from his colleagues, I realized an important connection between Mr. Parker’s isolation as a teacher and the way he conducted his ninth grade English class. The students completed their assignments individually and there was no process of peer revision or collaboration with other students. Because Mr. Parker felt isolated from the rest of the teachers and felt confined to the learning that took place within his classroom, he saw no need to give students the opportunity to share with one another, either. Sharing knowledge within a community of support was absent from Mr. Parker’s teaching pedagogy and consequently, it did not find its way into the students’ learning.
A community of sharing among teachers allows them to feel supported by other teachers in their quest to better serve the needs of their students. In an effective community of sharing, teachers feel comfortable acknowledging what they do not know without feeling embarrassed or vulnerable because it is assumed that everyone in the group faces challenges and also has knowledge to offer the group. Communication, honesty, and openness are key elements of team teaching because it allows each individual to contribute to the wealth of knowledge that is shared by the group. Sharing challenges and difficulties, as well as successful pedagogical strategies will allow teachers to more effectively evaluate pedagogical practices in school and provide a rich array of resources for teachers to use in classrooms.
How does team teaching affect students? Most obviously, if teachers are sharing ideas for successful teaching practices with one another, they will have a wider base of knowledge to bring to the classroom. A variety of pedagogical approaches will be available, and the teacher will have a resource to rely on when the teacher needs additional input or advice in effectively teaching students. Additionally, if a teacher is part of a community of sharing, that teacher is more likely to value the benefits of the support and knowledge that is created in such a community. The teacher who values collaboration, sharing, and peer-oriented learning will make the effort to create a similar community within their classroom. A community of sharing within the classroom allows students to feel safe sharing ideas, concerns, challenges, and successes with peers. Listening to others and respecting differences becomes important and useful in communities of sharing and members feel that the differences and challenges encountered are opportunities to expand learning and understanding. Students learn that their strengths and weaknesses are valuable and that every individual has knowledge to offer the other members of the community.
I have extended my initial observations and reflections of sharing and team teaching to the position of the extra-classroom teacher often the extra-classroom teacher is in the unique position of supporting and supplementing the instruction of the regular classroom teacher with slightly more flexibility concerning curriculum and teaching methods. This discussion invites extra-classroom teachers (whether teaching outside or within a regular school classroom) to explore the concept of extra-classroom team teaching. The ideas introduced here are meant to expand the strategies employed by extra-classroom teachers who are already involved in team teaching, as well as to encourage extra-classroom teachers who have not yet been a part of a team of teachers to find a way to incorporate team teaching into their experience. The methods I suggest in this handbook for effective team teaching are derived from my observations and experience as an extra-classroom team teacher.
Creating a Team
The circumstances of extra-classroom experiences are very different, but teaching teams can form in many different formats. It might be easier and more feasible for extra-classroom teachers who are teaching within a program or system to already have a framework of team teaching in place. But this does not mean that an extra-classroom teacher currently teaching in isolation cannot find other teachers who are sharing a similar experience to collaborate with one another to create a team teaching community. It is often helpful to have a student coordinator who acts a liaison between the team and program directors or regular classroom teachers. The student coordinator can be selected by the program director or classroom teacher, or can be elected by the team of extra-classroom teachers. The role of the student-coordinator is not meant to assume authority or control over the group, but rather to ensure direct contact and clear communication between the extra-classroom teachers and the regular classroom teachers, school principal, program director, and/or college professor. It is also useful for teachers, professors, and directors to be aware of the team teaching process. Periodic input from other experienced educators can be encouraging and extremely helpful for extra-classroom teachers who are interested in feedback about their teaching and team teaching dynamics and strategies.
My first experience as a team teacher was as a student teacher in an urban high school. As an initiative to build a relationship between students at my college and a local (urban) public high school, I was part of a group of students who were going to be leading (as a group) two ninth grade English classes once a week. With a student coordinator previously designated by the Education Department at my college, the structure for team collaboration was already in place as eight student teachers joined efforts to create a curriculum for a writing project. The team of student teachers was energetic and optimistic, though our previous teaching experience was quite limited. The group of student teachers often discussed challenges we were having in the classroom, but group dynamics were positive and encouraging; a support system existed that allowed the student teachers to communicate their concerns, frustrations, and successes. It seemed that the student teachers shared similar goals and our teaching strategies, though very different, were cohesive within the classroom. However, my positive team teaching experience was significantly challenged the following semester when I again had the opportunity to teach in the same classroom but with different student teachers. I expected and assumed that the structure of the team of student teachers would be very similar to how it had been the first semester, but from the very first meeting I understood that it was going to be a very different collaborative process. From the beginning, the group struggled to communicate with one another, differed in their ideas about the material that should be presented to the students, and also held various perceptions about the role and importance of the team effort. I entered the second semester of collaboration with preconceived notions about how the team would function as a unit and my resistance to exploring other methods of collaboration hindered my ability to be an encouraging and supportive team member.
