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Methodology and Technology

Through my observations I was introduced to many new methodologies and technologies


that currently exist in todays classrooms, and was given insight into the different approaches I
should consider taking in regards to maintaining a happy and healthy learning environment. Prior
to my observations, I did not think that I would find anything interesting about this component of
my research, primarily because high school was not really all that far back for me. I was
imagining that the teachers would use the same projectors and power-point presentations that I
had grown up with, however, I quickly realized that this was not the case. Although the teacher I
observed the most used hardly any technology whatsoever, the other teachers used it quite
regularly and very effectively. For instance, I had never seen a smart board prior to observations,
which I later learned was something regularly used in high schools all across the country. Also,
although this may not apply to every school, I noticed that teachers were much more lenient with
phone use than they were when I was in school, which looking back on it is a huge change in the
methodology and approach that teachers use to teach their students. We were not allowed to have
our phones out for a second, while these students used their phones very openly in front of the
teachers, which I found very interesting. All of these concepts about teaching that I had figured
would not have changed had in fact changed drastically; the use of cell phones had become a
prominent aspect in the classroom, smart boards were being used in classes around the country,
and every classroom I visited had not one but multiple computers in case they were needed.
Many aspects of the methods in which the teachers taught had also changed from what I was
originally expecting. For instance, group work was a rarity when I was in school, however, group
work seemed to be a standard here, in which many classrooms had their desks previously set up
in groups of four or five. Also, students were not just handed information in the way I felt I was.

These students were asked to think intellectually and debate with their classmates about topics
related to the coursework, which I found very interesting. With that being said, there were
certainly still some similarities between what I was expecting and what actually happened in the
classroom. When the teachers did use technology to present, they used power-point
presentations, which was a standard when I was in school. Also, they seemed to follow the same
pattern of teaching over the course of the class. In the beginning of class, the teacher would
present what was to be learned, then the teacher and students would discuss the topic, and then
the teacher would assign the homework. I see now that I have a lot to learn about the
technologies and management styles of todays classrooms.
My observations greatly changed my perceptions of this component. I realize now that
even though I am young, the educational environment is constantly changing, and that I need to
stay on top of that if I want to be the best possible teacher I can be. In my future as a teacher, I
plan to make an effort to always stay on top of our technological culture in order to be able to
appropriately and effectively display information in a way that my students can relate to. Also,
with technologies consistent rise in the educational culture, I see now that my intent to manage
my classroom must include a plan to deal with students using technology in an effective manner,
which I believe a lot of the time is very hard to diagnose. With all the changes that I witnessed
throughout my observations, I came across many surprises, the largest of which was that students
were regularly allowed to use their phones in front of their teachers with no repercussions, even
when the teacher was aware that the use of the phone had nothing to do with what it was they
were learning. This is probably the biggest change I had noticed between my time in high school
and today, but as you mentioned in class, technology continues to have larger and larger roles in
the classroom, and with that mindset comes the idea that students are reliant on their phones, so

their use becomes more and more of a part of classroom culture. As confusing or contradictory
as this may seem, another aspect of the observations that surprised me was the lack of
technology used in some classes. As the hours went on, I realized the use of technology was
really an all-or-nothing ideal; you either used it almost the entire class period, or seemingly
didnt use it at all. I must say, I enjoyed seeing the kids read hardcover books as opposed to
Ipads, it was quite refreshing.
The most fascinating aspect of this component of my observations was the different
styles that different teachers used, and how effective they were. For instance, the first teacher I
observed used seemingly no technology in any of her classes and grouped her students together
for group work. While I thought originally that this would be very effective and that this would
be how I would want to set up my classroom, as the day went on, I came to the conclusion that
using no technology in the classroom leaves the students bored, and when paired in self-picked
groups, this will almost always result in side-chatter unrelated to the topic, which results in
distractions and interruptions. The second teacher did things differently. He used a power point,
but had all the students separated, and spoke very quickly and passionately about his topic. This
is now the model that I intend to follow. He was able to maintain a steady classroom and was
very informative, and I believe he was able to balance his methodology and technology in a way
that made him very effective. The last teacher was very similar to the second teacher, for she was
hard-headed and passionate and also used technology to keep her students involved. The main
concept that I will take away from my observations is that I must be able to balance my
technological use and management style if I want my students to be comfortable learning my
material. This will make me a good educator because I will be providing the students with an
environment in which they can excel comfortably with learning.

