Torres Proposal

Luis A. Torres-Scott

May 4, 2018

ED 631

 

Wrapping It Up-Proposal to Administrators

of  

High School for Youth and Community Development (YCD)


 

 

Dear Administrators of YCD,

 

I would like to start of by thanking the administration of YCD for taking a moment to consider my proposal. As this school year comes to an end, I would like to say that as a first year teacher I could not ask for a better supervisory staff. Thank you all for all your support and guidance you have provided me over the last several months. I have learned a lot through my studies at Pace University, Teaching Fellows, Professional Developments opportunities I have attended and all the one-on-one session with my mentors. All of this combined has helped mold me into the teacher I have become thus far and will continue to make me a better teacher. Over the last several months, I have been taking an Educational Psychology class at Pace University. This course has given me the opportunity to focus on analyzing my students and classroom environment in order to draw out differences within my practice. Through studying student motivation, engagement, adolescent development and using various learning theories; my goal for this course was to identify the best possible method students could learn, and show their ability to perform to the best of their abilities.

 

My first proposal for increasing student motivation within the classroom was influenced by Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development learning theory. 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 & Toshalis, 2006, p. 10). In other words, students exist within a specific zone of education; what I like to call  “the sweet spot”. On one end, students perform better when they are receiving assistance from the teacher, however too much assistance or not enough assistance takes away from the learning process. On the other end of the spectrum, the rigor of the content also plays a role in student performance. If the content is too challenging, the tendency of the students are to shut down and not perform. Where as if the content is not challenging enough, student become bored with the work and in both cases the learning process has stopped.

 

In order for us as educators to reach our students sweet spots and maximize their educational growth, we must target the level of rigor to the top end of our students zone of proximal development. Also being mindful that each student's sweet spot exist in a different area of the zone of proximal development. With this being the case, we must provide them with enough assistance or scaffolding, so that they could assess the material. Scaffolding is another one of Vygotsky’s learning theory that “provides support during the learning process which is tailored to the to the needs of the student with the intention of helping the student achieve his/her learning goals” (Mcleod).

 

My first proposal is that we provide each one of of staff members with the adequate professional development that provides them the skills needed to provide rigorous content in their lessons.  But also teaches them how to properly provide multiple modes of scaffolding techniques and materials that are tailored for their specific content area. Proving lessons with rigor is something the Department of Education puts a heavy emphasis on us teachers to provide to our students. I know that all of our teachers here at YCD provide rigorous content to all our students. However, most of the teachers including me are sometimes at a lost on how to properly provide scaffolding to our students without taking away the challenging aspects. Over the last several months I have attended several professional development opportunities that has help me develop rigorous science lessons while also providing scaffolding tactics that are tailored to teaching science. The most important part of those professional development opportunities were that they all have taught me how to give students assistance without affecting the rigor.  I have found that the majority of our tenured teachers have not been on many professional development events recently. I believe that just as my students have benefited from my scaffolding materials in my classroom, so will they continue to benefit from it in other subject areas. Thus increasing the students willingness and drive to complete the assignments provided by our teachers because they would have the tools needed to help them do so.

 

As I read through Education Psychology by Schumacker, R. E., & Seifert, K. L, they brought up the topic of student self-determination of intrinsic motivation. They state “The self-determination version of intrinsic motivation, however, emphasizes a person's perception of freedom, rather than the presence or absence of real” constraints on action. Self-determination means a person feels free, even if the person is also operating within certain external constraints” (Schumacker, R. E., & Seifert, K. L). Now there are several ways to use this concept and apply it throughout the campus;  but they way I have interpreted this and have implemented it in my classroom, was by providing student choice. My next proposal to have all our teacher make modifications into their curriculum that presents students with a choice in their education. Working alongside with Ms. Washington, I have noticed a difference in my students attitude towards learning and completing an assignment; once they were given an option on what to do to access the same material. This has been even more noticeable with my ICT class and ESL students. On days when they have multiple avenues to each my lesson, whether its a virtual computer activity, a mini project, or something simple as a textbook assignment or worksheet. The majority of my students are now more likely to complete an assignment versus a few months ago before i started implementing student choice into my curriculum. My students are ten times more excited about the content I present to them, increased their overall grade for my class and it has also lighten the stress I have had in regard of them completing their assignments.

 

Our students are already being told what to do from everyone around them, this includes their parents, siblings if the have them, their peers, teachers, administration, school safety and society. Our students dislike any form of conformity they are exposed to, which is why they are often seen as “challenging the teacher's authority” and are being written up for their insubordination or behavior. In some classrooms across different discipline, they even hate the subject because they think the work is be boring and pointless. If each teacher incorporates one weekday strictly dedicated to giving our students options on how they want to approach the content, we will see, across campus that the students are more motivated into the lesson. Our teachers will also noticed less stress in chasing and reminding students to complete their classwork, homework, essays, labs etc.

 

One of my most cumbersome areas with teaching that I have struggled with the most this year is on how do I keep my students engaged in the lesson for the complete 45 minutes of the period. Although making some adjustments in my curriculum to allow student to choose their assignment, which has helped my students and I a lot more than what I initially perceived it would. My third proposal involves the way our students classes are scheduled. I bring this topic as one of my proposals because I have noticed the difference in scheduling when it involve science department versus other departments. I teach three classes of student who are repeating Living Environment, two freshmen classes and one elective Global Warming class. I propose that students who are transferring into YCD from different countries or from another school without any Living Environment credits be placed into a freshmen Living Environment class and not a repeaters course. In addition, I propose that more Earth Science section be created and taught by the Earth Science teacher in order to place more of my students who are taking Global Warming into a second regents based course. If we compare the Science Department to all other departments, we will noticed that the students are placed in a class that is appropriate to their grade level.

