Classroom Management Strategies (FEAP 3 Instructional Delivery and Facilitation)
I chose to observe at Yogi (fictitious) Elementary for this EPI class. I observed at a middle/high school in my last EPI class and I wanted to have experience with observing various grades. Yogi Elementary has one art teacher for kindergarten through 5th grade with approximately 20-25 students in each class. The classes rotate every 6 days and each class is 40 minutes long. So the classes she has on Monday she will not see again until the following Tuesday, that equals about 4 class periods a month for each class. The homeroom teacher brings the students to and from the art classroom each period.
1st period= 4th grade
2nd period= 5th grade
3rd period= 2nd grade
30 minute lunch
4th period= 1st grade
5th period= Kindergarten
6th period=3rd grade
The art teacher at Yogi Elementary, let’s call her Mrs. Gina, used similar classroom control strategies for all 6 of her classes. Yogi Elementary school utilizes a “give me 5” classroom control strategy. The way it works is when any teacher says “give me five” kids immediately raise their hands and get quiet. The “give me 5” stands for five rules: 1) Eyes on speaker, 2) Lips closed, 3) Ears listening, 4) Sit up straight, 5) Hands and feet quiet. These give me five rules are on a laminated poster displayed on a cabinet in the back of the art room so students can see them. Mrs. Gina used the “give me 5” strategy multiple times in all six of her classes and it worked very well in all of them. Another vocal strategy she used to get students attention was to say “Hello, I need all eyes on me so I know you’re paying attention” Although, this appeared more time consuming it also worked. She also utilized a “thumbs up” to confirm students understanding quietly. If Mrs. Gina wants to confirm students heard an instruction or understood a concept and were listening, Mrs. Gina would say “thumbs up for yes” and look for all students to raise their hands up in the air with a “thumbs up”. If a student did not raise his/her thumb, Mrs. Gina would keep a close eye on the student as the project proceeded or would stop and asked them what they did not understand. As a verbal warning, Mrs. Gina also used clap patterns where she would clap a pattern and have students repeat it to get their attention when they were too loud. Mrs. Gina appeared to have to use “give me 5”, “clap patterns”, and “thumbs up” more times in the 40 minute classes with the younger aged students than with the older. Mrs. Gina often lined students up to leave the classroom by having the quietest table line up first. Mrs. Gina would also say “eyes up here” to get students attention or have students follow her lead. For example: She said “eyes up here” and then continued with: Sharpie’s up, top off, name on paper, period 3, sharpies top back on, look up here. Students would often repeat her statements and do as she did. She would often say to classes getting too loud that, “there is too much talking and not enough working.”
Mrs. Gina reminds older students of the number one rule of her class, which is to come in and sit down quietly. When younger students were in a line ready to enter the room Mrs. Gina would either tell students four at a time which table they should occupy, or would stand by the room door and tell students as they walked in to come in and sit down quietly. The older students had less trouble choosing a seat than the younger students who often fought over which seat they wanted. Mrs. Gina’s reminders of rule one as students enter seemed to work well in getting students seated and ready to listen quickly. Mrs. Gina has 5 classroom rules: 1) Enter room QUIETLY, 2) SIT in your seat, 3) Raise your hand to ASK or ANSWER a question, 4) Use INDOOR voices, 5) Share material. These rules are written on a poster board displayed on the door to the materials closet in the room. This door is located directly in front of her art classroom door, so as students walk in they immediately see it. They were not posted in the front of the room like many of the current readings for this class suggest, but there appeared to be thought put into the placement of the classroom rules and it seemed to work well as students could see them as they walked into the room. Mrs. Gina said when asked how she came up with the classroom rules, that her rules were made up out of necessity, since she has been teaching for many years and experience had taught her the rules that were needed in order to ensure sanity and safety in the classroom. Mrs. Gina also had rules for the sink posted on laminated poster board on the paper towel dispenser located right beside the sink. These rules included: 1) two people per sink at any given time (two sinks=4 people total), and 2) turn water off when not in use to conserve water.
