WrappingItUp-School Proposal

Sharjana Rohman-Hashem

ED 631

Wrapping It Up-Proposal to Administrators

 

Dear School Administrators of I.S. 259,

I have been taking an Educational Psychology class online at Pace University this semester through my Teaching Fellows program. My goal for this course was to identify differences in approaches to learning and performance, including different learning styles, and ways students demonstrate learning. The goal was to explore the role of education in diverse classrooms, and learn to reflect on our own practices, act on feedback, and change what does not work for us. Through the duration of the course, the focus was on four primary aspects of educational psychology, which are:

  • Motivation
  • Learning Theories
  • Engagement
  • Student Development

While reading, and sifting through many sources for this self-directed learning experience and practicing with my students, I have realized that there are many changes that would benefit all the students of this school. I have a few proposals I would love to share to see if we may implement at IS 259 if possible.

My first proposal for motivating students is to incorporate student opinion and choice into designing instruction. If the students realize their work means something to them, then they are more likely to do it and actually put effort into the quality of work they produce. This is something I tried and input into my instructional practice after reading about it in Wiggins, G. (n.d.). Understanding by Design, Expanded 2nd Edition. New York: Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development. The text stated “Motivation is increased when the work is of obvious value, has intrinsic interest, and provides transfer.”

I have experienced much smoother lessons with less students resisting to do work as I incorporated choices that they came up with. I provided the goal of the lesson and provided 2-3 options of working activities and how the students would like to be assessed. This menu option of learning will kill two birds with one stone. The students will be motivated and designing coherent instruction will also be in place because you can modify the work and address all skill levels, build in challenges to the work they are doing to reach equity in the students learning. By providing this menu option, students with various learning disabilities can also have a say in what they want to do without feeling singled out. There would be no need for pull out groups, instead you group by choice and activity and provide the additional support through assorted stations.

My second proposal gears more towards going back to the basics. Learning theorists such Vygotsky’s, Skinner, Gardener and Bloom have been mentioned in all of my classes thus far so implementing different learning theories we learned about in our education courses into our pedagogy and being reflective on our practices can always help by setting a benchmark to always measure our growth. The zone of proximal development refers to the relative level of one’s development in particular areas and is expressed as the difference between what a child can do without guidance and what he or she can do with assistance (Nakkula Et. Al, 2006).

I propose that we spend the first couple of weeks of school getting to know our student’s strengths and weaknesses. We should give the students a series of tasks to see how much they can complete on their own and partner that with team building exercise to ensure easy transitioning into group work. Also, giving a multiple intelligence survey should be compulsory in order for us to better understand the different learning styles we are dealing with year in and year out. These tools can be used later to develop lesson plans that help guide our students to reach a point where they no longer need assistance and are capable of doing what is expected on their own. Eight months into my first year of teaching, I have experienced that I put in more work than my own students. Reflecting upon this insight, I would like to change that starting next year.

Ideally each day’s lesson should hit a sweet spot for each child bordering from a point of frustration to a point of boredom. According to my science AP, as a school, we are trying to focus more on student centered learning and lot of the tenured teachers are having trouble with this. I believe all teachers, need to refresh their practice by being reflective by getting the students opinions. These teachers must then remember what it was like teaching when they first started and compare the standards expected for students nowadays. A lot has changed and progressed in terms of standards through various studies, therefore as educators, we must be mend with changes and use these studies and theories to better polish our pedagogical practices; reflection for both teachers, whether they are new or tenured is key if it is expected of our students as well. We must always practice what we preach and model for our students what we expect.

The constructivist theory supports this type of learning behavior where learners constantly need to monitor their own knowledge and learning in order to engage in metacognition. This allows the learner to ensure that the content was complete, accurate, and important to learn (Goldman, 2006). In addition to Vygotsky’s theories of constructivism, Kolb supports a similar idea through experiential learning. Kolb’s theory mentions that the learner must reflect, use analytical skills to conceptualize the experience and finally use these experiences to make decisions and solve problems (CmapTools, I. (n.d.). This directly correlates to our school implementing the new NGSS science standards which align with the engineering design method we want our students to have as well.

