Classroom Reflections

  1. Students with learning disabilities don’t know how to formulate questions. I think that asking questions is difficult in more than just a social situation. One of my biggest pet peeves that I continue to do in my classroom is ask, “Do you have any questions?”. First of all, the students don’t want to appear stupid in front of their peers. Second, they don’t know what they don’t know. Third, they don’t know how to ask the question and by the time they’ve formulated the thought, the teacher has moved on. It’s our responsibility to ask questions to see if the students understand. 
  2. “On the mind, out the mouth.” I find this is so accurate and it can definitely be a huge problem for middle school students. I find that either not reacting, or explaining why the comment was inappropriate works really well in these situations.
  3. The hidden curriculum. I remember in school not knowing the hidden curriculum and being lost in social situations. I was lucky that I had friends who were able to explain to me the social norms that I didn’t understand. I do think that it’s very important for teachers to be aware of the hidden curriculum at the school as well. The concentrated ecosystem of a school can be complicated and difficult to navigate. I love the idea of having the student council write some of the unspoken rules down. 
  4. Differences between teachers and teaching styles. The students at my middle school are broken into grade level teams. All students on team 1 have the same English Language Arts, Science, Social Studies, and Math teacher. There are 7 academic teams. These teams go on field trips together, have classrooms located next to each other, and have consistent routines. One team decided to use GoogleForms to track students leaving class. If a student needed to use the restroom, they would fill out a GoogleForm with the teacher’s name, time, and destination before requesting permission. About three weeks into school, a student came to me distressed because he couldn’t find my name on the GoogleForm. I had no idea what he was talking about. When he explained to me the policy, I had to explain to him that my class was an elective and didn’t belong to a team and therefore had a different policy. This really seemed to confuse and annoy him. It’s difficult when teachers have different policies and although I try to go over the syllabus at the beginning of the year and revisit the policies frequently, it’s still a big adjustment for the 6th graders who are used to having just one teacher in elementary school. We definitely need to make our teaching styles transparent to all of our students. 
  5. Students already know how to do that. Lavoie gave an example of a teacher who assumed that their 15-year-old students knew how to sign a birthday card. This reminded me of when I had to explain to a teacher that I had to teach a 15 minute mini lesson on word processing in Spanish class. The students didn’t know how to “double space”, change the font, or add a picture into their document. The teacher assumed that the students would know how to do this because they grew up with computers and were so good with technology. Unfortunately, skills useful on snapchat and instagram do not translate well into word processing. Part of lesson planning is trying to find what misconceptions or gaps students have with the skill or content.