 

When we look at my department, I have students who have arrive to YCD from a different country, with no biology credits and are placed in a class with students who are repeating the course instead of a freshman course. The issue that lies within this situation is that in order for student to be eligible to take the Living Environment regents, they are required by the state to fulfill a certain amount of labs and seat time. When we place these student who needs a full year course including lab with a class that already has fulfill their lab requirement. We take a class that is meant to be a regents prep class and is automatically converted into a non-prep class that follows the exact same curriculum and pacing as the freshman sections. Once this occurs, I have noticed my students less engaged with the lesson for a few reasons. One reason is that the students who are in a prep class are now repeating the lab assignments they have already completed instead of completing a new lab that has been modified for a review of the initial lab. Another reason, is that then pace of the class has slowed down to accommodate for the new students who have never taken biology before. If we focus on programming our new transfers into the appropriate section, student engagement will not be affected or will increase gradually and would not have a domino effect on the students motivation to do the work.

 

This proposal also specifically involves increasing the number of Earth Science sections available to our students. This is because for the past three to five years our students have struggled to passed the Global or US History Regents. This issue is universal to throughout New York City, so much that the Department of Education has allowed students to use a second science regents in lieu of one of their history credits. My Global Warming class has thirty eight students on its roster. It has been extremely difficult for me to not only prepare and execute a lesson for thirty-eight students but also keep all the students engaged within the lesson. Their engagement is affected by the lack of space they have to maneuver in the classroom and the lack of one-on-one interactions they would like from me. Usually half way into the class, my students begin to check out from the lesson, get distracted by their peers or are generally overwhelmed with the amount of people in the room. By opening up more Earth Science sections, we begin by tackling the class size issue for my elective class. In addition, we provide our  students and opportunity to meet the graduation requirement, without the fear of repeating the course because they couldn’t pass the Global or US History Regents. Lastly, overall this increases student engagement within the classroom and student intrinsic motivation.

My last proposal tackles both student engagement and classroom management. I propose that we provide teachers with their choice of tables or desk for their classrooms; and encourage our teachers to rearrange the classroom based on what's appropriate to the lesson or student needs.

 

“Viewed broadly, classrooms may seem to be arranged in similar ways, but there are actually important alternative arrangements to consider. Variations exist because of grade level, the subjects taught, the teacher's philosophy of education, and of course the size of the room and the furniture available. Whatever the arrangement that you choose, it should help students to focus on learning tasks as much as possible and minimize the chances of distractions.” (Schumacker, R. E., & Seifert, K. L).

 

I often notice that our teachers have their rooms set up in a similar manner to one another. If the classroom is equipped with tables, the teacher determines to arrange their classrooms in groups. On the other hand if the classroom is equipped with desk, the classroom is arranged into rows. Although this allows the arrangement of the classroom to be simple and thoughtless. It does not always promote the best learning environment for our students.  For example, my classroom is constantly rearranged throughout the week to fit the needs of the lesson and my students. My classroom has tables instead of desk, however I don’t keep my class arranged in a grouping system. My classroom arrangement normally changes based on the structure of the lesson; on days that the lesson are lab based or project based; my table are set up to allow students to work in groups. On lecture days the tables are set up in the shape of an “U” facing the smartboard; partner work, or independent work days, the tables are set up in rows. As a first year teacher this assortment of classroom arrangements has helped me tremendously. It has allowed me to develop a routine with my students and communicate my expectations of the them as they walk into the room.

 

My students are aware of the spatial arrangements and are able to deduce the materials they need to have ready for that day's lesson. If the tables are set up in a U formation, my students know to have their notes books ready to complete the do now and copy notes. If the class is set up in groups, they are aware that we are going to be working on a lab and must grab their groups lab materials from the closets. Rearranging the classroom has developed a muscle memory for my students actions and steps they need to take from the moment they walk into the room. They know what to expect, what is expected from them, It keeps them focused on the lesson and reduces and distraction or disruptions that could affect the lesson.

 

In conclusion, I would like to say that as an alumni and now teacher at YCD I could not ask for a better, stronger or even more hardworking administration then the one YCD has been blessed to have for the past 14. Under your guidance, YCD has molded many past and current students into hardworking and dedicated scholars. This proposal is written from the perspective of a first year teacher who was once a scholar of YCD. Once again, thank you for taking the time to reading some of the recommendation I have for the school and hope that it allows our diligent administration to continue to do a phenomenal job.












 

Bibliography

 

  1. Nakkula, M. J., &; Toshalis, E. (2006). Understanding Youth: Adolescent Development for Educators. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press.

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

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

  4. http://pacecommons.org/bookmarks/view/5049/learning-theories-concept-map;

  5. http://cmapspublic3.ihmc.us/rid=1LGVGJY66-CCD5CZ-12G3/Learning%20Theory.cmap

 

ED 631 - Educational Psychology- Spring 2018

ED 631 - Educational Psychology- Spring 2018

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

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