Rohan's Proposal

Andrew Rohan

Wrapping up

 

3. Proposal. Now that you have really been investigating these four key factors, you can write a proposal to your administration that discusses how you plan to redesign the classroom learning environment in response to what you have learned this semester.

 

Dear Administrators of the school.

 

Now that I have been studying engagement, motivation, adolescent development, and learning theories, it is time to reflect on what we have learned and share that learning with those in my class. The first factor that seems to be most important in my class was learning theories, especially the zone of proximal development, which was first introduced by Vygotsky. He said that, “the distance between the actual developmental level as determined by independent problem solving and the level of potential development as determined through problem-solving under adult guidance, or in collaboration with more capable peers” (Mcleod). He was discussing that children exist in a specific zone, one that is surrounded by two opposites. On one side, you have the content and material that is out of the students understanding and on the other, you have the content being too easy or challenging for the student to utilize. In the middle exist the area that is where the student is most able to learn and grasp the material then apply it. Each student’s zone exists differently on this scale, and it is the teacher’s responsibility to maintain that student’s level. This is done through scaffolding work to ensure they each individual student can approach and understand the material, or by providing more rigorous work to stretch the student’s thinking and application of knowledge. In my class specifically, the students come from varying backgrounds, forcing me to have to be able to provide multiple and differentiated scaffolds that allow them the ability to learn, but also challenge the children so they can ultimately know, not just memorize, the material. That then leads straight into the second factor or adolescent development.

            In one of my classes at pace, the professor spoke about adolescent development and how malleable a student’s mind is. In the textbook Understanding Youth, by Nakkula and Toshalis, the authors discussed the different factors that can affect a child’s mind as they are growing through the phases of adolescence. One such that I remember vividly through our discussions in the class was identity. Students are still trying to find their identity and truly find out who they are while trying to also find success in academia. It is overwhelming to some and as a teacher, I find that this is very much involved in making sure a student stays in their zone of proximal development as well. A student is more likely to be able to focus and stay in their zone if the external factors that are occurring in their life and their pursuit of identity are as non-convoluted as possible. This makes them less stressed and more focused on the specific tasks at hand.

            Finally, before I go into my proposals, I would like to discuss motivation and engagement. Both things I have been working to bring these two things into my classroom to make the material more approachable and allow my students to easily grasp the concepts of the class. It’s a common way of thinking that if your more invested and interested in the thing you are doing, then the more engaged your students will be. I have noticed that student’s abilities to stay on task is very limited, especially when the classroom gets warmer and the idea of not being inside of a classroom and doing work is very alluring to them. Going through my breadcrumbs again showed me what I had done to keep their attention, while also showing me things that I think I would want to improve on that would make me a better and motivating teacher to entertain them with.

 

            My first proposal that I would make to the administration is the way in which we teach the student in the classroom, specifically talking about the teaching style itself. My first recommendation would be to utilize the layered curriculum model of teaching. When I was first starting out in September, getting some of my classes with upperclassmen in them to work was strenuous. I would constantly have to spend my time in the period trying to convince them to do their work instead of helping the other kids who were trying to overachieve. My assistant principle then told me about the layered curriculum, in which you set specific tasks for the students to do, which all count for a certain amount of points. The student then chooses the activities they would like to do. This is allowing for both a student-centered classroom, but also choice for each student. The positive aspect of this is that the students that aren’t as motivated to do the work will complete the tasks that get them to pass, while those that are trying to further themselves and push themselves attempt all or most of the actives to get the stellar rating. Originally this allows the teacher to focus on the students that want and need assistance, but also gets each student doing the work, because even my most unmotivated student was motivated by just knowing what dictated a pass. Eventually as the weeks went on, my ap and I discussed how I can slowly bring up the bottom activities in rigor without that students really noticing that they were doing more or harder work. Eventually I was starting to have classes were even the most unmotivated student were choosing the work to do and completing it. I think it would be a better way to keep the motivation in the classroom high rather than lecturing. Also allowing the students to choose helps relieve the stress of students not wanting to do a certain activity.

            The second proposal that I would recommend is another change to the classroom environment in the shape of a flip classroom. My principle continually mentions to me that for the Quality Review that we have coming up the reviewers want to enter a classroom and have trouble finding the teacher. Meaning that they want as student centered lessons as possible. Another thing that I have been researching is something called a flipped classroom. In this type of classroom, all the PowerPoint notes and lecturing would be giving to the students as homework for them to take notes on and read at home. When they come into class the teacher sets up an activity for them to do that reinforces what they learned from the texts, allowing for more choice in the activities, the rigor of those activities and any other scaffolding that certain students might need to be able to complete the work. To keep the students motivated at home and during class, it will be up to the teacher to continually grade and assess the students with feedback. That includes both formative and informative assessments and feedback on student work to help guide through the unit’s content. As a science class it might be better and more motivating for the student to allow for certain checkpoints in the students learning and allowing them the choice, as well as the motivation, for them to complete their work.

            The last recommendation I would like to propose to the school is to standardize the learning throughout the school. It should not be an excuse that since the child has a teacher, that that child will receive a worse education. It becomes apparent, especially as a knew teacher that I spend more of my time writing the lesson and ensuring the content exists in my lesson then trying to make ways that the content is approachable. This causes the material itself to be far less approachable to the student than what I would like. I would propose that if the cityh wants the students to take a standardized test, then we should start as a school by standardizing the content of the lessons to each of the teachers and then allowing the teachers freedom in presenting that content. That would involve having the presentations, activities and labs already set up for the teachers prior to them teaching, and then put the pressure on the teacher to construct and utilize the resources available to them to present the content. As a first-year teacher, especially without taking any education classes prior to this year, I can say that the student’s learning suffered a bit while I tried my best to figure out how to write and present material that they could use and understand. I believe along with creating the curriculum map during the summer, grade leaders and assistants should be paid to standardize the content in the classroom to make sure at the bear minimum each student is getting the education mandated by the standards presented by the city.

 

These are some changes that I recommend for the school and I hope that some of them are thought about and implemented. Thank you.

 

 

Source

 

 

    • Gerald Ardito
      Gerald Ardito

      Andrew,

      I very much enjoyed reading your proposal. It clearly takes into account the various readings you have done for this course (and others) and integrates them with your teaching practice. They are bold and would likely make a difference to the students in your school.

      If you were actually to present this, I have a couple of suggestions:

      1. Connect more broadly to educational research. Many of your suggestions have been well researched. Making the connections between your proposals and that research would lend your suggestions even more credibility.

      2. Be more specific. For each of your suggestions, I would encourage you to add either an increased level of specificity or examples or both. Administrators tend to think concretely, so providing models or examples will increase the probability that your suggestions could be put into practice.

       

      Thanks for doing such strong work.

    ED 631 - Educational Psychology- Spring 2018

    ED 631 - Educational Psychology- Spring 2018

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