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EDTP 634: Field Experience #1

For field experience one, I spent three days observing Honors English 11, as taught by
Ms. Stephanie Gomer. Ms. Gomer works at Poolesville High School in Montgomery County,
Maryland. Her class is primarily male, with a 15:4 ratio on the day with highest attendance.
There are no students with IEP’s in this class, though she does teach supported and co-taught
classes during other periods. The class is primarily white students, though there are a few black
students, all male. The class I observed is held second period.
For the first period I observed, the class spent the majority of their time working on a
writing activity which built on previous discussion and answered the prompt “What makes a
good leader? What makes a bad one? What are the qualities of both.”

Ms. Gomer’s interactions and class traffic for day one are tracked in the graphic below:

Ms. Gomer tends to begin most classes from her desk, situated in the top left corner of
the room. It is there that she performs administrative tasks such as attendance, while also
preparing any content she plans to display on her Promethean. Once the class is situated, she
begins to move around the room, and rarely stops until the bell rings to indicate class has
finished.
The beginning of day one’s lesson had Ms. Gomer walking around while conducting a
class wide discussion that both recapped what the group had previously learned and discussed, as
well as introducing them to the direction they were headed. The class participated in a discussion
where they discussed the various qualities of good and bad leaders. The students seemed very
comfortable sharing their differing opinions, and while things never came to a head, there were
some very heated debates between students regarding what they believe is and is not effective
leadership. Ms. Gomer did a good job of remaining neutral while at the same time encouraging
the students to develop their ideas and explanations beyond a simple “because I said so”
mentality.
Ms. Gomer’s movement through the class was very fluid and seemed natural. Her lack of
maintaining a stationary position encouraged students to remain active and pay attention. The
idea that she could be next to or behind you at any time seems to have curbed usage of
distracting technology as well as minimized distracting and disruptive behaviors.
By the time the writing activity began, students had discussed the coming prompt lone
enough to get some ideas together as well as answer any questions they had on the subject.
During the writing portion of the class, Ms. Gomer continued to circulate through the room,
answering questions as students had them as well as stopping to check on the progress of various
students from time to time. Once again, this active mobility seems to have curbed cell phone
usage and kept many student on task. It also made students wary of using their chrome books for
anything beyond writing their assignment, which has been a problem in the past in various
classes that employ chrome books for in class assignments.

Ms. Gomer’s interactions and class traffic for day two are tracked in the graphic below:

Day two began much the same way with Ms. Gomer briefly covering the previous day’s
lesson, taking questions, then introducing students to what was next.
Ms. Gomer led the class in a lesson regarding morality, with the students doing a quick
write regarding how they defined morality. The quick write turned into a small group discussion
then ended with a whole class group share, which transitioned seamlessly into a larger discussion
with an almost debate like quality. The students were very good about respecting the different
points of view expressed by their peers, even when they clearly disagreed on the topic.
Once again, Ms. Gomer remained very fluid throughout the entirety of the period, rarely
planting herself in one place for too long. Her interactions with students showed a level of
familiarity and respect, and their responses to her echoed the same sentiment. Granted, this
observation took place toward the tail end of the school year, but it was very clear that there was
an air of trust and respect in the class, both between the teacher and students and the students
with one another.
The class wrapped up with the reading of William Shakespeare’s, Macbeth. Students
either volunteered (or were volunteered) to take on parts and they read as a group from the text,
with Ms. Gomer stopping periodically to offer clarification, or check with her students to make
sure they were following along and comprehending clearly.

Ms. Gomer’s interactions and class traffic for day three are tracked in the graphic below:

Day three saw a dramatic drop in attendance (I believe there was a field trip or an AP test
that day) but class was conducted much the same.
To start, Ms. Gomer condensed the students in attendance to three tables so they were not
spread all around the room. The lesson began with a discussion regarding Macbeth and what
their understanding of the previous day’s reading was. She took questions then had the class pick
up their reading where they had left off the day before. Because it was such a small group, this
was the extent of the day’s lesson.
While reading, Ms. Gomer moved between the three desk clusters, making sure students
remained on task as well as answering any questions that came up.

