Standard 4

Standard 4: EFFECTIVE LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS  Management and monitoring of time, relationships, students, and classrooms to enhance learning, including the ability to:

(a)   Engage students in meaningful learning experiences while maximizing the use of instructional time;  Managing and monitoring time throughout the day is important when it comes to the flow of the day and creating enough time to get through the subject matter and lessons that need to be taught that day.  I included time estimates for every lesson plan I created.  For part of my Teacher Research Project I implemented into the classroom a Team Transition Competition.   It was a game that I used to promote motivation and teamwork in order to decrease the amount of time it takes students to transition from subject to subject and be ready to learn new things. 

(b)   Structure the classroom environment to promote positive peer interactions and positive self-esteem, to ensure that each student is a valued participant in an inclusive learning community;  The classroom environment has to be one where each student feels comfortable.  Comfortable to answer any question, comfortable to ask questions, to make mistakes, to work together, to share opinions, and to have open discourse in front of the whole class.  It is so important to me for students to not only get along with each other but to more so respect each other.  I encouraged and implemented many group work activities and randomly picked the groups so they wouldn’t pick their own groups and it gave them a chance to get to know all their classmates better and work with every one in the classroom at some point.

(c)  Construct a learning environment and grading process where both teacher and students have high expectations and mutually understand what is expected of each other to foster optimal achievement of all students;   I expect a lot out of students and I highly believe as a teacher you need to.  You are that person that is going to push their learning and their thinking to find their best strengths and their needed areas of improvement.  If you do not expect a lot from students you will not get a lot.  I drafted my own rubrics for bigger projects in the classroom.  I made one for the biographies they did and it was challenging. 

(d) Design and implement a classroom management plan that utilizes respectful disciplinary techniques to ensure a safe and orderly learning environment, (e.g., instructional procedures utilizing the concepts presented in the State Board of Education’s Positive Behavior Support Policy 2006), which is conducive to learning and takes into account diverse needs of individual students;   Classroom management is essential to the success of every classroom.  Management is the backbone to teaching and getting results.  I hold students responsible for all of their actions.  As student teacher I carried out the management of the classroom in which I was placed in.  They have a stop light system.  First time you mess up you move your name up to yellow, then to orange, and then to red.  Each level has a different punishment.  If a student acts out and does something in which my mentor or myself thinks is inappropriate that said student will write a letter apologizing to whomever necessary.  Holding students accountable of their actions is something that needs to not just be practiced at home but also every day in the classroom. 

(e) Understand and uphold the legal and ethical responsibilities of teaching (e.g., federal and state laws and SBE policies pertaining to positive and effective learning environments, appropriate behavioral interventions, student retention, truancy, child abuse, safety, first aid, health, and communicable disease);   One of my responsibilities of a teacher is making sure that all students are safe and protected in my classroom.  While student teaching, I went on a number of field trips and throughout those trips I was aware of student behavior and actions and outside actions that could harm them.  I was mindful of their safety and their care every day in the classroom but especially on field trips or when we were traveling outside the classroom walls.

(f) Use a variety of teaching methodologies and techniques (e.g., lectures, demonstrations, group discussions, cooperative learning, small-group activities, and technology-enhanced lessons), and objectively assess the effectiveness of various instructional approaches and teacher actions for impact on student learning; In my every day lessons I mixed up the methodologies and techniques I would use in the classroom.  Student teaching to me is a time of exploration, where you can freely try strategies and ideas in the classroom and they my flop and fail but then you know what doesn’t work.  Having a success with a technique is a good feeling and then you learn what does work for that certain group of students.

(g) Establish a learning environment which invites/welcomes collaborative teaching practices; Having a support while teaching is essential.  Working and collaborating with other teachers throughout the whole day is not only helpful but it is fun and comforting when you use other teacher’s ideas about what worked and you will see that you can learn from their moments in the classroom as well.  At Walter’s Elementary the building is designed for just that.  Each grade level has a pod which is one main room with three or four classrooms branching off from it.  That gives a chance to do combine lessons together.  Having one teacher teaches science and one teaches social studies.  During my student teaching process I was lucky enough to have two other fourth grade teachers that were so welcoming of ideas and always asked how my lessons went and gave me feedback.  We would always discussion lesson flops and lesson success at lunch and shared with each other ways to teach more effectively.

(h)  Differentiate between assessment and evaluation procedures and use appropriately.  Assessment and evaluation are separate but connected components of every lesson plan.  Throughout my planning and my Unit Plan I had distinct examples of what I did for that lesson to evaluate the students and also what I did for that lesson to assess the students, and those were always two different practices. Attached is a lesson plan I created that shows evaluation and assessment as two different but connecting overviews. Lesson One- Unit Plan