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ROPA 6: Who I am as a teacher
Transcript of ROPA 6: Who I am as a teacher
Usually they use a guided notes sheet Sometimes I prompt them and guide
them through taking their own notes
on lined paper This moves them towards the next step, processing This was the most used in the café unit due to our focus on speaking and interpersonal communication Now, in order to make this information really stick
it needed to be used at length. It needed to be used
in the context of a wider variety of vocabulary and grammar.
Students were asked to create a long dialogue, using everything
they had learned this year to create a realistic café scene.
I ask students to achieve this stage during the final stages of our projects. These are task oriented, realistic simulations that ask the students to use their language in a situation that might occur in a native speaker's normal life. These situations may involve reading, writing, speaking, listening, or a combination of the above.
The final culminating activity in the café unit was, in fact a café. We turned the classroom into café Marineau, complete with an Eifel tower view projected onto the wall. There were two 20 minute sittings at the café allowing students to be both a client and a worker in the café. My mentor teacher and I assigned the roles to be played within the café, allowing us to differentiate the taks required of students. No English was allowed and real food was served.
I repeated the activity in eighth grade during , my solo-teaching. It was a fun treat for the students in the last few days before break after they had finished a difficult unit: However, it was also an important review of old material and a turning point for many students. Each was pushed just slightly beyond his comfort zone and all succeeded in communicating entirely in French for 40 minutes.
Bienvenue au Café! Social learning theory: Vygotsky and Bandura Attention The learner must pay attention to what is being taught, this depends on how much he or she likes the model, his expectations, and how much his emotions are aroused. The context for learning Choice of Activities Presentation In my classroom, I attract students' attention in several ways Relevance My thoughts My life My family Cafe House My friends My feelings Shopping Fun Real-world Games Leading up to a bigger, better end goal Competition Jeopardy races La guerre des clans Guess who? Scavenger hunts Memory Scrambled sentences Clue Kind Upbeat Energy My delivery of the lesson memorable Eye catching objectives clearly stated at the beginning of lesson Acting Logical Graphic Motivation Production Retention The learner must have a reason to want to learn the material, and will analyze the positive and negative consequences of a model's behavior. In terms of foreign language study, motivation means that the sutdent wants to learn the language and wants to come to class. Reasons why students enjoy coming to class and being a good student: Safe Environment Upbeat atmosphere successful A different kind of learning from other classes deductive reasoning clear practical applications social dynamic often detail oriented Want to do well to impress friends and classmates Friends in class ~ Sadowsky emphasizes the importance of how adolescents believe others perceive them. He says that they are “morbidly, often curiously preoccupied with what they appear to be in the eyes of others as compared with what they feel they are.” "Safe risks" Though an adolescent is unlikely to use this language, French class provides an opportunity for students to take safe risks. I ask students to put themselves "out there" on a regular basis by speaking in a foreign language in front of others. Our simulations and role playing also provide opportunities to act and be bold in front of others. good grades Reasons why students want to learn the language: Cultures Language Self expression Desire to learn about new cultres via the target language. Interest in the nature of language. Tourism and travel Exotic Different New Far away Exciting Class is fun Costumes Good grades Food Stories Acting Singing Social Dancing Competition Fashion Games For many students, the outer ring represents the hook. If they are not sure why they should learn French, and do not forsee French as being a useful part of their futures, this is where I can hook their interest and create motivation to learn. Nevertheless, throughout the curriculum, I integrate lessons that will lead them to be more intrinsically motivated by the subject matter itself. I hope to convince them of the value of learning foreign languages. Knowing a second language allows us to break down cultural barriers. For some students, motivation can me as simple as falling in love with the nature of language itself. My job is simply to show them why it is so wonderful. My role in fostering students' motivation is to remain cognizant of these different sources of both extrinsic and intrinsic motivation and draw on them whenever possible in my lesson planning. Non matter what the lesson, I can ensure that my classroom remains a safe and inviting space for students to come and learn. I can also consciously foster a positive learning community and show students that I care about them as both people and foreign language students. A learner must be able to remember what he saw by structuring and encoding the information, or mentally or physically rehearsing the model's actions. Memory games Drills Repetition Verb charts Consistency Organization Practice Relating the parts to the whole
and showing how the pieces fit together In our classroom we have an organizational chart which maps the big ideas for French 1. As we address new topics, we create notecards summarizing the material and place them in their appropriate spot on the map.
