Student Teaching Reflection 1

Learning Environment – The teacher fosters and manages a safe and inclusive learning environment that takes into account: physical, emotional and intellectual well-being.

It is essential that schools cultivate a community of trust and respect so all students feel welcomed and supported throughout the school day. In every classroom, teachers incorporate research-based teaching methods to promote a supportive learning community where students needs are acknowledged and fulfilled. Students frequently participate in a cooperative learning environment. Cooperative learning helps students figure out how to work together, support each other’s learning, and reflect on their individual learning (Dean, Hubbell, Pitler, & Stone, 2012, p. 32). Teachers who incorporate cooperative learning are also fostering a supportive learning environment. Beesley & Aptorp’s research concluded that additional benefits of cooperative learning include increased academic and socioemotional achievement, higher self-esteem, and decreased feelings of isolation in school (as cited in Dean, Hubbell, Pitler, & Stone, 2012, p. 46).

Before beginning my student teaching experience, I had not considered how cooperative learning operates in a Kindergarten classroom. I also had not thought about how the basic skills needed during cooperative learning also help a teacher ensure students feel like a significant member of the classroom. I quickly discovered there are a few unique qualities about Kindergarten. Kindergarteners are learning what it means to be a student, how to participate in academic activities, and how to engage in social interactions. The foundation of cooperative learning is built during Kindergarten as students focus on fundamental life skills like respect, sharing, being kind, and helping others.

As displayed in the picture on the left, my mentor teacher incorporates social skills as part of the students’ learning goals. These skills support a positive classroom culture. Learning social skills helps students’ transition throughout the school day, interact with their peers, and provide assistance to each other during lessons. There is a constant reminder that everyone should practice kindness, caring, and sharing. This focus helps students remember how to cooperate with each other as they line up for recess or inquire about each other’s work. Eventually these skills will aid students as they participate in cooperative learning activities.

Throughout the next few months, a teaching goal of mine is to incorporate more cooperative learning opportunities in addition to social skills learning goals. I think more group-oriented learning tasks will be a great time for students to discover how their developing social skills are utilized during academic activities. A stronger learning environment will be built as students gain confidence working with each other.

Reference

Dean, C.B., Hubbell, E.R., Pitler, H., Stone, Bj. (2012). Classroom instruction that works: Research-based strategies for increasing student achievement. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Instructional Strategies Meta-Reflection

Throughout this course the readings, lectures, and reflections have reviewed teaching techniques educators practice in the classroom. These strategies are grouped together in broader models, so teachers have the opportunity to learn and assess how to apply the instructional approaches. Joyce, Weil, and Calhoun (2015) categorize the four main models as: 1) the information-processing family; 2) the social family; 3) the personal family; and 4) the behavioral systems family.

Information-processing models are important because people strive to make sense of information by organizing their knowledge, applying critical thinking skills, and attempting to solve problems (Joyce, Weil, and Calhoun, 2015, p. 10). The scientific inquiry approach is a natural instructional strategy for me to include in my classroom.The_Scientific_Method_as_an_Ongoing_Process.svg This approach primarily focuses on science-related lessons, but I think it should be used in many different subjects. Advantages of this approach include that it allows students to experience hands-on practice and teachers are encouraged to seek “cross-cutting”concepts to identify content that is similar to other subjects (Joyce, Weil, and Calhoun, 2015, p. 72).The steps are also applicable for students when they try to solve problems outside of school. Additionally, I hope that the more practice students have using the scientific inquiry process will further benefit them in their future Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics endeavors.

Social model strategies promote a positive cooperative learning environment in which students interact during supportive learning activities (Joyce, Weil, and Calhoun, 2015, p. 12). Creating and consistently using a cooperative learning approach is very important to me when I begin teaching. The world has advanced to a global society and successful interactions requires the ability to work with people of different cultures, beliefs, and values. Cooperative learning activities should incorporate elements of positive interdependence so students can reflect on how everyone’s effort is significant and individual accountability so students recognize how their individual contribution impacted the group (Dean, Hubbell, Pitler, & Stone, 2012, p. 37). Cooperative learning activities also keep students actively thinking and they learn how to communicate their understanding and knowledge with others.

The strategies discussed in personal and behavioral systems families are crucial as well, although I think of those approaches more often at an independent, personalized level for students. Information-processing and social models requires more planning at a broader classroom approach. I look forward to discovering more about these models, instructional techniques, and experiencing how students respond to certain strategies.

References:

Dean, C., Hubbell, E., Pitler, H., & Stone, Bj. (2012). Classroom Instruction that Works (2nd ed.). Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Joyce, B., Weil, M., & Calhoun, E. (2015). Models of Teaching (9th ed.). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson.