Teaching is not simply a one-on-one relationship. A teacher works with the student that is influenced and informed by the families they live with, the community they work with, and the neighborhood they are active with; A teacher should involve, inform, and collaborate with the families and neighborhoods that the students live in. This involvement should inform the educational process, include student cultural identity, and be linked to student achievement and performance.
As a part of my coursework and professional development in teaching I have created a Family Engagement Plan that includes an integration of family stories and community life so that I can know my students and their families better.
Being a community-based teacher is a philosophy and a continual practice that embraced the entire student and their major influences. By following this praxis, teachers can form productive and positive relationships that validate the life of the student both outside and inside the classroom.
To develop my competency and understanding of my student community I met with the Head of School. In doing so, I learned that the majority of students (90%) live in the West Seattle neighborhood, west of Delridge. By interviewing students and the Head of School, I found that the most popular places for students to visit were: Husky Deli, Full Tilt Ice Cream, West Seattle Farmer’s Market, and the Admiral Theatre; other popular locations for students to visit included waterfront parks such as Lincoln Park and Alki Beach.
I took notes of my conversations and consolidated them into part one of my Family Engagement Plan.
I realized and learned that I did not have a strong understanding of the student’s cultural and family identities. For part two of my plan I wanted to create a component that would embrace and include this missing aspect from my understanding. My plan, starting this summer as a part of summer camp, is to pilot a family and community story project that would have student’s bring family and community stories to the stage and integrate them into a performance that would be performed in the community. It would be my hope that the organizations that students identified with would be integrated in one aspect or another of the performance.
I presented my family engagement plan to the Head of School for a pilot program this summer. I have been approved for this work.
It is my hope that future versions of my family engagement plan will be a part of my established curriculum. By implementing a family and community story project early in the year with sixth grade students I will be able to understand the prior history of students along with their present learning environment that they interrelate with outside of school. One last implication of this project would be my ability to integrate meaningful content, that would relate to student culture and family identity, into the remainder of the year’s academic plan.
- Learning should be broken into time periods that are manageable for teachers and students. Medina (2008) recommends breaking learning segments into 10-minutes periods.
- Increased surveillance over each student as they are engaging in the content is an effective method of maintaining positive behaviors in each student (Wright, 2014).
- Offer choice to students. When students have the opportunity to choose between multiple routes of completion their engagement will increase (Wright, 2014).
- Misbehavior may be a sign of a learning challenge. The teacher should offer to help students with their learning and adjust to approach the content from a new perspective (Wright, 2014).
- Pre-view the rules and expectations of the class and rehearse the procedures (Wong and Wong, 2009).
- Set up the classroom for success. The student seating should facilitate the learning process and allow the teacher to observe every student in learning (Wong and Wong, 2009).
General Principles of Interventions:
- Teachers should aim to maintain positive relationships with each of their students. Creating a positive relationship includes being fair, especially as the consequences for poor behavior are given to the student (Fay and Funk, 2009).
- Teachers can shift the responsibility for productive and appropriate behavior onto the students. Using statements such as, “tell me what would be an appropriate response to your behavior” or “consider the impact you have made on the other students” will allow the student to reflect and respond in a personal way (Fay and Funk, 2009).
- As a master of subject specific content, teachers should be prepared to shift the focus of the class (Banner and Cannon, 1997). Using a statement such as “this doesn’t seem to be working for us today” or “Let’s come back to this after we have remembered how to show respect for each other” can lead the students to reflect on their behavior and the natural consequences that are in place.
Teacher Intervention Responses: Verbal
- The teacher should use student names, to indicate that they are recognized in class and their behavior is expected to be engaged and appropriate. By recognizing students, by name, the teacher is inviting their students to learn (Wong and Wong, 2009).
- The teacher should give clear directions to the students that leave no-room for interpretation so that students can follow the directions the first time they are given (Wong and Wong, 2009).
- The teacher should use enforceable statements that are clear and descriptive. Students should understand that their behavior has both positive and negative consequences (Fay and Funk, 1995).
- The teacher should offer choices that are both acceptable. Students will follow class expectations when they have a say in their behavior (Fay and Funk, 1995).
- Teachers should focus on the positive behavior. Saying, “Don’t run” is less effective than “Please walk.” Students will hear the verb in the instruction and adjust their behavior accordingly (Wong and Wong, 2009).
- Teachers can ask clarifying questions that lead the student to consider their behavior as it relates to their learning and the learning of other students (Fay and Funk, 1995).
Teacher Intervention Responses: Non-Verbal:
- The teacher should know what is happening in their room at all times. To do this the teacher should walk to all areas of their room while teaching, make eye contact with as many students as possible to keep them engaged in the lesson, and anticipate behavior problems before they happen, and intervene with a verbal statement (Wong and Wong, 2009).
- The teacher can use facial expressions to indicate acceptable behavior or unacceptable behavior for students; the teacher can use facial expressions such as a raised eyebrow, a smile, or a shake of the head (indicating yes or no) to tell the student that their behavior is acceptable (or not) and they can signal to students through eye contact (saying to the student “I see what you are doing”).
- The teacher can establish classroom specific gestures or use commonly understood gestures to communicate to their students about the desired behavior. These gestures may include a wave of goodbye (to send the student out of the room), pointing with ones hand (to indicate a direction of travel or a location in the room), a hand raised high (to signal for student attention), and a single finger placed on their lips (to indicate the need for quiet) (Wong and Wong, 2009).
- Regarding student behavior, the classroom should be configured for two purposes, so that the teacher can move around the room with brevity and so that students can be moved as a potential behavior intervention (Wong and Wong, 2009).
Banner Jr., J., & Cannon, H. (1997). The Elements of Teaching. New Haven: Yale University.
Fay, J. and Funk, D. (1995). TEACHING With Love & Logic: Taking Control of the Classroom. Glendale, CA: The Love and Logic Press, Inc.
Marzano, R. (2007). The art and science of teaching a comprehensive framework for effective instruction. Alexandria, Va.: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Medina, J. (2008). Brain rules: 12 principles for surviving and thriving at work, home, and school. Seattle, WA: Pear Press.
Wong, H. & Wong, R. (2009). The First Days of School; How to be an Effective Teacher. Mountain View, CA: Harry K. Wong Publications, Inc.
Wright, J. (2014, January 1). Teacher Behavioral Strategies: A Menu. Retrieved November 23, 2014, from http://www.interventioncentral.org/behavioral-interventions/challenging-students/teacher-behavioral-strategies-menu