Excursion 4

a. Start be describing the context of the learning. What School district and school? What subject(s)? What was the goal of this/these lesson(s)?

I am working at the Mt. Pleasant Blythedale School in Blythedale Children's Hospital in Valhalla. The district serves the patients at the hospital. Every student in the school is classified in special education. Some of the common classifications include OHI, TBI, ID, OI, AU etc. The district has a pre-school, elementary, and secondary program. I work as a math intern teacher in the secondary program. The school prides itself on teaching a Common Core curriculum and making it accessible to all students. For students who have no or few cognitive deficits, they receive a grade level course load. For students with moderate-severe disabilities, they are in classes a long side all students but receive differentiated instruction to meet their needs (this may be simply exposure to socialization/content vocabulary using manipulatives).

b. Next, describe (in as much detail as possible) the lesson(s) itself /themselves.

What did the teacher do? Why did he/she do it? What do you think their intentions were? How well orchestrated or cohesive was/were the lesson(s)?

 When observing my co-teacher, I have found that he does not prepare formal lessons for students the way that I am used to. Most often, the teacher pulls up a worksheet on the smart board and does it with the students. I think that the intention behind the teacher's work is to primarily please administrators by offering common core based work. The lessons I observe do not seem to be orchestrated at all, there is no beginning, middle, and end, there are no assignments given, there is no real expectation for students.

c. Next, describe what the students were doing and how this did it. Were they engaged? All of them or just some of them? All of the time or just some of them? What did the teacher do to manage their engagement? Were these actions effective? Why or why not?

In every class, students are copying down whatever the teacher writes on the board or simply watching the teacher. Students are usually not engaged and often cannot keep up with the lesson. Sensory students (multi-disabled students who are labeled alternate assessment) are almost never engaged. If these students are engaged with by the teacher it is through social conversations, never through content. The highest academic students (1-3 in each class) will be the most engaged students every time. I do not find that there is any specific method used by the teacher to engage the students in the content. There are no activities planned to facilitate interest in the course. I do not find that these are effective methods because not only are students unengaged, they are not producing work or able to provide much evidence of learning.

    • Steven Demartis
      Steven Demartis

      Emma, it is unfortunate that your cooperating mentor teacher does not put in the effort required to provide a substantial, appropriate, and standards based lesson which are designed to promote the learning growth of every student present within the classroom. However, this acts a great learning experience for you as you can analyze ways in which to improve the lessons you are observing and modify them to be more appropriate for your future students. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon to hear that teachers are working harder to please administrators that cater to students needs (which in retrospect is the purpose of our career). When working with a diverse group of students it is crucial to design lessons which every student is able to participate in, regardless of ability level. 

      • Gerald Ardito
        Gerald Ardito


        Your comments to Emma are very insightful. And I happen to agree with your sense of the teacher's behavior as unfortunate, as well as this being an opportunity for Emma as a learning experience. 


        • Gerald Ardito
          Gerald Ardito


          You done a good job describing and analyzing this learning environment. And, as I said in response to Steven's comment, it can be useful (it not also depressing) to learn from seeing what doesn't work as well as from what does work.

          It would be interesting to know the source of this teacher's lack of engagement and planning with the students. Is it a character fault or did it arise from a (mal) adaptation to either/both the unique student population and/or the demands of the Common Core math curriculum? Does he, for example, think that he would teach differently with more typical students? 

          Do you have any sense of this?

          You observation of that classroom is very powerful and evocative (if not also depressing):

          The lessons I observe do not seem to be orchestrated at all, there is no beginning, middle, and end, there are no assignments given, there is no real expectation for students.

          My question to you is what would you do to more productively meet the needs of these students? What kinds of learning environment would you create with them and what types of lessons and activities would you design and orchestrate?

          • Miranda Barbara
            Miranda Barbara

            Hello Emma,

            Sorry this comment is a bit late, but I was trying to find another post for Excursion 4, as I just posted mine. I am glad I read this post. I had actually visited Blythedale over the summer when I took ED 675 (students with severe disabilities), and I have a friend that interned there for a couple of semesters. My friend told me that it is very challenging to work there, and administer a cohesive lesson when you have students with varying disabilities. I am a person that likes structure and organization as well with my lessons, but maybe their is a reason behind the way your mentor teacher teaches. I know that the more you understand about a person and why they are doing certain things may put you more at ease. Maybe for the teacher the content is a second priority and socialization is more of the top priority, but I'm not really sure. Again I think that more open communication may be beneficial. Hope this helps!

            • Heidi Anthony
              Heidi Anthony

              Hi Emma,

              I can not imagine being in a classroom with no fully structured lesson. I would feel so uneasy. As students it is hard to just sit down and take notes imagine how the middle schoolers feel. 

              I understand completely why the students are not engaged. The teachers needs to create lessons that are engaging and requires movements. I understand in some classes this just isn’t possible because of the students behaviors, but I think creating small groups can most likely help. 

            ED 524 Spring 2020

            ED 524 Spring 2020

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