Saturday, April 9, 2016

Interview with Veteran Teacher

Interview with Veteran Teacher (20 plus years of teaching)

I conducted my interview with a female teacher that has been teaching in Florida for 27 years. Majority of her experience is in elementary education. She currently teaches first grade. The Following are the questions that I asked as well as her answers-

1.     What is a discipline technique that you have found that works well?
“I have found that pulling children out in to the hallway to talk to them one-on-one and away from the class works very well. Students feel like they can talk to you when no one is watching. I use the technique of ‘confession, forgiveness, and resolution.’ I walk through those steps with the child until we have reached complete resolution.”

2.      What is a discipline technique that you have found that does not work well?
“I have found that disciplining a child in front of his or her peers does not yield good results. The students often shutdown and get very embarrassed. It is hard to get resolution and confession this way. Also, waiting until later never seems to work as well. You must deal with the problem right then and there if possible to do so.”

3.     Describe ways that you try to communicate effectively with parents even when you are having a hard conversation.
“I use the sandwich technique- Concerns sandwiched in between positives.”

4.     What are ways that you get parents to feel they are involved
“I always send out a yearly agenda of projects and field trips and welcome the parents to attend field trips as well as sign up for a classroom project they would like to assist with in class. This way the parents have the choice to decide what, if anything, they can attend but it still allows them to feel included and a part of what is happening in their child’s class.”

5.     Do you feel standardized testing benefits students or not?
“I am of the belief that standardized tests benefit teachers more than students. I think as a teacher it is so nice to have the data and be able to track your students as well as fill in where you may see holes from their testing. However, I do not think majority of students actually benefit from standardized teaching. I think it causes more anxiety and fear than anything else.”

6.     Do you feel private school funding or public school funding is a more effective way for schools to attain their money?
“I cannot speak for public schools as I feel I do not know enough. However, I do think as far as private schools go, we could absolutely use a re-evaluation in funding. I think we need more grants specifically. It is hard when all of your funding comes from the pockets of the parents. Gives room for parents to feel the right to dictate where the money goes.”

7.     Do you believe common core is effective? Why or why not? Should all schools adopt the same core curriculum?
“I think common core absolutely has its place. I think as far as math goes it is fairly reputable. But to say that every school needs to have the same core curriculum is a little na├»ve. So many students and school populations differ that I do not think the same curriculum across the board would address all teaching modalities.”

8.     What is best way to involve the community in your classroom?
“We try to actively involve our students in service projects for our community such as food drives, and appreciation cards for the local fire department. We also make a couple visits a year to the nursing homes in our area to offer help and joy to the elderly people in our community.”

9.     Do you feel technology improves students scores/grades/learning?
“Yes I do. I feel personally at least in my own classroom having technology allows students to explore their learning to a whole new level. When used correctly it opens up so many different modes of learning.”

10.  How has education changed for the better or for the worse in the last 20 years?
“I think it has changed for the worse in the last 20 years. For example Kindergarten students today are the same they were then but the curriculum and the expectations have changed drastically. What was appropriate for a five year old to know then is what three and four year olds are learning now. I find more and more that children are not being reached where they are developmentally.”

I found that I agree with many of the answers that she gave, for example that you should not discipline a child in front of his or her peers. I have done that myself and found that it only faired to be much worse in the end. I also agree that our curriculum and objectives for young students often creates a developmental gap.

PTF Board Meeting Observations

PTF Monthly Board Meeting

I attended a PTF monthly board meeting that included parents and active school board members, as well as certain staff. Specifically there were lower school, middle school, and high school principals present; Director of Finances and Development, Administrative assistants, PTF president, and PTF parent members.  During this meeting, the Principals started by each giving a detailed report of what is happening in their respective schools over the last month. It was interesting the difference between the updates for elementary school vs. the middle and high school updates. The high school discussed items such as the success of the school’s recent blood drive, AP final exams schedules, and prom updates. Middle discussed changes to the 7th and 8th grade curriculum for the following school year, as well as the implantation of a new technology initiative. Whereas the updates for the elementary school focused on the upcoming elementary wide event- Young Authors Day, the details and scheduling of field day, and our annual spring program details and theme.  Finances were discussed for the closing school year as well as further updates to the budget that was determined for the following year. Principals also reported on which teachers were leaving their respective schools, and if they had any new hires for the 2016-2017 school year.  The dynamic was interesting as both parents and faculty members were in the same meeting. It seemed that there were not as many parents attending that should be considering it was a PTF meeting and such meetings are historically parent-driven. The interactions were pleasant and simple yet very direct. I found that most faculty communicated with faculty and similarly did the parents communicate with only parents. From the outsider standpoint, I have the view and opinion that PTF meetings are extremely important when done effectively. It is my belief that schools thrive when parents and the school can be involved with one another for the betterment of the school.