ED 631 Week 13 - Proposal

To: Administration of M.S. 226

From: Ms. M

Date: May 4th, 2018

 

Subject: A proposal to design learning environments that are conducive to fostering intrinsic student motivation, and provide a platform that cultivates student development as it pertains to academic achievement.

Before I begin this proposal I would first like to thank the administration, the educators, and the rest of the supporting staff for welcoming me into this lovely school community. Thank you all for providing me with this platform to give back to the very community I grew up in and molding me into the educator that I currently am, and the educator that I am destined to be. I have grown so much in my first year of teaching and I look forward to growing and truly perfecting the art of pedagogy.

Purpose

I write this letter to propose a solution to many of the inconsistencies throughout our wonderful school community. Many of our students express very little to no motivation when it comes to education, which impedes their development academically. We are a title one school that combats many systemic issues on a given day, some which are out of our control. However, there are many problems in our school that we do have control over. Our school community is one of a kind because we have at least one student from every country in the world. Within our hallways, lunchrooms, even in the classrooms we can hear a plethora of languages being spoken. The students at M.S. 226 are bright and full of unequivocal potential. We have such diversity in our building including socioeconomic status, religion, race, sexuality, and how our students perform in class and on state exams. What are we doing as a school community to ensure the success of our various students? How are we instilling and cultivating a love of learning for all the students we interact with on a daily basis?

As a school community, I propose that we implement a school wide emphasis on designing learning environments that foster social, emotional, and academic achievement. Before learning can truly take place in the classroom, an atmosphere of inclusion needs to be established. This can be done by structuring your classrooms, regardless of content, as a window and mirror for all of your students. All curriculums should provide spaces where students can see vivid reflections of themselves and people that look like them and also peer into the lives of other individuals. Our students have to feel safe in order to take academic risks and the only way to do that is to value them as an individual. The NYC DOE code of ethics for educators states this it is the job of the educator to engage students in valuing their identity, allow students to learn more about their cultural heritage, and practicing social and civic responsibilities, help students reflect on their learning and apply learning to their life experience, encourage diverse approaches and solutions to issues, and foster development of all students”.

I propose that the administration provide more professional development to educators in regards to diversity. Designing coherent learning environments should be understood and executed with student diversity in mind. It is critical to the educator and the success of the student that these two themes are understood in tandem and not isolation.

In addition to designing coherent learning environments, another important aspect of academic success that we neglect is student development. Due to the culture of our school, often times we monitor student development and success based solely on the regression or progression of our students’ standardized exams. We are a focus school and we want to ensure that our students are performing at or near their peers. However we cannot monitor student development solely on standardized test scores. We should implement more project based and hands on learning to account for the many ways in which children learn and excel. Our students are multidimensional human beings who are capable of growing and progressing in many areas. The students vary in the ways in which they learn so we have to make sure there are sections in the curriculum that lend itself to measure students’ progress in a multitude of ways: visually, kinesthetically, logically, interpersonally, and intrapersonally. We need to ensure that our curriculums are promoting the development of students not just academically, but socially and emotionally as well. Healthy social and emotional development during adolescence is a crucial determining factor of who our students will eventually become. For most individuals school is where we learn a great deal about ourselves but also a great deal about other people and how to maneuver amongst these varying relationships. The students that we teach are in no shape or form a monolith, their personal experiences and differences will lead to various forms of adolescent development. It is imperative that educators understand the intersections of gender, sexuality, race, religion, and socioeconomic status, and how these intersections can affect student development. I propose that we monitor the growth of our student’s socially and emotionally, in addition to academically by implementing social emotional learning into our curriculums.

Student motivation is another area where educators could provide more support to our scholars. Many of our students have to be bribed or extrinsically motivated to complete a task. Completing tasks and being engaged in the classroom should never be solely contingent upon receiving something in return. However, I have had the time to reflect deeply on why majority of our students are only extrinsically motivated. The reality of the situation is that we do not have any electives embedded into our curriculums. The curriculum provides only the core four subjects: Social Studies, Math, English and Science. Students do not receive any time to explore other subjects or the arts. Given that our playground is under construction the children never truly receive anytime to be creative and expressive. Studies have indicated that the adolescent brain is only completely active when music and movement are involved. I know that it is not in the budget to implement an entire arts program but I propose that we incorporate movement and music into our lessons with the intent to increase student motivation intrinsically. Making our lessons more relevant, innovative, and refreshing will hopefully provide the platform for students to truly fall in love with learning.

After reviewing standardized exams and other forms of data from the past five years it is evident that students struggle with applying the content knowledge and skills they learned in the classroom. We should introduce a school wide anchor chart that clearly references Bloom’s Taxonomy. Bloom’s Taxonomy is a set of models used to classify the complexity of learning that can take place within a given classroom. This taxonomy ranges from recall or regurgitation of facts all the way to evaluating and extending one’s thinking. Educators should regularly provide scaffolding to ensure that students are delving deeper into the content. I acknowledge that many teachers are under a lot of pressure for students to perform well on state exams but the reality is that our students need more support. Learning is a social science, where both student and teacher should have active roles. The pedagogue possesses the skills and knowledge to carefully craft a learning environment that allows for the student to gradually possess these same skills through practice. We have to ensure that we are meeting students where they are in supporting them throughout their zone of proximal development.

In closing, the students we cater to are phenomenal. They have the potential to do anything that they put their minds to. It is essential that we provide our children with the platform and resources they need so that they are prepared to enter the world before them. I also want to ensure that the educators and other supporting staff are equipped with the resources they need to cultivate a love of learning. I hope that the administration considers my proposal within the months to come. I appreciate the time it takes the administration to thoroughly review my proposal.

 

Regards,

Milani Machicote

    • Gerald Ardito
      Gerald Ardito

      Milani,

      I found myself very, very moved by your proposal. Your clear commitment to the students and trying to clearly articulate a learning environment that would most effectively reach every one of them really resonated with me.

      It was also moving to see how you have internalized the core concepts from this course and how that has shaped your practice as a teacher.

      Thanks so much.

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