Reading Response #1

The reading in chapter 8 of Brown and Knowles was a refreshing reminder of many things I want to do or not do as a middle school educator. I enjoyed reading the material and became excited to try putting new methods into practice next school year. I felt that the chapter opened up in a powerful way with student quotes about teachers not caring, and some showing up just to be paid. It is amazing how students notice many of our behaviors as teachers and they will play off of that. A teacher who wants to be in school may facilitate a student who wants to be at school. Often as teachers we are not aware of the affect or impact that we have on students, whether positive or negative. 

Personally, I don't think that middle schoolers are that stressed, or at least not aware of their stress, so I like the use of the word "fear" better on page 103 when listing common middle school situations. I felt that at some points of the chapter a lot of blame was put on the teachers, and while I do agree that we play a major role, there are other factors involved. For example, number 5 of "situations initiated by teachers [that] can cause fear and stress in young adolescents" states "requiring" students to go their lockers for their books in only a few minutes. I don't see this as something we are requiring or forcing them to do, it is simply part of the school structure, and common amongst all middle schools. It may be a change for the students that contributes to the fear or difference in transition, but teachers should not be blamed for this. 

What further stuck out to me on page 106 was the word "acceptance." When teachers accept their students, that allows students to know that the teacher cares. A teacher may have a disruptive, low-performing student in the class, but needs to understand that he/she cannot control that student. The teacher must accept the student for who they are, and demonstrate efforts to help and teach. I enjoyed reading about better ways to listen or discipline (for lack of a better word) on pages 111-112, for example with "empathetic listening." Students cannot simply answer "why did you do that" so it is the teachers job to help the student reflect and learn from the situation, rather than be told simply not to do something again. 

The idea of eliminating competitive learning has reoccurred. This makes me think and want to know more because there are times where I use this, to a limited extent, for fun, in my classroom. There are times where certain "competitions" or contests engage students in the learning or lesson and enjoy the class. I usually do this as review, or games before an assessment, but I would like to learn more about how to effectively use it and keep it, rather than just getting rid of it because it "accentuates weaknesses and strengths of students" and "is embarrassing for less able students" (Brown and Knowles, p.123). I believe collaborative learning is also very effective, but I want to learn more about competitive learning and if there are ways to manage it without students feeling embarrassed. 

Transforming formal learning settings to informal ones is done by having connections and relationships with your students. A more formal setting may stick to the textbook with rigid schedules and procedures, whereas informal learning settings may stray off into personal conversations or connections to other ideas or activities. Teachers are less afraid to stray from the curriculum and more willing to take time to get to know their students, their students' needs. Page 107 states, "a caring relationship begins with the development of trust and mutual respect between students and teachers." By developing this trust and taking time to share stories, express interests, or get to know student interests and learning about them, develops a more informal learning environment where both teachers and students should feel comfortable and safe. 

    • Gerald Ardito
      Gerald Ardito

      Jenna,

      Your response to the Brown and Knowles chapter is incredibly well done. Your arguments are well made, supported by the text, and are quite substantive.

      I did not see any real mention of the O'Neill and Barton article. Please revise your response to include it and resubmit here.

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