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Rethinking Elementary Education Group 2

What are some classroom management tips? How do you accommodate the different types of students without affecting the whole class?

How to keep yourself sane and avoid burnout? How do you stay inspired and encouraged as a teacher?

How do you manage time? (Schoolwork, grading papers, being an effective teacher, personal life, building relationships with students/teachers)

At what point do you place boundaries between work life and home life?

Where’s the line between being professional and having a relationship with your students?

How do you encourage critical thinking and discussion without imposing your own views? Teachers have a place of authority in the lives of young children and are seen as being right majority of the time.

How do you adapt your curriculum to students with special needs?


What stands out in our society? How do we address it in our classrooms

Today we focused our reading on sections that discussed topics that are very visible in our society and our students are aware of people that fit into these groups, such as headdresses Muslim girls wear or disabilities that some people have. It is important to address these things in our classroom so that our students do not generalize or stereotype or have deficit thinking. However, it can be hard for teachers to decide how to appropriately include lessons on such topics that sometimes can be considered taboo and seen but not spoken about because no one wants to step on anyones toes. But, to be a social justice focused teacher it is our job to discuss how we could do this. So, this was our days focus.

Implications for Practice:

-emphasis on looking and analyzing the author of the material you are teaching. What bias do they have? Do they represent a certain stereotype? How can we break this stereotype? Open up the discussion for your class.

-Answer questions! Do not let students whisper about topics. Have open dialogue and let students share. Build the community and students will become more accepting in general.

-Study other cultures.

-Not just looking at someone for their disability. Find the positive and find similarities

-Have students do research. What do they find is available? Does this match the stereotypes. Again, how can we break free from these.

-Look in our own school community. How can we learn from people that we know and appreciate. These people are more to us than just stereotypes. Making these lessons personal and relatable to students helps the students understand, connect and care more.

-As a teacher you must be educated. Do not allow your bias or lack of knowledge to affect your students perception on people who are different from you. Everyone is special. Cliche, but true. And teachers should highlight how our differences are not defining, we are all able-bodied and contributing to society and our planet.

Reading for Next Week: Chapter 4!

PLC-Group 2 “Rethinking Elementary Education”

Big Topic_AIDS

  • The teachers interacted with students and talked with them about a subject that is usually avoided-AIDS
  • Enforces the idea that children are capable of interacting and conversing about “adult topics”
  • Somewhat therapeutic for children who have family members with AIDS
  • Correct language and terminology:
    • AIDS cannot be transmitted through kissing

Rethinking the U.S. Constitutional Convention

  • Who was there? Who was left out? What is it?
  • Introduces children to the history of our country
  • A new way to express history while bringing in every side of the past
  • Students role played–this lesson plan took time and encouraged children to speak up and to identify social justice issues

Next time: pp. 161-187

Conversation with an Elementary Teacher

We spent the time talking with a teacher, Beth. So instead of finding a media source, we took notes on the questions and conversations that we shared with Beth.

Do you have experience with including special aid needs in classrooms? How?

  • Always need to to take in account disabilities
  • Do you adjust entire curriculum for the class? Or just specific student? –
  • How are our practices as teachers impacting the students? – What are the larger, environmental aspects that affect students and their success – is it inclusive? – How are you connecting with their family? Do you know them as a person, not just a student – How is their outside life playing a role in the actions within classrooms? Building relationships that will help teachers see what their lives are like, what their interest were.
  • Will give you much more understanding of where the student was coming from. Will also help build relationship with parents as well as student.

Management aspects

  • regulations or signals
  • set up procedures around all the different transitions (like bathroom)

Assistant Teachers – how would you address the issue of having a TA that doesn’t stand in line with the environment you’re trying to establish within your classroom? (If they talk down to students)

  • Important to be curious about it – don’t just assume what they’re doing is bad – how will this help you learn about yourself – also why do they do this? What is the rationale behind this?
  • Reciprocal, mutual relationship – communication
  • Be clear about what you want them to do
  • Have conversation about expectations, goals
  • Make sure it’s about the students – not that I have a problem with the assistant herself, but rather about doing what would be helpful for the students
  • Recommended Article – Power in Caring by George Novel

Importance of informing yourself as a teacher – constantly researching information that will be helpful with certain students.

