For my group’s clinical experience, we had the opportunity to discuss a chapter about teacher unions in our reading. We started off our class time by doing a post-it activity. We wanted to see how much the class initially knew about unions and how they felt about the topic. We thought this would be a good way to start the class because it would get everyone to think about the topic and their own opinions about it. We then moved on to present a slide show presentation to discuss what we thought were important facts about the chapter. I thought this part of the class went ok. I think it could have gone a little better but I felt like our chapter was difficult to discuss in a fun and interesting way. I think the best part of our experience was the post-it activity and union activity. I think these two activities allowed everyone to interact with each other and have a better understanding of what it meant to be in a teacher union. I also think these two actives gave everyone a better understanding of both view points of teacher unions. The chapter in the book talked about both the positives and negatives about being in a union. Allowing everyone to talk about what they would and would not include in a union made them feel like they had a personal connection with the chapter even though none of us have ever been in a teacher union. Overall I think my group had a good experience with teaching the class. The chapter was tough to discuss, but I think we talked about it in a way that allowed everyone to understand the main and important parts of the chapter.
For my final two field experiences, I had the opportunity to observe Mr. Habig’s 8th grade history class, and Mrs. Kasubick’s 7th grade history class once again. When Mr. Habig started off his class, I noticed right from the start that he was a very cool and nice teacher to be around. During that particular day in class, they were discussing propaganda, or advertisement. The class mainly talked about how it can be used for good or evil in politics. Mr. Habig then went on to show the class different presidential campaign commercials as examples of propaganda. The class got together in pairs to talk about and develop a better understanding of each commercial. One of the commercials that Mr. Habig showed was for the 1988 Bush vs. Dukakis election. The commercial was about Bush bashing Dukakis for wanting to be commander in chief when he denied all military weapons. The class then talked about the different techniques used in the commercial and how they were effective in changing the public’s perception of the two leaders. During the discussion, all of the students were very interactive and excited to voice their opinions about the different commercials. I think one of the reasons the students were so interactive with each other is because of how the classroom was set up. The desks were set up in a circle in the middle of the room so all of the students could easily see each other and easily interacts with Mr. Habig. For the final activity of the class, Mr. Habig gave each set of pairs a few print ads to look at. They had to choose the most effective one and share with the class why they thought it was the most effective. I had a great time observing Mr. Habigs classroom and it was was easily noticeable that he loved what he did and that he really cared for his students.
For my final observation in Mrs. Kasubick’s classroom, I got to come in and have a one on one discussion with her about all of my classroom experiences. We got to talk while her students were working on an in-class assignment. Mrs. Kasubick and I mostly talked about what I learned through my experiences and how they will help me with the future. I explained to her how I saw in every classroom that I observed a great teacher who really loved what they did. I was really able to see how each teacher takes pride in what they do for a living, which is helping students grow and learn everyday. Mrs. Kasubick was very engaging with me and would ask me for specific details when I would answer her questions. I also had the opportunity to ask her different questions about her teaching career. I asked her questions like, did you always teach at a private school, what does it mean to be the dean of a grade, and what made you decide to become a teacher? Mrs. Kasubick told me that she taught in New York’s inner-city public schools for a while, but she then visited Hathaway Brown and knew that she had to switch schools. She also informed me that being the dean of a grade means doing things like conducting meetings, and making sure all of the teachers understand the goals of their classroom. Mrs. Kasubick wanted to become a teacher because she loved kids and she wanted to have a job where she had the opportunity to help people. I loved talking to Mrs. Kasubick because she was able to make me feel very comfortable in her classroom. She also allowed me to answer a student’s question about effective ways of studying. I thought it was great that she allowed me this opportunity because it let me see that she really wanted me to learn about teaching through my experience in her classroom. I had a great time observing her classroom and I would gladly do it again.
