This is amazing; however, I wonder how this would work in regard with noise level. Can students who need quiet be working in this kind of environment? I have seen this occurring in my classroom without collaborative student work. Without that piece, it works well. I wonder what would happen if collaborative student work should be added.
Page 2- “The room is very much in control as students function with a great deal of nine-year-old autonomy.”
I know in Montgomery this is what administration is looking for. My cooperating teacher has told me that a classroom should be able to run itself. I like what she does for the students. Whenever they have an assignment she puts “appetizers” (things they need to get done first), “entrees” (secondary assignments), and “desserts” (things they can do only if they finish their appetizers and entrees). She did say it is rare to get all the way down to desserts, but possible. Children are never asking what they should be doing next because of this. I am also glad that I am reading a book where I can learn how to accomplish this. This kind of classroom is amazing because students should learn to be independent and not rely on the teacher all the time. This will help them turn into successful, independent adults. I wonder if students have this type of classroom for only one year, will they be able to continue being independent even if their teacher next year is not successful in creating this kind of environment?
Page 2- “[Rules] help us handle the inevitable moments of upset and disorder as well.”
Bad situations can be opportunities for learning is handled with calmness and order.
Page 2-3 – “They must know how loud “indoor voices” can be. They must know what information they can find out from a globe. They must know how four people can share one globe and how to (and not to) handle it. They must know something of their classmates’ strengths and fragilities.”
I love this because first of all, students need to know each other in order to work successfully with each other. They must understand that everyone has strengths and weaknesses. They must learn to highlight each other’s strengths and work to improve weaknesses. With this, a classroom can be successful. To add to this, students also need to also know each other fully in order to make it a comfortable, happy community where friends are made and learning happens. When we do math in the classroom, my teacher will group students homogenously so they can help each other and it works very well. In regard to the first part, one of the biggest things that I have learned when working with young children is that you really need to explain everything. Children do not know what “indoor voices” are unless that is modeled and practiced. I sometimes forget because many things seem obvious to me because of my many experiences but those things are not obvious to children because they have not had those many experiences. My junior year practicum cooperating teacher has told me that when teaching we must explain everything, single, little, thing in order for young children to understand it.
Page 3- “Autonomy in a school setting means governing oneself with an awareness of the needs of the community. These needs vary – each year, each month, each week – according to the class composition students’ maturity, what our classroom space allows, and what materials we have to work with.”
The classroom is always changing and the students are always growing. A teacher needs to keep up with this. In the same way that our world is changing (ex. the use of technology is becoming more and more prevalent) a teacher needs to keep up with the times and with the students.
Page 3- “Each year, the details must be intentionally established during the first weeks, bit by specific bit, through definition and constant practice.”
I like the “bit by specific bit” part of this quote because to me, it seems very overwhelming everything we need to do during the first weeks of school; however, I see how important it is to go slow and teach children everything little by little. I need to remember not to rush things or overwhelm the children by trying to teach them too much at once. Everything needs to be taught slowly, practiced, and then on to the next. I think about this in the same way that I think about teaching math for example- every skill and lesson builds upon another but things can be confusing if taught too much and especially without practice.
Pages 4-5 “Intentions”
The intentions are so important that are listed on these pages. These are the elements in a classroom that will cause a classroom to be successful. If these things are not here: a tone of warmth and safety, known schedules and routines, introduction to the environment, and expectations, students cannot be successful. They need to feel comfortable because “learning involves taking risks and without feeling safe children will not take risks.” – Tracey Garrett. There also needs to be a sense of predictability so students do not feel vulnerable and they need to know what will be happening next. Students need to be aware of their environment and how it works so there is less fear and expectations need to be set high for students to reach (and feel capable of reaching).
Page 5- “We want them to consider and voice their hopes and goals for the school year and to help articulate a set of rules that will help each one achieve their individual hopes and goals.”
This is great because first of all, I as a teacher, want to make sure that I get to know my students and get to know what they want to accomplish in a year so I can help them achieve their hopes and goals. Students also need to be thinking about what they want to accomplish so they feel motivated for the year. I would also like students to share their hopes and goals for others to hear and add to their own and even maybe post it in the classroom to refer to at the end of the year. I would love to show the class where we came from, where we are and also how much more we accomplished than what we even wanted in the beginning. Also, once children are excited about their future, they will be more inclined to follow the rules in order to reach these goals. The only way to reach goals is by truly following the rules, which I believe, are more guidelines and should be called that rather than “rules”.
Page 13- “The social curriculum is as important as the academic curriculum.”
