Standard 4 Pedagogy: Engages students in learning experiences that are meaningful, stimulating, and empirically proven to promote intellectual growth.
When I was in the beginning years of my teaching the word pedagogy was a fancy word I heard mixed in with other popular educational words and jargon such as; rigor, differentiated instruction, explicit instruction, direct instruction, etc. Now as I gain experience and start expanding my practice I know exactly what pedagogy means and what it means to me. In an attempt to meet the requirements of a meta-reflection for the Standard of Pedagogy, I’m utilizing my ideas about Positive student behavior and how being able to nurture and implement this idea within my classroom in turn engages my students in academic tasks as well as promoting intellectual growth.
New Learning and Application of Practice
Teachers who form and preserve positive relationships with their students are helping to mold students into positive and emotionally-healthy people, while at the same time creating an environment that will cultivate student achievement. Educators that create and sustain a positive and safe learning atmosphere can foster positive student behavior along with maintaining student well-being, cultural competence among peers and academic achievement. In this paper I will be discussing models, strategies and curriculums that are evident in my own classroom and in my building that cater to positive student behavior.
At the beginning of each school year many teachers are busy preparing their classrooms and students. This involves setting behavior standards, and classroom rules and procedures, to help ensure that all students move about the classroom and building successfully. While this is an important step in preparing students for the academic year it is also important for teachers to begin making positive relationships with each of their students. When students feel they’re being validated or shown empathy by their teacher, on a daily or weekly basis, their behavior will most likely remain on an even and balanced foundation. Carl Rogers (1983), in his article, “Researching Person-Centered Issues in Education” studied the effects of positive teacher relationships with students, mainly students that were “educationally handicapped”. His statement, “in general, positive human relations are related to positive human behaviors” supports the notion that relationships can in turn affect behavior as well as achievement. Positive relationships and positive student behavior is better achieved in a safe and warm learning environment. “Students take risks and become more involved in classroom activities when they rate their learning environments as warm,” (McTigue, Washburn, & Liew, 2009, p.425). Teachers can use curriculums and programs to help set the tone for a healthy classroom. They can build a classroom environment that looks at “filling buckets” and campaigning against bullying.
Tom Rath and Donald O. Clifton, Ph. D. developed and co-authored a book that turned into a school curriculum on Bucket-filling. How Full Is Your Bucket? is a book that can be used in businesses or schools, however the authors along with Mary Reckmeyer, Ph.D. wrote a children’s version to help develop the idea of bucket-filling. Bucket-filling is a curriculum that takes teachers and students on a journey to increase positive student behavior and relationships and decreases put-downs and bullying-like incidents. “So we face a choice every moment of every day: We can fill one another’s buckets, or we can dip from them. It’s an important choice, one that profoundly influences our relationships, productivity, health and happiness” (Rath & Clifton, 2009, p.5). Lessons in the curriculum involve teaching ideas of: bucket-fillers vs. bucket-dippers, what bucket-dipping does, how to use a lid, superheroes, etc. Participating in once-weekly lessons, K- 5, students begin to have an understanding of how to develop and keep positive relationships which in turn can help maintain positive behavior. Every Friday I have our class bucket that is filled with bucket-filling slips that students earn from me as well as other teachers and I choose two slips. The child whose name is on that slip gets to “borrow” one of two of my bucketfilling bracelets for the day to be able to share and show that they are in fact bucket-fillers.
Another way to help increase and keep positive student behavior is to teach and implement rules and strategies for dealing with bullies. Bullying has become a large issue within schools, especially with the amount of digital resources that students have to utilize. Schools have taken on approaches such as School-Wide Positive Behavior Support (SWPBS) to help decrease serious or minor discipline problems.
“School-Wide Positive Behavior Support schools aim to: create a positive school climate, establish and teach behavioral expectations schoolwide, and teach mastery and encourage demonstration of behavior schools that will alter the trajectory of at-risk children toward destructive outcomes and prevent the onset of risk behavior in typically developing children.”(Sprague & Walker, 2005, p. 58).