It might seem obvious that every extra-classroom teacher will bring to the table different (and sometimes opposing) goals and assumptions about their learners and about their roles as extra-classroom teachers. These various perceptions pose a potential challenge for the team, but will result in a rewarding experience when every teacher’s perspective is welcomed and encouraged. Less obvious, however, is the understanding that every teacher will also have a different idea about the purpose and goal of the team teaching collaboration. Not every teacher will desire to put in the same amount of effort or expect the same outcome as a result of the collaboration. This becomes problematic when expectations are not communicated and addressed among team members. Therefore it is essential that extra-classroom teachers express their assumptions regarding how the team will function, make explicit their expectations for the group and its ability to serve the teaching and learning needs of the individual teacher, as well as define what each teacher finds valuable and helpful about working as a team teacher.
Valuing Conflict, Flexibility and Reflection
A discussion of assumptions and expectations might be accomplished in the first group meeting, creating a sturdy framework of support and open lines of communication that will persist throughout the team teaching experience. An effective method for introducing this type of discussion could entail having teachers individually write down their expectations/assumptions/needs for the team and create a list as a group that includes each teacher’s ideas as a way to frame how the group will function in the future. This could also take the form of an ongoing reevaluation of the evolving goals of the team, whether they take the form of individual goals or group expectations. The team might need to reassess whether there are assumptions that were not voiced in the beginning that merit discussion later in the collaborative process.
Part of the way through the second semester, some of the student teachers in my group observed that a split was occurring within the group. The division of the group was a result of people absent from meetings and consequently feeling as though their ideas and opinions were being excluded from the planned curriculum. This required the group as a whole to reexamine how we were functioning as individuals as well as members of a group. A discussion revolving around what we thought was missing from the group as well as individual goals for the classroom was necessary and ultimately transformed how our group worked as a collaborative effort. As a result, planning the curriculum became less of a group effort; instead, meetings became a time to receive feedback and offer input to other teachers regarding lesson plans and interactions with students. While this might not have been how some of the teachers originally envisioned our team teaching experience, the reflection and reevaluation mid-semester allowed for a necessary change in the team teaching process that accommodated the expectations and needs of all the student teachers and ultimately proved to be a positive and valuable experience for the student teachers.
It is essential that group meetings allow time for reflective writing and discussion not only about the teaching and learning that is happening in the classroom, but also within the group of extra-classroom teachers. When all the members have voiced their assumptions and expectations, the group will be able to more effectively foster a team teaching dynamic that is honest and explicit, allowing for productive discussion and collaboration as a group unit. Additionally, it requires significant patience and flexibility to create an effective and productive team teaching experience. It will take an extraordinary amount of effort and flexibility to coordinate schedules and the sharing of materials. Extra-classroom team teachers must be willing to contribute significant time and energy into the team teaching process. Patience will be critical when trying to balance opposing teaching strategies. Teachers must be committed and dedicated to the process of team teaching. The amount of time that must be invested in attending meetings, developing curriculum, and offering feedback to colleagues is significant. Conflicts and differences will arise, but as I have learned in my own team teaching, the moments of conflict and challenge offer an opportunity to learn; if teachers can adapt the collaborative process to their relationships with colleagues, I am convinced that teachers will be able to initiate for their students a similar learning process founded on community effort, sharing and collaboration.
Taking the Time
A CHILD ON ONE SIDE...
The thing that struck me most about Peter was his curiosity. Each of the twenty or so first graders I worked with engaged me and challenged me in a different way, but Peter was unique in his unfailing ability to amaze me.
My visits to Peter’s classroom, on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, generally coincided with the class’s math time. I spent most of these hours working through math and time-telling games one-on-one with students at the classroom computer. Although each student had his or her own way of approaching the games, they all shared a common goal: to get as many correct answers as possible as quickly as possible. Well, all except for Peter.