Throughout the course of the observation period, it became clear to me that Ms. Gomer
has a good grasp on what works well for the class I was in. The way she moves about her
classroom is indicative of a teacher who knows the best way to keep students and engaged and
off their phone is to be engaging, and to not remain sedentary. The verbal flow between her and
her students also seemed like that of an experienced educator who knows how to talk to her
class. There was a level of respect in her dialog with students, and it was clear that they picked
up on that. While she did occasionally joke around with her students, it felt natural and their
responses were never defensive. It seemed that Ms. Gomer does a good job of striking a balance
between talking with and talking at her students, soliciting their opinions when appropriate and
always encouraging them to speak up and share concerns or ask for clarification when needed.
I believe there is a lot to be learned from Ms. Gomer’s approach to her classroom and I
hope to adapt some of her approaches to classroom communication as well as classroom
engagement and keeping students on task. I think her active motion throughout the class goes a
long way in keeping her students on task, and when compared to other teachers that I observed, it
certainly seems preferable to sitting at your desk or standing in front of the board for every
activity. There is also a lot to gain from creating an atmosphere of mutual respect as she appears
to have done, and I can only hope to be a fraction as successful in that regard when I have my
own classroom.

EDTP 635: Field Experience #2


For field experience two, I observed in a senior English class, taught by Ms. Lisa Kellert.
An inclusion setting, the class consisted of non-supported students as well as supported students
with IEP’s. Consequently, this class also had a Special Education Paraeducator, Joanne Zachrel,
supporting Ms. Kellert. The classroom also consisted of honors level students mixed among
those coded “on level” though there is no differentiation in lessons because this. Instead,
assignments are graded differently for on level students versus those submitted from honors level
students. Often, assignments are modified to be slightly less challenging for on level students,
though they must still display a basic understanding of core concepts.
For the purposes of my observation, I observed three different students over the course of
three days. I chose two who have dedicated IEP’s and one who does not. The two with IEP’s are
Jake and Divi (names changed for confidentiality purposes), while Aaron was my non IEP
student.
Jake is a young white male who takes pride in his skills on the soccer field. He dresses as
if he is always ready for an athletic activity and would rather spend time talking to nearby
students or playing on his phone than he would paying attention in class. Jake appears to feel
very confident of himself and his abilities, grades having never truly been a struggle despite his
entire educational career involving an IEP and the services it provides. That said, he does appear
to put minimal effort into anything not involving sports or socialization.
Divi is a young black male with very high functioning autism. Divi is incredibly
intelligent, excelling in computer sciences at a level far above that of his peers. He dresses nice
and speaks clearly when communicating, though his troubles with focus are immediately
noticeable. Divi has long struggled maintaining his grades in general education courses, his
inability to pay attention or focus on anything outside of his interest in computer science being
the biggest hurdle he faces. That said, he is more than capable of achieving high marks, he just
needs a lot of help keeping his mind set on doing so.
Aaron is a young transgender male. Aaron is very bright, though rarely motivated. He has
spent most his high school career battling the nuances of changing his birth designated gender to
the one he has always identified as. Aaron has been involved in the school WIT program since
freshman year, a course that adopts a “whatever it takes” approach to schooling, encouraging the
less encouraged to not only show up, but put forth an effort, and try their best to pass classes and
remain academically eligible. Aaron’s problem has never been his ability, but his interest in
attending school. The work he does is thoughtful and sincere, he just is rarely motivated to show
up and do it.
The following is the observational data collected over the course of the three days I spent
observing.

Day One
What is
happening in
Time Class Student A Student B Student C
teacher
8:39 speaking on phone cleaning nails engaged, listening A) Jake
told to put phone away, biting nails, playing
8:41 " complies on computer eating B) Divi
C)
8:43 " biting nails, on computer eating Aaron
staring blankly at
8:45 " screen cleaning/biting nails engaged, listening
class
8:47 discussion on phone biting nails engaged, listening
conversing with
8:49 " playing with paper staring at computer classmates
conversing with
8:51 " on phone, listening on computer classmates
8:53 " asking questions on computer folding paper, chatting
biting nails, playing engaged, listening,
8:55 " on phone on computer following instructions
8:57 on phone biting nails reading
rummaging through
8:59 papers, on phone biting nails reading