“When schools adopt an approach such as SWPBS it is assumed that all teachers are on board and will actively teach appropriate behaviors to all students as well as acknowledge and praise positive student behavior. When SWPBS is carried out effectively and responsibly the goals of academic success and positive social growth can be achieved. Teachers should be explicitly teaching positive behavior as well as establishing clear and concise rules about bullying, which will aid in decreasing direct and indirect bullying “(Olweus, 1993). Teachers can establish and encourage rules through literature, role playing or even strategies such as Cooperative Learning to support the notion of anti-bullying.
Cooperative Learning is an instructional strategy that places students into small homogeneous or heterogeneous groups where students complete a task or assignment while working on social skills. “Cooperative learning is an approach to instruction that provides both the opportunity and organization for balanced, successful, and satisfying group learning experiences”(Dell’Olio & Donk, 2007, p. 246). Marzano, Pickering and Pollock (2001) suggest that when utilizing this strategy it’s best to use it consistently, systematically and not allow it to be overused. Cooperative learning can only be executed correctly if students are taught how to cooperatively work on a task, what it looks like to work together, listen to one another and show respect throughout. These skills should be explicitly taught and modeled by the teacher prior to use of the strategy; teachers should not assume that students know how to work in small groups, especially in the primary grades. Also, the use of this strategy should be maintained throughout the school year, to allow students the opportunity to practice and gain experience working with others.
“Students who participate in cooperative groups are likely to be more accepting of and more positive toward one another, to be more helpful and supportive of one another, and to develop fewer prejudices toward group members of other races or nationalities than do other children.” (Olweus, 1993, p. 89).
Working in small groups also takes the pressure off of having to complete a task independently, which in turn can increase positive student behavior. When students know they’ll have more people working on an assignment together, students in general are excited and happy to have more people involved. I typically utilize cooperative learning groups during math when we have a special time at the beginning of the lesson, we have a problem of the day question and many times some sort of manipulative to assist them. Generally the groups are mixed so that I have benchmark, advanced, strategic, intensive and ELL students all mixed together discussing and coming up with answers to our problem. By having students participate in these groups they are getting feedback, vocabulary as well as new strategies that may help students be able to be set up for success even before the actual lesson has started. Within the cooperative learning strategies there are multiple methods to use with groups of students, one such approach is Jigsaw.
Jigsaw is a type of cooperative learning strategy that uses expert and home groups to deliver information; it helps with academic as well as social goals. (Dell’Olio & Donk, 2007). A Jigsaw lesson requires that students work cooperatively in order for the information to be acquired and learned, therefore prior to using Jigsaw teachers should be sure that students have had ample practice with cooperative learning and working in small groups. Also, teachers should be sure to take sufficient time in preparing their first Jigsaw lesson with their class in order to ensure that students will be prepared and understand the process for the next Jigsaw lesson. Jigsaw lessons support social goals by, “Early research indicated that students involved in Jigsaw classrooms did learn to value the contributions of each member of their groups regardless of race or culture” (Dell’Olio & Donk, 2007, p. 270). This helps aid and satisfies cultural competence within classrooms and schools. Jigsaw lessons also support cognitive and academic goals, “Jigsaw is used to facilitate content discovery, teachers can design tasks for expert and home groups that focus on specific critical thinking skills” (Dell’Olio & Donk, 2007, p. 270). Teachers’ main goals is for student success and achievement on particular standards and concepts, anytime a strategy or method can assist in that goal, while at the same time fostering positive student behavior and interaction, it’s worth trying. Direct instruction has been on the forefront of practical and powerful teaching strategies.
According to Dell’Olio and Donk, Direct Instruction, “has been found to be particularly effective with elementary and secondary at-risk students academically; furthermore, it promotes self-esteem and positive social skills” (Dell’Olio & Donk, 2007, p. 93). Due to the nature and design of direct instruction promotes student learning and well-being based on the elements that make up a lesson using this approach; focus activity, stating the objective, providing rational, modeling, checking for understanding, guided practice and independent practice.(Dell’Olio & Donk, 2007). I mainly use this instructional practice within my classroom during literacy and math, I may not use all elements in the exact order as described in our reading but I use many of the elements, especially in math. “Many studies found that this particular pattern of instructional practices resulted in significant student achievement in basic reading and math skills,” (Dell’Olio & Donk, 2007, p. 93).