Peter always seemed to know the right answers. Taking them as they came, he always found the games to be too simple. In one, the screen opened to a clock face with the hands set to twelve o’clock. To the left a question read something like “Johnny eats breakfast at nine-thirty. Where are the hands on the clock at nine-thirty?” Below the question, a small clock face displayed the correct placement of the hands. The students were supposed to reposition the hands on the large clock to match those on the small. Peter thought this was too silly! As he scrolled through the problems, he covered the small clock with his hand or asked me to cover it with mine. Even without the aid, he answered problem after problem correctly. After going through problems like this for some time, Peter began to wonder aloud what would happen if he answered questions wrong… And so he began repositioning the hands on the clock so that incorrect times were displayed. He enjoyed seeing how the computer responded to his “mistakes.” This sort of testing became a regular feature of our computer time—whenever a program failed to challenge Peter, he looked for ways to challenge it, exploring until he was visibly engaged.
One afternoon, I arrived in the classroom to find all of the students diligently coloring little paper pizzas. The classroom teacher explained to me that they were working on a lesson in fractions, and that the next step would be to cut the pies into halves, quarters, and eighths. I walked around the room, visiting with each child. When I came to Peter, he turned to me, absolutely beaming, and held up his creation: a mass of greens and blues and purples splattered all over the sauce and cheese and pepperonis and mushrooms. He explained how he had discovered that by layering colors on top of each other—blue over green, for example—he could create new colors. He was just about to test his theory on the effects of layering purple and green when the classroom teacher walked by and whisked the paper from the table. Pointing to the background of the shape, she asked Peter, “What color is cheese really?”
Peter looked confused as he answered, “Yellow.”
The teacher walked to her desk with Peter’s pizza in hand, picked up a new, clean pizza, and walked back to Peter with it. “Color them what they really are.”
...A TEACHER ON THE OTHER
I was a sophomore in high school when I visited Peter’s classroom. Almost six years later, I am still, dramatic as it may sound, sincerely inspired when I think back to his drive to explore and his wonder at discovery. I am also still saddened and troubled when I recall how the classroom teacher responded to his unorthodox pizza coloring. At the time I was shocked, and a bit confused. After all, it was a lesson about fractions, wasn’t it? It wasn’t a lesson in the colors of pizza toppings, and besides, Peter clearly demonstrated that he knew what color each topping was. It certainly wasn’t a lesson on realism in art. Purplish-greenish-bluish pizzas divide into halves and quarters as well as “normal” pizzas do, don’t they? So why did the teacher insist that he “color inside the lines”? Clearly Peter was getting a more fulfilling, educational experience out of is own project.
Hold it, hold it. Clearly Peter was getting a more fulfilling, educational experience out of his own project? Who am I to talk? One of the problems with this story, I guess, is that it comes from a single perspective. It was clear to me that Peter was engaged in a rich learning experience as he colored his pizza, but was it really clear to the teacher? Probably not. I had just spent five minutes listening to him explain the theory behind his coloring practice. The classroom teacher, on the other hand, had just walked over and seen scribbles. Maybe she simply felt he wasn’t taking the assignment seriously enough, or maybe she had even announced before the project began that the students were to color their pizzas realistically and was reacting to Peter’s disregard for her instructions. I spent hours one-on-one with Peter. I recognized him as an outside-the-box learner, and I was excited to facilitate his wonder. The classroom teacher, on the other hand, had to divide each moment among 20-30 six- and seven-year-olds. It was possible that she had never really had the time or opportunity to recognize or engage Peter’s unique learning style. Or perhaps she had recognized it, but had found that it could become disruptive and, for the sake of her own sanity and maintaining the classroom order, had decided not to tolerate it. Often when I was working with other students, I would hear the teacher yelling Peter’s name or scolding him for one reason or another. In any case, it seems unfair for me to point an accusing finger at the teacher and say, “You did not see this child. You stifled this child. You damaged this child.” Yet I feel it’s true that the child was not seen, was stifled, and may even have been damaged.