For my 6th and 7th individual field experiences, I had the opportunity to observe Mrs. Sekulich’s 5th grade history class and Mrs. Levtian’s 8th grade English class again at Hathaway Brown Middle School. At the beginning of class, Mrs. Sekulich explained to me that during the week on Wednesday the class has organization day. All of the teachers try to help their students organize their papers and folders. Mrs. Sekulich let me walk around and check all of the students’ lockers to ensure that they were as organized as possible. I loved doing this because all of the students were very excited to show me their clean lockers. It was great to talk to the students a little bit about their day. When Mrs. Sekulich started her history class, she was reviewing for their history test that would take place the next day. When the class was discussing different questions that were going the be on the test, they were very interactive and engaged with what Mrs. Sekulich was saying. I noticed that Mrs. Sekulich was very nice with her students and she was always more than happy to answer all of their questions. She was also very good at getting the kids to focus on the topic in front of them because a lot of the students liked to stop and tell different stories. I was surprised with how chaotic the classroom could get at times; I always thought that the 7th-8th grade level students would be more talkative and less focused. My favorite part of her class was when she used a traffic light to explain how to write an essay. She told me that green is for the topic sentence, yellow is for the transition and opinion, and red is for facts, evidence, and conclusion. Mrs. Sekulich took time at the end of class to talk about the writing technique. She said the school does not use it anymore, but she felt that it was a great visual aid for her students to use. She also told me that when it comes to teaching, she is great at getting the kids excited, but she is bad at over planning for the day. It was great to get different teaching tips from her and I really appreciated them. I had a great experience in Mrs. Sekulich’s classroom and I would love to go back for more observation hours in the future.
I had the opportunity to observe Mrs. Levtian’s 8th grade English class again. Since the last time I visited, the class finished the book To Kill a Mockingbird. Mrs. Levtian started class by asking the class two questions; these questions were, how did Jim break his arm and how did Bob die? She used these two questions to figure out what her students knew about the ending of the book and how to guide the rest of the lesson. Mrs. Levtian then went on to show her class a visual representation of the scene where Scout almost got stabbed. She showed her students a picture of Scout in her ham costume, and a picture of chicken wire. To demonstrate how Scout did not get stabbed, Mrs. Levtian brought in a real kitchen knife to act out the scene. I was so shocked when she pulled the knife out, I never thought that could happen at school! Even though I was shocked, I thought it was great at the same time. This visual aid really helps the students to fully understand and actually picture what the scene would look like. It made me respect Mrs. Levtian even more as a teacher. She ends her discussion of the novel by discussing parallels in the book, talking about the importance of truth, and different possible meanings of the title. Mrs. Levtian wrapped up class by asking her students whether they thought the ending of the novel was happy, sad, or both. Most of the students said both because most of the issues were resolved, but it ended in death. I had a great second experience in Mrs. Levtian’s class and she made me really excited to one day become a teacher and have my own classroom to teach and grow in.
For my fifth individual field experience, I had the opportunity to observe Mrs. Levtian’s 8th grade English class at Hathaway Brown Middle School. I really enjoyed how she set up her classroom. All of the tables were placed together in the middle of the classroom so the students could all see each other and easily interact. There were also cute pictures of cats and dogs around the classroom which gave it an element of fun and it made the classroom a place where you would want to be. The class was reading To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Mrs. Levtian started off the class by sharing the song “Strange Fruit” by Billie Holiday. This is because they were discussing the topic of racism and lyniching that appears in the book and this song helps to explain it. She started off by discussing the lyrics with the class and then she played the song for them to hear. After listening to the song, they went into a detailed discussion about the chapter they were reading in the book. Mrs. Levtian sat down at the table with the students when they were discussing and I thought this was great of her to do. This made it seem like she was talking with her students and not at them. I think this is important to do as a teacher because it lets the students know that their ideas and opinions are important. All of the students were constantly engaged in the conversation and it was great to hear all of their thoughts on the book because I remember reading it my freshman year of high school. Mrs. Levtian knew how to command the classroom, but she did it in a nice and caring way. I was very surprised at how calm all of the students were for being in 8th grade. I was expecting a crazy classroom with many different conversations going on at once. Her classroom really made me want to choose middle school as grade levels to teach. Towards the end of the class, Mrs. Levtian had the students split off into groups of three for an activity on the book. Each group got a character of either Atticus, Scout, or Tom Robinson, and they had to re-write the lynching scene from their character’s point of view. I thought this was a great way to get the class to understand the lynching scene because they really had to think about it critically for this activity. She told the class to do the assignment as if the audience did not already know the story. She also informed them that they would soon have to act out their scene in front of the class. During the activity, Mrs. Levtian always walked around and made sure that every student understood the assignment and she was always willing to answer their questions. I really enjoyed my time in Mrs. Levtian’s English class and she reminded me of why I want to be a teacher in the future. I would gladly return to her classroom for more observation hours.
