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Working in a Classroom

Madison Weimer

Ivy Tech Community College


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Introduction

Deciding to be a teacher was never a thought that went through my mind. From the

moment I could form my own thought as a child, I knew I wanted to teach one day. Education is

the one topic I am truly passionate about. Going into college, I had some doubts for the typical

reasons regarding the teaching profession. Ivy Tech Community Colleges education classes

almost all require time spent inside a classroom. Service Learning Experience is the title of the

assignment in Introduction to Education for students interested in the career of teaching. Each

student has to develop a connection with a teacher and school and spend at least sixteen hours in

the classroom, working with students of any age. Many of the students in my class attended field

trips, lunch, and recess with the children in their classroom. It is not only an experience that

allows the student insight into the profession as a whole but allows the student to have a

relationship with a school for possible job opportunities before even having an associates

degree. Due to my passion for education, I already had numerous connections with teachers and

even a few with schools so picking the place where I wanted this experience to be was the hard

part. I wanted to work with students in a high poverty stricken areas. These students not only

hold a special place in my heart for many reasons but also I can relate to living in that

environment at a young age. These students, in my opinion, need the most passionate and

dedicated teachers.

Maplewood Elementary

In Wayne Township, there is a relatively large elementary school. The entire school

operates on free breakfast and lunch meals. The students are considered to be a part of the

highest poverty stricken schools in central Indiana. There are many students who miss

consecutive days of school and are often hours late. The support systems that a few students have
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are not strong; these students often have many siblings and are in single parent homes. At this

particular school a significant amount of the students cannot speak fluent English. This was my

first experience working with bilingual students. My teacher had at the beginning of the year

implemented a new program to help the students become more excited about reading, called Be

Excited About Reading, which stands for B.E.A.R.. On my last day in the classroom two

students did not stop hugging me and were almost in tears. In only a couple weeks I bonded so

closely with all the students to the point where it become hard to walk away from working them.

Diversitys Effect on The Students I Observed

As I earlier stated these particular students are, for the majority, in a bilingual home.

Students at the age of five who are learning the fundamentals of reading can struggle when they

are speaking and are taught two different languages. I saw this affect a student in terms of

sounding out words and reading sentences in whole. Most of the reading that these students did

was memorization from seeing the words repeatedly in a lesson. Though some of the students

were successful in learning how to sound words out and reading complete sentences, a few of the

students pronounced words and syllables in a different language than English. For instance I was

working with a student on a particular sentence with the word allow. She kept telling me that

two ls together make the y sound. To a five year old it was difficult to explain that two ls only

make the y sound in Spanish but not in English. Besides living in bilingual homes, a high

percentage of students are and have been raised in extreme poverty. Living in such an

environment shows in the students clothes and they are often concerned about their parents and

pulled out of class. On my last day in the classroom, three of the students were pulled out of

class. Two of them were gone for an hour or so and the third left for the rest of the day. Parents

of these students usually work multiple jobs or one low income job. I have seen most of their
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relationships with their children falling under the un-involved category of parenting styles.

There are certain students who parents genuinely care about their education and are support of

their child learning and recognize the value of school. It truly pulls at your heartstrings watching

students trying to succeed in the classroom but are consistently late, have to leave, do not have

backpacks or pencils at home, and are hungry amongst many other situational aspects of their

home environment.

Culture, Family, Environment Affects Student Learning

The largest way that the culture these students are in affects them is their ability to focus

on their schoolwork. I would say overall the majority of students live in a culture of African

American, Latino, low and lower-middle class, and un-involved parents. The students that are in

the culture of African American and Latino are not hindered in school by taking part in this

culture. The parts that do affect how the student learns are the class of the home they are in and

the involvement of the individuals parent(s). It is difficult for a student to focus and want to

perform well if their basic needs are not met. Poverty should not be used as an excuse for lack of

student of progress (Tough, 2011). Schools and teachers have to set forward with goals that are

going to help children no matter what their situation at home. Schools and even the state funding

should ensure that the school is supplied with the means to help students. Maplewood

Elementary, the school I worked with, has the support to feed each student breakfast and lunch at

the cost to the family. Providing food allows students to be able to focus on their school work

and not be worried about food while they are at school. Family involvement I view now as the

crucial piece that each child needs to truly move forward in their education.

Skills Needing to Be Further Developing


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The only concept I think needs further developing is the schools understanding of

students with learning disabilities. I worked with a student whom the teacher thought that she

may be suffering from an LD. Even though the teacher had submitted she suspected something

was wrong the school said that the results were inconclusive. I hate to see a student struggling to

grow their intelligence. In my opinion it seems as if there is something hindering her from

moving forward. It seems like the only thing a teacher can really do is submit that there is a

problem and let the school therapists, nurse, and administration handle the rest. A teacher has to

watch the day to day progress of a student which makes it frustrating for the teacher to not see

anything done to help the student. I think that schools need to become more dedicated to helping

students with possible learning disabilities and teachers need to be more aware of watching for

signs.

My Growth in Aspirations

Having experience in an actual classroom was exactly what I needed to assure myself that

I was making the right decision in my college major. Working with a kindergarten class not only

made me positive that I was making the right decision but also gave me insight into what it

entails to work with students that young. I definitely think now that I want to see what first and

second grade looks like. As much as I loved the children I worked with these past few months, in

terms of my career I think I would enjoy working with more independent children and teaching

them a wider curriculum. In this project itself, I grew as a teacher. On my first day I was nervous

about interacting with the children and did not want to step in too far and disturb the classroom.

By my last day, I was solving conflicts between students, making sure they followed their

routine, and were doing what they were supposed to be doing. I am much more comfortable

controlling and leading a classroom now. I also now enjoy working individually or in small
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groups with students when they are struggling. The progress with struggling students is more

meaningful because when they finally make that progress they are above and beyond happy.

INTASC Standard and Rationale

INTASC Standard 3: Diverse Learners

The teacher understands how students differ in their approaches to learning and creates

instructional opportunities that are adapted to learners from diverse cultural backgrounds and

with exceptionalities (Rinaldo, 2009).

Rationale: Working in this specific classroom helped me to learn how to adapt to learners that are

bilingual. With students that are bilingual, it becomes crucial to understand that not only are the

students struggling but there are also confused on their individual identity. At home they are

taught to speak and behave one way except at school they are expected to behave another. In my

paper I discussed examples of working with these children and trying to move forward in helping

them to read and write in English. This experience helped me to understand that diverse cultural

backgrounds can be vast and vary. I learned through this experience that it is important to help

the student not lose their identity but also be able to grow their intelligences in a school setting.
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References

PAUL, T. (2011). No, Seriously: No Excuses. New York Times Magazine, 11.

Rinaldo, V. J., Denig, S. J., Sheeran, T. J., Cramer-Benjamin, R., Vermette, P. J., Foote, C. J., &

Smith, R. M. (2009). DEVELOPING THE INTANGIBLE QUALITIES OF GOOD

TEACHING: A SELF-STUDY. Education, 130(1), 42-52.