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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A different perspective...

Today, I was able to observe the other senior infant classroom. This gave me a chance to compare the two teachers and classrooms. There were many similarities between the two of them, but what was most surprising to me was how many differences there actually were.

Both senior infant teachers are excellent at engaging their students and using their culture. The teacher today exemplified this with the use of a cheese sandwich for writing. She actually made cheese sandwiches in front of the class. Although this doesn't sound very appetizing to me, this is a favorite of the Irish children. She made sandwiches with bread, butter and cheese then sliced it up for the class. They had to write step by step instructions focusing on words like "spread" and "bread." The students loved it, especially since they got to eat cheese sandwiches as they wrote!

Although the activities were similar, especially with math and the smartboard, the atmosphere in the classroom is completely different. First off, the desks in this classroom are in a horseshoe. Any teacher knows what a different dynamic this creates than a classroom with desks in groups like the other class has. The students all face the teacher which creates less distraction, but also discourages group work. The students do not work in groups unless they are moved to the back table. This is very different than my other class which has a group activity for almost every lesson. As I mentioned in a previous post, my other CT utilizes the space in front of the smartboard, even though there is no rug space. Since the class is in a horseshoe, there is no need to do this, so the students stay in their seats. I would assume this would make the kids fidgety and inattentive, but the atmosphere in the classroom is quiet and orderly. Where my other CT gives the students a little freedom to be silly before putting a stop to it, this CT scolds any behavior right as it begins. While she does this in a nice way with a look or gesture, she still makes sure every student is in line. I think this makes the class run smoother and helps to manage their time, but it definitely takes some of the excitement out of the activities.

While I think both teachers are excellent, it surprised me how different their classroom atmospheres were. It was really fun to get a chance to compare the two this week!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Meredith! I think it’s interesting that you were able to sit in on a different teacher’s lesson in the same school. I was able to do that in Ecuador and it is nice to see different people’s teaching methods and strategies. Your story about the cheese sandwich reminds me of a time when I was in elementary school and we were working on procedures, too. My teacher demonstrated how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich by listening to our instructions. In the end the peanut butter container was sitting on top of the bread bag and the jelly was balancing on top. It was a great learning lesson and showed me that when dealing with procedures it is important to include every detail!
    I also find your comment about how the desks are set up in your classroom interesting. When I think back to my days in school most of my teachers used the horseshoe format but all the classrooms I have been in now do not. I agree that it discourages group work but I also think it depends on the class. My class here in Ecuador is very good at working together and getting their assignments done. My class that I had last year in Thomas Edison in Bright was very different. The students would have benefited from the horseshoe shape.


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