I believe that in every classroom, regardless of size and composition, there is a way for teachers to really see their students, to recognize their individual needs, abilities, and curiosities. But I also recognize that finding a way to implement such individualized consideration in many large classrooms can be difficult and takes time, especially when a teacher is working alone. The help of an in-class aid or extraclassoom facilitator has a lot of potential to help free the teacher to take time to recognize students as individuals or at least to provide an alternative outlet for a child to receive such recognition and support. But, whether we’re talking classroom teacher, in-class helper, or extraclassroom facilitator the key really is taking the time recognize that we are dealing with individuals—large groups of them, often, it’s true, but still individuals—and that by addressing the group as a group, we necessarily make generalizations that do not hold true for and institute practices that are not the best for every or even necessarily any individual. We must recognize that when we try to translate these generalizations into interactions with individuals, we are making assumptions. We must seize every opportunity we can to combat those assumptions, to take the time to see and understand each unique learner.
BUILDING A BRIDGE STARTS WITH MAKING POSITIVE ASSUMPTIONS...
Most students at Haverford College live on the basic assumption that everyone adheres to the principles of our Honor Code—essentially, that we uphold the values of trust, concern, and respect in every aspect of our lives. Does everyone stick to the Code, every minute? Of course not. The very fact that we have Honor Council, perhaps even a code in the first place, points to a recognition that we are not perfect. And yet when we approach other students here, we approach them assuming that they will treat us with trust, concern, and respect, and assuming that they expect the same treatment from us. While this assumption may at times prove problematic, it is the very fact that we continue to act on this assumption that our community continues to function as it does. By giving students “the benefit of the doubt” and “assuming the best,” we encourage students to live up to that standard.
The sort of assumption that Peter’s teacher made is a very different sort from the sort that Haverford students make every day under the Code. The teacher’s assumption—that Peter was doing something bad, whatever made her believe this—was degrading; the assumptions Haverford students make—that their peers offer and deserve trust, concern, and respect—are empowering. This is probably largely because the teacher’s assumption was based on factors external to Peter—on the teacher’s own perception of what Peter was doing and why and/or on her own struggle to oversee a large group of children, perhaps, though this is an assumption on MY part—and not on careful consideration of what she knew of Peter or of the motivations Peter could have explained to her if she had only asked him to. When students assume that other students are adhering to the Code, their assumptions are based in a collective understanding: we all signed the Code and agreed to stick to it when we came here. The assumption, in this case, is based in some knowledge of where students are coming from. And it, too, like the teacher’s assumption of Peter’s motivations, breaks down when the reality of a student’s sentiments do not correspond to the Code.
But how can we make the sorts of assumptions that amount to trust and understanding and avoid making the sorts of assumptions that are unfounded and can hurt or alienate others and inhibit learning?
...AND THEN ACTIVELY SEEKING TO UNDERSTAND THE REALITY
I think it is extremely important for all of us to be aware of our own ignorance of others’ lives, personalities, learning styles, and motivations. We do not always know where those around us are coming from and rarely is it the same place from which we ourselves are coming. I think this is where our Code’s theory of “confrontation” (dialogue, really), in its idealized form, really comes in handy. This theory asks us to approach others directly with our concerns and to expect and accept others’ approaching us. Taking it a step further, it also asks us to take the time to confront our own assumptions, to enter a dialogue assuming that we don’t know the whole story, that our side isn’t the only side, and interested in and concerned with the other’s point of view. This can even translate to asking a first-grader why he is coloring a pizza purple and blue and green before demanding that he stop.
This project is an incredible contribution to the Praxis Program! What an amazing way to convey your expertise and lessons learned! I want to comment specifically on Emily’s entry.
“the right attitude”
I agree that students often tend to go into a placement looking for what’s wrong, as if they were consultants rather than learners. This is not only encouraged by the media, but by our own liberal arts educational system, which encourages analytical, critical thinking…There is a tendency for us to view fieldwork as a place to gather evidence, collect data, and formulate our ideas on how to fix the world. In Praxis courses, we ask students to engage rather than to critique.
Creating a space between the student and the classroom teacher for discussion/checking in about how the experience is working is really important. In my opinion, it is the factor that has the most impact on the student’s learning from the classroom experience. This type of discussion seems to happen most easily when students are in the field for more than 3 hours per week or when there is a team leader who has a liaison role. It also happens more often when college students are paired with teachers who work with smaller numbers of students, such as reading specialists. (the fewer the students in the classroom, the more likely there will be time for such conversations)
However, students have also been able to have this type of conversation during the teacher’s prep time or lunch time. Recently, a student commented to me that at first she had been disappointed to find out that the first ½ hour of her scheduled fieldwork fell during the school lunch period. About halfway through the semester, she started sitting with the teachers for lunch, and now realizes that she learned more from the lunchtime conversations than through her experience in the classroom. What she learned from those conversations helped to provide a context for her observations and interactions in the classroom.