For my fourth individual field experience, I had the opportunity to observe Mrs. Cross’ 6th grade Social Studies class. When I sat in on the class, I noticed that the 6th graders were a little more calm than Mrs. Kasubick’s 7th graders during the beginning of class. Mrs. Cross started off by reading the morning news for the week to her students. She mentioned how there was a fall sports assembly and how all of the students should go and participate. She said this because they need to be respectful and supportive of the players. Mrs. Cross also gave her students advice on how to stay warm and healthy during the cold fall and winter months. It was great to see her being very interactive with her students. She was talking with them, not at them. Her energy was great to be around. She started off her class by discussing Cornell notes and different content like politics and economy. She handed out a check in sheet to the students to see how they felt about Cornell notes. This sheet asked questions like, “Can you study for a key terms test?” and “Do you understand what you are reading?”. I think this is very important to do as a teacher because you may think that you are getting to your students, but they may have no clue about what is going on in the classroom. I feel that by asking for the students’ feedback, Mrs. Cross made them feel like their opinion is important and that their voice is being heard. All of her students were very quiet and focused when they all started their assignment on GRAPES. This stands for geography, religion, arts, politics, economy, and social structures. This allowed for the notes to be very organized and contain structure. Mrs. Cross would read over the notes, have her students copy down the material, and then give them a few minutes to read and process what they were learning. While she was teaching, it was easy to see that she really knows how to quiet down a classroom and make the students focus in a caring way. Mrs. Cross was strict when she needed to be, but she was also able to relate to her class on a personal level. She is a great example of a teacher who knows the importance of a strong student-teacher relationship. She was able to be their friend, but also someone who is in charge and a role model figure. I could tell that she really cared about her students, and her job as a teacher. I had a great experience observing Mrs. Cross’ classroom and I would gladly do it again in the future.
For my third individual field observational experience, I had the opportunity to again observe Mrs. Kasubick’s 7th grade history class at Hathaway Brown Middle School. On that particular day in class, the students got do dress up in costumes because it was Halloween. All of the students and teachers went full out in their costumes which was so much fun to see. This was very interesting to me because I did not get to do this growing up in the public school system. When Mrs. Kasubick started class, she continued her discussion on ancient greek civilizations. Some of these civilizations included, Greece, Rome, and Byzantium. After reviewing over the notes with her students, Mrs. Kasubick gave the class a five question pop quiz to see what they retained. She let me make copies of the quizzes which was fun because I always wondered how teachers made their copies so quickly! After the students finished their pop quiz, she moved on to discuss ways that her class can prepare for their upcoming test. She talked about games that the students can play with their notecards to make reviewing more fun, and she also gave them a review guide so they knew exactly what was going to be on the test. I thought it was great that Mrs. Kasubick discussed different types of games that the students could play because this encourages them to want to study since they can do it in a fun way. Mrs. Kasubick also gave her students free time at the end of class to work on labeling their map of east Asia. I think it is important to give the students some free time during class to work on assignments because this lets them know that the teacher wants their students to have time for other activities outside of the classroom. During this time, Mrs. Kasubick answered every question that her students had. Whether it was about the content of the test, or how to study for it, she always did her best at coming up with the most efficient answer. I once again had an amazing time observing Mrs. Kasubick’s history classroom. Her students are always well behaved, and they all make me feel welcomed. It is easy to see that Mrs. Kasubick is an example of a great teacher and that she truly loves what she does for a living.