Day Two
recap of last
8:36 class on phone head down engaged
recap of last talking to
8:38 class neighbor head down engaged
reading to told to sit up, complied
class, momentarily then head back
8:40 analyzing on phone down engaged
8:42 " engaged head down, eyes closed engaged
8:44 " on phone head down, eyes closed cleaning nails
cleaning nails,
8:46 " engaged head down, eyes closed slightly engaged
8:48 " engaged head down, slightly engaged engaged
head back,
staring at looking around
8:50 " ceiling head down, eyes closed room
8:52 " engaged head down, eyes closed cleaning nails
8:54 " on phone head down, eyes closed engaged
8:56 " on phone asleep engaged
Day Three
introduction,
conversing
8:36 with students head down engaged engaged
class
8:38 discussion on phone tying shoe engaged
8:40 " engaged doodling engaged
8:42 " engaged engaged engaged
8:44 " engaged cleaning nails engaged
8:46 " on phone biting nails engaged
8:48 " on phone biting nails, engaged engaged
8:50 " on phone engaged engaged
not engaged, cleaning
8:52 " engaged nails engaged
8:54 " on phone semi engaged, biting nails engaged

8:56 " on phone semi engaged, biting nails engaged

All three class periods dealt with different aspects of the theme of “Corporate
Responsibility”. The students had, before my showing up to observe, read an article about how
various corporations handle the production of their products.
Throughout the course of the three days, engagement was all over the place. Day one
happened to be the morning that prom was to be held. Most of the students would have rather
spent their time discussing prom plans, but Ms. Kellert and Ms. Zachrel did their best to keep
everyone on task and engaged with the lesson.
Jake had a hard time remaining off his phone, though when approached by either Ms.
Kellert or Ms. Zachrel and asked to put it away, he always complied, at least momentarily. It
would not take long before he would have his phone out again, distracted by whatever was
happening in his palm and rarely, if at all, paying attention to the discussion the rest of the class
was having. In fact, most Jake’s time in class was spent staring either at his phone, or blankly at
the screen of the chrome book in front of him. He very rarely engaged in the class discussions
and no amount of reengaging ever got his attention back to the lesson for more than 30 seconds.
Divi was a similar case. On day one, he spent the majority of the class period completely
content with biting his nails or cleaning them with his pencil. When he was not distracted by this
activity, he was playing around on his personal laptop instead of listening to the conversation his
class was having. On day two, Divi spent most the class with his head down. At one point, he
was told to sit up, and while he complied at the time, it was not long before his head returned to
his desk and he eventually fell asleep. It was strange to me that he was not further engaged to
stay awake and I never did receive an adequate explanation as to why, though I can honestly
state that Ms. Kellert and Ms. Zachrel were both otherwise engaged with the lesson or putting
out other fires throughout the room. Day three brought about the only engagement in the activity
that I ever witnessed from Divi as he spent half the observed time engaged in the conversation
and even contributed when called on. While he never quite stopped biting at his nails, he did
respond coherently and satisfactorily when called upon.
Aaron spent his time engaged in almost all the activities that took place over the course of
my observation. While he did occasionally seem more interested in cleaning his nails or folding a
sheet of paper, he did contribute to both whole class conversations as well as small group
discussions, often volunteering an opinion or answer without being forcibly called on.
Ultimately, the lesson appeared enough to keep Aaron engaged when the same cannot be said of
his peers that I observed.
I believe that a large component of the engagement issues has a direct correlation to the
time of year in which the observation occurred. I observed around the middle of May, just two or
so weeks before the seniors wrapped up their year. In most cases, as with Jake, the students
already knew what their final report cards would look like, often having already calculated
exactly what they needed to get on their remaining assignments to end with the GPA they hoped
to end with. In Divi’s case, I can very easily contribute some of his attention issues to his autism,
while there was nothing noticeable about Aaron’s ability to remain engaged, other than it
existing when it did not appear to in her observed peers.
It would be unfair to not comment on the engagement levels of the rest of the class at
least briefly, and in that sense, it appeared that Ms. Kellert had done quite a bit to design a lesson
so close to prom and the end of the year in a way that kept most of her students engaged despite
numerous potential distractions.
I wish I could say that my observation shed light on various strategies to initiate
engagement in the students I observed, but the bottom line is that it did not. The only real lesson
I had reinforced is that some students do not seem to want to pay attention, no matter how you
try to counter that. I believe it is important that you do exhaust all your training and options
when it comes to trying to keep students engaged, and not simply give up on any individual
simply because they are slightly more difficult than the rest.
As a teacher, I hope to use this information to not get myself to bogged down with getting
one students attention if they have shown time and time again that they are not interested. By
this, I mean that I will not actively impede the lesson from continuing or deny the rest of the
class who chooses to be engaged and wants to learn, the ability to do so. It has also reinforced
the idea that, sometimes, you might need to turn to resources outside of the classroom to get the
desired outcome. With a student like Jake, seemingly incapable of remaining off his phone, I
would approach case managers (when the student has an IEP) or administration to come up with
a plan for addressing the problem. This could potentially involve parents or guardians at home as
well, but as a last-ditch effort I believe it would be worth going to such lengths. Hopefully,
understanding that perseverance is key to being successful as a teacher, will help me when it
comes to approaching various strategies of maintaining student engagement.

