Case 1245: Enabling Students to Communicate Successfully
While searching through different Atlas observations, I was very drawn to this one in particular as communication is a valuable skill that is taught within the field of education. Teaching effective communication skills to our students instills an ability to express our thoughts and feelings to those around us. Having a sound ability to communicate not only provides students success in the classroom, but an ability to bring those skills to their professional career. When reading the description of this lesson, it seems as though the teacher is providing a lesson on the development of communication skills through teaching appropriate posture and body language, voice, and clarity. As a future School Psychologist, I myself have very little experience working directly in a school, so I have always been curious how teachers do this. The question I asked myself going into this observation was, How does this educator teach effective communication skills to their students? The lesson I observed was a first-grade classroom, with ages ranging from 6-7 years old.
One of the first things I observed was the positive atmosphere. He initially started by showing the class a video of Barack Obama’s State of the Union Address and asking the class to point out his tone of voice, his body language, and how he was visually engaged to his audience. I think a great way to teach communication is to provide appropriate examples, and the inclusion of this video was a great idea! I really appreciated his inclusion of their “2,4,6,8 inch” speaking voice rule, differentiating a normal and public speaking voice. He went through each one, providing examples of each, in order for them to decide the tone of the President’s voice. After the video lesson, the students were given the opportunity to work in partners to construct their own presidential speech that they presented to the rest of the class. They were instructed to use an appropriate public speaking voice and engage in eye contact to bring in their audience. After each presentation, the rest of the class gave constructive feedback on what they did well and how they could improve.
After completing the observation, I found that the inclusion of social interaction is a huge component of developing a strong set of communication skills. I really enjoyed watching this observation and feel the teacher did a great job providing each student an opportunity to practice basic communication skills. Overall, I am able to conclude that the teacher successfully provided students an ability to develop strong skills through engagement in peer interaction, which can arguably have a massive impact on one’s ability to effectively communicate.
Case 586: Building Classroom Community Through the Study of Chinese Art and Culture
Throughout this semester, I have been very interested in how teachers implement culturally relevant pedagogy into their classroom. We recently read an article in class by Gloria Ladson-Billings to address this. When coming across this specific observation, I was very intrigued as it may seek to answer my question, What does a culturally relevant classroom look like? And How are teachers providing an opportunity to indulge in different cultures. Furthermore, how does this impact the atmosphere of the classroom? Before starting the observation, I was able to take note that this was a second grade classroom that consisted of 12 Caucasian, 7 African American, and 1 Asian student. This initially stood out to me as within my personal experiences in education, I was never directly exposed to different cultures as my school was predominantly white, however we did learn about many different cultures.
This observation was a bit different than the others I have watched, as it does not provide direct lecture or instruction from the teacher. Instead, the teacher is rotating around stations; each focusing on different aspects of Chinese Art and Culture. Some activities included building a 3 D map of China and comparing cultures using Venn-diagrams. One of the first things that stuck out to me was the fascination that the students had in learning about the Chinese culture. They seemingly enjoyed all of the activities that were provided and were very curious, as I noted many of them asking questions to learn more. The climate of the classroom was very positive, and I was very impressed with how the instructor was able to multitask and meet student’s individual needs with her thorough attentiveness. As mentioned in the previous observation, one of my favorite things to observe in the classroom is peer interaction. Here, the students were able to facilitate conversations and build relationships within the classroom community while becoming enriched in Chinese Culture.
Previously I had mentioned Gloria Ladson-Billings Culturally Relevant Pedagogy, and I sought to answer the question of what a culturally relevant classroom looks like and how this impacts the atmosphere of the classroom. Based on my observations, it seems this teacher did a fantastic job of including a culturally relevant pedagogy into her classroom curriculum. The teacher presented a new culture to the class, which gave them an opportunity to explore one different than maybe their own. Culturally relevant pedagogy allows one to think critically and potentially challenge opposing aspects of culture. Throughout this video, it reminded me of a similar experience I had in I believe the second (or maybe third) grade. In my classroom, each student was given the opportunity to choose a country and we went to the library to check out a book to read about our country. We “researched” different components of their culture, such as the food, religion, language, traditions, etc. We had a presentation day where we created a booth with pictures and different things that represented our chosen country’s culture. I remember my country was Sweden; I painted a big Swedish flag to display, had pictures of maps, and gave them the opportunity to try some Swedish cuisine. I don’t remember everything about the culture I presented, but I remember learning so much from my peers about other cultures. Similar to the observation, I was able to build cultural awareness through the involvement of the classroom community. To conclude, I genuinely respected this teacher’s approach of exposing her young students to different cultures to build cultural awareness.
Case 1155: Analyzing Social Interaction to Develop Perspectives about Changes in Society
As a future School Psychologist, I must be aware of the changing society around us and how it can have an impact on education. Specifically, we must learn to adapt to these changes and teach our students how to do so as well. As I do not have much personal experience working within the school walls, I often find myself asking the question; How can we prepare student’s for changes in society? I was very intrigued as I came across this observation as I was hopeful to gain better insight on how we can use education to prepare our students for societal change. I feel it is very important that we as educational professionals, supply an opportunity to think critically and have open discussions about changes in society and how these changes will potentially influence the future.
This observation took place in a tenth grade AP History class, where the instructor engaged her students in discussion on social interaction and how it relates to the Industrial Era (Protest Movements). Specifically, the students were tasked with researching how individuals interact in order to build perspectives on how and why people act the way they do. With the research they collected, they were to construct a strong thesis statement as the assignment. One thing that stuck out to me in particular was the challenge that the teacher imposed on her students. She asked them questions such as, “What actions have been taken to make these changes?” and “What would you do to combat these evils of the Industrial Era?” I think that in order to prepare students to adapt to change, they must insert themselves into the situation and observe how it could affect them. This was a perfect opportunity for students to take a step back and think critically on the social issues they were researching.