Professionalism
In regards to professionalism, I feel as though I learned a lot about what it means to be a
professional in the classroom, which I believe is different from being a professional in most other
occupations, for you are dealing with children of all ages as opposed to other adults. Before
coming into my first observation, once again, I felt as though I had little to learn, yet ended up
picking up a tremendous amount of information. Because I finished high school so recently, I
can recall a large portion of almost every class I ever took and think back on how my teachers
presented themselves, and based on those experiences, I felt as though I had a very good
understanding of what it meant to act professional in the classroom. However, once again, I
was wrong, although there were certainly some similarities between what I remembered and
what happened during my observations. For instance, every one of the teachers I observed
dressed professionally and was very well prepared for their lessons. Also, every one of the
teachers was very knowledgeable of their subjects and answered any and all questions quickly
and confidently so as to avoid confusion between the students. There were, however, some
concepts entailed in professionalism that I had failed to realize until I felt the teachers crossed the
line. For example, one teacher directly stated that because she was a teacher, she was liberal
(they were discussing mass medias role in politics), which I felt was very inappropriate and
uncalled for. That same teacher also struggled to have any sense of control over her loud and
boisterous students as the day went on, which is a lack of professionalism in its own right, for
she is seemingly failing at maintaining her classroom. I feel as though these fallacies in
professionalism were some of the biggest moments of realization for me as an observer, for it
directly reminded me of exactly what I did not want to do as a teacher.

These observations changed my perceptions of this component by changing my ideas of


what professionalism really was. Prior to observations, I thought acting professional as a teacher
simply met showing up on time, dressing correctly, having a prepared lesson, and leaving. I now
realize that it entails so much more than that. Now that my observations are through, I see that
for me to become a professional in the field of education, there are a lot of things I have yet to
learn. My biggest concern in this regard is that I will be unable to relate to my students as I age,
and in trying to do so will possibly do something offensive in the process. I feel as though a
professional teacher is a respected teacher, and because of this, it is very important for me to
understand what professionalism means as a teacher to its fullest extent, and these observations
certainly helped me do that. My biggest surprise in regards to this component was the way that
certain students as well as entire classrooms responded to different methods of management from
the teacher. For instance, one of the teachers I was observing was having tremendous difficulty
getting her students to stay focused, and her begging them to be quiet only seemed to light their
fire that much more. However, the second teacher seemed to keep his students in check solely by
keeping them interested. He was so passionate about what he was saying that the students did not
want to disrupt him, which was something I had never seen before and which truly blew me
away. Also, the last teacher used a sort of fear/praise system which I initially thought was cruel,
yet her students responded exactly how she wanted them too, which was very interesting, for she
had complete control. The aspects of professionalism that I was unaware of were the ones that I
believe helped me grow the most as a future teacher, and these observations helped me
tremendously in that regard.
This component was treated very differently in all three different classrooms. As I
previously mentioned, the first teacher was consistently seen pleading to her students to focus,

yet her efforts for the most part went unnoticed. The second teacher was so focused on his lesson
and his students that they did not even bother to look at their phone, let alone interrupt him.
Lastly, the final teacher ruled her classroom with an iron fist, yet would use praise when it was
necessary, and the students responded very well. Yet, once again, even with these drastic
differences, there were many similarities between the teachers, including their knowledge of the
topics as well as their approach to the lesson plan. I believe the differences are strictly a matter of
personality. It is much easier for some people to be open and straight-forward with their students
than it is for others, and because of this, different styles arise. I personally think a mixture of
both the second teachers nonstop lecture and the third teachers no-nonsense policy would be
the best approach for me to take as an up-and-coming teacher. The main thing I want to take
away from this component of my observation is that I in no way shape or form want to make my
students feel uncomfortable by stating any of my religious beliefs or political views. When the
teacher that I observed did that, it felt as though there was instantly tension in the air, for no one
really knew what to say. Conservative students did not want to disagree with their teacher, and
everyone else was just surprised that she said it to begin with. I feel as though religions or
political affiliations should have nothing to do with a school environment, especially when they
are being pushed from a teacher onto a student. This made an impression on me because you
could feel the tension in the air when the topic was raised, and I felt as though the learning
environment instantly seemed polluted. This will make me a better educator because I now see
how bias can affect a classrooms motivation, and I want nothing more than for my students to
feel comfortable so that they can learn effectively.