In terms of dealing with behavior issues, Mrs. Gina told a student in one class that was talking consistently to move to a seat at the front of the room. The student complained and asked why and Mrs. Gina said, “you will do better work here”. The student moved and did much better there than he was doing in his original chosen seat. If students started to get too rowdy during the class, Mrs. Gina would ask if they needed to go back and sit by themselves. In her second grade class one student was having trouble staying quiet and staying seated so she took his paper away for 3 minutes and told him to put his head down. After the three minutes, she then told him that he could come back to a table in the back to continue working on his piece if he felt he could be quiet and stay seated. The student definitely calmed down once he moved. Mrs. Gina had five different students today out of her 6 classes sit at a table by themselves for behavior issues or move seats. As much as she walked around the room there wasn’t really a front but she appeared to move students to seats where she knew they would not talk to the other students at the table. This worked to correct students getting rowdy or out of control all 5 times. Also, in her second grade class the students got really loud toward the last five minutes so she had them clean up a few minutes early and then asked them to put their heads down and just chill for 4 minutes till there teacher came. She said I’m looking for the quietest table to line up first. In this same class at one point it was so loud she asked a student to read what rule number 4 was for the class (Indoor voices). A student read it aloud and the class quieted down.
Mrs. Gina was very good about observing students as they worked and moved around the room in between tables consistently helping students with questions and confirming everyone was on the same page and working. Mrs. Gina would also stop to help those students who were stumped or needed some advice or suggestions. At one point Mrs. Gina was ready to give students the next step in the creating process so she said, “Boys and girls I really like the progress you are making, here’s the next step, (she paused) are you listening?” Mrs. Gina waited for the students to all look at her with anticipation before verbalizing the next step. When Mrs. Gina felt the need to correct an issue she observed while walking around the tables she would say, “Give me five” as soon as the students were quiet she said, “it is getting too loud in here. I cannot talk to my students. As I am looking around, there’s too much water on your brush; make sure you’re drying the brush before putting it in paint again.” Mrs. Gina would also reiterate rules when dealing with specific supplies. An example of this was when she began to set out colored paint trays at each table. She asked the class, “What are the rules for using multiple colors of paint with one brush?” Many students replied but she reiterated that students were to clean their brush in the water cups on their tables and dry them on the paper towels on their tables before dipping the brush into another color.
When it was time to clean up Mrs. Gina would say, “put your paint brushes in your water cups and look at me. Put your paint brushes in the water cups even if you don’t want to and look at me.” Once she had the students’ attention and got them to stop what they were working on she said, “Ok, next time we are going to finish the backgrounds on these paintings so put them carefully onto the drying racks. I want one person from each table to rinse out the water cups and brushes and another person from the table needs to put the trays of paint back on the back table where you found them. Once that’s done and your painting is on the drying rack, come back to your seat and sit down. Now go.” She left 3 minutes after clean-up to go over today’s main ideas, which happened to be the Fauvism painting style. Mrs. Gina went over a quick history stating things such as, “artists who used this style were also known as wild beasts from the 1800’s”, she explained that these were artists who broke away from the tradition by using bright colors etc. One class had trouble getting back to their seats quietly and quickly after she had released the students to clean up so she said, “ I need everyone in their seats in 3”. She began counting down and by 3 all students were in their seats. Once she began counting students began to move more quickly. Right before the teacher opened the door to collect her students Mrs. Gina said, “Good class today, give yourselves a pat on the back. Now whose fish has whimsical qualities? How was the brush stroke style you used today?” Some student’s answered, many did not.
Mrs. Gina used student helpers in each class to pass out supplies and pick them up. She would often say I need the most responsible person sitting at your table to come get a water cup or come get a crayon box for your table. Other times she would hand stacks of paper to two students and ask them to pass them out to everyone. Mrs. Gina gave every class, time checks such as, “you guys have 15 minutes left or 5 minutes till clean-up and we will finish up next time, etc.