EDTP 635: Field Experience #3


I observed Ms. Kellert’s classroom during the second to last week of classes for
graduating seniors. Because of the proximity to the end of the year, their activity levels were low
as most had already mentally checked out.
Upon entering the classroom, the desks are arranged by rows and columns. The teacher’s
desk sits on the wall to the left of the entrance, with all the rows and columns facing the
Promethean board, situated on what is considered the front wall.
The classroom composition is relatively diverse. There are students from various ethnic
backgrounds (white, black, Hispanic) present, there is a roughly even split between boys and
girls, and there are a few students with IEP’s as this is an inclusion classroom. There are also
students of different levels present, with most being enrolled in the honors designation, while a
few are listed as “on level” in the gradebook. This does not differentiate much during lesson, but
more in assessment.
Ms. Kellert starts speaking to the students before the bells rings at the start of class.
Checking in with individuals as they come in and get situated. She’s cordial and sincere,
genuinely listening to her students as they respond. She takes in what they say, and often brings
up previous conversations to check in and see if their issues have been resolved. This level of
friendliness and familiarity continues into the lesson, with Ms. Kellert always doing her best to
speak to her students with the level of respect she expects they return to her. For the most part, it
works, with most students showing the same level of respect that is shown to them.
Once the bell rings, Ms. Kellert makes sure the students are situated and ready to go. She
eyes the room quickly for roll, then greets the students with a smile on her face. She asks how
everyone is doing, again making sure to listen to any student looking to share a more specific
response. She reminds kids of the lesson from the day before and asks that they take out any
respective homework assignments, offering to answer questions related to the previous lesson or
the homework. Then the warmup begins, which is sometimes a quick write and sometimes a
discussion. She allows the students a certain amount of time, decided by her, and is good at
letting them know when they have a few minutes to wrap up and again when the time is up,
transitioning seamlessly into the next portion of the lesson, which is typically a whole class or
small groups discussion covering the warmup.
As is prone to happen, off task behavior sometimes occurs. Be it cellphones or students
not remaining on topic during discussion, Ms. Kellert is quick to address the issues fairly,
reminding students of both school wide and classroom policies regarding the issue. While she
rarely singles anyone out, she is slightly less lenient when it comes to repeat offenders, but does
her best not to cause undue embarrassment. For the most part, the students listen to her
reminders. Very rarely do those repeat offenders happen, at least not within the same day. Often,
the same students are being reminded at least once daily of the expectations of staying on task
during an assignment.
Ms. Kellert comes to class prepared for her lessons. She almost always has the correct
number of handouts for her students and very rarely wastes time managing materials. She does
her best to remain the focus of attention, redirecting those students back to her and the lesson
should they fall off topic. There is a lot of back and forth between her and the students, with
questions being posed, wait time, then students sharing their responses with the class. A whole
class discussion occurred at least once each day across the three periods I spent observing, with
some days consisting of more than one lively conversation depending on how passionate the
students felt about the day’s lesson. Students remained engaged throughout discussions, with
only a few appearing off task. Even those who did not speak much appeared to be listening. Ms.
Kellert did a fine job of getting through each component of her lesson, often adapting to time
constraints on any given activity, depending specifically on how engaged her students were.
Transitions were handled clearly, with Ms. Kellert effectively communicating when they
were moving from one task to the next and stating what the express purpose of the new activity
was. She always left time for questions and made sure to check for clarification with her class at
certain steps along the way. While the schedule was often evident, I cannot say that the
instructional objectives were always clear. Some teachers clearly display their desired outcomes
on their white boards, with a SWBAT statement (students will be able to…) written for all to see.
Ms. Kellert does not. However, it remains unclear whether she never utilizes this strategy or
whether it had fallen by the wayside because it was near the end of the year.
It should be noted that, while Ms. Kellert was involved with getting through the lesson,
her Paraeducator circulated the classroom, offering help to students who needed it, regardless of
whether they have an IEP. During the few writing activities that occurred over the observation,
Ms. Zachrel and Ms. Kellert both made their way through the classroom to ensure that every
student was not only on task, but performing the task correctly. Group work did not occur while I
observed, so I cannot comment on the forming of groups or how the students respond.
It seemed clear throughout the three days that both Ms. Kellert and Ms. Zachrel had a
clear understanding of what worked well for their group of students. They utilized a very direct
form of communication with their students, not mincing words while remaining respectful to
their students. This seems to work to their advantage as there were no instances of students
disrespecting them, and even off task students were polite as respectful when being corrected for
inappropriate behaviors. They kept things positive, not dwelling on negatives and being quick to
try and turn comments and conversations perceived as negative into positive experiences. They
never belittled their students, and encouraged them to further pursue thoughts and ideas when
they had trouble fully forming them. Fear did not appear to be a factor in the appropriate
behaviors I observed. Instead, students seemed to behave because they felt it was the right thing
to do.
It is for all these reasons that I believe there is much to be learned from Ms. Kellert and
her approach to teaching. Her warm and caring approach to education resonates well with her
students and contributes to the positive and safe atmosphere that permeates her classroom.

EDTP 635: Field Experience #4

For field experience four, I attended a volleyball game at Poolesville High School (PHS)
in Montgomery County, Maryland. The game took place on April 24th, 2017, against Quince
Orchard. This evening, both the boys and co-ed teams played, as well as it being “senior night”
for both teams.
1. What types of students are attending the event? The crowd was filled with students, all
of whom seem interested in the event, meaning that no students I saw spent their
time on their phones and instead watched the games and cheered on their peers. The
genders seem split, and there are various ethnicities in attendance. It was not a
particularly packed event, but there were enough students in attendance to cheer on
their peers and offer their support.
2. What is the official purpose of the event? The official purpose of the event is that it is
an MCPS sanctioned athletic event. Both the Boys and Co-Ed volleyball programs
are run through and by the county. I believe this was a playoff game. It was also
“senior night” for the seniors on the home team. This is an event held during a home
game toward the end of the season where seniors are recognized for their
contributions to their sport. Parents are usually in attendance, and the ceremony
typically takes place at the half way point of the event.
3. What are intended and unintended outcomes? One intended outcome for the game was
that one team would advance in the playoffs for the MCPS sponsored sport.
Another intended outcome was that the seniors would be recognized for their
accomplishments on and off the volleyball court.
4. What do you notice about social interactions among students? Students seemed very
involved and interested with the games being played. There was very little usage of
cell phones during the game (when compared to observed cellphone usage in
classrooms) and though students engaged in conversation with one another, they
seemed mostly intent on supporting their school’s teams and the friends they had on
the court. Student behavior was appropriate from the athletes as well as spectators,
with students in attendance from both schools behaving appropriately and
respectfully.
5. Describe the role of the adults involved and the planning that has occurred (parents,
volunteers, educators). No athletics director was in attendance, though PHS’ athletic
trainer was present throughout the duration of the game. The ticket counter was
run by a volunteer, who runs tickets for almost every home sporting event at PHS.
She works as a Special Education Paraeducator at PHS and had children attend the
school, but they have long since graduated. Planning seems minimal yet effective.
Spectator were ushered through one entrance that led directly to the ticket counter,
assuring that no one could get by without paying an entrance fee. Mostly, everything
seemed managed by the same Paraeducator who ran the ticket counter. The event
went off incident free.
6. What did you observe that will impact your teaching? It’s nice to see students outside of
the school day, participating in activities they have a passion for. I think it’s
important to support your school of employment, be that through attending
sporting events, plays, or any number of after school activities where student talent
is put on display. It shows your students that you’re invested in their wellbeing and
reinforces the relationship building that starts in your classroom. It’s also beneficial
to see how students interact with one another outside of the classroom, as well as
how they interact with their opponents and any adults they encounter at events such
as these. Ultimately, I think it is good to have an idea of what goes on at
extracurricular activities as it can only help to better understand the various
activities students are involved in outside of the classroom that might still affect
them inside.

EDTP 635: Field Experience #5

For field experience five, I interviewed the co-teaching team of Stephanie Gomer and
Kristine Augone of Poolesville High School, Montgomery County Maryland. Ms. Gomer is the
general educator, an English teacher. Ms. Augone is the special educator. I asked that they form
their answers based around their experience co-teaching English Ten together, which they have
done for the past few years.
Ms. Gomer’s questions and answers follow:

1. What is the age range of students in the co-taught class? The students are 15 or 16
years of age.
2. What strategies do you use to meet the needs of your students? We have lots of small
group sharing in class, random calling opportunities to get everyone engaged, we
have some elements of choice in topics of research and readings to engage students
through interest, we assess through written and oral means (written responses and
small group discussions), we also have had the students draw for assessments.
3. What is the demographic breakdown of this class? Out of the 29 students, 3 of them
are Special Ed. The class had a higher number of males than females. In this class
about 6 students were in a magnet program, the rest were from the local
community.
4. How would you describe the range in student ability? There is a diverse range in
ability. Some students are planning to take AP Lang next year while a few students
should be in On Level English.
5. How do you handle IEPs (Individualized Education Program)? The co-teacher works
with them to make sure their accommodations are met. She takes them out for
small group instruction for larger writing assignments. She also works with me to
scaffold assignments and create materials to help them complete certain
assignments.
6. What types of accommodations/modifications are made? At times, graphic organizers
are supplied, reading may be modified, certain requirements to assignments may
be altered to fit the needs of the students.
7. Who creates the mod materials? Depends. My co-teacher normally drafts the
materials but we look at them and revise them together.
8. How do you and the Kristine work together to plan instruction? She is part of the PLC
[Professional Learning Committee] that meets. We also meet after school to work
on the plans for our class.
9. How do you and Kristine work together to deliver instruction? Varies on the lesson. I
normally take the lead but she always engaged and offers additional information
and clarification.
10. How do you handle grouping? We try to vary the groups by ability level and then by
gender and by house1.
11. Do you present multicultural perspectives? Our short story packet-we strive it include
a variety of writers from various cultural backgrounds. We read Night by Elie
Wiesel-European.
1
Poolesville High School is a Whole School Magnet which breaks their students into four houses: ISP
(Independent Studies), Humanities, Global Ecology, and SMACS (Science, Math, and Computer Science)

Ms. Augone’s questions and answers follow:


1. How do you approach working with your IEP students? How are daily classroom
activities handled between the two of you? The special education students are served
differently depending on the day. Sometimes it is best for them to stay in the full
classroom so I just check in with them as needed. My check ins are different
depending on what the class is doing. If the class is doing small group discussions - It
could be me asking the special education student (or really any student) follow up
questions per the topic or it could be me making sure the special education student is
participating and not let everyone else run the conversation. If it is best to stay in the
classroom and the class is doing a full discussion sometimes I am co-teaching as a lead
teacher but most of the time I am supporting by just walking around and making sure
the special education students are on task and if they seem unable to do the work I
work one on one in the room with them until they are at a good spot to rejoin the full
class activity. I typically pull the students out for three reasons. One, to access their
accommodations (like computer access, extra prompting during written assignment,
editing assistance, etc.). Two, to ensure their own participation during a discussion so I
pull them out to make their own small group (I typically do this when students are not
talking in full class discussions due to feeling intimated rather than they are not
participating due to lack of preparation. Three for background information on new
topics or halfway through book to ensure comprehension (for example creating a
timeline for events in the Odyssey which most honors kids would not need but my
kids might be confused because they misunderstood the fact that a third of the book
is flashback).
2. What types of accommodations/modifications are made? Extra checks for
understanding and access to assignment specific organizers for all written assignments
one lengthy paragraph or longer
3. Who Creats the mod material? Differentiated material due to disability I create but
differentiated so all students in the class have choice can be myself or anyone else on
the English 10 team PLC.
4. Do you ever provide mods for students without IE’s? Depends on the class make up if
other students need materials like graphic organizers or modifications depending on if
there are any on-level designated students.
5. How do you and Stephanie go about planning instruction? When we first started
working together both the team PLC met once every week for about an hour and half
AND my team teachers and I met for about one period a week. During these planning
times, we discuss what we want to do, how we can modify it for the necessary
students and then divide and conquer tasks. Now that my co-teacher and I have
worked together for many years we meet once a week with the PLC for about 45
minutes to an hour and my co-teacher and I meet for about 15 minutes as needed
which is typically once a week.
6. Please provide any advice or insight into co-teaching. Co-teaching is different
depending on each pair of teachers therefore the biggest thing to know about co-
teaching is that it only works if you can communicate well with your co-teacher!
Flexibility is also necessary as sometimes I will decide the morning of an activity that it
would be really good to pull my group and so I make sure I communicate that to my
co-teacher either via email or in person prior to class. I am able to do this because I
know my co-teacher will tell me if for whatever reason puling my students last minute
won’t work.
7. What drew you to Special Education? I became interested in special education when I
filled in for a few days for special education teacher during my student teaching. It
was nice to teach the same lesson (just more concise) to a small group of students
where I was able to individualize the lesson to cater to each student. During these few
days I learned a lot about each students' learning style and I was able to help those
students more than any other day during my student teaching (a few months).
8. Which path did you follow to achieve certification? I did a 5th year at the same school I
where I attended undergrad. All I had to do was fill out the application and apply (no
GRE). All other prerequisites were already completed due to the requirements of my
undergraduate program (i.e. taking the PRAXIS).
9. What classes do you typically support? I support English 10 but I have also supported
Biology 10 in the past.
10. Do you foresee a time in your career where you leave Special Education but remain
teaching? No. Although if I changed schools I would like to support more History based
classes as my undergrad was secondary education and history. I do not feel the need
to change the classes I support now as I am comfortable with the curriculum I teach
due to having taught it for five plus years.
11. What do you think are some of the key traits needed to be a successful Special
Education teacher? Patience, organization, the ability to individualize aspects of the
curriculum differently due to each individual student
12. How much of your job is time spent teaching/planning vs. time spent on case
management? 40% teaching, 45% IEP stuff, 15% classroom planning.

I’ve had the privilege of working with both Stephanie and Kristine during my past four years
as a Special Education Paraeducator. Both are passionate and talented teachers that put
everything they have into what they do. I respect them both and cannot properly express the
gratitude I have for both for agreeing to fill out my questions, several weeks after the school
year had officially closed.

As stated previously, I have worked with both teachers, though never together. That said,
none of their responses were entirely surprising to me, having seen first-hand how each
teacher runs a classroom. It is clear from speaking with both that there is a mutual respect that
exists between the two, and I believe that is part of what makes their co-taught classroom so
successful. Separate discussion I have had with them over the course of our time together has
revealed more than one issue they have experience when co-teaching with other colleagues,
but issues do not seem to come up with the same frequency, if at all, in their tenth-grade
English class. This could be because various factors from how many years they have worked
together to similar approaches the two have toward education and classroom management.
Whatever it is, it seems to work.
Ultimately, the co-teaching relationship shared between these two leaves me hopeful that
any potential co-teaching situations I run into can go just as smoothly, if they have two teachers
willing to work through any issues that could potentially come up. Luckily, I already have
experience supporting Special Education students in inclusion settings.

EDTP 635: Field Experience #6


Author’s Note: For the purposes of confidentiality, I will refer to the father and child
interviewed as Bob and Gene, respectively. When referenced, Bob’s wife will be called Linda.

Bob is a middle-aged man. An employee of Montgomery County Public Schools. A


security guard, specifically. Though he has only been in that position for one school year. His
background prior to that was in Special Education as a Paraeducator. In fact, my first three
years in the same job were spent working very closely with Bob to support students covered by
the Special Services department at the school where we work. Bob is a kind man. A father to
two boys that he and his wife have raised in both Montgomery and Frederick Counties for the
past 19 years. Their youngest, Gene, is a 15-year-old who just completed his sophomore year of
high school.