For my second individual field experience, I was able to observe Mrs. Kasubick’s classroom again and Mrs. Coleman’s 7th grade English class at Hathaway Brown Middle School. During the day in Mrs. Kasubick’s 7th grade history class, she started off by handing out class pictures. She it made it fun by taking one of the student’s magnet pictures which she then hung it up on the white board. All of her students thought it was funny and the picture remained on the bored for the rest of class. Mrs. Kasubick then moved on to discuss notes on the introduction to law and justice. She went over the notes with her students and had them mark down the four main important points. Mrs. Kasubick compared taking notes to a grocery list. She told her students that to make a grocery list, you do not have to write down the whole recipe to get all of the needed ingredients. I thought this was a great comparison which taught her students that you do not have to write down the whole lecture to have good notes. I felt that Mrs. Kasubick was able to relate her lesson to the students in a way that was easy for them to understand. This is turn forms a great student-teacher relationship. She then went on to teach her class how to take Cornell notes. This was great to see because I remember taking Cornell notes in my high school classes. Mrs. Kasubick was able to discuss smart note taking as well as the content of ancient greek civilizations. She ended the class by asking her students, “‘What are you going to do differently with your notes tonight?'” I thought this was an excellent way to end class because it allowed the students to continue their thoughts on note taking and ancient greek civilizations outside of the classroom. I loved observing Mrs. Kasubick’s classroom because she is really able to engage her students and it is easy to see that she loves her job. Mrs. Coleman is also a great and engaging teacher. Her classroom was very inviting and open; it was easy to tell that she was an English teacher from all of the different book posters on the walls. In her English class on that day, Mrs. Coleman split up her students into groups and did an exercise on motifs. She gave each group a section from the book they were reading in class and had them find the motif in the reading. Each group then had to say in front of the class why the motif shows up a lot in the reading, and why it is important. It was great to see the students openly discussing because it showed problem posing education. Each student had the opportunity to state their own ideas and creative thoughts which allows them to become critical thinkers. Mrs. Coleman also discussed theme and how it shows the underlying message in the book. I loved observing Mrs. Coleman’s classroom and I would gladly go back for more observation hours.
For my first individual observation in a classroom setting, I was able to sit in on Mrs. Kasubick’s 7th grade history class at Hathaway Brown Middle School. I was able to observe her one hour first period class. Hathaway Brown is an all girls Catholic school located about 5 minutes away from John Carroll. It was very interesting for me to observe an all girls private school because I attended a co-educational public school my whole life. On my first visit, Mrs. Kasubick was discussing vocabulary words with the class. They were defining words like “government”, “monarchy”, and “democracy”. I was a little nervous to see a discussion happening in a 7th grade classroom since students can be very energetic at that age, but all of the students were very well behaved and they all participated in the discussion. Mrs. Kasubick made sure that all of her students were engaged with what she was saying by calling on different students for each question she asked. She wanted to make sure that everyone’s voice was equally heard. After having a classroom discussion on the vocabulary words, she had each student turn to their neighbor and talk about one thing they learned that they did not know before the classroom discussion. I thought that was a great way to reinforce the information so the students are constantly talking about the words and learning other peoples’ perspectives. Mrs. Kasubick then went on to talk about politics and how it is an art and science of government. She was able to relate the idea of politics to the students in a personal way so they had an easier time understanding the material. She gave the example of each student being a master of texting and how they have it down to a science just like how politicians have the idea of government down to a science. I thought this was such a great method of teaching because now each student can see how a small thing like texting can relate to what they are learning in their history class. Mrs. Kasubick is a great example of a positive student-teacher relationship. She was very nice and engaging with her students, but she also made sure to be strict at times so the students take their education seriously. She would walk around the classroom while she was teaching so her lesson was not just a boring lecture with her talking at the students and not with them. She was also a very positive teacher and would be reassuring when a student got a correct answer. She would say things like “yes” and “I love that”. I thought it was so amazing to be able to observe such a wonderful teacher in her own classroom environment. This observation only make me more excited to have my own classroom one day.
