Posts Tagged ‘classroom management’
I’ve been in sick in bed for 6 days. After exhausting all of the “Sh*t _____ say” videos, I decided to clean-up my social media outlets. I found a post in the draft section of my dashboard: “2009 Resolutions: Work out. Blog more. Survive student teaching.”
Well, I survived student-teaching and 3 years of teaching in my own South Bronx classroom. I have a healthy approach to fitness – long Bed-Stuy walks and longer 5 boro bike rides. I’ve decided to change the focus of this blog so it’s a relevant place for me to facilitate meaningful conversations. My Classroom Management Plan on Scribd has over 20,000 hits and continues to start conversations about what it means to create lively intellectual, social, and activist communities in our classrooms. Community-building is the foundation of my professional practice. On the side, I’ve begun to engage in the world of Community Management. In the digital world, Community Managers are people who build and facilitate communities around brands and causes. Most think social media is the primary focus of Community Managers. Like good teachers, good Community Managers foster meaningful collaboration amongst small groups of people. They help members build community norms and roles generate meaning and value for participants. From now on, this blog will focus on community-building from a teaching perspective, a digital perspective, and of course, an edtech perspective. Stay tuned, folks!
I’m always looking for new ways to show my students how we have grown over time intellectually and socially (community building). Capzules (via angelamaiers on twitter) seems like an innovative new way to do that. Capzules says you can “combine your videos, photos, blogs, and mp3s into rich, multimedia story lines”.
I’m brainstorming uses for my 5th grade class:
– Making our class time capsule during our last morning meeting of the week. Keeping track of our class goals, celebrations, favorite lessons, etc.
– Digital storytelling in language arts, social studies, and science: having students tell stories using digital media.
– Portfolios: uploading student work into a digital portfolio they can keep forever.
– Better teaching: keeping a portfolio of my lessons and contributions of the class. This is a cool way to track professional growth.
You don’t have to bury this time capsule in the playground.
Imagine a race where everyone is trying to lose. Races to the bottom are a bit more complex than this scenario but the outcome is the same: instead of competition yielding the best outcomes, competition clamors around second-rate outcomes. Races to the bottom occur when the perception is that sub-par outcomes can yield benefits or when the voices of those who experience costs are left out of decision-making.
Most economics and political science textbooks give examples from competition surrounding international workers rights or environmental laws. When one country eliminates or decreases the penalties for violations of these laws, a competition ensues between countries to do the same, because business flows to countries with less regulations, transaction costs, and taxes. This leads to a situation where countries are vying to have less protections for the environment and their workers – they are racing to the bottom.
There are many school-based examples of races to the bottom I could talk about in this post (No Child Left Behind, Teach for America, etc). I’m going to focus on handraising because I’ve been thinking about it for awhile.
A few days ago, I was sitting in a class about policies and practices of English language learners. We were having a discussion about equitable participation in class. My instructor asked “what is the definition of engagement you use in your classroom?”. One of my colleagues had a brilliant (and slightly terrifying) answer. She said: “Engagement is when students care about the direction and process of their own learning“. I believe her definition because I’m a constructivist: I think that children construct their own knowledge when they encounter experiences that intrigue and challenge them. My colleague’s idea is brilliant and terrifying because of the standards many of us use to measure engagement and learning in our classrooms. We ask questions and look for raised hands. I’ve observed many elementary classrooms over the past few months. Teachers are nervous when no one raises their hand to answer questions and satisfied when students do. I’m not entirely sure how raised hands and spoken answers correlate to learning. Did the student already know the answer? Does it help students to listen to the answers of their peers when the teacher determines truth? It seems like there is a dual race to the bottom happening. Many teachers settle for raised hands at the expense of allowing learning processes to occur that are less teacher-controlled and have less “obvious” evidence of outcomes. Students create norms and power structures of their own. Some try to have the right answer to please the teacher. Many assign “smart” and “dumb” labels based on their peers’ handraising. They see handraising as part of the game of school rather than part of their learning process.
I’m not saying we should eliminate all questioning and handraising from our classrooms. Of course there are provocative questions, student-centered discussion formats, and other tools of our trade that resemble traditional handraising but have different outcomes.
Do you think handraising is a race to the bottom? How do you define engagement in your classroom?