Observation of Equity
One of the many roles of a teacher is to demonstrate sensitivity and equitable treatment towards the diversity in their classroom. In my field experience classroom, I had the opportunity to observe different strategies and techniques used to meet the diverse needs of an ESE (Exceptional Student Education) classroom at Howard A. Doolin Middle School. Mrs. Alcala and her 6th grade EBD (Emotionally Behaviorally Disabled) Math class consist of 7 students, whom are currently learning about Fractions, Decimals, and Percents.
Mrs. Alcala implemented a lesson plan that would help her students understand and strengthen their ability to use equivalent forms of Fractions, Decimals, and Percents to solve problems. The lesson began with a warm-up on basic mathematical operations. She gave the students five minutes to try and complete the warm-up, and then asked students to come up to the smart board to solve the problems. After the warm-up, as a class, they went over the vocabulary words for the lesson such as fractions, decimals, and percents. Mrs. Alcala then began teaching the lesson and doing examples projecting them on the smart board. Throughout the lesson the students took turns going up to the smart board to practice examples. Some students were able to solve the problems on their own and some required prompting from the teacher. After the examples, Mrs. Alcala played a ten minute video on the smart board showing the students step by step on how to solve problems involving fractions, decimals, and percents. Next, the students were split into two groups of two and one group of three.
She passed out manipulatives for the students to do practice problems, and were given fifteen minutes to work as a group. Lastly, Mrs. Alcala took the last five minutes of class to go over examples of each of the concepts she had presented. As the observer I feel that the teacher was extremely sensitive to the diverse needs of the students in her classroom. She was very aware of all the students in the classroom and targeted their specific needs. For example, the teacher used various tools such as the smart board, video, and manipulatives to address not only the different learning styles but the levels as well.
During the group work the higher level students were grouped with the lower level students to give them more assistance. Additionally, the classroom was structured in a way that was conducive to learning but motivating in the same way with the use of manipulatives, video, and technology. The students responded well to the video and manipulatives, and enjoyed being able to use the smart board to solve problems. The teacher used cueing before transitioning from activity to activity. This allowed students to know ahead of time what they were doing next.
While students were working individually as well as in groups, the teacher walked around the classroom asking the students if they needed any assistance. If she noticed the students were having difficulty she made sure to work one on one with the student. Overall, I felt that the teacher was very respectful towards her students. Occasionally, one specific student would blurt out an inappropriate comment and the teacher would address the misbehavior. From my observation, I can gather that addressing diversity in the classroom takes lots of work, planning, and continuous learning in the profession.
Highly effective teachers have high academic expectations for all students. The classroom use of modeling, scaffolding, providing guided practice, frequent monitoring and adjustment of instruction all work together to proactively prevent discipline problems that might occur due to lack of understanding and disengagement. Creating a classroom management system that is sensitive to diversity is a mind set that continually takes into consideration the backgrounds, culture, needs, and strengths that all children bring to the table of learning.