This has proven to be valuable tool for students. They will even volunteer to make the notecards if we forget. I will continue to use this practice in my own classroom. It is important that the learner feels he can actually perform the modelled behavior Scaffolding Differentiation Building confidence Celebrating the small victories In my foreign language classes, I have high expectations for my students. At the end of each unit, I intend for them to use French in a useful way, a way in which a native speaker might use French during his daily life.
However, these lofty goals would be very difficult for students to reach without some support along the way. I thus break the tasks down into baby steps or manageable chunks. Often, the entire unit is designed as stepping stones towards the realistic task. These stepping stones build not only the necessary skills but also students' confidence that they can in fact succeed in doing what I am asking. Let's take the café unit as an example. The lofty goal: Participate fully in a café simulation The last step: Write and memorize an extended café dialogue in which you order food and also participate in a normal conversation with your friend while waiting and eating. Draw on the vocabulary and grammar used throughout the year. The support in between: The task was broken down into 4 smaller steps, categorized by subject matter. The first step: Write and memorize a short café skit that veers only slightly from the sample conversation presented with the vocabulary in order to personalize it. The base: The café unit vocabulary and grammar. By differentiating, I am able to make sure that each student is capable of succeeding and also feels that they are capable. I take advantage of primarily 2 different methods of differentiating: Providing additional scaffolding Different roles within a project/simulation/performance By assigning different roles within the same task, I am able to take advantage of all of my students strengths while supporting their weaknesses.
During the Tourist Brochure project, I differentiated by asking different students to research different subjects. This was based upon both interests and level of difficulty.
For the café activity, we assigned students to be either a chef, waiter or host based upon their individual needs. Chefs were able to use a smaller range of vocabulary and work closely with either myself or my mentor teacher. Waiters needed to be good at listening to orders, and the host needed to be able to speak freely about a wide range of subjects.
In addition to fulfilling needs, I used the opportunity as a way to push some students just slightly outside of their comfort zone, knowing they would succeed. One of the most valuable lessons I have learned this year is just how powerful a "good job" can be. I have seen numerous students change their habits and suddenly start to advance at a more rapid pace because I noticed that they were doing well with a specific concept or project. I have also been surprised to see that those students who don't seem to care what anyone thinks are often the ones who need the most encouragement. In addition, I have found that students benefit from encouragement about achievements that have nothing to do with French, such as basketball, their science project, a story they wrote, or a kind gesture. They care that I think of them as a good person, a smart student, or a good player. I have come to realize that effectively building a studentt's confidence means recognizing and celebrating the small victories. What is a big achievement for a struggling student may be a menial task for another. Rather than comparing one student to another, I compare each student to his/her former self. As a result, when a student makes progress, no matter how far the student still has to come, I am delighted. When I congratulate the student, I am genuinely excited for him/her and encourage him/her to continue the good work. I aim to encourage continual progress. If I wait until the student reaches the top of the steps to give praise, the student may loose their motivation before ever they get there. By identifying small victories, I show the student that his/her effort is worthwhile. Theory and Practice Welcome to my classroom. In this section of the presentation I will talk about the theoretical constructs which have shaped who I am as a teacher.
Two different understandings about how students learn have shaped both my curriculum planning and way of being and reacting in the classroom. Cognitive learning theory has helped me understand how to structure and develop the sequence of each unit. On the other hand, social learning theory has helped me understand what material to teach, how to package it, how to meet the needs of individual students and how to recognize and compensate for the differences between individuals and groups.
Thanks to a wonderful mentor teacher, I have seen first hand how my beliefs about teaching and student learning can be put into practice. We share many of the same beliefs about the necessity for incorporating real-world applications of the material into the classroom and the importance of building students' sense of self-efficacy. However, over the course of my solo teaching, I was also able to develop practical applications of my own beliefs and develop new applications of beliefs we share.