Understanding Learners
Prior to observing, to be honest, I was not sure what to think of this component. Because
there are so many students with so many different abilities and limitations all in the same
classroom, I felt as though it would be difficult to effectively capture when it was that the teacher
could be seen understanding their students. However, as the time periods began to pass by, I
felt as though I was slowly but surely gaining a better understanding of what the topic meant and
how it applies to schooling. Going into observations, I saw understanding learners as the
teachers ability to relate to their students in order to give them the best possible education. In
that sense, all of the teachers did very well in their classrooms. They were all very kind to some
students yet would joke around with others, and as the day went on I realized that I believe this is
where the teacher/student connection is truly built. I realized that most students seem to feel most
comfortable in discussion with the teacher when they feel as though they can speak to them not
as a teacher, but as more of a fellow peer, which I found very interesting. There were some
aspects of this component that I had failed to think about, however. For instance, I began to
notice that students who made an effort to sit by themselves in isolation were rarely asked
questions by the teacher, which in a sense isolates them even more, for they are now not only
straying away from group discussion with their peers, but from group discussion with their
teacher as well, which only increases the problem. I felt as though the teachers as a whole
performed the best in this component (Im aware that I am not one qualified to judge), for they
were all very kind and considerate when answering questions from their students and seemed to
make an effort to really think about the students difficulties understanding the topics for that
days lesson.

My observations changed my perceptions of this component by broadening my


understanding of all that this component actually entails. As opposed to defining understanding
learners simply as giving students an education that helps their abilities, I see now that
understanding learners means so much more than that. It not only applies to their preferences
towards education, but also to their background, their home environment, their culture, their
academics, etc. As a future teacher, I want to address this by attempting to understand my
students lives, interests, and abilities to the highest extent in order to truly understand how my
student learners truly prefer to learn. I realized through observations just how different every
student is. Even if the class consists strictly of twenty-five Caucasian males, every one of those
students has a different cognitive ability and a different preference as to how they like to learn,
and I want to be able to use that preference to make those students the best students that they can
possibly be. There were many different things throughout my observation related to this
component that surprised me. For instance, a sophomore English II honors class took a poll as to
how they preferred to get their books, hard-cover, or electronically? Sure enough, regardless of
the technological era that we are currently in, the students chose hard-cover, which genuinely
surprised me. Also, while observing one of the special-needs classes, I saw that they were the
first students of the day allowed to use computers. Even though they had aids helping them, I
thought that the computer was going to be too much of a task for them, yet many of them started
going at it faster than I believe most people could. With that being said, I realized that I should
not be too quick to judge, and realized that I made little attempt to understand these learners and
their abilities. This self-actualization was actually very helpful in making me realize that I was
too quick with my assumptions, and I believe it will prevent me from assuming that any of my
students arent capable of doing particular work that I have put in place for them.

This component was treated very similarly in two of the classes yet very different in the
other. In the first class I observed, the only interaction between the students and the teacher
occurred when the teacher asked questions about literature, to which they would respond
however they wished. There was no technology used, and there was very little straying from the
pre-determined path set by the teacher, which I felt put a dud into the entire lesson. The second
teacher I observed was very similar. He too only asked questions about the content, yet he would
walk to all corners of the room and would ask a new student every time he had a new question,
and would never guilt them for not knowing it, which I thought was very cool and inspiring for
the students. The last teacher I observed, however, was very different from the first two. She had
a special-needs class with students of wildly different capabilities as well as wildly different
personalities. Because of this, she had to constantly maintain every students work and make sure
that nothing would get out of hand if she looked away, which too me looked very stressful. Also,
she was very demanding of her students, which was quite contrary to the previous teachers.
The primary reason that I believe these issues were treated differently in different locations is
due to the cognitive level and mental functioning of the students receiving the education. I
believe the best approach to this component was the approach of the third teacher, who was strict
but understanding of her students difficulties and always quick to help them back up if they were
feeling down. The main concept I will take away from this component is the idea that all of my
students are different, and that I have to try to incorporate all of their needs into my lesson plans.
This made an impression on me because I believe that this needs to happen in order for me to
teach effectively, and this will make me a better educator because it will allow me to relate to my
students in order to form a mutual bond, in which case, I believe they will feel more comfortable
and more willing to learn.

