Monday, October 27, 2014

Education students ponder the profession

This was written by Lauryn, Lauren, Jeni, Jonell, Callie, JoAnne, Erica, Jimmy, Brandon, Katie and Alexis who are education students in Wisconsin. As I read their post, I get a very real kind of deja vu as I reconnected with how I felt when I was first learning to become a teacher. Education students embody a very peculiar mixture of enthusiasm and uncertainty. 

Great teachers are not born -- they are created and educated. Education students have a daunting challenge -- they need to remember how school was for them, not so they can replicate it, but so they can make it better for their future students. This requires a boatload of patience and reflection that too few people possess.

by Lauryn, Lauren, Jeni, Jonell, Callie, JoAnne, Erica, Jimmy, Brandon, Katie and Alexis

“Relationships can improve the classroom experience and reduce the stress that students experience on a daily basis.” 
- Jimmy B. 
We are Lauryn, Lauren, Jeni, Jonell, Callie, JoAnne, Erica, Jimmy, Brandon, Katie, Alexis. We are students in the Introduction to Education class in Wisconsin. Thank you to Joe Bower for letting us contribute to his blog.

“Treat a child as though he already is the person he’s capable of becoming,” said Haim Ginott. This mindset shows that every child can grow and prosper if you give them the tools to do so. As teachers, those tools could be used to offer not just an academic relationship with a student, but also a personal one as well. This personal level indicates that the teacher does indeed care for the student, therefore inviting the student to be more engaged. When students feel connections with teachers, the students academic achievement will increase.

Although relationships are essential, statistics show that teachers tend to build them with only ideal students, such as those with good work habits and initiative. The kids that need it the most, such as ones with behavioral issues and decreased motivation to achieve, are often overlooked. As a teacher, you need to not succumb to favoritism, regardless of how perfect that student may be. Treat every child with the same respect and interest or else you risk leaving one child behind. After all, you are not just a teacher, you are also a friend and sometimes a parent or even just a shoulder to cry on. The true challenge is to successfully fill those roles.

Classroom Management

Effective classroom management is possibly the most important thing in education. The classroom can either have a very positive atmosphere or a negative one. How the teacher handles the disruptions, problems, and emergencies reflects on the students' attitude during class. Many students have difficult home lives and support systems which could make school the only safe place for them. However, if the teacher has poor classroom management, students will have a poor experience and a negative attitude towards the school and/or teacher. This is why classroom management is so important.

Rewarding students can have a positive and negative effect on them. It can provoke students into thinking too highly of themselves but also help kids who don’t do well in school learn the ways of appropriate behavior. Giving students a proper reward can give them the motivation to do their best in school. However, schools who use certain reward systems like gold stars or point systems may give the students the impression that the school is degrading them. Sometimes all students need is to instill good behavior in themselves, and that can be encouraged by treating them like the individuals they are.

Classroom Discipline Without Embarrassment

Have you ever been so flat-out embarrassed by someone that you just wanted to crawl under a rock and never come out? What about being embarrassed by someone who had the responsibility of educating you? There have been countless reports of teachers embarrassing their students all across the country. Some parents have been so angry that legal matters have been brought into play. There was one particular story that stuck out to us about a seventh grader who had a lot of difficulty controlling his stuttering condition. During school one particular day, the class was reading from a computer magazine and the new teacher decided to pick this student to read a passage. He began to speak, instantly jumbling his words. The teacher then interrupted him and says, “Shaun, what’s wrong? Can you not read? Why the heck do you stutter so much? D-d-d-d- you ha-ha-have a p-p-prob-problem reading?” The teacher then proceeded to pick a new student to read. After the student who took Shaun’s place finishes reading, the teacher looked at Shaun and said, “See Shaun? That’s what READING looks like.”

We found this particular story to be absolutely appalling, offensive and cruel. Not only is this not an okay attitude for a teacher to exhibit, but it’s not okay for ANYONE to do this. An experience like the one Shaun had will live with him the rest of his life. As kids, we remember the most minute details and tend to take everything to heart.

Rather than advising a student when surrounded by another group of peers, one should take the approach of going to the student and asking quietly, “What are you doing?” (Wait for a response.) “What are you supposed to be doing?” (Wait for a response.) “When will you start?” Using this approach puts the student at ease. It avoids feeling of embarrassment the student would feel if you were to address it in front of the whole class.

Embarrassing your students is by far the worst choice you could make. Most students who are quiet in the classrooms are this way because they are nervous that their peers will make fun of them, but it would make them feel even worse if it was the teacher who did it. Embarrassing your students will just cause them to not want to come to school anymore in fear of it happening again and again. If your students are doing something embarrassing you can simply pull them away from the crowd and try and help them with the situation, rather than announce it in front of everyone.

The Importance of Boundaries in the Classroom

The personalities of students are a diverse range. In each class you teach, you will experience, from students, both love and hate. Often, after being with the same group of students for a full school year, you will develop close connections with some of your pupils. It is these connections that cause you to run the risk of blurring the lines between student and friend. A student-teacher relationship must be maintained in order to stimulate the most productive learning environment for all students.

There are many factors that may cause a student to latch on to a teacher and overstep their boundaries. One that I have experienced is the age of a teacher. Last year, a new teacher was hired at our school, fresh out of college. She has made it a priority to be close with her students. She invites kids to hang out in her room and spend time with her during school hours and to talk to her about things that are going on in their lives. Many students have taken a strong liking to her and she has developed a close, friend-like relationship with many of her students, which would seem like a positive thing. However, once class begins, the effects of these relationships have made it difficult for students to understand their boundaries with the teacher.

For some students who need a stable relationship with an adult, this relationship can help with their esteem and provide them with a healthy role model, thus influencing the student's behavior. Also, this relationship can take away the pressures of being in a classroom with people you may not necessarily want to be around.

Some students may not be able to properly differentiate between friends and teachers. Students have the tendency to cling to teachers who provide them with consolation and help in their times of struggle. This makes for awkward moments in the classroom and the chance of upsetting other students who are hurt by your lack of a relationship with them. Also, this may affect the amount of respect that the students have in the classroom. Friends are often not afraid to act rowdy and disrespectfully around their other friends and when a student believes that the teacher is their close friend, that respect won’t disappear, but change. Your class will become disruptive and unruly.

Boundaries are vital in your classroom management style. You must be sure to be kind to your students without inviting them to cling to you and disrupt the learning of the other students in the class.

For those of us considering the education field, these are some of the topics that are close to our hearts. When we enter the classroom, we will strive to build the healthy relationships in comfortable learning environments that benefited us in our learning. The problem is, we are only 11 students. We cannot change your classrooms. That’s up to you. Reach out to your students in an appropriate, healthy way. Provide your students with someone to turn to in their times of personal need. Be the role model that many of your students need.

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