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Cathy Kitagawa

on 20 April 2010

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movement, passage, or change from one position, state, stage, subject, concept, etc., to another; change. pur pose ful [pur-puhs-fuhl]
having a purpose.
determined; resolute.
full of meaning; significant.
BACKGROUND Transitional change is exciting yet challenging for adolescents. The challenges of transition create stress and uncertainty for families. Grade 9 students can take several months to adjust to their new surroundings. This Capstone explores several strategies implemented in an attempt to meet the needs of this group. This includes several school based and classroom strategies aimed at educating the whole child in an environment of care, compassion and mutual respect in an effort to increase student engagement, leadership, participation, and recognition. And a discovery of my passion and creativity. How does the exploration of classroom practice and personal philosophy impact the transition into high school of Grade 9 students? MEANINGFUL LITERATURE Building Leadership and Increasing Student Voice He examined the efforts of an American school whose goal was to foster leadership and to empower its student population to achieve their best educationally. Neigel, K. (2006). Building leadership capacity in students. Key strategies for increasing student voice, according to Neigel, involve developing a core belief system. Pivotal to building young people’s capacity to lead, according to Neigel, is simply letting them lead, building on the capabilities that are already present in them. Mitra, D. (2006). Increasing student voice and moving toward youth leadership. She recommends a three-pronged approach. First, students need to be heard. Second, collaboration with adults, enabled students to influence decisions and to engage actively in decision making. In the final stage, students themselves put all of their hard work into practice. Connecting Students With Other Students: Student Networks Penuel, W. R., & Riel, M. (2007). The ‘new’ science of networks and the challenge of school change. It has been observed that trust is a core resource for school change [and that] when trust exists among teachers it makes them more likely to turn to one another for help, and it reduces the risk associated with change. (p. 615) Transition programs should include a variety of activities that provide parents and students with information, support students during transition, and bring together all parties to learn about one another’s requirements. Mizelle, N. (1999). Helping middle school students make the transition into high school. Cushman learned that most preferred to gather their information right from the source -- other students. She suggests that educators regularly connect incoming students with high school students in order to facilitate the transition process. Cushman, K. (2006). Helping us make the 9th grade transition. Educating the Whole Child Noddings, N. (2005). What does it mean to educate the whole child? Noddings, N. (2006). Educational leaders as caring teachers. Noddings (2005) states that educators and their students must work together in a caring relationship that is future-oriented, where educators respond to both the expressed and the inferred needs of their students. Educators need to find a balance between expressed needs, those that an individual expresses in actions or words, and inferred needs, those needs that the individual providing the response perceives. Building Rapport Through Mutually Respectful Relationships Mendes, E. (2003). What empathy can do. Mendes (2003) describes a process for what he calls building a rapport with students. boundaries and structure
emotional intelligence
respect for the transformation that young people are going through
1.Acknowledge students.
2.Mention students’ skills, names, and ideas in presentations.
3.Be real, use self disclosure where appropriate.
4.Use responses like “I agree,” “I understand,” etc.
5.Ask students about their interests.
6.Build on information collected from students, and share stories.
7.Display empathy by communicating what you think their needs are.
The Role of Technology: Moodle Moodle. (2010). About Moodle. Everett, C. (2007). Moodle tackles e-learning muddle. Open source e-learning environment called Moodle (2010), which stands for Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning. The Moodle site enables students to access via the web a wide range of information, including course outlines, clubs, co-curricular activities important dates, supply lists, and discussion boards. Assessing Needs: Surveying Students Kurchak, W. (2001). Marketing and implementing a student needs assessment. Needs assessment and analysis is a powerful way to involve all stakeholders: parents, students, teachers, and the community Needs assessment increases the ability of educators to consider the whole-person needs of their students. Noddings made between inferred and expressed needs: “An expressed need comes from the one expressing it; an inferred need comes from someone other than the one said to have it” (p. 148). PERSONAL PHILOSOPHY CREATIVE DOMAIN The process of writing my personal pedagogic creed, fashioned after the work of educational philosopher and reformer John Dewey (1897), took me to a place in my journey of personal discovery to which I was unquestionably ready to go. Writing my creed required me to explore the emphasis of my best practice; it also exposed practices and beliefs that I would need to modify. This process was an important stage in my personal educational journey and subsequently had a significant effect on the climate of my classroom and my professional practice. My Pedagogic Creed Education
What is education? Education is the development of a powerful awareness of value and worth that is grounded in a strong sense of moral and ethical fidelity. This knowledge unfolds and matures; it does not occur, rather it evolves.

The School
What is a school? I believe that a school is a family. Through this family individuals can find the support and encouragement that they need to become responsive citizens.

The Subject Matter of Education
I believe that the subject matter of education should be relevant; that is, the subject information provided to students should be suited to their natural inclinations, preparation, and interests.

The Nature of the Educational Method
I believe that the educational method should involve active participation. I believe that through active participation students become engaged, the content becomes more meaningful, and the retention of new skills increases.

The School and Social Progress
I believe that education is the only means by which individuals and society can achieve social progress. Knowledge is power, and in today’s society knowledge is a necessity for individuals to get ahead in the competitive environment in which we live.

I was continually drawn to the work of Sir Ken Robinson (2009), because his understanding of creativity as it relates to passion speaks clearly to what I was coming to understand about my own creative domain. Robinson (2009) describes creativity as the convergence of our passion (attitude) and our skills (aptitude). My creative domain had more to do with my passion (educating young people in a caring and compassionate manner) than with a particular skill, trait, or artistic ability. "Try not to become a man of success but try rather to become a man of value".
Albert Einstein THE STAR THROWER
PURPOSEFUL PEDAGOGY Mendes suggests that educators build relationships with students using the following eight practices:
1.Acknowledge students.
2.Mention students’ skills, names, ideas in presentations.
3.Be real, use self disclosure where appropriate.
4.Use responses like “I agree,” “I understand,” etc.
5.Ask students about their interests.
6.Build on information that you collect from students; share stories.
7.Display empathy by communicating what you think their needs are.
Establishing Caring, Mutually Respectful Relationships I greet my students at the door, by name, and engage them in purposeful conversation. I learn their names. I acknowledge their realities, learning and remembering their concerns, dreams, interests, and the issues in their lives. I keep my classroom open at lunch for students to come by and visit, eat lunch, do homework, and/or simply relax in a safe environment. I also interact with my students outside of the classroom where possible. Gaining Students’ Perspectives The purpose of the exit slips in this case was to determine students’ needs and perceptions of their relationship with me. This exit slip used the acronym CARE, which stands for care, affection, relationship, and environment. Exit Slip Needs Assessment The rationale behind this practice centres on the idea of a shared awareness of needs, both inferred and expressed, between the student and the teacher. The needs assessment conducted in my classroom allowed students to remain anonymous. The option to participate was given to four Grade 9 social studies classes of approximately 30 students in the spring semester, 2009. The assessment was given to a total of 21 students, who completed and returned their human subject research approval forms. The results of the needs assessment were positive and encouraging. The effort directed towards building rapport and establishing respectful, caring relationships, combined with the collaborative groupings and the suspended curriculum may have given students a sense of belonging and a capacity to respond to transitioning in a constructive manner. These responses would seem to indicate that there is a sound structure at the high school level for Grade 9 transition. It appears that, once in the building, students are generally making connections, building relationships, establishing routines, and getting the support that they need. Their perception of the transitioning process, as middle school students in Grade 8, is far different than what actually happens when they arrive in our school. Clearly there is work that needs to be done Creating a Student NET.works Moodle Site After compiling the results of the Grade 9 needs assessment, using the work of Penuel and Reil (2007) on networking as a foundation combined with the support for the Moodle platform as a non-threatening communication tool, I developed a peer mentoring group, NET.works.

The purpose of NET.works is to provide relevant, informative, useful, and required information to Grade 8 students before they begin the transition process. The NET.works peer mentoring group consisted of six Grade 9 students who volunteered to participate after I gave a general invitation to participate to all four of my Grade 9 classes. The group met once a week for approximately three months Beginning With a Suspended Curriculum In the suspended curriculum, I work with the students to develop a deeper understanding of the history of Winston Churchill High School, including common practices and traditions as well as a brief history of Sir Winston Churchill himself.

The purpose of this curriculum is to orient the students to the culture of Winston Churchill, connect them to the already established beliefs related to our school culture held by the older student body, and allow them the opportunity to connect the historical impact of Winston Churchill’s leadership to the underlying values that are present in our school. Building Student Leadership Capacity I worked on two levels to build students’ capacity for leadership. Classroom NET.works group Establishing a positive classroom environment Family-like nature of the classroom unit Exploration of the role of motivation, both intrinsic and extrinsic, in the caring classroom The NET.works peer mentoring group, while working on the transition project, displayed their capacity to lead and sense of empowerment over the decisions that were being made. CONCLUSION I am proud of the work of this Grade 9 transition project. I believe that I have positively impacted the needs of that population, addressed the transition needs of my school community, provided a framework for student leadership and networking, and demonstrated a commitment to the community of students with whom I work. Throughout I remained committed to mutually respectful relationships built on trust and compassion. THANK YOU...
To my family...for supporting me, loving me, and sharing me!
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