Habit 4: Youth Advocates

Habit #4: To be youth advocates, desiring a more fair, equitable and democratic society.

Through my student teaching I have come to understand that being a teacher is so much more than just being an educator of curriculum and subject matter. A teacher must not only teach the material but also teach life-skills to the students. A teacher must be a nurturer to the students as well as a counselor and a peace-maker. A teacher must be an authority, a guiding hand but also a member of the classroom community. Another role that a teacher must fill is that of a voice for the students, an advocate and a protector of them and their rights. Students, especially of the elementary level, have little say in the politics of their own schools and school districts. They have rights which often go unprotected and needs that often go unnoticed. As a leader of the classroom community, it is a teacher’s responsibility to speak up for the students and demand that they get what they deserve.

The students must always be the focus and the priority of teachers. Through differentiated teaching my mentor teachers and I have split our students into multiple groups by looking at the first quarterly assessment. For each subject we had a higher achieving group and a lower achieving group; in some subjects the average was the higher group and in others the lower group. I taught one group and my two mentor teachers together took the other group. This process of differentiated teaching meets more needs of more students. This ensures that the lower learners have more one-on-one attention and a slower paced lesson while the higher group had a quicker paced lesson with more extensions. One difficulty of this set up was that these groups are constantly changing. Students often need help in one area and catch on quickly after that single issue has been addressed; other students may do well in one area but in the next section they need more attention. We found that this was a constant battle to keep updating the groups and moving students around, but this was the best method to reach all of our students. It addressed each of our students’ needs.

The artifact that I included was the differentiated teaching groups for math. As you can see the original group, printed in black, changed and morphed into something completely different after only a few weeks. We showed these changes by crossing out students, adding arrows, including the dates of changes all in red ink. Students who moved to the lower group often were moved back to their original group after some additional time and support.

In the future I will continue to use differentiated teaching in my own classroom as much as possible. I will also incorporate other ways of being a youth advocate. Peer-Counseling is one way that my mentor teacher helped her students to communicate and work out their problems in a calm, peaceful manner. Also I think it is important to set high-expectations together as a class by creating and pledging to follow classroom agreements. Voting is a great, fair way to make decisions as a class. Students will learn that they are valuable parts of our classroom and school community and that their opinion really does matter.


Differentiated Math Groups

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