Standard 1: Roles and Relationships
Meeting Standard 1:
"The student teacher establishes a routine that students understand and respect. Activities reflect careful thought, take into account student development levels, learning styles and diversity, and create situations in which students construct knowledge. The student teacher exhibits respect and consideration toward colleagues, particularly in team situations, supports colleagues' work and contributes an equal share to team efforts. The student teacher encourages and elicits interaction with parents and community and makes herself available to those constituencies when and where appropriate. S/he clearly demonstrates leadership in the classroom, guiding and directing activities and interaction in ways that contribute to a positive and safe learning environment. The student teacher exhibits a clear sensitivity to issues of diversity, particularly regarding race, class, and gender, in his/her interactions with students, colleagues, and community. The standard is met if the student teacher consistently models appropriate decorum and exercises control without intimidation or domination, promoting a genuine democratically-based classroom."
- Brown University Teacher Education Handbook
In terms of classroom management, one of my biggest challenges was how to deal with students who were absent from class. They must make up work, but having missed important content presented in class, they were not well prepared for the assignments and would be left behind as the class moves forward, unless they made a great effort to copy notes from a classmate. A strategy that I used at the beginning of class was to briefly question the students on the previous day’s lesson, which not only helped those who were absent, but also refreshed the memories of everyone else. I also got into the practice of making packets for students who were out, along with brief written notes about what pages they should refer to in the book to get missed material.
Other issues included students turning in work late - it became challenging at times to stick to my policy on not taking work after 3 days, especially with students whose frequent absences made them difficult to track. Occasionally I printed out progress reports for student, with missing assignments highlighted and a strict due date for turning them in. This was effective for helping my students realize they needed to increase their efforts in order to achieve the grade they wanted.
One of the rewarding experiences I had during student teaching was speaking with parents, both during Parent-Teachers Night and on the phone. I stuck to my policy on calling home after a string of missing work, so that students realized I walked my talk and couldn't lose respect for my policies. This also led to many productive conversations with parents, who all expressed appreciation for the updates and were cued to help encourage their kids to try harder. One student in particular was having a difficult semester - she was repeating the class as a senior, needed the credit to graduate, and was becoming discouraged by the end of the first quarter by the idea that she was going to fail again. I helped her a few times after school and during class, and when she stopped coming to school for a week, I contacted her mother and let her know that her daughter's average had risen significantly due to excellent effort on a recent project. The student returned to school and thanked me for helping her, and that she was more hopeful about graduating now.