Classroom Structures (FEAP 2 Learning Environment)
Mrs. Gina’s classroom structure gave space for students to work and allowed her space to walk around and in between tables to view all the students equally. The table set up was great in that it provided space for three to four students to sit and work at together, which meant they could also share materials as they were placed in the center of the tables. The tables were positioned so that no student had to turn their chair around to face the front of the room where Mrs. Gina did most of the demonstrating, lecturing, and where the projection screen was located. This made for easy transitions from instruction to working. This also allowed Mrs. Gina to see every student from almost anywhere in the room, so she could quickly tell who was paying attention. The structure of the room also worked well because the drying rack was not near the sinks, where water could potentially spill on them. Items were organized in the room logically. The sinks are in the back of the room away from all of the tables so students could not quickly get to them or spend too much time by them without the teacher noticing. The items were arranged in a manner which made for good flow in the classroom so all the students were never crowded around a specific area of the room for too long.
The closet doors were labeled but not the supplies. Mrs. Gina sets out all of the supplies. The students rarely if ever get their own supplies, and when they do it’s usually scissors or pencils which are sitting out on the back cabinet within easy reach of every age group. The materials are organized in containers or jars and students can easily see what the containers hold. Because Mrs. Gina gets all supplies out herself, I do not see a huge issue with her materials not being labeled, although I suppose her paints and other materials should be labeled with a date. Again organization of materials and the classroom will not be an issue for me because I am adamant about organization in my life and I have always been an organized person.
Little to no time was spent on “house-keeping chores”. Since the homeroom teacher brought students to and from the art classroom, attendance was already taken for the day and the only announcements made by Mrs. Gina dealt with the status of projects like when clay projects were coming out of the kiln, and usually those statements were followed with a general statement about what the students would be doing that day. The class periods are 40 minutes in length. The first 5-10 minutes are used for housekeeping chores and introducing the lesson or project. The next 25 minutes was studio time, and the last 4-5 minutes was clean up and reviewing information. Mrs. Gina would give random time checks for each of her classes to make sure students knew how much time they had left to complete what they were doing. Mrs. Gina gave approximately 3-5 minutes clean up time and part of that time involved asking students open ended questions to confirm their understanding of concepts or ask their opinion on specific aspects of the project. In between class transitions at one point, Mrs. Gina’s stated that in her experience if you spend too much time discussing artists and movements and the background of your lesson, you lose the students, because all they really want is to “DO”! She also said that they learn by just doing something even if it isn’t entirely what you envisioned. Her second grade class is the only period where she had a little dead time towards the end. This appeared to occur because the students were so loud and rowdy that she had them clean-up a bit early and put their heads down and chill a few minutes. Every other class she timed clean-up and lining up to leave perfectly for when the classes homeroom teacher arrived at the door to get them.
An art lesson presented to fourth grade today was about Fauvism. Mrs. Gina started by showing the students a youtube video of an artist painting a woman in fauvism style. When students were seated Mrs. Gina explained that today they would be painting a fish in fauvism style and that she was going to show them a video demonstrating the style of painting she wanted them to try. She then showed the students the video. The students had just finished making a fish out of clay the last class period, so she was continuing the theme of fish. She also told me that underwater life interested the students greatly. Finally, she mentioned that under the sea and animal habitats would be part of their science classes in the near future. As the students watched the video Mrs. Gina would comment about how the artist was holding the brush lightly, using the tip of the brush to make thin lines and pushing harder on the brush to make thicker lines. The students were excited about the video, making statements such as “wow” “are you kidding me”, and a few of the students said, “She’s naked”. At first the woman being painted in the video appeared to be nude but once the painting was complete and the students saw the end result they realized that the woman had on a dress. The video was a big hit in getting students excited about what they would be doing. After the video was over she had two students pass out paper to everyone and asked for the most responsible student at each table to come get a tray of black paint to take back to their table. Mrs. Gina used Styrofoam lunch trays as painting trays for the students; this showed her resourcefulness as well as her environmental awareness. Another student passed out brushes and Mrs. Gina brought water cups to each of their tables. She then taped a piece of white paper to the white board and demonstrated what the students should be doing. Many of the students copied her initial outline of the black fish she drew on her paper. At first I thought this wasn’t great as much of the literature and discussions in this class have taught that having students copy your movements or recreate the same art is not creative. However, Mrs. Gina mentioned in passing that having students copy her did force the students to utilize hand-eye coordination. They all painted the fish differently with numerous colors using the brush techniques presented in the video, so all wasn’t lost and even though the students copied her fish they still looked very different. It appeared the lesson objective was to show students a new kind of painting technique, give a brief history of the fauvism style, and allow kids to paint, which is a medium they love to use. At the end of the class before they left the room Mrs. Gina wrote the word fauvism on the board and said do you know another word for fauvism artists? She wrote, “Wild Beasts” on the board to grab their attention. She also mentioned that this was a style from the 1800’s and that these artists were not always liked because they drifted from the norm. She explained that it was just a different type of painting style and that it had its moments of popularity and moments of not being popular just like any style. This was a good review.