It was during this period of time that I solidified my understanding of foreign language learning as being a two phase process according to cognitive learning theory. During the first phase of a unit, I believe the focus should be on taking in new information, processing it, and storing it in the short term memory. It is during this phase that traditional language learning methods such as drills, worksheets, memory games, direct instruction, etc. are most appropriate. While many foreign language teachers give a final unit test at this point, I believe it is important to transition into a second phase. In order for the language to move into the long term memory, I believe that students must be asked to use the concepts for an extended period of time. I also believe that they must use the language in a way that is both personal and realistic.
During my soloing, I also began experimenting with my interest in encouraging students to use this new language to express themselves and their personalities. Often in foreign language classrooms, students spend a lot of time talking about a theoretical future self; about others, or about imaginary characters. I wanted to acquaint them with the idea that French could become a part of their lives now. In addition, I wanted to work on students' ability to get their point accross without having a dictionary by their sides at all times. Learning to talk around a word, to circumlocute, is an invaluable skill for holding a conversation in a foreign language. Students are most likely to do this when they are saying something they really care about.
The rest of this section, Theory and Practice, examines my teaching practices within a theoretical framework. It is organized by theory. First you will see how my practices relate to the Cognitive Learning Theory, and second how they relate to Social Learning Theoy. These theories, and my interpretations of their application to foreign language learning represent my beliefs about teaching French. I often use the cafe unit that occurred in both grades, either as a major focus or as a review, in order to illustrate how I use theory to inform my practice. The sampling of practical applications are an accurate representation of how I hold myself to teach according to my beliefs. Though this has caused some intellectual struggles throughout the year, I have had adequate support to work through these issues in a way that was congruent with my beliefs.
Students and Formative Experiences
Faith began the year as a student who loathed French. She apparently had a bad experience with her French teacher last year, and was convinced that she was simply not capable of learning the language. She would describe her attempts to remember saying that try as she might, she just could not make the information stick in her brain, "it's like there is something blocking it from going in". Similarly, she would say that she should know something, but couldn't remeber it, "it wouldn't come out". This sense of complete inefficacy lead her to reject French class. As soon as she came in, she would suddenly feel very sleepy, and slept through the majority of our classes. Part way through the year, we had a meeting with her mother, who confirmed that Faith simply did not want to take French. "She is like her Mom, we are just not good at French". They mentioned that she would rather take a pictoral language like Chinese that would allow her to use her artistic brain.
Knowing that Faith's behavior in French class was a direct result of fear, inefficacy and lack of motivation, it was hard to decide how to bring her back into the class. However, at times, she would light up and join the classroom. The first time she did this, it was during a debate on culture in English. I made sure to let her know how wonderful it was to see hear her voice and see her interested in what we were studying. The next time she surprised me with her participation was at the beginning of my soloing. I asked all students to begin each class by writing for 10 minutes in a journal in French. To my complete astonishment, she actually made an effort to write. She also handed in all of her homework that week. At first, what she wrote in the journal often used the grammatical forms she had priacticed at home. I made sure to let her know how thrilled I was to see her writing in French and pointed out that her success was directly related to her dilligence with the homework.
Once Faith had gained a little confidence with the journals, she began to use them to express real thoughts in broken French. I was happy to see her make this jump into genuine expression. Once or twice, after a long paragraph, she would once again say how terrible she was at French. Each time, I wrote her back, saying "look at what you are able to write. You are much better in French than what you think!" She would also say how ugly she thought she was, and so on. Each time i wrote back with encouraging words and told her that I saw something quite different. One day, Faith came into classs crying. It was a speaking day, not a journal writing day, but I gave her the journal and told her she could write in English of French, whatever she needed. She chose to write in French.
When it came time for the speaking assessments at the end of the unit, Fait blew my socks off. She and her partner sat in the corner of the room in order to discuss the houses they had designed. Faith was knitting as she often does, gesticulating occaisionally with her needles as she posed a question. Her partner was chatting away. From the opposite side of the room, I saw them enjoying a healthy conversation, and went over, slightly disappointed to remind them it was French only during the speaking and listening assessments. When I arrived, I heard her partner talking away in French, and saw her ask a detailed clarifying question, demonstrating that she had no trouble undersanding, and even less formulating the question. I stopped in my tracks, smiled and said Continuez! Bravo les filles!
For the cafe, I assigned Faith to be a server. When I congratulated her for a job well done on the house assessment, she told me that as long as it was just listening she was fine. I wanted her to realize that she can in fact speak French. She did a wonderful job and was one of the most animated and thorough servers in the class. At the end of the café I said to her "Congratulations, Faith, you speak French!" She hesitated for a second before realizing that it was true.
