Rachel's Proposal

Rachel Richards

May 5th, 2018

Educational Psychology

Dr. Ardito

 

Proposal: A plan to redesign my classroom learning environment

 

Dear administration of UAMA,

 

I first want to say thank you for your time and your willingness to hear my concern about improving my classroom environment. I am aware I am a first year teacher and I haven’t seen a lot, but I have also learnt a lot during the past year. I have gained experiences from visiting IA AP Vural class, attending Brooklyn North District 13 Monthly Science leaders and AP meetings representing your school and during these meetings I was able to connect with teachers, visit other teachers classroom at their school and gained numerous experiences and saw a number of things I like to practice next year, as you know I am also in numerous education classes at my university and I came across textbooks in my 2 classes with great ideas that I know can work when providing for a mixed school environment like UAMA. My professors did a great drop helping us understand these ideas, giving feedback and even bringing in their personal experiences. Also as an extended benefit to myself and the school my program assigned me a mentor, who visited each month I have been teaching, During my mentor visit from my Teaching Fellows in our debriefs, w have had many discussion with our last one this past week. Some we have discussed with the last AP who left in January and we some will be discuss during the end of year meet. But during debriefs she has left many resources with me, some I was able to implement immediately and some I can try next school year. My teaching fellow classes is most important and my biggest support in becoming a better first year teacher. It was my only constant support, besides going downstairs to the Science Skills and sitting into a Living Environment class. I have gained so much from these classes: from the two professors I had this semester and my fellow classmates, since all our environments are different.

As the only science teacher at this institution my goal is to improve and get our student (being a minority school) more involved, especially in science and as a team we can come up with ideas on how to do this. Science is challenging I know, because I was a science student once and I have failed science classes before, but we need to offer more to our community. I have heard statements in my classroom and it says a lot, about the students mind set on the first day of arrival here on your site. They include, “The school lied to me” or “the brochure did”, “this school don’t have all the programs they advertise”. You are an ART school, but where are the art programs; we have 2 sub teaching coming in different days to teach art. This is the most constant environment for many of our students and we cannot keep changing; our teacher retention rate is low and our graduation rate as well needs to improve. Things like this are affecting our students’ motivation to learn and they don’t have trust in our administration and teachers, but this conversation is for another day. What I am going to focus on is hiring at least one other Science teacher (physical science preferably), so students are given options and opportunities to be more diverse and we grounded. We should not have students graduation with one Science in their pockets and just a few senior with AP Environment that I struggle to find time to properly planned for most times.

 

Content team “common planning time”

  1. dream of having a content team to meet with can only strength our school, each other and improve our classroom environment. This is more beneficial once all teachers are collaborating and enforcing the same practices discussed and coming back with feedbacks on student Behavior during implementation. Therefore, we can assess outcomes sooner than later once we are meeting regularly. As educators, our common goal is to have common instructional across classes, at my school this is not there and it is strongly needed, there is no rules being enforced or any serious disciplinary action. This is why it is important to build collaborative culture in school communities; it must be strong, solid as a rock and withhold in all classes.

In one my class at Pace University I read about teacher collaboration, I learnt about some of the areas in which we can improve upon. These areas include student engagement, motivation, learning theories and the understanding of adolescent development. The areas that I would specifically like to bring to your attention are student engagement and motivation. These are the areas in which I believe we can improve upon and will allow us to harvest many benefits for our students. The students have no trust in the school, starting with the fact there is no diverse art program for a school that is named UA for Music and Art and we don't have a consistent Art teacher. Secondly there is no other science class being offered at UAMA, besides LE and the one APES class I have for a few 12th graders. Also, there should be rewards system in place, I am taking some kids to a science showcase on Monday at Borough all and they are excited and then I have kids I never mention it too who heard about it and was offended. Our students need more opportunities. Maybe we can even try to have an in house science showcase and this can also help to create school spirit. I know I would not have all scientists or that all my students will pass regularly and be on their best behavior as they are going through issues in their home life, gender identity, puberty and hormonal change.

During the science content team meeting it is important for us to report back to the team. I know that everything may not work, for all class, but it’s important for them to see similar practices across. We need to discuss positive reinforcement and negative ones as well. A positive we can try in special education classroom, is that when students transition from activities appropriately (follow instructions given to them, do not cause disruptions, remain at a reasonable noise level depending on circumstances), they receive a ticket, a shout out a candy or something. Teacher collaboration is the key word here and it is not happening at this school, when I read about this I was like “this doesn’t happen at my school”. If Teacher collaboration occurs frequently in our schools, like on a daily routine, teams can better be managed and the outcomes can be addressed faster. The goals set should be clear and frequently measured and regularly meeting will provide that, since there will be an immediate follow up and a team meeting to report too, on how effective it was.