The materials used throughout her six classes were crayons, black sharpies, white paper, Manila paper, Stoneware clay, kiln, tempera paint, tempera wash, paint brushes, paper cutter, clay slab roller, drying rack, colored pencils, clay shaping tools like plastic knives and skewers, water, marbles, clay slab roller, paper towels, clear plastic bins, and pencils. Throughout the lesson Mrs. Gina walked around to confirm students were all on the right page and understood the objectives. When students were straying from the topic, she would guide them back by asking questions and making suggestions such as, “Fred, I know you like to draw small but today’s the day to go big, what’s the saying go big or go home.” “What else would be in a lake?” “You’re using a bit too much water on your brush here; make sure you’re drying your brush before dipping it into a new color of paint.” Mrs. Gina also held up a few examples of students work and said things like, “ look how Andrew is using the edge of his crayon to make lines and do this” When she saw students were trying to perfect something already finished she would get them back on task because they had to finish the project that day by saying things such as, “ Don’t work on what’s there, add to it.” Her evaluation appeared to be based on student participation and positive attitude. She also said that she knows which students do what and who works hard vs. who doesn’t and their grades are based on numerous projects and time frames instead of day to day work, because some kids just have bad days. She did have a rubric located at the front of her room but it did not appear that she has a rubric for each project and just mentioned that she gives out progress reports with O for outstanding and S for satisfactory throughout the year.
Accommodating Student Diversity (FEAP 6 Professional Responsibility and Ethical Conduct)
It is disappointing, and yet somehow understandable at the same time, that teachers should be so uneducated about students with disabilities in their classrooms. Yogi Elementary has 5 students so far who have been mainstreamed into the art classroom that I have seen in just the two days I have observed. These are students who are either in a wheel chair, are ADHD, or who are high or mid functioning autistic. These students enter the class with the other students just as many schools are attempting to mainstream the students. This is a highly debated topic. There are those who think that mentally and physically learning disabled should be included and mainstreamed into regular classrooms with all students. There is another group of people who feel they should be separated so that they may have different methods and forms of instruction conducive to their learning styles. I tend to agree with both. I feel these students do need special instruction and deserve the same quality education of any other student. However, because of the need for special instruction and attention there is an enormous challenge faced by any teacher in providing the time and attention needed to meet the individual needs of 20 some odd students in a class. I went to a private middle school that catered to students with learning disabilities. These classes had no more than 10 students in a class and every teacher was special education certified. There are lots of differences between that school and public schools, but if a teacher can teach to 10 students all with special needs and individualized attention I have to believe that a teacher with 20 students and only 1 or 2 students needing special attention should be able to accommodate their needs. One of the classes I observed today had an autistic child who’s IEP stated he needed an assistant. This assistant accompanied the student to and from the class and helped keep the student focused, working separately with him while Mrs. Gina attended the other students. This appeared to work well, but obviously not every student that needs such attention has an additional person assigned to him/her. There were also students in the class who helped those learning disabled students without specifically being assigned the task. This also proved to be very helpful.. The students noticed the special needs student getting frustrated or asking for help and before the teacher could get to them, the student was helping and showing the special needs student the correct behaviors and techniques. The furniture in the room was not moved or rearranged, as every student can see from their seat because of the purposeful placement of the tables in the room. The teacher did move the chair out of the way so the student in the wheel chair could just roll up to the table instead of having to move a chair first. This possibility showed some planning on the part of someone, as desks are frequently not at the appropriate height to accommodate a wheelchair.