Faith Reflection Experience Faith has confirmed for me the importance or providing encouragement. She has also shown me that no student is a lost cause. Evidently, after having done so poorly in French last year, and having had a bad relationship with the teacher, Faith felt that she was incapable of performing in French. This percieved inability caused fear and therefore Faith became incapable of learning. Her case exemplifies the importance of production, as defined by the Social Learning Theory. Students must feel that they are capable of doing what is asked of them in order to begin learning.
While Faith's progress really took off when I began to praise her work in French and show her that she was capable, her progress did not begin here. In fact, I believe that there must have been something that happened before she began writing in her journal. Prior to my soloing, she would have avoided writing in French at all.
A couple of events come to mind in my developing relationship with Faith. First, about a month and a half before my soloing, Faith and her friends recieved prominent roles in the school play. She ran directly up to my classroom to tell me about it. I was surprised that she came to me with the news, but pleased to see her smiling and excited. It was a side of her that I didn't get to see very often. I made sure to ask her about the plays progress as often as I could. Thus, we began to form a more substantial relationship.
Just before my solo-teaching began, Faith participated in a science fair. I went to see the science fair and was impressed with what she put together and her intellectual maturity. We had an interesting discussion about optometry, the subject she had chosen to study.
Over the course of these events, I believe that Faith came to understand that I respect her as a person and as a student. Regardless of her performance in my class, I recognized her as a smart and successful individual. I believe that her sudden decision to participate in French when I began soloing was due in part to a similar decision amogst some of her peers, and in part to the relationship I had created with her.
Once she had made the decision to progress, it was up to me to tell her how and celebrate the small successes along the way. I believe that I succeeded in encouraging Faith to learn French according to my beliefs about the importance of motivation, encouragement and scaffolding and differentiation. Billy is a bright, confident 8th grader from a wealthy family. He conducts himself like a business man at all times. He adores any opportunity to make a fake business deal or pretend to be a lawyer for the day.
Though he is intelligent, French is not his strong point. He rarely does his homework, and often uses an online translator for larger, written assignments. Students resort to translators for one of two reasons. Either they do not want to spend the extra time and effort on writing in French, or they are afraid of how poorly they might write by themselves.
However, during the housing unit, I saw a different side of him. He was extremely motivated by the idea of designing a house, creating an effective advertisement and designing a rental agreement during a business meeting. I had found a relevant and realistic hook that inspired Ben to work hard on this project. He brought me several drafts of his work. The first was typical of his prior work. He struggles with syntax, conjugating verbs correctly and making adjectives aggree with their nouns.
However, I did not want to risk making him doubt his ability to really do this. Therefore, I selected only one error for Ben to focus on with each draft and used ourwriting conferences to give a small review of that concept. By adressing only one idea at a time, he saw the revisions as being manageable and worth while. The final draft was a huge improvement from his previous work and he had not used a translator at all. My work with this student and his subsequent success confirm my belief that relevant and interesting packaging of gammar and vocabulary are absolutely essential to a foreign language classroom. Ben was motivated to learn because the assignment was practical and appealed to his interests outside of French.
This experience also reaffirmed my beliefs in differentiated instruction. Differentiating my instruction for Ben did not involve teaching a seperate lesson or creating a different project. He met the same objectives as the rest of the class by following the same guidelines. I simply created time for individual conferences and made opportunities for giving written feedback that meant I could provide additional scaffolding for this student. In doing so, I maximized the benefit of his increassed motivation due to his interest in this topic.
Due to his success with the advertisement, he had the tools to succeed on the speaking and listening assessment. The fact that he was able to share his beautiful, well written advertisement with his peers during a well spoken presentation in French increased his confidence. As a result, he will most likely continue to progress in coming units. Experience Reflection Production Confidence Encouragement self-efficacy Personal relationships Motivation relevance Differentiation scaffolding real-world Production Personal attention and Feedback Billy Miss. Amélie I have already talked at length about this particular students. I have used various pseudonyms for her in recounting significant events throughout this year, so let me summarize by saying that Miss Amélie has had a profound impact on who I am as a teacher today. She has taught me just how strong children can be in the face of adversity. Yet, she has also shown me how important it is for teachers to act as advocates for their students. While she is strong, she still needs guidance, love and stability.