Management of the Physical Environment


Before I made my observations, this was the component that I was most looking forward
to witnessing first-hand. I have a tremendous fear that when I become a teacher, I will not be
able to manage my students in the way that I would like to, so witnessing the trials and
tribulations of this component was extremely helpful in letting me better understand what I
should and should not do as the leader of my classroom. I was expecting a lot of bratty kids
consistently ridiculing the teachers with sarcastic quips until eventually they either became very
frustrated or the students themselves were sent to the office. However, I saw two very clean,
well-behaved and well-managed classrooms, although the first classroom was rather rowdy
(much like I expected), yet a great learning experience nonetheless. My beliefs about classroom
management were confirmed by only one of three teachers. This teachers room was pretty clean,
although her textbooks were scattered rather sloppily. This was not the real issue though. The
issue with this teacher is that (just like my fear) she had little to no control over the troublemaker students in her class. As opposed to insisting that they stopped, she would ask politely
many times to no avail until she was almost yelling back at them, yet at the end, nothing had
changed. She had no control over her students, and this made me realize that if I want to have a
classroom in which Im in charge, I am eventually going to have to put my foot down. She taught
me that if you are too kind for too long, you will get walked all over. The other teachers,
however, had the ultimate control of their classrooms and their students. The second teacher
used his immense knowledge and passion for his subject to draw the students in so that they
didnt want to disrupt for they were far too intrigued by the lecture, which was something I never
would have thought was possible at a high school until observing him. The third teacher also had
tremendous control over her students, although she used fear to intimidate her students to do

what she wanted, and to be honest, once again, I did not think it would work, but she pulled it off
flawlessly, and it made me realize that putting the foot down is truly a very effective way to get
students to stay focused and partake in class the way you want them too. It was incredibly
interesting observing this component of the Journal.
These observations completely changed my perceptions of this component by completely
changing how I feel I have to control my classroom. After watching many students have
absolutely no regards for the cries and pleas of their overly considerate teacher, I realize that the
Mr. Nice Guy approach I intended to take as a teacher simply will not work. I was amazed by
how little consideration some of those students had for their teacher, and after watching it firsthand, I am now much more concerned about my effectiveness and ability to maintain a positive
learning environment in my classroom. The most surprising things that came out of my
observations of this component was the students reactions to the contrasting methods of
management put forth by the teachers. Going into the observations, I would have thought that the
students would have fought fire with fire, being rude to teachers that they thought were being
rude to them while being kind and listening to teachers that were kind to them. The results just so
happened to be the exact opposite. The students responded almost fearfully to the strong-willed
teachers, yet they carelessly walked all over the teachers that were trying to be nice, which
reinforces the idea that a strong-will is necessary for a teacher to manage a classroom, which is
something I will need to remember for my future as a high school teacher. It is important to me
that my classroom remains my classroom and that students understand that I am the leader, for
only then will I feel (after observations) that they will truly respect me and accept the education
that I am trying to give to them.

As mentioned in the paragraph above, one teacher had tremendous difficulty maintaining
any sense of order in her classroom, while the other two teachers led very focused and content
driven lectures in which the students seemed to be both intrigued and inspired. Despite the large
amount of disparities between the three teaching and management styles, there were some
similarities between the three. For instance, all three teachers maintained a very well-kept and
clean room. Also, all of the teachers were not afraid to speak up when a student was getting out
of hand. However, the biggest difference between the teaching styles of these three teachers was
that two of them told their students to stop whatever it was that they were doing that was
disrupting class, while the other teacher asked them too. When you tell students to stop, Ive
noticed through observation that you put yourself in the dominant position, as opposed to when
you ask, in which you are then putting the student in the dominant position, which never appears
to be a good thing. I believe these approaches are different strictly due to a difference in
personality, and in my opinion, a strong-willed teacher is the only real teacher, for when you are
being stepped on by the students, they no longer see you as their teacher, but as their doormat.
The one thing that I will take away from this is the idea that I have to put my foot down if I want
to be in control of my classroom. This made an impression on me because I saw the struggle that
the teacher who didnt put her foot down was having while trying to regain the focus and
attention of the class, and thats something that I do not want to have to go through. This will
make me a good teacher because it forces me to take control of my classroom and my students.
When students control the classroom, all hope for a proper and adequate education are gone, but
when the teacher takes control and takes their position as the leader of the class, they puts
themselves in the drivers seat, and the students are forced to go wherever they want them too,
which for me, would be towards a quality education.