Ideally, the field coordinator should meet with each student and their field supervisor at least once during the semester to talk/reflect on the experience. In some of the Praxis classes, there have also been opportunities to bring the host teachers together with the class for an end-of-semester meeting, where the students share their learning from the course with the field supervisors.
“asking for advice” and “fellow educators”
I am so surprised how infrequently students ask for advice about their fieldwork (even when there is an assignment that directly relates to fieldwork). It has been my experience that the Praxis instructor can have a strong influence on the relationship between field supervisor/supervising teacher and the Praxis student. The “Dear fellow educators” letter we send to the supervising teachers is a good beginning to conveying a collegial message of respect. But the Praxis students themselves really need to see concrete evidence of the Praxis instructor’s respect for the knowledge, experience and opinions of the supervising teachers. Some of the things Praxis instructors can do to encourage the students to ask supervising teachers for advice:
1.Invite a few field supervisors to class as guest presenters.
2.Give assignments which structure interaction and conversation between the teacher and student. (example: interview the teacher about certain topics)
3.At the beginning of the semester, bring supervising teachers and Praxis students together as a group to go over course expectations and objectives. Its hard to organize this, but it really gets things off to a good start.
Emily, thanks again for your handbook entry, which will be incorporated into future Praxis orientation activities.
Extra-Classroom Teachers As Role Models
"Children…are in need of role models, and take them from all areas that are close at hand, whether mass media, parents, or their teachers." Daniel Rose
I am a pre-service teacher/extra classroom teacher at a large public high school and am working with 9th Grade students on a project to help improve language choice in different settings such as school, home, or work. As a member of a team, I help facilitate discussions in small groups and work to improve communication, writing, and critical thinking skills that raise awareness in the students of the importance of appropriate communication for whatever circumstance they are in. The first afternoon I walked into the classroom and looked out to the sea of students, who did not look like me, I could not help but wonder how I might affect the lives of these 9th graders. Would our project help these students in the real world? Would they find their way into an institution of higher learning and begin the process of leaving the disparaged community in which the school resides? Who are these students’ role models? As a student teacher, an extra classroom aide, how could I or anyone become a role model for these students?
I was a student in a large, urban public high school very similar to my placement and succeeded in graduating because I had been tracked into an honors program and was fortunate to have found role models in teachers and in extra curricular settings. These teachers, neighbors, and after-school program facilitators encouraged my love of words and writing, my intellectual curiosity, and my love of art and photography. Where my parents could not provide direction for me, these people found a way to reach me. Though these people served as my role models and mentors, what I found to be true then was that many students in urban schools, especially those with large concentrations of “minority” students, lacked role models in or out of the classroom.
Those of us in lower socioeconomic strata of society, particularly Latinas and African-Americans, continue to struggle with institutionalized racism and prejudice. Parents and guardians strive to achieve a better life but fight against a world that requires much more than hard work to succeed. Those who find a way up and out quickly leave communities that flounder from lack of education, cultural collateral, and guidance.
Today, the lack of role models is still evident as large numbers of "minority" students continue to struggle within large, urban, school systems. These students attempt to learn in schools that are deemed "failing", with low graduation rates and expectations, and those who make it to college struggle even more. The lack of pre-college preparation means many do not earn their college degree.
Extra classroom teachers, pre-service teachers, and anyone who finds themselves in a position other than traditional teachers to young people are crucial in providing much-needed role models to help students succeed in communities where every bit of encouragement, support, and guidance is appreciated. The classroom I work in has a great teacher though even she acknowledges the need for extra help in the classroom and I believe the presence of pre-service teachers (individuals still in the process of obtaining teaching credentials) benefits the young people.
Who and what exactly does it mean to be a role model? For me, a role model is an individual who acts as a guide; a person who uses their personal experience to inform and help direct the life of others in a positive light. This positive attitude is extremely important for young people and others who may feel that nothing positive happens or will happen in their life and need to hear and see how to achieve and succeed in spite of all that seems at odds in their lives. Role models possess qualities that we would like to have and emulate. They can be younger or older or your same age. As a student, my role models have run the gamut. A White male teacher encouraged and nurtured my love of writing and poetry. A Latina writer instilled in me the need for me to return to school and earn a college degree. My sister serves as a role model because she is a single mother of two children and is an entrepreneur and full-time student.