When I arrived at Main Street Middle School, I knew I wanted to be a positive role model for my students. However, having lived a fairly priviledged life myself, I didn't really undertand what that would look like. Those students who have childhoods much like my own probably have several positive role models already. While I can certainly help them grow, I realize now that there are times when students need more than just a model.
It may sound silly, but Miss Amélie taught me how to be a Mom. I came into this program as a daughter. The only thing I understood about good parenting was what my own parents had shown me or what I had read in books. However, having Amélie walk into my classroom and drop of her bag and coat every morning while chatting about her eventful evenings stirred my maternal instincts. I began worrying about when she goes to bed, if she eats breakfast, and whether she gets her homework done, not just in my class, but in her core classes too. I want her to learn to be a good student so that she can succeed in highschool and have opportunities available to her when she graduates.
Caring about Amélie, her well-being and her future in this way has taught me how to balance understanding and "tough-love". If I truly want her to succeed, at times I must be strict and draw the line. One of my professors once said that in order to be a good teacher, you have to love your students. If discipline, high expectations and honest criticism come from a place of love, they allow the student to learn from their mistakes without ruining the relationship between student and teacher. Amélie does not avoid stopping by the classroom when I have been hard on her. She seems to know that I will continue to care about her even if she makes a mistake.
Reflection My experiences with Amélie have done more than just prepare me to advocate for future students in similar situations. This experience has taught me important lessons about classroom management. I want to be a teacher that students like and respect. During my school carreer, I noticed that the best teachers were those whose students were respectful without having to be asked. However, as a new teacher, this image is difficult to live up to. It may even be impossible.
It is the teacher that must define appropriate classroom behavior within her classroom. I have come to understand that students will not think of me as mean because I demand that they respect me and my classroom. I honestly do care about all of my students. I feel fairly certain that this is evident in my every day interactions with them. Therefore, a stern word every so often is not likely to ruin this relationship.
Just as Amélie needs someone to draw the line every once in a while, other students also need me to clearly define what is acceptable behavior in the classroom. Adolescents will naturally push the limits, and if there are none, they will keep pushing until they find them.
Understanding these principles has allowed me to become ever more confident and unapologetic in my classroom management. I am beginning to find effective techniques for controlling unruly noise or behavior, and do not feel guilty about using it. As long as I know I am acting for the good of my students, I feel confident in my decisions.
Experience Max "Adolescence is a time of increased brain growth as well as increased hormones. This increase in grey matter allows the brain to grow based on the capacities that are most used and needed. However the frontal lobe, responsible for executive functions such as judgement, restraint, etc. does not develop until late in adolescence. "
-Barbara Strauch, The Primal Teen
This quote is a perfect for describing Max. He is a kind, bright and intelligent boy whose executive functions are obviously not quite developed. He blurts out whatever comes to mind, cannot remember to bring materials to class, leaves papers and homework on his desk, and has a hard time focusing on the task at hand. He simply does and says what he wants without reflecting on the consequences or potential consequences for others. He is a typical adolescent who happens to be outspoken.
Luckily, he is still very willing to let me be his frontal lobe. I find myself saying "No, max that's not a good idea", "Max stop talking", "Max, before you leave, put that paper where it belongs", "Max, pay attention", "Max, now is not the time to do that, your project is due tomorrow". When I notice the frequency with which I correct his, and some of his his classmates' behavior, two thoughts come to mind. On the one hand, I feel uncomfortable with the amount of negative attention I am giving him. On the other hand, it can be frustrating that he is unable to sensor himself.
However, by anticipating this sort of behavior from my students and setting up systems to compensate for it, the classroom has become much more positive. My job is to teach them to be more responsible. However, no matter what I do, they will still be adolescents, and I have found ways to accept and cope with that fact. Standards Based Grading The switch to standards based grades, and the discussions that ensued have had a profound impact on my beliefs about grading. Had this not happened, I would have been very happy to grade on a points system, taking the average at the end of the year. I would even have used zeros without thinking twice about the implications of such disproportionate penalties.