As educators in a team meeting we should be able to collaborate, communicate about classroom experience, in order to help improve pedagogical expertise and encourage colleagues to try new things. Our administration should pivot specific attention and to be devoted to nurturing our school - wide behavioral norms that hinder collaboration practices in our schools. Our school needs teacher collaboration now more than ever, because we want a functional school. In order for it to work, there must be teacher to teacher interaction routines, trust between teachers, so this can help nurture school-wide behavioral norms. As an educator working at your school, I need school

leaders who believe in their teachers and trust in their teachers to work together without.

 

Student Assessment

 

There must be numerous ways our students can be assessed, I was given a final project at my university and given numerous options and the Professor still told us, if we have any other ideas we like to do email him and he may be able to approve it. We can offer our student other ways in deliverables. We have creative students here with talent that they don’t get to demonstrate and maybe Science can open that door. Test assessment is not the only means. This school year I offered oral assessment and some students were like “I wish I can do this in Global”. Yes, as Educators we need to assess all students and have an effective learning environment. Therefore, we need to also keep in mind the various learning styles that we teach to, I believe that it is important that we as educators provide strength based choices for demonstration of learning. Students will be more receptive and less reluctant to explain or complete a task in a method that isn't suitable for them.

 

Co-Teaching

 

I don't know about any other class but in my class co teaching need improvement and not because she probably put in the differentiation twice from September to now and it was a copy and paste from the first time, she never helped me plan or show up for our meetings twice a week, unless the AP was there, This need to get better, they should be mandatory in the planning, since they are to know their student best. I don’t get to look at every IEP. There should be closer evaluation for them and not only for writing their IEPs. There should be a dialogue in the classroom, and constant pull out when necessary. In some class she just stands in the back. Our school does not have the setting for One teach and one observe, we need to implement the more involve approaches to co teaching such as, One teach, One assist, parallel teaching, Station Teaching, Alternative Teaching and Team. We have had PDs every Friday and we have not done one on Co teaching and you have had seven new hires this year. I will also suggest that we both go visit an ideal co-teaching classroom like one my mentor suggested. But this issue also needs to be addressed during PDs.

 

The hiring Process

 

Our school contains many diverse situations from troubled kids, students living in shelters, no parental involvement, so no disciplinary actions at home. They are often disrespectful and there are ones who curse in class like it okay. Our interview process should be more complex, demo lesson should be a must for all new hire and a mandatory day at the school should be required. Therefore you can see the actions of the teacher (under any stress) and the teacher can also see the students’ interaction, have a sense of the environment and what it is like. This can work in two ways the interviewee can determine if this environment is for him or her and the administration can also determine if the attitude or personality of the interviewee is a fit for the school.

 

Classroom management & School Environment

 

My classroom is often a place where students feel free to express themselves without judgments as I lend them a listening ear. This set the pace for classroom management, which is super important and no lesson will be heard if this is not in place. One of the major issues surrounding classroom management is student teacher relationship. Once we are able to build and maintain healthy student teacher relationship, you can get a student to do any work that you put in front of them. Students come into my class, especially my 7th and 8th period where they just do what they want and it’s so difficult to get them to settle down, be seated, end conversations etc.

 

We are not a screening school and we do not control which student we get, so we do get some of the more challenging kids, but we also have some of the very best who chose this school for what they read. So how are they being protected or given the opportunity to have a good classroom environment. We cannot have students constantly in the same sections that attended to the same middle schools and have been suspended many times. This is pre exposal to a chaotic environment.

 

As educators, we wear many hats, we get tired and we need time. My regular day is very long. After a full day of work, and then I am still here until 6pm and sometimes later doing work. In order to put my best foot forward the next day and help prepare our students. I do the work for a lab technician as well and it can be overwhelming, when I have to often stay back to prepare lab and I have a co teacher, grade and plan all alone, but I do it for the love and interest for our future generation and the fact because I love what I do. I am a new teacher and I am learning so much, I require a lot planning time to make it possible, along with my outside the classroom obligations. I know overall you all are working hard on other things which created this environment we have now, because I still like working here. I have also seen a number of students come back to visit, so we are still making an impact. I know some of these things you may be aware of, but just know you have me and as a team we can do it together.

Overall, in all things concerning the school, we should have the students in mind. I am hoping to hear back from you before the school year is over and we can discuss and start implementing these proposals. I know you may have some as well. So we can be ready for a fresh start in September.

 

Best regards.

Rachel Richards

 

    • Gerald Ardito
      Gerald Ardito

      Rachel,

      Your proposal did a good job integrating your concerns for your school and its students, what you have been learning in this course and others, and your teaching practice into something that could be of real benefit.

      I appreciated the boldness with which you make your recommendations.

      I hope you get a chance to present this to your administration at some point.

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