Being that it is my last week of student teaching I met with my Faculty Supervisor yesterday for our final meeting. I am happy to report that everything went amazing, as it has throughout my time here at "C-Shool". We went through the observations that had been completed by my supervisor as well as my cooperating teacher and we also went through my weekly goal summaries that I completed over the last 7 weeks. What I am left with is a "Final Evaluation Report" that I am very proud of (and good thing because it is added to our permanent files!).
One conversation I wanted to share with you though had to do with my, "option to use different classroom management strategies between the Grade 5 class and the Grade 5/6 class." It wasn't a negative conversation by any means, it was just brought up that I used one classroom management strategy when I was with the Grade 5 classroom (my full-time classroom) and a different strategy when I was with the Grade 5/6 classroom (who I only see twice a cycle). Why? I specifically chose to do this because I am still learning so much as I make my way through my student teaching placements and by no means do I believe that any one strategy or any one method is the be all end all. With this in mind, I consciously decided to use some Whole Brain Teaching strategies with my Grade 5 class and what I call more "traditional" strategies with the Grade 5/6 class to see how each one worked.
From my last student teaching placement I found that Whole Brain Teaching strategies worked much better for me in our Grade 10 class compared to the more "traditional" strategies that I used when I first began. Now when I say "traditional" I mean that I was teaching how my teachers taught when I went through the school system (this is what I was used to):
- Desks in rows
- Teacher at the front of the class at all time
- No talking between students
- Not a lot of group discussion
- No laid out strategies to gain student attention
Upon learning I was going to be in Grade 5, I was really interested to see if I would find similar results. Would Whole Brain Teaching strategies be more positive than "traditional" strategies?
From what I have seen with my Grade 5 and 5/6 students is that, yes, I have had more positive classroom management results through my use of Whole Brain Teaching strategies then compared to more "traditional" strategies like what I experienced when I was in school as a student. The biggest change between our two classes is our ease of transitions. As I've mentioned a few times since I started my placement I regularly use the "Class-Yes" strategy in our classroom with wonderful results. With one word I am able to have the attention of our students which allows our transitions to be quick, clear and easy because every student was able to hear the directions and get on task quickly. The Grade 5/6 class, on the other hand, are by no means a disruptive class but our transitions are notably slower than the Grade 5 class.
I've also found that our Grade 5 class are more ready to assist each other and work together during our science classes and I believe that this may partly be because of the "Teach-Ok" strategy (I say this because it is not something I see during ALL of their classes). During science our students know that they are expected to assist and support their fellow classmates as we make our way through our unit. I've found that our students pay much closer attention if they know they will be "teaching" the material to a partner or group later on. With this in mind, even if we are not utilizing the "Teach-Ok" strategy our students are willing and able to work together and make sure their fellow classmates understand the material. In addition, we've heard many times that teaching material can be a great way to ensure understanding of all aspects of a topic so asking students to put information in their own words and teach it to a partner can be a great way to assist in the learning process! Our Grade 5/6 class, on the other hand, are very much individuals when we work on assignments. Despite my assurance that conferencing with partners or brainstorming is ok, they often cover their answers or shy away from working together unless it is mandatory. I would love to think that Whole Brain Teaching strategies may sometimes assist in classroom unity. (You can read a previous post about how Whole Brain Teaching creates a culture of respect here).
Now because of the dynamic of our classroom and the routines of my classroom teacher I was not able to utilize many Whole Brain Teaching strategies during this placement which was ok with me. I would much rather try what I can while still maintaining as much of their routine as possible so to not cause a disruption, especially since I am leaving this Friday. I am, however, very pleased with how my little experiment worked out and I am especially pleased to have such glowing reports to add to my file for when I go to apply for jobs!
Check out the Whole Brain Teaching website to learn more or check out Chris Biffle's YouTube channel to see Whole Brain Teaching in action!