A typical, daily math lesson for me would follow this order: I start with any necessary vocabulary by using the GLAD (Guided Language Acquisition Design) organizer Content Cognitive Dictionary (CCD) in students’ math journals, we would then add our topic lesson to our table of contents and then set up our lesson page. Our lesson page is properly labeled with the lesson number, date and page number; we then add the learning target or objective at the top. I usually start with a PBIS (Problem Based Interactive Solving) activity that may incorporate some of the new vocabulary and content, we typically do this whole group or as discussed earlier sometimes I pose a problem to them in small cooperative groups. Afterwards we watch an interactive video and do discussions during it and sometimes we take “video notes” that are added to our interactive journals. When we first started using this math curriculum I was teaching third grade and we had a textbook we used, now that I’m teaching second grade we use these math magazines so my guided and independent practice time looks a little bit different, however only the materials changed, not the instructional strategy. After the video the students and I participate in guided practice. After guided practice my students complete a “quick check” which is an assessment that is multiple choice, sometimes I’ll have them use small whiteboards to provide their answers or I will have them write it in their journals. Based on how they do I will assign them their Independent practice task, some will get a longer assignment, some will have a benchmark task and for a select few some will meet Miss Botz at the round table to do a few more extra problems. My students and I discuss the importance of Independent practice time and how it’s “ok” for some kids to need a few extra problems with the teacher, this helps foster a safe and comfortable learning environment.
It has been my goal to explain in detail the models, strategies and curriculums that I use with in my classroom and building. These strategies and methods are available to teachers in order to foster and maintain positive student behavior. Through the use of these materials, teaching strategies and sustaining positive relationships teachers can increase positive student behavior, academic achievement, student well-being and cultural competence within their classrooms.
Clifton, D.O., & Rath, T. (2009). How full is your bucket?. New York, NY: Gallup Press
Dell’Olio, J. M., & Donk, T. (2007). Models of teaching. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Marzano, R. J., Pickering, D. J., & Pollock, J. E. (2001). Classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
McTigue, E.M., Washburn, E.K., & Liew, J. (2009). Academic Resilience and Reading: Building Successful Readers. The Reading Teacher, 62(5), pp. 422–432. DOI:10.1598/RT.62.5.5
Olweus, D. (1993). Bullying at school. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing
Rogers, Carl. (1983). Freedom to Learn: Researching Person-Centered Issues in Education.
Sprague, J.R. & Walker, H.M. (2005). Safe and healthy schools. New York, NW: The Guilford Press
This last module we were asked to consider direct instruction and how structured, direct instruction promotes student learning and well-being. After reading Dell’Olio and Donk, Models of Teaching, direct instruction has shown to have positive effects on student learning, especially students who are considered “at-risk”. Direct Instruction, “has been found to be particularly effective with elementary and secondary at-risk students academically; furthermore, it promotes self-esteem and positive social skills” (Dell’Olio & Donk, 2007, p. 93). Due to the nature and design of direct instruction it promotes student learning and well-being based on the elements that make up a lesson using this approach; focus activity, stating the objective, providing rational, modeling, checking for understanding, guided practice and independent practice.(Dell’Olio & Donk, 2007). I typically use direct instruction for math since I have a diverse classroom of learners, my students who are higher don’t need all of the elements involved with direct instruction. Most of them are ready to “fly” on their own into independent practice after we’ve seen the video that correlates with the lesson topic.
During the discussion on this topic a few of my colleagues brought up some great points about direct instruction versus indirect instruction. Jessie S. stated, “ It is important to balance direct and indirect teaching in order to encourage individual learning while guiding the direction of the learning process”. We have such a diverse classroom of learners that not all students benefit or need direct instruction for every lesson, however I think to adhere to the needs of all students it is important that we use direct instruction especially when we want to prevent any misconceptions of ideas so that students don’t leave a lesson confused or with false information.
Dell’Olio, J. M., & Donk, T. (2007). Models of teaching. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.