Reid- Final Proposal

Joanmarie Reid

Science Department, Living Environment

 

Dear ITAVA Administration,

 

     This semester, in my Educational Psychology class, I explored the topics of learning styles, student development, motivation, and classroom environment. I would like to propose a few changes to the school in order to help students thrive in ITAVA and their futures.

     Every Wednesday, I teach an advisory course of tenth grade students. I do not teach any of those students in a traditional academic setting, so often we have honest and open discussions without fear of judgement or a failing grade. Although we do cover the lessons provided in the Restorative Circles curriculum, we often discuss any issues that arise. In one lesson, the students were prompted to discuss a change that they would implement in the school. I was expecting my students to answer along the lines of shorter days and better lunches, but they were more concerned with their academics. There was an overwhelming fear that they will not be prepared for college. They are in the tenth grade and it is apparent that they do not know what they must do and the classes that they must take in order to be accepted into a college. In every lesson, the learning objectives should be clear and explicit- high school is no different. There needs to be more transparency and communication regarding students; concerns such as the requirements for graduation, what colleges are looking for in terms of useful classes, grades to maintain, and skills to master before college. I believe that it is necessary that advisory time will assist the children with their concerns, and the students are concerned about how high school will prepare for their future. Many students also expressed that they are not given the opportunity or means to explore career options. ITAVA would benefit greatly from a course or afterschool program that allows them to explore and get a feeling for different career paths.

     Administration has recently mandated that every teacher must assign their students to create a goal sheet. Goals are a great way to keep motivated and on track to accomplish a particular task. Goals can help to push students to strive, but these goal sheets are not helpful. The sheets have pre-planned goals so students just circle the seemingly easiest one available. Students are not creating meaningful and realistic goals, instead they are just doing paperwork. Checking a box that says the student will study vocabulary words will not hold him or her accountable for actually following through. Students need to be guided in creating an action plan to achieve their goal, covering when, how, and why they want to achieve this goal. Right now, the students have no connection to their goals, since they have no say in what their goal is. In order for students to become intrinsically motivated to achieve their goal, students be invested, which stems back the relevancy of the subject and their future.

     Motivation also stems from classroom and school culture. Students must feel welcome, accepted, and able to achieve. Sadly, students, 9th graders especially, have stigmatized certain classes or students in the class as being “dumb”. The staff at ITAVA must work shut down the notion that receiving extra help and services makes anyone dumb or less of a student. We must create a culture that embraces growth and acknowledges student work that shows effort or improvement. The classroom is a place where respect is non-negotiable, hard work is rewarded, and mistakes are seen as a path to improvement. Students should feel that they are included and appreciated for the work that they contribute in the class, and not just the grades on their report card.

     It is apparent from talking to my colleagues and seeing the lack of activity on Skedula, parental involvement is pretty much non existent in ITAVA. Parental outreach is scheduled into my week, but it is hard to actually implement. We must request the phone in the Ms, Raymond’s office, but she is often using it and there are usually students in her office. I usually use that time to update PupilPath, but less than half of the parents are registered with PupilPath, and only a handful of them check it regularly. This platform does not allow the parents to get the full picture on their students’ learning since it just lists the grades that the child received. It does not allow for a collaborative conversation about the child and the steps needed for future success in the class. I believe the teachers in my school would benefit greatly from training and guidance in how and when to conduct their parental outreach. In order to combat the problem of low parental involvement, teachers must have allotted time, resources, and training. We must work to increase family involvement and investment in ITAVA and their child’s academics. Schools and families must connect and collaborate to better ensure the success of the students. In order to create a more productive school environment, the staff must create a trusting culture that welcomes and encourages parents to become involved. The school-family relationship must be collaborative and conversational, and oriented to the students’ learning goals. These relationships can only be successful if it is uniform across all staff members and if families’ barriers are taken into consideration.

     ITAVA has a large, diverse student population with a variety of abilities and preferences. Students are all different, therefore they have their own needs and speeds of development- cognitively, socially, physically, and emotionally. These differences also translate to the classroom academically. Perhaps, during professional development or C-6 periods, teachers of similar classes can have scheduled time to meet and discuss the needs of their students. During this time, teachers can share strategies and scaffolds that they use to help certain students access the knowledge and content. This will allow teachers to gain a better understanding of their students, which will help to inform the teaching styles and tactics that teachers will use in their learning.

     Finally, resources are essential to a full educational experience. Living Environment can be an interactive and hands-on subject, yet we have little in the means of resources that allow my students to access this side of education. My students often ask about dissection labs and field trips, but they were not a reality with the budget. This must change. Real-world application of the content will increase the relevancy of the material. Students will have the opportunity to take learning outside of the classroom and recognize that their surroundings are full of new positive learning opportunities. As educators, we strive to make build students desire to learn in all aspects of their lives, but it is not realistic to expect this from the students without exposing them to learning outside of a traditional classroom.

Thank you for taking the time to consider these changes to improve ITAVA.

Sincerely, Joanmarie Reid

Resources:

Mapp, K. L., & Kuttner, P. J. (2013). Partners Education in A Dual Capacity-Building Framework for        Family–School Partnerships. Retrieved from https://www2.ed.gov/documents/family-community/partners-education.pdf

 

Seifert, K. (2011). Educational Psychology. The Open University of Hong Kong. Retrieved from http://www.opentextbooks.org.hk/ditabook/6118


 

    • Gerald Ardito
      Gerald Ardito

      Joanmarie,

      I found myself inspired by the boldness and directness of your proposals. You have clearly internalized the core concepts of our course and connected them powerfully with your teaching practice and your commitment to shape a learning environment that serves your students. 

      I hope you get a chance to share your proposal with your administrators. I will be very excited to hear what happens next.

       

    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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