My last proposal tackles student’s classroom engagement. As I went to observe different teachers at our school, I noticed that the more seasoned the teacher was, the firmer they stuck to the same lesson plan they have been using for the last 10 years! These teacher’s pedagogical practices have become so rigid, where it works, but the students do not enjoy the work. It becomes rather cumbersome and students push through the work because they need good scores in order to get into good schools in the future. The student-centered approach gets them moving and motivated but the struggle really began for me when it came to classroom management.

As a first-year teacher, this was my biggest struggle however, this is also where I found the most growth and where I found myself reflecting the most. A professor of mine mentioned that everything boils down to routines and relationships and that really stuck to me. As I took a deeper dive into reading, Educational Psychology by Kelvin L. Seifert, I realized that I felt the exact same way as Seifert did after his experiences in managing a class…” Kelvin's experiences in managing these very different classrooms taught him what every teacher knows or else quickly learns: management matters a lot.”

I am a career changer and the first challenge I had directly correlates to Seifert’s chapter on Why classroom managements is important, “Another reason that managing the environment is challenging is because a teacher cannot predict everything that will happen in a class (Schumacker & Seifert, 1991).” There was way too much going on at the same time, I didn’t know how to juggle everything at once. I am very attentive by nature; however, this was a whole new ballpark! I too have experienced the down fall of an over packed lesson as well as trying reduce idle time, also known as chaos in the classroom time. I learned that pairing time management with student engagement, was the formula to a manageable class. The solution to a manageable class started out with the routines and was partnered with open lines of communication and expectations. Often times, I was misunderstood by the students, which taught me to use kids friendly jargon and also pay more attention to body language. As for the students, they learned to be more attentive to the same things as me because I actually stopped my content to practice these things. The only thing Seifert did that I could not get a grasp on was the classroom aesthetics. I am a traveling teacher, which means that I travel to different classrooms as my students do. I am still investigating for a better solution to that problem.

All things considered, now that I have investigated these four key factors, I hope the administrative staff of I.S. 259 considers this proposal for our school. This plan discusses redesigning the classroom learning environment relating to what I have learned in my Educational Psychology class this semester, which aims to be a beneficial resource for the progress and growth of the school overall, staff and especially the students.

Thank you for your time and attention to my concerns and new found knowledge.

Sincerely,

Mrs. Rohman-Hashem

I.S. 259

7th Grade Science Teacher

 

Works Cited

 

 

CmapTools, I. (n.d.). WARNING:. Retrieved from http://cmapspublic3.ihmc.us/rid=1LGVGJY66-CCD5CZ-12G3/Learning Theory.cmap

 

Goldman, J. (2006). Web-based designed activities for young people in health

education: A constructivist approach. Health Education Journal 65(1), 14-27.

 

Nakkula, M. J., & Toshalis, E. (2006). Understanding youth: Adolescent development for educators. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press.

 

Schumacker, R. E., & Seifert, K. L. (1991). Test bank, Educational psychology, second edition, Kelvin L. Seifert.

 

Wiggins, G. (n.d.). Understanding by Design, Expanded 2nd Edition. New York: Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development.

 

 

WrappingItUp-School Proposal

    • Gerald Ardito
      Gerald Ardito

      Sharjana,

      Your proposal was very thorough and thoughtful, and clearly integrated much of the work for this course.

      I was especially struck by this:


      As I went to observe different teachers at our school, I noticed that the more seasoned the teacher was, the firmer they stuck to the same lesson plan they have been using for the last 10 years! These teacher’s pedagogical practices have become so rigid, where it works, but the students do not enjoy the work. It becomes rather cumbersome and students push through the work because they need good scores in order to get into good schools in the future.

      You are really onto something here. Effective teaching can only happen when one is willing to take risks. But sometimes, this is contrary to how some view the need for order and structure in the classroom. I look forward to hearing about how you negotiate this dichotomy in your own teaching practice.

    ED 631 - Educational Psychology- Spring 2018

    ED 631 - Educational Psychology- Spring 2018

    Here is our online home for ED 631 for Spring 2018.

    Latest comments