Young people learn from their environments, and most spend the bulk of their time in school as students. Often extra classroom teachers are there to “provide instructional…support for classroom teachers… [they are] tutors…and help prepare materials for instruction.” (Occupational Handbook) College students, pre-service teachers, and/or volunteers often serve in these positions. There are very simple steps to taking an active part of being a role model, and the following will serve as a guideline to any extra classroom, extra curricular educator working with students.
Daniel Rose (2005) has written on role models in his article “The Potential of Role Model Education.” He examines the role of educators as role models with formal (and informal) education. He stresses that role models can "expose…groups to specific attitudes, lifestyles, and outlooks." (Rose) He also stipulates that children often see teachers (and I will add extra classroom teachers) as important role models on par with parents. As an extra classroom teacher, perhaps you are yourself a student in college. Your experience as a young person might not be far off in your memory and can be extremely useful in relating to your students. Rose spoke of role models as mentors where the younger person not only learns from your experience but also by being inspired by you. (Rose)
When I asked the students in my placement who their role models were, they did not name superstars or sports personalities, but their mothers, aunts, and siblings. Many spoke of their family’s desire for them to finish high school. Only a few spoke of college as a goal. What happens if these student’s role models are not able to advise them on how educational attainment can help them move from their current socioeconomic status? This is where I hope that I, as a woman of color from a very similar socioeconomic background as these students, can be a guide to show these students there is hope and a possibility for all of their dreams.
What are some ways that extra classroom teachers can take an active role in being role models to their students? Some simple steps are:
1-Know your students. What is the surrounding community like? What are the demographics of the student body?
2-Talk to your students. Find out what their interests are and cultivate these interests. Ask them about where they see themselves in the near future. Always ask about dreams. All young people have dreams and you can help in addressing ways to achieve those dreams.
3-Do not assume that your students feel “disenfranchised” by their particular situation. Linda C. Powell describes the difference between the “discourse of deficit” and the “discourse of potential.” (Powell, 4) If you address young people with a discourse of deficit, you state that they are fortunate to be in the position they are in versus a discourse of potential where you highlight success as a possibility because of hard work and talent.
4-Challenge yourself. Students of color are in particular need for role models in and out of the classroom. As a student teacher, extra classroom aide, or volunteer in a class, there are many ways for you to be a role model. If you are a person of color, your presence in front of the classroom has already made an impact on your students. However, you do not have to share your students’ racial/ethnic or economic background to be a positive role model. In my own experience, men and women from vastly different racial, socioeconomic situations have aided me in directing my studies, life choices, and in pursuing my dreams.
5-Encourage your community to become role models for all young people. The classroom is not the only place where young people can utilize strong role models. After school programs, community organizations, and youth groups are places where adults and others can be valuable in providing guidance to a young person.
In fact, organizations have already begun to address the need for role models in educational settings by outlining goals to help underserved students. For example, Washington State University has implemented a program for the Latino community in the state of Washington called “Latina/o Initiative for Development of Educational Renewal” and proclaims the need of its existence “by facilitating creation of a community culture in which people of all ages are psychologically and academically prepared to succeed in the university…” (Tri-Cities Latina/o Outreach) They state through their goals that schools should have educators that represent positive role models of people in their community to help replace existing stereotypes “with a positive construction of Latino identity.”
All people have the ability to provide encouragement, positive reinforcement, and guidelines for success to any student in need. Extra classroom teachers, tutors, teacher’s aides, pre-service teachers all have access to impressionable minds. Although our society focuses on the individual and that person’s success, our society must change to encompass the idea that “it takes a village to raise a child.” Being a role model to a young person who is in desperate need of positive reinforcements will benefit our future society in ways easily imagined. Role models, whether they are educators, community members, or others can be seen as welders melding their experience and education to reinforce life lessons in young people’s lives.
Rethinking Schools Online.
Fine, Powell, Wong (1997). Off White: Readings on Race, Power and Society. New York: Routeledge. BMC Bulkpack. Spring 2005
Rose, Daniel. The Potential of Role-Model Education. Infed.
Washington State University Tri-Cities Latina/o Outreach
| Serendip Forums | About Serendip | Serendip Home |
Send us your comments at Serendip
© by Serendip 1994- - Last Modified: Wednesday, 02-May-2018 11:57:19 CDT