During this week, Ms. Morrow was beginning to work on more life skills, rather than the standardized tests she had been forced to focus on for a long period of time. When I was observing her during this process, I realized that I never thought about these life skills as something that a teacher would have to dedicate time to.
Personally, I always found it to be something you learn as you go through the cycles of life but for these students, they may never be given the opportunity to learn how to fill out various different application forms.
What I found most interesting about this activity was how Ms. Morrow’s plan in a small span of time. Initially, she was having her group of four students, whom are all on the same or similar reading levels, doing the forms. As she was going over the forms with them she decided to have all of her students fill out these “fake” applications.
One of the biggest objectives of this activity was to see if the students could follow the different directions on different forms and formats asking for the same information. In an attempt to make them be more independent about it, Ms. Morrow decided to walk away from them and allow them to do it on their own. This decision lasted about 30 seconds, which really shows a lot about her as a teacher and as someone who cares for her students.
The last time I went to my placement, the students were watching channel 1 news and there was a big focus on the current news with North Korea. Though sometimes this new channel simplifies the news it covers, I felt like they were being really good about not oversimplifying this topic. It was really interesting to see how one student in particular was completely enthralled with it. From my previous conversations with Ms. Morrow, I knew that he had an interest in history but it was cool to see how this could be seen with just how he sat or his repetitive movements stopped because he was so attentive. I was even impressed when he knew answers to questions about North Korea that were not mentioned in the news clip.
I often wish I could see what is going on in the students’ minds since they are so non-vocal. One can see the “gears clicking” when you sit back and observe but I want to know more but I don’t think there is way to do that unless the student was incredibly comfortable with you. But even then, the students don’t say much to Ms. Morrow whom they have known for a long period of time.
Last Tuesday was the first day I was back at my placement after my students had their spring break. I had not seen them in over a week and I was excited to be back.
This day, while the students did their independent work, they all worked on test. All of the students seemed to be focused on their test. Some were looking at their paper, some looked around every once in a while (which isn’t unexpected for some students). They all sat quietly which Ms. Morrow worked one on one with students on reading in the back of the room.
At my last visit, I decided to focus on one specific student. Since I have a small class, focusing on one student would not very difficult.
This day, I chose to focus on Carson. He is a very quite student, whim rarely speaks out unless spoken to. The first thing I noticed was his different repetitive actions. These actions vary between students with autism and I always like to see what different students do. Their motions really reflect upon them. For instance, Carson is very quiet and timid. When he is sitting at his desk, he tends to rub his hands together or shake his foot. Sometimes he alternates between the two and he switches often. He also plays with a writing utensil. When Ms. Morrow was doing her morning coverage of the news, every time she would ask a question, his movement would pause. As soon as he would recite the answer, he woiuld go back to his preferred movement. Carson often just mumbles the answer to himself. One of the things he’s working on is communicating and using his voice. Most times, he has the answer, he just needs to be conscious of how he says it. Ms. Morrow often has to remind him to open up his mouth and talk clearly. When she understands his answer, he nods at her and goes back to his movement.
In thinking about my placement, I feel like I have a very idealistic environment where my teacher doesn’t label her students bad apples and doesn’t necessarily have the pressure of placing her students on specific tracks according to large classroom. Because she only has 8 students in her classroom, she is able to work with them on a more individual basis. Even with this, she sometimes has a hard time getting all of her students to be productive when she needs them to be. Since it is special education, she also has the privilege of being able to evaluate each student individually, since concepts like the IEP require it.
If she were forced to label her students in some way, I believe that she would not be able to. She genuinely believes that each of her students is capable of achieving what is put in front of them though their progress is not as accelerated as students in a regular classroom, when progress is made, students are often proud of themselves. For example, one student, who’s verbal skills are not up to par is always constantly perfecting the way he announces his words. If he does not get it in the first few tries, he will keep trying until he gets it and my teacher will wait, listen and assist until he gets it down.
Praxis visit, day 2, 2.12.13; only my second day of observation at the school. A Tuesday morning, at 8 AM. On a normal day, they do a combination of math and reading packets and Ms. Morrow works with students individually when they most need it, some students need more one on one help than others. This day, they had to prepare for their special education standardized tests.
My first visit to my placement was a simple meet and greet with the teacher that I could have possibly been doing it with. Before arriving, I knew that I would be placed in a special education classroom with high school aged students. The school, Charming High, is a school that I had heard a lot about precious to my visit. Many of my peers had worked at it before and I knew that Bryn Mawr has a strong connection with it.
To get to Charming High, I rode the el into the city and got off in a brand new area. Not knowing what the school looked like, I followed directions given to me. As I walked through the neighborhood, the first thing I noticed was a huge vacant building, with a chain link fence filled with dead shrubbery, and boarded up windows. It was really a sight to see. On the walk to the school, I noticed a number of schools o n the way, and multiple housing complexes. Once I turned the corner toward Charming High, the first thing I noticed was a large stone building, a factory looking smoke stack and a small wall filled with colorful murals. I couldn’t help but notice the contrast between the two. Unfortunately, the school’s architecture reminded me of a prison. Grey walls, generic windows and stone walls.
“Money is the measure of all things, and profit the primary goal. For the oppressors, what is worthwhile is to have more – always more – even at the cost of the oppressed having less or having nothing. For them, to be is to have and to be the class of the “haves”.
When reading through Freire, I couldn’t help but agree with so many of the ideas he was presenting. I found myself underlining like mad and sharing some awesome quotes with my roommate as soon as I would come across them. He’s got a lot of amazing ideas with many possibilities within them but these possibilities are something I want to attempt to unpack some more, whether it be as a class or on an individual basis. When it comes to these types of readings (so much going on at the same time with so much possibility), I feel like I lose myself in the ideas rather than finding anything concrete. With Freire, unpacking brings up more interpretations and possibilities. For this reason, I find Freire so helpful and insightful in so many areas which also leads to my sense of confusion.
6th Visit; 1st grade inclusive classroom; 5 students with autism, all high functioning. Worked directly with two of them today.
Before entering the classroom, I always arrive during recess.I join Mrs. T, talk with her and observe the students.
Help Mrs. T plan a lesson; putting words like forest, tree, rivers, sister, brother, mother, kind into categories like "mother nature", "family", "actions" to begin a lesson plan on Native Americans
-Observed Mrs. T read the book "Brother Eagle, Sister Sky" to the students; she had them to a picture tour (looking thorugh at the pictures and sharing their observations)
-Completed an "I Know (K), What I Want to Know (W), & What I Learned (L)" chart.
Switched to do sensory wok with Mary; assisted her in using the blue ball and trampoline.
Observed Mrs. T do reading activities with Mary
Mrs. T asks "Is your brain ready?" to see if the sensory work was enough for Mary to continue with her academic work. Mrs. T does reading from a large book. Ask Mary to sound out the letter. Points to each one with the end of a pencil.