Diversity and Demographics


Before my observations, I didnt really know what to expect in regards to the diversity
and demographics of Washington High School, primarily because I had never been there.
Because I come from a very small farm town with a nearly one-hundred percent Caucasian
population, I was supposing that Washington High School would be a little more diverse than
that, however, from the classes I observed, it seemed to be almost exactly the same, which I
found very interesting seeing that they are a much larger school bordering a much larger city in
Peoria, Illinois. Not much was confirmed for me in regards to this component. While I thought
that there was going to be a wide variety of students from all different ethnicities and all different
backgrounds, only one or two students of the all the students throughout the ten classes I
observed appeared to be non-Caucasian. Also, almost all of the classes I sat through (other than
an honors journalism class) were seemingly split fifty/fifty in regards to gender. Thankfully, I
was awarded the opportunity to sit in on three special education courses, which allowed me to
add a little diversity to my experience. As a whole, I was shocked to see the lack of diversity
throughout such a large school, and according to teachers at the school that I met on a lunch
break, the school does not have many low-income students either.
These observations greatly changed my perception of this component solely because I
was expecting something so different from what I actually witnessed. The only unfortunate
aspect of observing at Washington High School is that Ive spent my entire life in a town with an
extreme lack of diversity, so after attending a school that had very little diversity as well, I feel as
though I did not get as good of a grasp as to how teaching to classes of mixed races, genders, and
intellectual levels changes from teaching in a school where everyone is very similar (at least in
their ancestry). I must say, I am now concerned to address this issue in the future, because as of

right now, I have absolutely zero experience teaching or observing kids of an culture or ethnicity
other than my own. Im very comfortable observing and teaching a class full of sophomore,
Caucasian high school students. Why? Because Ive been around Caucasian high school students
for the past eight years, and nothing about that concept is new to me. I would like to be able to be
put into a situation that I am not familiar with so that I can have the opportunity to grow not only
as a future teacher but as a caring and understanding individual, and I have yet to have had that
happen (other than the special education class, of course, which was actually very exciting). The
most surprising thing about this observation (as mentioned previously) was the lack of diversity
that this school had. It truly caught me off guard. However, on a different note, one aspect
related to this component that also surprised me was the amount of time students were asked to
partake in group work. When I was a student, we almost never did group work, although in these
classes group work and discussion with the teacher were nearly split fifty/fifty. I was surprised
by this primarily because group work was such a rarity for me in school, but also because in this
technological era, I was expecting a more individualistic classroom in which students would each
have an Ipad and would be racing to answer questions the quickest. I realize now just how
surprised I was by many factors of this component during my observation.
In regards to racial diversity, it was the same across the board. Every classroom was
seemingly one-hundred percent Caucasian, However, I was privileged to visit a special-needs
classroom, which gave me the opportunity to open my mind to a little diversity and was in fact
probably the most interesting in regards to social functioning of all the classes I observed. The
biggest difference I noticed in the teaching styles between the teachers was the group work. The
first teacher spent almost half of her time letting students group up to take on problems and
debate ideas or solutions. After my observations, I realized that I am not a supporter of this style

of teaching, for from what I could hear, the entire discussion between groups mostly had nothing
to do with literature, and the groups were getting nothing done related to the task at hand. The
second teacher simply used a power-point presentation, but lectured the entire fifty minutes
without skipping a beat, going to all corners of the room and frequently asking students questions
based on the assignments. The last teacher frequently spoke to her students as a group, yet they
primarily worked alone with an aid. This class was very unique in its approach to teaching, and I
was intrigued by the classes excitement to approach new tasks (at least a few of them). I believe
the differences in approach are just a matter of opinion, and all three teachers used their own
style rather effectively, although if I were to pick one, I would choose the second teachers
approach, for he was able to control the classroom simply by keeping them interested in the
material, which I thought was incredible. Although there was nowhere near the diversity I
expected, there are still things I learned about this component through observation. The one thing
I will take away from my observations in regards to this component is the idea of a preference to
stay away from group work, for I feel as though it primarily results in conversation unrelated to
the task at hand, which means the students are not learning as they should be. This made an
impression on me because as a teacher, I am there to help my students learn, not to watch them
talk to each other about things that hold no value in a school setting. This will make me a good
teacher because it will encourage both myself and my students to stay away from non-task
related things and to stay on track in order for my students to obtain the best education thats
possible.