Week 1 Learning Journal

Dr. Scott  McLeod posted an interesting question. He posted “are we doing what is best for our students or are we doing what is most convenient for us?”. I believe this is a very loaded question. The reason I say that is because it depends on who’s answering the question. Are we asking teachers? What would an administrator say? What about the students themselves?

Though I am not a teacher myself, I have had the opportunity to hear from teachers in my classes. Some have said that they are so restricted in their classrooms that they cannot do anything “outside the box”. They have to stick with the already designed lesson plan. Many (due to standardized testing ) don’t have time to even think about incorporating new materials. Personally, I don’t think that’s convenient or what is best for students.

On the administrative side, there are certain perimeters that have to be set in order for the institution to be compliant. Some administrators use their authority and allow teachers the flexibility to change some things as long as the students are getting what they need just as long as they meet those requirements. On the other hand, you have those who are either set in their ways or refuse to adapt because they “system” has worked for 100 years (maybe not that long lol). They have more of the “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” approach. In their minds, they know what’s best for the students. The question that pops in my mind is has anyone really considered the student?

Students generally will state that they are not getting what’s best for them. I believe it’s because they are receiving so many different things outside the classroom that inside the classroom seems boring. I’m not saying that everyone should have shining new gadgets in their rooms. Every student, no matter the age, wants something they can relate with. That may not be convenient for the instructor but that’s really what is best for the student. Yes, there has to be standards but it doesn’t always have to be done the same way every time. For example, to teach simple addition, use building blocks instead of the textbook. That simple change brings in a new dynamic into the classroom.

I think it is possible for students to have the best as well as it being convenient for teachers. Again, it doesn’t have to be the latest but it can at least be relative to some of the things students interact with.

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6 thoughts on “Week 1 Learning Journal

  1. You said, “Students generally will state that they are not getting what’s best for them. I believe it’s because they are receiving so many different things outside the classroom that inside the classroom seems boring. I’m not saying that everyone should have shining new gadgets in their rooms.Every student, no matter the age, wants something they can relate with. That may not be convenient for the instructor but that’s really what is best for the student. Yes, there has to be standards but it doesn’t always have to be done the same way every time. For example, to teach simple addition, use building blocks instead of the textbook. That simple change brings in a new dynamic into the classroom.”

    Not every classroom can have shiny new gadgets, but every teacher can be innovative in their teaching methodologies to capture and maintain students attention. Technology is our future and yes students are technology savvy, but they can also learn how to think critically without textbooks. They can learn geometry on school grounds, they can learn algebra and coordinates with their classmates using string and measuring tapes, there are so many more creative ideas that can help students learn how to problem solve. So, when budgets are an issue (and when are they not?) it is time to get creative and innovative.

  2. Everyone goes into the teaching profession wanting to be the teacher that changes their students. The teacher every student learns from and whose class they fight to be in. Are we all those teachers? No. Like you stated, many teachers are restricted in what they are aloud to do. Certain material must be covered (and with FCAT, by a certain time of year) and nothing can change that. You also talked about the different types of administration affecting these teachers. I have been in a school where admin was in my room ALL the time making sure I was on target of where I was “supposed” to be. I’ve also worked in a school in which the principal rarely came in, because she had confidence we knew our kids. I’m sure you can guess which one was an “A” school…the one where I was allowed to teach what my kids needed to know rather than what I needed to be on at that time.

    As to asking students this question…it depends on the age of the student. The younger the child, the more likely they are to enjoy school and state they are getting what is best for them. As school progresses (and material gets slightly more mundane), students begin to dislike it more. This is the point where we need to shift our teaching…and begin to transform it into something that is applicable in the real world.

    • I’m glad that you were able to work with your administration behind you. The things that I’ve heard some of y colleagues say shocked me. I would think that all administration would be behind their teachers but I quickly found out that I was terribly wrong. I do like your last statement.I think transforming it into something for the real world is key. Most of the time, students don’t know how lessons are relevant to them and typically lose interest. Even with the most boring lessons, “spicing” it up into a game or group project can turn it around for them.

  3. “Though I am not a teacher myself, I have had the opportunity to hear from teachers in my classes. Some have said that they are so restricted in their classrooms that they cannot do anything “outside the box”. They have to stick with the already designed lesson plan. Many (due to standardized testing ) don’t have time to even think about incorporating new materials. Personally, I don’t think that’s convenient or what is best for students.”
    I completely agree with everything you said in your post, especially the quote posted above. I am not currently teaching, but my best friend is teaching 5th grade and I constantly hear remarks about technology from her. Even though she has 5 computers in her classroom, it is not enough to get things done when they need to be. The school has 2 computer labs to share amongst all classes that it proves to be difficult when she has them working on projects or they have to do testing. The positive to her classroom is that she is lucky enough to have a smartboard, which she uses constantly to her and her students’ advantage. However, there are always issues in that as well, which pertain to the restrictions and strict lesson plans that span across the grade level.
    We must find out ways to meet in the middle with administration, teachers, and students in order for technology to work well in our classrooms. Great post!

    • Yea, it definitely does make it difficult for teachers. Someone was just telling me that they’ve had the privilege to work in a school that didn’t really restrict them when it came to technology. Everyone definitely doesn’t have the luxury. Even with the budget issues, teachers are still limited with the free technology due to the lack of support whether it’s from administration or even their fellow colleagues.

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