Educ 205: Analytical Reflection #1
My observations at Weemes Elementary School have provided me with further insight to the teaching profession. The teacher whom I observed, Ms. L, provided me with specific examples of terms found in Anita Woolfolk’s textbook, Educational Psychology. In particular, Ms. L illustrated terms including scaffolding, self-esteem, learning styles, self-management and whithitness. I was able to learn a lot from my observations and look forward to using this new insight in my future teaching career.
To begin, Ms.
L used scaffolding to encourage her students’ learning. Scaffolding
describes instances where teachers, and other prominent figures in a
student’s life, give support for learning (Woolfolk, 50). Examples of
scaffolding include providing an example, breaking a problem down into
steps, and giving encouragement, clues, and reminders. Scaffolding
enables students to solve a problem on their own, with a degree of help
from the teacher.
Ms. L also used a reminder to scaffold her students. For example, when she was teaching how to draw angles, she reminded the students how to draw a correct angle. Ms. L said, “Don’t forget, when you draw an angle you have to use the protractor and mark the degree where the angle will be drawn”. Here, Ms. L scaffolds her students through reminding them the proper way to draw correct angles.
A third example of Ms. L using scaffolding was when she was reviewing math homework with the students. While reviewing the homework, Ms. L drew a figure on the board in order to explain shapes. She drew a triangle on the board and said, “This triangle is an equilateral because all sides are the same ____?” The students then answered “length!” Here, Ms. L was reminding the students how to classify triangles using a triangle’s length. Ms. L uses a number of different methods of scaffolding to encourage her students’ learning.
The scaffolding used by Ms. L in helping her students learn will benefit the students in a number of different ways. One way scaffolding will help Ms. L’s students learn is that it will enable them to grow intellectually (Woolfolk, 50). Teachers must serve as a guide for student learning and, through scaffolding, Ms. L encourages her students to cognitively grow. Furthermore, the scaffolding provided by Ms. L will eventually allow her students to solve problems on their own in the future (Woolfolk, 50). Through providing a number of different examples of scaffolding, Ms. L is not only encouraging her students to learn, but is also preparing her students to learn how to solve problems on their own.
I also observed instances where Ms. L had a large impact on her students’ self-esteem. Self-esteem refers to a person’s evaluations and feelings about themselves (Woolfolk, 71). A school environment has major implications on a student’s self-esteem. In particular, a teacher’s feedback and evaluations can have a prominent role in the development of a student’s self-esteem. Ms. L affected her students’ self-esteem in both a positive and negative way.
Ms. L had a positive impact on her students’ self-esteem. For example, while her students were working on math problems, Ms. L called each student to her desk and checked their progress by having them solve a math problem in front of her. When a student would do a math problem correctly, Ms. L would positively reinforce them by saying “that’s it!” and “good job!” This had a large impact on the student’s self-esteem because they were provided with positive reinforcement from Ms. L. Furthermore, when the teacher reinforced the student, he or she would get a huge smile on their face, thus illustrating how their self-esteem improved through the reinforcement provided by Ms. L.
Although Ms. L provided positive instances to impact a student’s self-esteem, Ms. L also affected her students’ self-esteem in a negative way. For example, Ms. L called a student to the front of the class to do a math problem on the board. The student answered the math problem incorrectly, and the teacher then asked the class what the answer was. The entire class answered “a line segment!” Here, the teacher negatively impacted this student’s self-esteem because the student was wrong in front of the whole class and could become embarrassed, resulting in low self-esteem. The student seemed to get discouraged and quickly returned to her seat after writing the answer on the board. In this instance, Ms. L had a negative impact on the student’s self-esteem.
It is extremely important for teachers to provide students with opportunities to positively affect their self-esteem. In these situations, the students’ self-esteem was both benefited and harmed by the teacher. When the teacher provided positive reinforcement to students when she evaluated them individually, she positively affected the students’ self-esteem through giving her students positive feedback. However, the teacher harmed her students’ self-esteem when she had a student answer a question in front of the class. When the student answered the question incorrectly, the teacher made the student feel incapable of her math skills, possibly resulting in the student having low self-esteem. The teacher both had a positive and negative impact on her students’ self-esteem.
The teacher also provided her students with opportunities to identify their own learning styles. Learning styles are approaches to learning and studying (Woolfolk, 120). Learning styles are ways a person chooses to learn and study that enable them to understand the material. An example of a learning style is if someone makes flashcards of important terms they need to know for a test. It is extremely important for teachers to use different methods of teaching in order to accommodate students’ different learning styles. Ms. L uses a variety of methods to help students identify their learning style and use that learning style to understand the curriculum.
One example of the teacher using different methods to teach different learning styles is Ms. L encourages her students to take notes when she is explaining a new lesson. When Ms. L was introducing a new math lesson, she had the students take notes of the math definitions she wrote on the board. Because she had the students take notes, Ms. L accommodated the learning style for “visual learners”. That is, for the students who learn through seeing the definition on the board as well as writing the definition in their notes, Ms. L accommodated their learning style. Furthermore, for the students who were “audio learners”, she would read the definition to the students after writing it on the board. Ms. L encouraged the learning styles of the students by having them write notes and repeating the definition after she wrote it on the board.
