Standard 2: Student as Learner
Meeting Standard Two:
"The student teacher demonstrates an awareness of, and concern for, the people in his/her classroom. Focusing on learners as full human beings with a rich history, unique characteristics, substantive achievements, talents, skills and interests, the student teacher does his/her best to observe, document and learn about those students. S/he works hard to 'understand their understanding.'"
-Brown University Teacher Education Handbook
I have learned a lot about my individual students in a fairly short period of time. I know which students work best in groups versus individually, which students rarely participate in class discussions but will open up in their writing, and which students need extra help to understand an assignment or to stay focused. Through talking with students individually as they work, I learn a bit more about their interests, hobbies, and lives outside of school every day.
One of my favorite things to assign students is a free write journal entry. We have only done a few so far, but I have found that almost every one of my students is willing to share his or her joys and frustrations, on a fairly personal level, in this way. The students enjoy free writes, and I received some especially enlightening responses during NECAP testing this year from exasperated writers.
I believe differentiated instruction is one of the most challenging struggles for all teachers, and especially for those of us with minimal experience. It is, however, one of the most important as well. So far, I have worked to differentiate in my classes my giving students choice as much as possible in groupings and in the ways they participate in class. One goal I have is to learn more about my students’ learning styles and to form classroom activities around my findings. I am a very visual learner and have been taught using fairly traditional (mainly visual) methods, so I am trying hard to accommodate other learning styles in class. I almost always give directions in more than one way (on the board, out loud, on a worksheet), and often have a student read the directions to the class. The whole class participated in a sculpture garden, which I thought was successful judging by the activity and subsequent discussion. We do lots of class discussion, but I know I can improve my instruction to further benefit auditory learners.