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Field Notes #9

Lchase's picture


Field Notes #9

  • I came to class today at a later time so I can experience different lessons.
  • When I arrived and checked into the office I saw Sonya at the office. She looked upset so I asked what happened and she told me she got in a fight with Nick. I offered to take her to the counselor but a man I had never seen before came and said he was going to talk to them. I was confused and he explained he was a visiting principal which made me even more confused. Is the old principal leaving? Since he would not let me talk to the students I went up to Ms. G’s classroom.
  • I wanted to ask her a few questions. I had not had time to talk one-on-one with her since my first day.
  • I asked her about her beliefs on standardized testing (specifically because I am focusing my final field based paper on the subject). She told me she thinks testing is very beneficial because it is a great way to determine the level the students are at (I was a bit surprised about this since I personally don’t think standardized testing actually tests a student’s knowledge, but I did not want to bring this up because I wanted her unbiased answer). She did say that it was unfair to compare inner-city students with students from well off communities (she specifically said students from the main line or lower Merion). She said compared her child with her students saying her little girl was in 1st grade and already knew how to read and write whereas the students at Oakley struggle with such skills even in third grade. She went on by explaining how much parental involvement (or rather lack of) hinders the student’s development and growth. Ms. G told me the school has a partnership with an online program that specifically targets each student’s weakness in various subjects which can be completed both at home and in her classroom; but her students are not able to take advantage of the program at home because almost all of them do not have access to a computer at home. On the contrary, well off families have this advantage which allows the students to practice at home with their parents. Additionally, she told me the student’s parents have trouble helping their children with their school work (she actually said the parents just don’t care about their student’s progress. She explained this by saying the parents do not check their students work [because they work so much and do not have time or because they simply cannot comprehend the material] nor come to teacher conferences). She concluded by saying she thinks testing would be extremely beneficial but they must have a complete makeover first. 
  • I was a bit taken back because I was under the impression teachers did not like state testing or teaching towards it because it takes away from the teachers own teaching style.
  • She also brought up how now state testing is used to determine the teaching of the teachers. She did not go very deep into this but it obviously affected her and she did not like this new change.
  • I asked her if she thought teaching towards the test hindered the student’s critical thinking skills since I experienced a lot of that within the past semester. To my surprise Ms. G said she thinks it is helping their critical thinking. She said they had just gotten a new grant for math textbooks that really emphasize critical thinking.
    • Bringing up math as a way to critically think was interesting. Usually when I think about subjects that enhance these thinking skills, math is usually last. Ms. G did not bring up reading and writing at all. I have not been in many math lesson plans so I was not able to see this as much as I have with English. I wonder why she did not bring up language arts at all.
  • After talking to her for a bit I went downstairs to meet the children. They had lunch outside and were running around and playing along with surrounding me with hugs and arm grabs. They really like grabbing my arms.
    • It was extremely hot and all the students were sweating and complaining.
  • I asked what had happened with Sonya and Nick. They told me Nick had bothered Sonya so she hit him and it progressed after that.
  • After playing for a bit with the kids Sonya came back and I asked her what happened—she told me the same thing. I told her fighting is not an answer but she just ran off.
  • When the students were lining up Marcus grabbed onto John’s neck from behind. Marcus is always grabbing people and running around but John got really upset. We aren’t sure is Marcus meant to do it in a negative manner but John did not like it. John started crying and ran inside so I followed him and brought him to the counselor (which was being the office secretary today for some reason)
    • I am really proud of John for not getting in a fight. Instead he left the situation and got help!
    • Today was weird. The principal was some guy and the counselor was the secretary.
  • The counselor talked to both students and I went back to meet with Ms. G and the other students.
    • Later I spoke to the social worker that is also in the classroom with me (she’s super nice and we got to know each other throughout the semester) told me John was new and was having trouble fitting in. She also said “you know how Marcus is, he’s like a monkey!”
  • They all went to the bathroom and had silent reading.
  • Once in the classroom, the students worked on math problems in their workbooks.
    • The worksheet consisted of a word problem and a table. They were supposed to create a graph using a given key. From there they needed to figure out where each bar ended for each category. After drawing the graph they had to answer 3-4 more word problems which analyzed the graphs and asked questions like “_____ came up twice the amount of ____.” I get what Ms. G meant about the math course being all critical thinking. I really liked these questions and the students seemed to be doing well on them.
  • I worked with Sonya but she did not want to do the work. She kept saying it was too hard and wanted me to explain each and every step (for about 2 minutes) then she started asking me questions about myself and analyzing my sleep deprived finals self. She asked me about my acne (awkward) and then tried to take off one of my freckles which I told her was permanent in which she replied that Ms. G and I had too many freckles.
    • Since she was getting side tracked I got up and helped other students. She yelled no no no! and held onto me but I still went to another kid and came back a few minutes later. This has worked in the past with her when she gets side tracked. Once I leave she refocuses when I come back for a bit.
  • The students worked on about three pages of worksheets then ran out of time.
  • Ms. G explained the homework to the students and everyone packed up.