Another example of Ms. L accommodating different learning styles is she allowed students to work together on a math exercise. Because some students learn through working with others, Ms. L enabled these kinds of learners to understand the material by working with a partner. Ms. L allowed students to learn through their individual learning styles by providing a number of different ways to teach the material to the students.
It is extremely crucial for teachers to present material in a number of different ways in order to accommodate students’ individual learning styles. Because Ms. L does not teach using only one teaching method, she benefits her students’ learning. Students can not only identify what type of learning style they learn best with, but are also encouraged by Ms. L to use their own learning style to understand the material. Ms. L benefits her students’ learning by allowing them to use their learning styles in order to understand the curriculum.
Furthermore, Ms. L encourages her students to use self-management in the classroom. Self-management refers to the ability to control one’s behavior as well as the acceptance of responsibility of one’s own actions (Woolfolk, 399). Self-management is a very important skill students should learn in order to gain control of their own actions. Through self-management, students not only maintain their own behavior but also take on responsibility. Ms. L enables students to learn self-management through providing her students with opportunities for them to learn self-control and have responsibility.
An example of how Ms. L teaches her students self-management is she keeps an agenda of the day’s lessons on the board. By keeping an agenda, the students know what they are going to be doing for the day and can manage themselves accordingly. The agenda allows students to know what is going to be expected of them, thus providing them with an opportunity to take responsibility for their actions throughout the day’s lessons.
Ms. L also encourages her students to use self-management through reinforcing them when they behave properly and work on task. For example, on a day that the students were dismissed from school early, the students did not get a break during the day. At the end of the day, Ms. L told her class that she was proud of how the students remained focused even without taking a break. Ms L explained: “You guys did really well today. I know it was hard to work because we didn’t take a break, but thank you for paying attention.” Furthermore, Ms. L explained, “That’s called self-control”. Ms. L was genuinely proud of her students for staying focused throughout the entire day without taking a break. Through explaining to her students how happy she was with their actions, Ms. L encouraged her students’ self-management skills. Ms. L also helped her student’s emotional development through telling them they had good self-control. The students were not only able to use their self-management skills during the day, but Ms. L also encouraged their emotional development by explaining that they had self-control.
Through Ms. L’s reinforcement of her students’ self-management skills, she benefited the students. The students were able to benefit from Ms. L’s agenda because they were able to demonstrate their self-management skills according to what activities were planned for the day. Agendas help promote self-control in the classroom because they encourage students to be aware of what is expected of them according to the lessons that are on the day’s agenda. Furthermore, because Ms. L reinforced their self-managing behavior, the students are encouraged to use their management skills in the future. Ms. L helped the students develop self-control and encouraged them to take responsibility for their actions.
In terms of how the teacher manages the classroom, Ms. L does not have a good sense of withitness. Withitness refers to a teacher’s awareness of everything that occurs in the classroom (Woolfolk, 409). Withitness is crucial in the classroom because it enables a teacher to show the class that he or she is tuned in to all classroom activity both in accordance with the lesson and any outside distractions from a lesson. Ms. L does not have good withitness because she is unaware of activities occurring outside of a lesson.
An example of Ms. L’s poor withitness is she did not notice a student sleeping during an important math lesson. While Ms. L was reviewing the math homework, one student was sleeping on his desk. I had noticed this student sleeping for twelve minutes before Ms. L became aware of the student and told his neighbor to wake him up. Once the student was awake, Ms. L asked him to answer a math question. After the student was done answering the question and Ms. L turned to ask another student a different question, the student put his head back on the table and continued to sleep for another seven minutes until it was time for group work. Ms. L did not have good withitness in this example because she did not notice the student sleeping, creating a distraction for the other students around him.
Ms. L’s poor withitness is further illustrated when she turns her back to write something on the whiteboard. When Ms. L writes on the white board, the students start to get restless and do not pay attention. For example, when Ms. L was writing a math problem on the board, one student threw a piece of paper to another student across the classroom. Ms. L had poor withitness because she did not notice when the boy threw the note to the other side of the classroom. By the time Ms. L turned around, both boys acted as though they were listening. Ms. L has poor withitness because she is unaware of activities that occur outside of the lesson.
Ms. L’s lack of withitness can harm students. Many of the instances where Ms. L lacked withitness were instances where students not paying attention distracted other students. It is unfair for students who pay attention to be distracted by others who fool around once the teacher turns his or her back. Furthermore, a teacher’s poor withitness can encourage students to misbehave throughout the class period. Poor withitness demonstrates a teacher’s lack of control in their classroom. If a teacher does not have control of her classroom, students will be encouraged to not pay attention and act in an inappropriate way. Ms. L’s lack of withitness does not allow her to have complete and utter control of her classroom, encouraging students to act poorly once she turns her back.
In conclusion, observing Ms. L has enabled me to identify specific instances where I could improve as a future teacher. Ms. L provided good examples of scaffolding, affecting students’ self-esteem, accommodating different learning styles, promoting self-management, and withitness. Through observing Ms. L’s classroom, I was able to see the terms used in the textbook in an everyday learning environment. I hope these reflections of Ms. L’s teaching style improve my future capabilities as a teacher. These observations will enable me to reflect on different teaching strategies in order to identify proper modes of teaching and create a structured learning environment for students.