Some of the topics and interests of students that Mrs. Gina has incorporated into the art class so far are dragons, pizza, and sea life. These are topics most elementary students are all too familiar with and based on responses and the energy emerging from the classroom projects I would say that Mrs. Gina incorporates lots of ideas and interests of the students. Mrs. Gina said that many of these ideas come from topics she has heard classroom teachers’ mention as topics and some of the ideas come from years of teaching and knowing what grasps students’ attention. Mrs. Gina’s third graders make ceramic pizzas and paint them with tempera paint. She says she has students that in second grade come up and say that next year they will get to make pizza. It’s like a rite of passage and clearly something the students anticipate with joy and excitement.
Mrs. Gina did not appear to change her instruction, motivation, or materials for students with disabilities. She told me last week that one day she could not get an autistic child to stop playing with the water at the sink. She tried once to get him back to his seat and make some art, but he wouldn’t do it. She finally gave up and said something to the effect of, “If he wanted to play in the water for 40 minutes, I just let him, I wasn’t going to abandon the other 19 students in the class to keep messing with him.” I understand her logic, and I understand the difficulty in such a task as discussed above, but it’s unfortunate that such circumstances exist. Mrs. Gina mentioned that one of her autistic students is often very loud and she will say to him, “Hi Fred, you’re getting a little too loud, can you try to talk quieter?” Often times she said Fred will reply with a, “Okay!” just as loudly as he was talking before. It appears she makes attempts, but if she tries once and it doesn’t work she lets it go.
Mrs. Gina stated that she never officially finds out what the particular student needs or situation exists with special need students. At the beginning of the year each homeroom teacher gives the art teacher a class list that identifies which students in the class are “mainstreamed” from special education classes. These are students who spend some of their day in special education classrooms but join the rest of the students as often as possible throughout the day. Occasionally informal conversations will occur between the homeroom teacher and Mrs. Gina about the specifics of the student’s situation or needs, but only if she initiates it. As mentioned above, the students who have IEP’s stating they need assistants in classes have a hired assistant that accompanies them to each class.
Mrs. Gina has mentioned multiple times that she understands and acknowledges that many students in her classes are ESOL and therefore do not understand many of the instructions being given in class. Mrs. Gina has also commented many times on how specific students have improved greatly in their art over time and much of that comes from developing a greater understanding of the English language throughout the year.
Student Feedback (FEAP 4 Assessment)
Endeavor Elementary does not administer student evaluations for students to evaluate teachers or classroom content. Mrs. Gina believes that if they did it would be giving students too much freedom. Mrs. Gina did say that they will give 5th grade students exit slips to comment on aspects of curriculum content at the end of the year, but that’s about it. Mrs. Gina said that its when she hears comments in class such as, “This is fun!” that she feels validated and knows how students would evaluate her lessons and curriculum.
I have observed a great relationship between Mrs. Gina and her students. She talks with them, laughs with them, asks them if something is wrong when she notices they’re having a rough day or aren’t acting like themselves, but at the same time expects a lot from them. Mrs. Gina does some lecturing at the beginning of new lessons, but mentioned to me that if you spend too much time talking about the big ideas you lose them, because all they want is to “DO”. Mrs. Gina, however, does a great job of asking open-ended questions throughout the lesson. The students sit at tables of four, so every project requires the sharing of materials, which are often placed in the center of the tables. She also had the students come up to a table in the back in groups of 4 to participate in a marble painting project. She split them into small groups because she had a limited number of bins in which to roll the marbles. This worked well for small group work and the students commented on each other’s painting as they worked, saying things like, I like that color or yours looks great.
Mrs. Gina often takes their finished drawings or paintings and tapes them up to a white board at the front of her class. She then either calls students up one at a time to talk about their piece and describe it or she asks the class as a whole to share their feelings on the pieces looking at all of them as a whole. Mrs. Gina would call one student up to talk about their piece and then ask that student to pick a piece hung on the board to have that student come up and talk about their piece. The cycle continued with each student picking a new piece to have the artist come up and talk until time ran out or everyone had a chance. When Mrs. Gina would hold class discussions about work she would ask general questions like what do you see in these pieces? What’s your favorite and why? What do you notice about them? Etc. Many students especially younger ones love to talk and tell you everything so Mrs. Gina has no problem getting students to talk about their work as a critique. If a student is finished with their piece early or mentions wanting to show the class she will say we don’t have time to do that today but you can go around to each table and show the work. She told one boy that he could do that in one of the classes I observed and he went from table to table showing other students parts of his drawing that he liked best.
