Standard #1: Roles and Relationships
The student teacher establishes a routine that students understand and respect. Activities reflect careful thought, take into account student developmental 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 her/himself 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.
In regards to roles and relationships, it was a goal of mine to get to know each of the students individually, and not just from their names in the gradebook or performance on tests. Some of my strengths include getting to know the students outside of class by talking with them at recess, in advisory, in their clubs, etc. This is to ensure that I know them beyond strictly the academic context and then they are then comfortable with me in class. Outside of the two blocks that I teach, it was a goal of mine to know the entire eighth grade as I often sit in and work with third block. Through advisory, staying for homework help, and observing other classes, I feel that I know many of the third block students just as well as my own, and hope to continue to improve on these relationships.
After creating these bonds with the students, they have begun to respect the routines and expectations that I set out for them. I have seen less grumbling when directions are initiated or assignments are set, and part of that, I believe, is the fact that the students have come to respect me. It is also nice to see so many volunteers in class, and even competition to be my “teacher’s assistant,” which I see as a form of higher engagement in the classroom and school culture.
Academically, one way that I sought to get to know my students better were through two different activities in our Japanese Internment unit. First, they were asked to complete a visual worksheet showing what they would include in a suitcase if they could only bring five personal items with them if they were sent away from their home. The assignment had a dual purpose of getting to know the students and also introducing them to the mindset of Japanese Internment. Unfortunately, many of the students did not truly engage with it, so I was not able to learn as much about them as I hoped. To remedy this, I worked towards another assignment, a personal diary entry, where they were asked to connect their own lives to the era of Japanese Internment. This assignment helped me to gain a glimpse into many of their interests and lives, but reflecting, I would have sought a stronger introductory assignment on the first couple of days to create that community.
Beyond the students, forming relationships with the staff and faculty at the school has also proved crucial to my overall experience at PCS. Having the opportunity to attend department meetings, schoolwide professional development and meetings, and observe countless classrooms, I have not only been welcomed into the PCS community, but have felt myself a respected member of the school. Taking advantage of each of these opportunities with fellow staff members has helped me to form beneficial relationships and to learn from the expertise within the school Using the resources that the PCS staff offers has helped me immensely in lesson-planning and establishing a strong classroom, and also helped me to tailor each day to my students’ needs. By meeting with both the special-needs coordinator and the literacy coach each week, I have the opportunity to gain advice and expertise in creating an inclusive classroom for all of my students.
One opportunity that proved really valuable to my roles and relationships within the school was a full day of parent-teacher conferences through which I had the opportunity to meet many of my students’ parents and families and to openly discuss their students’ strengths and weaknesses along with the student. The students led each of their meetings and then had to tell their parents what they had achieved during the trimester. This experience proved very humbling for many of my students, and also allowed them to set realistic goals with their parents to complete the year strong.
To improve on this standard, I hope to continue to build relationships with the students and staff, especially those with whom I am not as familiar. I seek to observe those teachers whom I have yet to see in the classroom, which will then allow me to not only see a different type of classroom, but also witness their different teaching styles. For my students, I plan to continue to build relationships by reaching out to those who I do not know as well, generally the quieter students, and by serving as someone who both educates them and who they can talk to.