The paths to "Eureka" moments: Teaching Mathematics in Secondary Education

Teacher Observation 1

 

Teacher Observation Reflection

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Setting: Middle School Math Classroom

The teacher I am working directly with, we will call him Mr. T, demonstrates excellent teaching techniques and classroom management methodology.

Mr. T primarily uses differentiated instruction to enable the students to take ownership and responsibility for their own learning. The format of his class period might start with a 10min instructional period where he provides students with new material, then 15-20min of collaborative work on assigned problems (while he formatively assesses and answers questions while working with struggling students). After this, he would have 10min for students to demonstrate their work to the class on the projector, and finally the remaining time will be spent getting feedback (exit slips) and answering or asking questions. This format is student centered and very much follows a differentiated instructional approach.

Mr. T pushes students to take ownership of their learning by insisting and reminding them to ask questions, to see him during lunch for further clarification, and come talk to him after class if necessary. He teaches them to ask specific questions, slow the teacher down, and “manage the teacher” instead of allowing the teacher to “manage the student”. Furthermore, he sets high expectations for them. They are to bring their own supplies, (i.e. calculator, ruler, pencil) in this way, preparing for their learning. Students are also required to take notes and write key terms and important ideas in their math journals. By requiring students to practice good note-taking, Mr. T is preparing them for their future high school classrooms. He will sometimes stop the “math lesson” to discuss a reason for the classroom norms and how they will help the students in their future lives. For example, Mr. T has said, “Ladies and gentlemen, I see a lot of people looking down at their notebooks or out the window and Student1 is answering one of my questions. Now, here, the expectation is that when someone is talking, you look at them. You do this to not only hear what they are saying, but to show them honor. In this way, you communicate your respect for them and what they have to say.” Discussions like these are a proactive approach to classroom management. In this scenario, Student1 was talking, and while the other students were not talking over Studen1, they were not paying attention to what was being said. Mr. T uses opportunities like these to reiterate the classroom norms and to encourage positive behavior. Additionally, Mr. T takes the time to provide positive feedback when students are demonstrating the desired classroom behavior. For example, the other day a very shy student (Student2) raised her hand to ask a question during an instructional segment of the lesson. Mr. T stopped and thanked the student for asking the question. Later, as Student2 was working during a collaborative work time, Mr. T made it a point to go tell the student that he was proud of her. When she asked why, he simply said he was proud she had been brave enough to ask him a question.

So then, Mr. T uses his teaching time and classroom norms to create a positive environment of where the students are responsible for their own learning.

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