I completely agree with this. I believe that growing children into good people is just as important as teaching academics. Yes, we need an intelligent future but we also need a good, loving, caring one as well. If children are just focused on academics problems can occur. I had a placement where a child’s home life was not very warm and caring, instead very academic and that child was deeply harmed by this.
Page 13- “How children learn is as important as what they learn.”
I agree with this section because I see how important choice is. When children are given choices, they feel more in control and that their preferences matter. When given choices about anything, motivation is increased. Also, I like that the book here talked about children learning through their own discoveries. When children “do” things, often it is more memorable rather than just sitting and learning about it. When I took a class on behavior modification, yes I learned a lot, but when I was able to classically condition a mouse, all of my information that I learned came to life and I was able to both understand it better and explain it better as well. The problem however, is time. There is so much to learn but actually experiencing things takes a lot of time.
Page 14- “Knowing the children we teach is as important as knowing the content we teach.”
Content needs to be interesting and relevant to the children. We need to both know their likes and dislikes in order to teach content. Also, knowing the children means knowing their strengths and weaknesses in order to teach the content more effectively.
Page 14- “Children are always watching.”
Being a teacher means that you are a teacher always to students. This really hit me hard because children really are always watching and teachers are wonderful but do need to be careful at all times and always providing good examples.
Page 15- “Group activity”
Could I have some examples?
Page 15-16- “Guided discoveries”
When talking about guided discoveries, this book groups together children grades K-2. I think some of the guided discoveries were a little bit off. For example, children who are in kindergarten do need guided discoveries for a box of crayons but 2nd graders (I think) may not. Am I correct? I would think by 2nd grade children would have already had a lot of experience with crayons.
Page 19- “In any given period children might be working concurrently in one of the following areas: art, reading, math, writing, science, independent projects, or blocks.”
“There are many choices available for achieving this goal: playing games that use math skills; creating word problems for classmates to solve; activities such as sewing and building that require measuring.”
I like this choice period that students are given here. When I substitute in Princeton, the students had a period called “focus” where they had choice about what to do during that time. This was a time for band/orchestra practice for students who played an instrument and then if children did not, they stayed in the classroom and worked on a subject of choice. They could read, play educational games, or catch up on work. I like that this “free time” was still academic and it allowed students to do work that was enjoyable to them. This was at the end of the day and it gave students an opportunity to unwind and relax after a long day. The problem is, once again, time.
In order to fix this problem of time, I would love to provide perhaps a free club after school and do things such as theses or during afterschool care this is what students could do instead of just playing.
Page 19-20 - The creation of rules
I completely agree with teacher and student created rules. Students will definitely take more ownership of rules that they create and will be more inclined to follow them. Also, I believe that this creation process will force them to think about things that should and should not be happening in school; how they should be behaving. When I sub in different schools I like to take a look at the classroom I am in and take notes about how things are done there. One day, I was subbing in a classroom where the rules that they made were posted on a poster board and split up into four categories that the teacher made but the students beforehand seemed to write on post it notes what the rules should be. Later, they were sorted into the categories and the many rules that the students came up with were still under the category. I think I will do it that way! After that, I do believe these rules need to be modeled and practiced so there is no confusion about how the children should be behaving. Also, as a teacher, we need to compliment good behavior in order to reinforce what you want to be seeing.
Page 23-24- Logical Consequences
Reading this section was a bit of an “aha” moment for me. It makes so much sense now that I read it but if it is so obvious, why is it not more common?! Of course consequences need to be related to the behavior, respectful, and reasonable, so why are many consequences not that? Children need to know when they have done a bad behavior why it is wrong and work on fixing it. This should not call for punishment such as less recess time (unless they have done something do directly deserve that). How many times are children punished and they do not know what they did to deserve that? Yelling should also never be happening. Children should not be feeling bad because it is not our job to hurt them in any way, we should help them. If children think that you do not like them or are hurt by you, then will they be more successful in learning? I do not think so. Also, we need to remember that this is all a learning process for children. We cannot get frustrated or angry because they are still learning and growing.
Page 25 – Time out. “The teacher separated the child from the activity temporarily until the child is ready to participate in a positive way.”
When I was in my junior practicum, my teacher practiced a responsive classroom. When it came time for time out, she did it in a very good way. When a child was being disruptive, she said to the child “you may go back to your seat until you are ready to join us.” The child always went back, obviously did not enjoy being separated from the group and after some thought, returned to the group. After that, the disruptive behavior was gone. It was done so well because it did not make the child feel bad and it eliminated the behavior. It was all so positive!
Page 25-26 Quiet time
Once again, I worry there is not enough time in the day. Could this be similar to a “focus” period but in the middle of the day?