  • Ex. special needs – do research, find the special needs teacher and ask for some resources
  • Finding a veteran teacher that lines up with your beliefs – asking for help and advice

Rethinking Elementary Education Group #2

  • By comparing the teachers, by groups, traditional, progressive, and critical teachers. It was good to see the similarities, but also what separates them from one another, and also what makes one better than the other.
  • Very important that patience is key. You have to work up to a certain point, you cannot just expect a child to be able to write a poem. This can be seen on page 59.
  • A class that is built on class discussion is more progressive than simply a teacher, teaching. It should be a student led class, with a teacher probing the class for answers or maybe ideas. Perhaps the children run the classroom with supervision. He uses specific examples of what happened in his classroom to represent and demonstrate these ideas.
  • The student’s confidence is essential to the child’s learning. If they are confident, they will perform better.
  • Sometimes it is better not to look at things as simply “black or white”. It is better to have a broad spectrum of what things could be. Therefore, the child is not either right or wrong, but can have their own ideas on the topics.
  • You should discuss things in a detailed manor, even if you have a lesson plan, you don’t necessarily have to follow it very strictly. You should have the flexibility to change around your schedule and discuss what needs to be discussed.
  • There is a time to critique a child’s writing, but there is also a time to just let the child “free-write”. If you are going to critique a child’s writing, then critique a piece of writing that has no bearing on their own life. But maybe we should not critique a child’s free-writing piece, we should encourage them to keep writing, rather than tell them they are wrong.
  • There should be a balance between knowing when to teach the rules of writing and when to let them learn on their own.
  • It is argued that the meaning of punctuation and the reasons behind using punctuation is sometimes overlooked just to prepare the students for the state testing. Therefore, the students are not actually learning exactly why certain punctuation is used, but learning just when to use it. So, there is not a real  learning point behind the punctuation being used, it is just preparing them for the test at the end of the year.
  • It is good to understand that not all writing has to be graded learning. All writing material is helping the child learn, but that does not mean that every piece of writing should be critiqued.

End of Chapter 1- Group 2 (Rethinking Elementary Ed)

Inspirational Posters: Why should people get a say in classrooms when they have never been in one? Why do we have these posters up? What are they saying to our students? Why not have student work up instead of random words/works from outsiders- what do these words even mean to our students?

These messages can actually send mixed vibes to students. “If you try you wont fail.” Sometimes a student can try very, very hard, yet still not succeed completely. So, what does this say to the student? What even is success? Is it good grades, good behavior, good relationships? These posters and messages are not good at defining what the message’s purpose really is and it can be misleading to students.

Motivational posters give us unrealistic goals. Students do not have to mold into these inspirational paths that are outlined through posters.

Are these motivational posters putting us on the wrong path? We should be supporting individual growth not only a few correct behaviors. These good versus bad behaviors as shown through posters do not allow students to be individuals, but robots and unhumanlike.

Bullying: Reflect reality. We need to place importance on specific cases instead of rounding everything up under one solutions. Solutions need to be school, classroom, instant based. Specificity is important when engaging a student. They will not respond well if you are generalizing them or belittling their own actions to group them into bigger themes.

Other Take-Aways: Kids realize how teachers group. They understand what reading levels mean when they are numbered or colored. Teachers must take this into consideration, so kids do not feel like the dumb student among their peers. These realizations can lead to other issues in the classroom such as disengagement. It is not wrong to group by ability, but it should not be the only way to group. “Group depending on the purpose.”

Allow students to thrive in their strengths and help others in their strong points. Every student has one strong point and this allows the students to see they have purpose. Weaknesses can be strengthened in this way as well. Giving a project that allows an abundance of skills gives every student a place where they feel confident and helpful. In this way, all of the work will not fall on one person in the group.

Students should question motivational posters, what teachers say and things in the classroom.

Reading for next week: pages 49-72

Rethinking Elementary Education: Group 2

Summary/Topics: (Highlights of group discussion)

Building Community

  • Bringing in different cultures, backgrounds and home lives
  • Poetry, gallery walk, “Outside/Inside Poem” — opening up with others, self-expression, communicating with one another
  • We remember our classrooms and how our past teachers incorporated our backgrounds and lives into the classroom

More than Teachers

  • Educators teach more than academics, they teach social skills, social issues (race, gender, family, etc.), but have to teach in a “neutral” environment
  • Discussion of diversity, same-sex couples…it’s okay to be different
  • Parents vs Teachers roles (what is a teacher’s responsibility versus a parent’s responsibility)
  • Parent-teacher communication is significant
  • Parental involvement

Assignment for September 14:

Finish Chapter One