Now, my understanding of grading is quite different. The grades I give students are broken down into several categories, and the number I assign indicates each students' progress in that category. I think of the grades as steps. For each assessment, I use the goals and objectives for the unit, in conjunction with the standards to define what it means to be on target for meeting the standard at this time. Thus, it makes sense to provide students with opportunities to retake tests, and let their grade represeent the result of their progress. It no longer makes sense to me to punnish students for past failures by weighting the old test and the retake evenly in an average.
According to my understanding, standards based grading is a logical extension of Understanding by Design. These two systems together allow me to guide students towards practical application of the French language and accurately reflect their progress. Grading students according to this rigorous standard, would not be fair unless my curriculum was adequately designed to teach them how to do so. This is why I include so many tasks within each unit that ask students to use the language in a realistic way. If I were to conclude each unit after phase 1, after only having drilled and practiced the concepts in isolation, it would be unfair to expect students to successfully transfer this knowledge to new situations in the assessments. I therefore teach them to transfer and offer adequate practice before the assessments.
Finally, I do not believe that my expectations are unrealistic or unnecessary. While many language teachers do not teach in this way, this does not deter me from the challenge. I do not want my students to find themselves in a situation where they might use French and realize that imaking themselves understood is very different from doing well in French class. Areas for Further Growth This is an area of continuous growth for me. While I have made some important strides in the right direction over the course of this year, I can can still continue to improve. I have improved in terms of my confidence and resolve in asserting myself as an authoritative presence in my classroom. I have learned that students need clearly defined expectations that are consistently enforced. However, I am still learning exactly how explicit my expectations need to be and to what extent activities need to be tightly structured.
Understanding exactly what it means to be working with middle and high-schoolers at their various ages is an ongoing process. Through trial and error, I have learned what it means to be realistic rather than hopeful.For the conclusion of the housing unit, I initially designed a vacation rental fair in which half of their students sat at booths, presenting their houses, while the other half circulated around the booths. They took advantage of this open ended situation to talk to friends in English. So little French was spoken that I was unable to assess the French because my time and attention was occupied by classroom management.
Following this failed speaking and listening test, I redesigned the activity. Meetings between students were organized and partnerships were assigned. Instead of asking each student to demonstrate his listening capacity within their conversations with other students, I administered a traditional listening test before students began their meetings. In addition, I provided students with an extremely explicit break down of what was expected of them during each step and how they would be graded.
In the future, I will employ this level of minute organization from the beginning. While some classes may succeed with a more open-ended structure, all students succeed in this set up. Furthermore, when students recognize that an activity is clearly structured, they are less likely to take advantage of opportunities to misbehave. I have also learned that I am responsible for setting the tone. For assessments, I must set a serious tone. I can do this by creating rigorous structure and clearly stating how I will be grading.
This connection between structure, clear expectations and classroom management is a useful concepts outside of assessments. In fact, in order for my to grow as a teacher, I believe this is the most important area to work on. During my observations, supervisors often commented on either classroom management or a need to clearly state my objectives and adress the agenda before beginning th lesson. By focusing on the structure of my lessons, tight transitions, and clearly conveying my plan and expectations to students, many of the behavioral problems will most likely be taken care of as well.
Structuring the Classroom Taking on the Challenge While Managing the Logistics Realistic assignments and grading according to the standards are challenging for both myself and the students. The assignments require transfer and stamina and draw on the writing and public speaking skills they learn in English and Social Studies. I am confident that working in this way means that I am preparing students to effectively use their language outside of the classroom. Main Street Middle School's switch to standards based grading has taught me that it is entirely possible to not only guide students towards these goals, but also to give them grades that reflect their ability to communicate within the French speaking world.
My own comfort with the French language means that I am capable of working in an open-ended way, and know how to scaffold activities and prepare my students to do the same. However, my challenge as I look towards the future is to hone my ability to effectively and efficiently collect the necessary data in an organized fashion. Realistic language samples from realistic situations are not as easy to collect and grade as pen and paper tests which fit nicely into a 40 minute period.
Once again, this is a question of learning to structure and coordinate more compex classroom activities. At times, I may also need to simplify my ideas in order to make them feaseble, and gradeable within the confines of my classroom. Certainly, increased access to technology, video cameras and language labs would make these assessments easier. However, I must learn to work with what is available to me.