Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Shannon's Goals for 2009

In 2007-2008, I was placed in an upper- (to middle) income public school in Holt, Michigan. Upon entering the doors you were quickly greeted by the Principal's warm smile and a friendly hug from your teacher (in Kindergarten thru 1st grade). The classrooms were spacious and the teacher's had their own supply closet to store their classroom materials. Little did I know, that other schools in the same district were not a mirror image of the warming and cohesive school I had grown to love in Holt. 
This year (2008-2009), I am placed in a second grade classroom within the same county as Holt, Michigan - however the classroom setting is vastly different. In the Lansing Public schools, the student population is very diverse from that of Holt student's, and the school's overall feel is much different from that of of Holt. The administration and teacher's do not seem to have such open communication that I saw at the previous school district. My classroom consists of 25 young learners, congested into a smaller classroom. With students from all different cultural backgrounds, and learning backgrounds - my teacher is constantly striving to meet these various needs on her own. 
I have learned that this 'urban' school is drastically underfunded, and in desperate need of help in the classroom. With large class sizes, and shrinking budgets - many teacher's fear that their classrooms may grow still in 2009-2010. So, I ask, "How do we teach to such a large and vastly diverse group of learners?" That is, how do we reach all cultural backgrounds of students in literature, yet still maintain our 'task' of following the scheduled curriculum? In Holt, majority of the students were from a Caucasian background, with both parents involved in their child's progress in school. Therefor, their literature may not necessarily discuss the different cultural and economic backgrounds that many Americans come from. However, it is important in the more 'urban' setting to discuss and familiarize their students with the various backgrounds to help their learners understand their peers. 
I am beginning to learn how to base more of your lessons from the G.L.C.E.'s around literature and into other subject areas (Social Studies projects or assignments, Science and Mathematics). But why aren't more and more teachers following the same path? Teacher's struggle to connect all of their content in the classroom to each other (Ex: literature from a historic novel into science discoveries of that time period). I too, hope to find more fluid ways to connect my love for literature into all of my subject areas I will teach during my internship year and beyond. Besides, if a student doesn't particularly enjoy math - what better way to learn it than to present it in a different way that better suites their individual needs (story problems for those who enjoy literature or problem solving - or in a systematic way for students who like structure - as in science)?

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