I felt this was a very effective observation and was impressed with the instructors consistent interaction and feedback. Specifically, I noticed she validated many ideas and provided positive feedback that allowed them to take their ideas further. I also noted that she allowed students to work in small groups to complete the assignment. I think this is a great approach, as it allowed students to work collaboratively to share opinions and beliefs on social issues. Discussing social issues can be a challenge, and unfortunately it is often left out of discussion. It is so important that we are aware of social issues; we simply cannot ignore them. Overall, I felt that this observation provided me insight on how creating a positive environment that allows students to express their thoughts and feelings can prepare them for societal change.
Case 203: Determining the Influence of Media on American Culture and Stereotypes
I was immediately drawn to this observation as I have recently found myself challenging and questioning the impact that media puts on students. I am personally interested in the development of behavior in children; I wonder specifically about how ideas presented within the media “model” behaviors, furthermore, have a direct impact on a child’s behavior. This observation seems to go one step further in discussing the influence media has on our culture and specifically, the generation of stereotypes. As a young woman, I have personally never been faced with much diversity in terms of culture. I find this as a misfortune; it was not until I pursued a higher education degree where I was exposed to diverse populations. This culture shock was very a very eye-opening experience, as I was able absorb all the beautiful cultures the world has to offer. Throughout this course, we have learned about cultural bias within the field of education. In turn, leading me on a journey exploring the field of education. I am a future school psychologist, and this course has prepared me for a life in education. The current state of our country has a direct impact on education so it is critical I am aware of hardships my students may face as a result of culture stereotyping and racism. With that said, going into the observation I asked the question: How can I help my students identify when there is bias in situations and furthermore, how can I provide them the opportunity to challenge stereotypes they may encounter?
I immediately observed that the students were identifying cultural and racial stereotypes in movies that we all have grown up watching. An interesting question that the teacher asked her students was “did you ever realize that when you first watched Cinderella or the Lion King? As I expected, a lot of them replied “no”. I myself did not recognize this at a young age, which solidifies the impact that Media instills in reinforcing these cultural and racial stereotypes. It almost seems as though these platforms (i.e., Disney) force conformity to these hidden stereotypes. To elaborate on this, they continue discussion of how there is no democracy in Disney movies. As a matter of fact there is no democracy in marketing or the media. The teacher brought up an interesting point: Why fix what’s not been broken? Disney in particular, was never challenged to dismiss these racial stereotypes they were projecting, therefore, they didn’t.
I felt that this lesson was a very intuitive and allowed me to learn a lot throughout the observation. I deeply respected the way that the instructor implemented discussion of cultural and racial bias. I think that having the students watch childhood favorites and identify hidden stereotypes was a perfect way to allow her students to recognize and further challenge these problems we see. I think first and foremost, we must educate our students on stereotypes and the results they produce. Overall, I have taken away the importance of having deep and meaningful conversations with my students. Discussing these stereotypes with my students is a simple answer to the question I imposed going into the observation. Once we are able to recognize these stereotypes, I hope to instill and model equality to my students, as well as an ability to self-reflect on how these stereotypes may impact their lives. I hope that ultimately, my students presume a perspective of cultural competence; a shared trait among all individuals to directly challenge these stereotypes with intention to make a change.
Case 787: Creating Social Stories to Better Understand School Expectations
This observation resonated in me as it delves into some of the work I will be doing as a School Psychologist. It was noted that this educational professional was working hands-on with a young student who struggles with social relationships due to his difficulty with emotion regulation. As I began the observation, I immediately noticed the materials they were using and the atmosphere of the room. To help this student learn better coping strategies, she helped him in making a “choice book” that teaches him different ways to react in certain situations. To do this, the teacher provided him appropriate materials (pictures, binder, other reference materials, etc) to construct this book. Throughout the amount of training I have received in the School Psych program, I have specifically been exposed to modern day technology as a tool of data collection. This small amount of experience has instilled just how positive and beneficial the use of technology can be. However, we still have to recognize and implement a hands-on approach within our practices. Before going further into the observation, I asked myself the question: How does this professional demonstrate effective hands-on learning techniques within delivery of special education services?
Implementing a hands-on teaching approach allows students to develop independent ideas and develop creative, critical thinking skills. Additionally, it is an engaging method of learning in which students can visualize their thoughts and increase problem solving ability. Interestingly, this observation uses hand on learning to directly aid in the development of this students. problem-solving skills. For example, they brainstormed scenarios that may require a difficult decision to make, and she guided him in developing positive ways to react to these situations. This observation was different than all of the other lessons I observed. How so? This was a one-on-one lesson, where the others were clearly a large group/classroom setting. I observed this student to have a more positive experience in this type of setting, as it was noted that he struggles in larger groups. Overall, I feel as though this lesson was successful in answering the question I imposed going into the observation. The teacher was effectively demonstrating a hands-on learning approach by giving him the opportunity to be creative and use materials to create a book that will act as a tool in further development of problem solving and decision making skills.
Direct Links to ATLAS Observations:
Case 1245 https://atlas.nbpts.org/cases/1245/
Case 586 https://atlas.nbpts.org/cases/586/
Case 1155 https://atlas.nbpts.org/cases/1155/
Case 203 https://atlas.nbpts.org/cases/203/
Case 787 https://atlas.nbpts.org/cases/787/