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Habit 3

To be perspective-takers, seeking out, valuing and incorporating different viewpoints and positions about learners, learners, learning, teaching and subject matter.

Teaching, like the federal government, is a series of checks and balances. Each teacher is not only responsible for making sure that he or she is effective, but also making sure that his or her peers are also the most effective teachers that they can be. In Albion Public Schools, grade level teachers meet as a team to discuss the progress of the students regularly throughout the year.

As a student, I was not aware of the traumatic effect that ineffective teachers can have on students. Students that are exposed to ineffective teachers take three years to make up for the ground lost in that one year. This is a very serious matter and after hearing that I have come to understand and appreciate the work that the first grade team does. Each teacher is not only responsible for her classroom, but they also meet on a regular basis to check the progress of the others. They compare test scores on quarterly assessments to make sure that each teacher is being effective or discuss ways in which they can improve their tests or their teaching strategies. In some cases, they will even track students that have had a particular student to make sure they not only excelled in first grade, but also in second grade.

As a teacher candidate, I have learned to heavily rely on the experiences of the teachers in the Albion school system. Most of these teachers have countless years of experience and are more than happy to lend me a hand or a piece of advice. Many of these teachers know the family background of the students, which is vital to the understanding of each student’s needs. If you know where a student comes from and his or her family life, it is much easier to understand how to get them to where they need to be.

During teacher conferences, I met with a mother who was very concerned about her child. She was in tears because he was not performing as well as she had hoped that he would. Throughout the conference she shared with us that she was not only new to Albion, but she had also had this student when she was 15. Her work schedule does not allow her to be home when her son is home and her son stays with his grandma after school. Grandma, however, cannot help this student with his homework because she cannot read or write. It then made sense why the student struggle in school, because he is not putting in the time necessary at home to excel. Mrs. Strope and I talked to the mother and gave her several resources for her to help her son including word and number flashcards.

It was interesting to hear the mother’s and Mrs. Stropes perspective because this is one of the students in my Action Research. Through my research, I have found that he responds well to positive reinforcement. According to the research that I have done, children’s self-efficacy is significantly effected by positive reinforcement. In the case of this student, one day of positive reinforcement carries over for several days. His self-confidence is boosted and he remains closer to being on task. This research was not only confirmed by scholarly articles, but also by the boy’s mother. She said that when working one on one, he is able to focus and get work done. The time, during which I was giving positive reinforcement, I was often working closely with the student.

In order to understand and best help this child, it took multiple perspectives including his mother, experienced teachers and professional journals. In math, as a first grade team, we reassessed how we teach the materials that the students struggled in and he was one of the students. We also looked at how we could better word the test questions to better assess what we were looking for.

The final step that we took was to create small skill groups to target areas for re-teaching. This will also affect students like this one. As a team, we will work to provide the proper interventions for students after gathering information from each other, parents and the students themselves. As a team, we will meet regularly to discuss the progress that the various students are making. At that time we will be able to reevaluate and change the programs to best meet the needs of the students if their needs are not being met.

In the future, I hope to take the mentality of checks and balances with me to my new school. It is so important that not only are you monitoring your won work, but that you are constantly in communication with others for the well-being of your students. The student teaching seminar has saved me a lot of time and huge headaches, by simply listening to the experiences of the others. As a teacher I hope not only to continue to learn from the sources around me, but also to add to knowledge base of other teachers.

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