Gene attends a school outside his designated school zone, on special permission due to
his interest in a technology program not offered at his “home school”. When asked to describe
his academic performance, Gene responds “I am a good student in Honors classes and I will
take AP classes starting next year.” Like his father and his older brother before him, Gene is
heavily involved in sports. He plays football in the fall and basketball in the spring. He is tall for
his age, and in general, well over 6’5. His enthusiasm and passion for sports show on the field
and in the weight room, his work ethic and skills leading to his being bumped up to varsity
toward the tail end of his freshman football season. But academics always come first, both in
father and son’s eyes, with many conversations between the two revolving around how classes
are going well and where there is room for improvement. Bob regularly checks his son’s grades
online, and encourages him to speak directly with teachers regarding issues with grades, as well
as seeking out any extra help he might need in class.

Working as a security guard, Bob is very familiar with some of the issues the schools face
on a day to day basis with students. “My concerns are very common; my son consistently
making good choices regarding drugs, sex, and alcohol.” Bob worries, as every parent is prone
to do, but not too much. “Gene has a good head on his shoulders. He’s always made good
decisions and he’s never hesitated to speak openly with me and Linda about anything that
troubles him. He has a close relationship with his brother and feels comfortable talking to him
as well.” Bob speaks highly of the school his son attends. He respects Gene’s teachers and has
never hesitated to communicate directly with them, finding a forward approach to be the
easiest way of avoiding confusion, though Bob does not often find the need to step in. “Gene is
a very socially mature and outgoing person. So I am confided that his teachers know him well. I
don’t think there is anything specific they need to know that they already don’t.”

Gene likes his school well enough, saying “I like almost all of my teachers, the Principal
and Assistant Principal support athletics and there is a diverse population. I have a couple of
favorite teachers. The reason they are my favorites is because they treat us like adults, they
have high expectations for us and they get to know us as individuals.” And regarding whether
he feels safe while at school, he simply replied “Yes, I feel safe at school.” Gene is a busy young
man, socializing in and outside of school with his friends whenever academics and sports allow
for it. “We go to movies, we go to each other’s house, we play basketball. We just hang out
with each other.”

Bob does not shy away from discussing the larger societal issues that have come up in
the past. On more than one occasion, Bob has shared with me the conversations he has with his
kids regarding everything from police brutality, racial equity, same sex marriage, transgender
bathroom policies (both at school and in public settings) and often brags about how proud he is
of how progressive and understanding his children continue to be. “I’m proud of my boys. I can
confidently say they’re turning into good young men, despite my best attempts otherwise.” He
laughs. But Bob is not foolish, knowing full well that life does not get any easier once his boys
leave (or have left, in the case of his eldest) the comfort of public schools. “They’re both smart,
and they’ve both always done their best and gotten through it.” Bob and Linda understand the
importance of raising independent thinkers, and they have always done their best to expose
Gene and his brother to all the sides of each argument. “It’s not black and white. Nothing is.
The easier it is to see the different sides of an argument, the easier it is to make an informed
decision. I like to think we are teaching them that at home and I like to think the schools are
teaching them the same thing. No parent wants to find out otherwise.”

For now, it seems like the schools are. Gene continues to thrive, and it is likely he will
keep doing so. He appears to see value in education, and that is not something to be taken
lightly. He works hard and enjoys doing what he is doing. I have asked Bob before why neither
of his sons sought special permission to attend the school where he works, his response
“Because they’re happy where they are. Their school has always offered them what they want.
They get to play the sports they want to play and take the classes they want to take. And they
thrive there. It fits their learning styles in ways I’m not sure our school could.” I offer to him
that we work in a nationally ranked school, “And that means what to me?” he replies.

Ultimately, Bob and Gene both seem very happy with the educational situation they are
in. Gene likes school and does well. Bob likes that Gene likes school and does well. “I want
what’s best for my boys. I want them to have opportunities I didn’t. And I want them to be
happy. Right now, they are. That’s good enough for me.” I ask whether he’d change anything if
given the chance? “Not a thing.”
Gene, on the other hand, puts a little more thought into the question of what he’d
change. “I would change our school to have one lunch period instead of three. I don’t like
having my third block class broken in half for lunch.”