I feel like Mrs. Gina is very aware of student’s interests and what they enjoy vs. what they do not. She also listens to her students and makes mental notes about projects students really liked. Her students really seem to respect and like her. In fact many students stay behind to help straighten chairs and pick crayons up after the class ends and then hug her before going to the next class. She has good classroom management, which helps with her interaction and learning in the classroom. I think students are excited about art because they know in her class before the day is over they are going to get to “DO” something which is all they really care about.
Teacher Collaboration and Community Involvement (FEAP 1 Instructional Design and Lesson Planning)
When I asked Mrs. Gina how often she interacted or communicated with parents she said, “Well, I email them when a behavior issue arises with their child. “ She mentioned that this has not happened in many years but that it is always best to communicate with the parent about poor behavior before sending home a progress report with a U on it for unsatisfactory. Mrs. Gina said she actually communicates with parents more often about end of year art awards ceremonies and the end of the year 3rd grade art show. One example of when and why she communicates with parents is as follows: Mrs. Gina entered several of her students’ art works into a calendar contest and two of her students’ art were picked to be in the calendar. These two students will be receiving awards for this honor. The lady in charge of the calendar contest was supposed to send out emails and mail invitations to those students’ families who won, but apparently neither parent received the invitation so Mrs. Gina has been calling and emailing parents to make sure they know about the awards show. She also has emailed the lady in charge of the competition who hasn’t responded to this point. She has also mentioned the school arts awards ceremony and end of the year art show for 3rd grade, May 8th. This is another circumstance where students and their parents did not all receive the email invitation, so Mrs. Gina has to follow up. Mrs. Gina appears to have good classroom control so it does not appear that she has to contact parents often for behavior problems.
The students do go on a field trip to an art museum once a year, but Mrs. Gina doesn’t get to go. This is because the various grades go on different days so she still has other grades to teach. She did mention that she will find out what art works the students will see at the museum and talk about them in class, making art similar to or using the style or technique of artists they will see in the museum.
Mrs. Gina has no formal collaboration or meeting with other subject area teachers. She mentioned that they talk in passing often and students will tell her what they are studying in various subjects. Mrs. Gina also said that as many years as she has been teaching she just knows now what grades are learning. She also has textbooks from other subject areas. Mrs. Gina said that occasionally she will coordinate with teachers and some teachers initiate such collaboration more than others. Based on the lessons I observed her teaching as well as ones I hear she has taught in the past and earlier this year, she teaches great interdisciplinary lessons. One example is her ceramic pizza project. She shows students how she rolls a slab of clay out using the slab roller, cuts it into a big circle (the size of a large pizza) using a circular stencil from an actual pizza she made, then cuts it into 8 slices going over the fractions with students as she demonstrates. She asks open ended questions and lets the kids answer before she slices the pizza. She holds a good 10-15 minute conversation with regard to fractions. The students then get to take their slice of clay pizza and add a crust to it, and any toppings they want utilizing the techniques she demonstrated on earlier clay projects. She fires their pizzas and then they get to paint them with red, white, black, green, and yellow tempera paint. She finishes them off by having students paint a layer of modge podge on them to give them a sheen look. Students love this project and look forward to it as only 3rd graders get to do it.
When teachers come to pick the students up at the end of class, Mrs. Gina will often explain what the students did today so that teachers can follow up on the concept in their own classes. Mrs. Gina also travels to classrooms during testing time which was today and does art with the students in the room. She coordinated the project of drawing a turtle with his head sticking out of lake water with the classroom teacher. Mrs. Gina took paper and sharpies to the classroom and had the students follow along drawing the turtle. Once they were finished and class was about over, we hung the images up on a wall in the back of the classroom because the classroom teacher is planning on having the students write about their turtles. Mrs. Gina appears to try to coordinate lessons with classroom teachers; there appears to be a good support system in place amongst the teachers at this elementary. I believe that regardless of coordinating lessons with classroom teachers, Mrs. Gina does a great job of incorporating interdisciplinary lessons into the art classroom.
