Reflective Practice: Vignette #1

Vignette #1   –  Julia is a fifth year high school teacher who would like to improve her students’ attentiveness and engagement in class. She describes how she reflects on her practice using professional resources and changes her students’ learning environment with positive results.

While there is an overwhelming array of professional journals, websites, and blogs out there, I have found it extremely helpful for my practice to pick one weekly “moment” to dip into this vast world of great ideas and information. For me, reading an article before diving into the teaching week ahead has been energizing and idea inspiring. I have been thinking a great deal about classroom management for my ninth grade class, so while perusing EdWeek, I was drawn to an article by David Ginsburg  (Coach G’s Teaching Tips blog) entitled “New Year’s Resolution: Classroom Procedures, Not Rules.” The article (and coaching video clip) helped me to reflect upon some frustrations I was having getting my students to listen attentively and follow directions when we shifted activities in class. My students were not cooperatively following the rules I had carefully set up for our classroom. Pausing to read Ginsburg’s article encouraged me to rethink the whole idea of establishing rules in the classroom to begin with, and instead, gave me a window into creating a culture of collaboration based on setting up clear procedures. While I thought that some of my students were just being disrespectful and confrontational, I came to realize that many of them were acting out because my expectations were not clear and the students were not invested in the process of creating our classroom culture. 

I circulated the article to other members of my department, and many of them had some great ideas to share about relying on collaboratively created procedures, rather than rules, to help with classroom management. I am grateful for the increased level of engagement and focus from my students, who are now thriving with this shift. The article this week linked me to an upcoming webinar on social emotional issues and behavior management in the classroom. I’m looking forward to participating in this next week. I feel that reading on-line professional educational articles is a wonderful way to help me reflect upon what is working/not working in my classroom while further linking me to resources that provide strategies and ideas for improving my practice. Our department felt that the article inspired such a thoughtful discussion amongst us that we further decided to post the article to our high school’s on-line network. The resulting commentary, from teachers across departments, has not only created a wealth of new ideas, but has opened opportunity for school-wide dialogue that even spills over into the teachers’ lunch room. In addition to gathering new strategies for classroom management, I have also learned a great deal about my students from colleagues across grades and subject matters. Our urban school of 4300 kids feels just a bit smaller to me now!

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