For our final class trip, we visited The Agnon elementary day school. This school was vastly different from any other school that I have seen. I had the opportunity to observe Melissa’s 2nd grade math class. The most interesting thing about this teacher was that when she was younger, she also attended the Agnon school. It was really nice to see her talk to us about her teaching experience come full circle. She told us about how she lives by many of the students she teaches so she is able to have a more personal relationship with her students. She also had the Judaism teacher that taught previously before her class; it was great to see them interact together and speak Hebrew. During that specific day in class, the students were not doing a lot of work because they only had a half day of school. Melissa had the students pick from different games that they could play that were based around problem solving. These games included working with dominos or solving problems in their math work books using cubes as a visual aid to count with. The students worked together with the dominos or cubes to come up with a solution to the problem that mostly included adding or subtracting. Seeing the students interact with each other and Melissa during this time of problem solving was the most interesting part of my observation. Two of the students in the classroom only knew how to speak Hebrew; their English was not great because they just recently arrived to America. I have never seen a basic content class being taught in any other language besides English so this was something that I really appreciated seeing. I have also never seen a school where the students address their teacher by their first name. Every student in the classroom called the teacher Melissa and she responded normally. I think this is a great idea because the students have a chance to view their teacher as someone equal to them in the classroom. There may be a fear of disrespect between the student and teacher, but the students did not show any signs of disrespect towards Melissa during their time in the classroom. I also noticed how well behaved the students were. Going into the observation, I expected the students to be crazy and out of control due to their young age. To my surprise, the students were a pleasure to be around. They were all happy to be in Melissa’s classroom and they were all open and ready to learn. Whenever they had a question about their math problems, they would all ask Melissa without any hesitation and she was always happy to answer them. This class trip made me realize how important student-teacher interaction is. If the teacher is not excited or happy to be in the classroom, then the students will never want to learn the material being taught. I feel like The Agnon School is a great example of teachers truly wanting to teach and students truly wanting to learn. I had a great experience at this school and I would definitely return for more observations in the future.
Over the course of this semester, I have learned many valuable lessons from this education class. Before this class, the only perspective I had of a classroom is that of a student. I feel now that I am truly able to see what it takes to be considered a good teacher. I learned what it takes to be a good teacher through things like our class trips, my own personal field experiences, and our readings in Bill Ayer’s comic book and “Educational Foundations”. Through my observations in different classrooms, I have learned that a teacher needs to be engaged with their students, they need to relate the topic they are teaching to the students in a personal way, and they have to have fun with their students. I thought it was a great opportunity to be able to observe different classrooms only as a freshman. I have also learned a lot about being a good teacher through our readings. One of the more important things I felt that the reading taught me was banking education vs. problem posing education. Banking education is where a teacher merely pours meaningless information into the student’s head for memorization purposes. Problem posing education is where a teacher allows their students to ask important questions and become critical thinkers of the world. When I have my own classroom, I hope to be a teacher who uses problem posing education. Bill Ayer’s also taught me a lot about what it takes to be a good teacher. I learned that as a teacher, it is important to build bridges. It takes a lot for a teacher to help their students figure out the solution to the problem. When crossing that bridge, it is just as important for the teacher to learn just as much from the students as the students learn from the teacher. It will take me many years and different classes to figure out what it exactly takes to be a good teacher, but Education 100 has been a great start.