The school does not provide any professional development courses for art teachers but does offer many development activities for core areas. Mrs. Gina has asked for paid time off to go to the art education conference a few times and has been granted that time. However, this year the school got a new principal and unfortunately this principal has not demonstrated the same love for the arts. Mrs. Gina mentioned that the last principle would give or get Mrs. Gina anything she requested. The new principal has not been the same way. There is a thing called cluster meetings that are organized and conducted by the west professional learning community. This is a lady who emails invitations to every art teacher in the given surrounding area to come to a meeting with other art teachers to talk, get ideas, and collaborate among schools. The problem according to Mrs. Gina is that now these clusters require a sign up that is done online. Mrs. Gina is not super technologically literate and does not feel she has the time to sign up for such a cluster meeting. The meetings are also offered on the one day a week that teachers get to leave early because school dismisses an hour earlier than usual. Understandably teachers would rather go home early than go to a meeting on this day. I understand this because this teacher is very close to retirement. The meetings do give you points towards your recertification each year and Mrs. Gina said that she tries to go a few times a year.
Mrs. Gina is very aware of her position in the community as a teacher and reminded me (though it is common sense) that out in the community no matter what happens in the classroom only positive comments are made. She mentioned this is part of professionalism. She also works hard at entering students work into community art contests and goes to great lengths to make sure that all parents of all students know about award ceremonies and art shows. Her community involvement could be better in my opinion, but when I asked her about her involvement in the community she said that she has asked a few parents and artist residents to talk to her classes on certain days. She stated that she used to do a lot more of it but has just run out of time. She does work very hard from what I have seen to put on an end of the year art show for 3rd grade students and makes sure that all of their projects are done in time for this show. I think in general Mrs. Gina has good communication with her colleagues and knows her place and responsibility as an art educator. I think she could be involved with the community more but is just exhausted and mentioned a few times her readiness to retire.
Professional Conduct (FEAP 6 Professional Responsibility and Ethical Conduct)
Yogi Elementary school completes two informal evaluations a year and one formal evaluation per year. These last two weeks I have been observing I have noticed how nervous and anxious this makes teachers. The informal evaluations occur randomly throughout the year when the principal or vice principal will step in for 10-15 minutes to observe the teacher and basically confirm that the teachers are teaching the Marzano domains and design questions. The formal evaluations are scheduled and involve much more. The teacher and principal have a pre-conference where the teacher fills out a sheet of general questions about the grade level on which they want to be evaluated, the lesson they are going to teach and the Marzano questions the lesson will cover. In the meeting the principal and teacher go over the pre-conference questionnaire. The day of the evaluation the principal or vice principal comes to the room to observe for an entire class period. Then they have a post conference to discuss how it went. Mrs. Gina receives a printed document with the principal’s comments and the principal and teacher discuss it. The Marzano design principles appear to be similar to the Sunshine Standards. There are big ideas or questions and then sub questions or concepts. The teachers are supposed to write design questions on the board for each class and each grade as well as keep record of each individual student’s understanding of specific concepts by marking a 1 for least understanding to 4 for most understanding. The students are supposed to answer 1-4 for themselves and what they believe to be their level of understanding. This is very time consuming in the classroom and a lot of work for an art teacher. I personally understand the importance of the design questions more than I understand the students’ rating their understanding.
The dress code at the school is written in a handbook given to every new teacher but it’s basic in terms that teachers are required to dress professionally. This does not include tattered clothing, clothing that is too tight or clothing that is too form fitting. The dress code does allow for open-toed shoes but no flip flops and no jeans. Friday, teachers are allowed to wear jeans or long shorts or Capris with a school t-shirt.
The informal and formal evaluations seem reasonable, but it seems the focus of these evaluations should be based more on teacher classroom management, interdisciplinary lessons, and critical thinking. I do need to learn more about the Marzano Model.
This is an example of what one teacher has done to accommodate the Marzano Model requirements. She created these strips of paper and laminated one for each student in the class, she then puts a clothes pin on it and students move the clothes pin to whichever number fits their understanding of the concept being discussed.
This image illustrates Mrs. Gina’s method for keeping up with the Marzano Model requirements. She makes tallies on the board under numbers 1-4 for each student in the class.