Journal: Observational Journal About Teachers

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Obseravtion Journal

Observational Journal

Observation Journal

Educators play a unique role in reaching out to a large demographic of individuals. This is because the techniques that are utilized will create a foundation which will enhance the student's learning comprehension. In Social Studies, this is important in preparing them for the challenges they will face in the real world and ensuring they understand key concepts to make an informed decision. However, most teachers will often present the material in a way that is very boring. This makes it difficult for them to connect with students and to see how these ideas are useful in the future. In this journal assignment, there is a focus on the best techniques and the ways they can improve learning comprehension. Together, these elements will offer specific insights about how these tactics will enhance everyone's comprehension of key ideas when working with a larger segment of students.

Observational Journal

Over the last several years, educators have been required to make dramatic changes in their teaching techniques and styles. This is because there are shifting demographics of individuals they are working with. Evidence of this can be seen with observations from Howard (2007) he determined, that the types of students inside a variety schools districts are changing with more minorities becoming increasingly common. (Howard, 2007)

During his work with educators he concluded the following, "Many school districts nationwide are experiencing rapid growth in the number of students of color, culturally and linguistically diverse students, and students from low-income families. Some teachers, administrators, and parents view their schools' increasing diversity as a problem rather than an opportunity. For example, in a school district on the West Coast where the number of Latino students has quadrupled in the past 10 years, a teacher recently asked me, 'Why are they sending these kids to our school?' In another district outside New York City -- where the student population was once predominantly rich, white, and Jewish but is now about 90% low-income kids of color, mostly from the Caribbean and Latin America -- a principal remarked in one workshop, 'These kids don't value education, and their parents aren't helping either. They don't seem to care about their children's future.' In a school district near Minneapolis with a rapidly increasing black population, a white parent remarked, 'Students who are coming here now don't have much respect for authority. That's why we have so many discipline problems.' Other educators and parents, although less negative, still feel uneasy about their schools' new demographics. In a high school outside Washington, D.C., where the Latino immigrant population is increasing rapidly, a teacher told me that he was disappointed in himself for not feeling comfortable engaging his students in a discussion of immigration issues, a hot topic in the community in spring 2006. 'I knew the kids needed to talk, but I just couldn't go there.' And a black teacher who taught French successfully for many years in predominantly white suburban schools told me recently, 'When I first found myself teaching classes of mostly black kids, I went home frustrated every night because I knew I wasn't getting through to them, and they were giving me a hard time. It only started getting better when I finally figured out that I had to reexamine everything I was doing.' As educators in rapidly transitioning schools, we need to reexamine everything we're doing. Continuing with business as usual will mean failure or mediocrity for too many of our students, as the data related to racial, cultural, linguistic, and economic achievement gaps demonstrate." (Howard, 2007)

These findings are showing how some kind of shift must occur in the way educators are reaching out to students. This means that they must adjust their strategies and become more engaging for this shifting demographic. In the case of Social Studies, this can be problematic, as many students cannot relate to different concepts or the long-term value of learning key ideas. (Howard, 2007)

To fully understand how to address these challenges requires focusing on ethnographic observations. This will be achieved by carefully examining various strategies which could be employed, student reactions and classroom activities. It is at this point when actual experiences will be provided in conjunction with relevant information from the class that was observed. These elements will offer specific insights that will highlight the underlying challenges and the best techniques for reaching out to them. (Howard, 2007)

Ethnographic Observations

In traditional Social Studies courses, there is a focus on using the standard lecture format. This is when educators will discuss key topics and ideas by talking to the class about how they relate to the required curriculum. In the past, most teachers have utilized these tactics, as they believe it is the best approach for covering important topics. The problem is that the majority of students will often find the subject to be very dry and boring. This is when they will lose interest and do not pay close attention to what is being said. (Haberman, 1995)

To make matters worse, the changing demographics of students, means that they will not relate to these ideas or comprehend the reasons why they are learning about the subject matter. When this happens, most of the class will become lost and only remember what they are taught for a short while. When they become older, is the point, these individuals cannot utilize this information to enhance their understanding of the world around them or make informed decisions about issues which are impacting their lives. (Haberman, 1995)

In Social Studies, there must be specific strategies utilized that will reach out to the ethnography of each student. The best way that this can be achieved is to relate key ideas to the different cultural backgrounds of the students inside the classroom. For example, if there are a large number of African-Americans in the class. It is important, to illustrate how these ideas are tied to their history and the way it will help them when they become older. This will encourage students to listen carefully and remember key concepts by seeing its usefulness in the real world. (Ivers, 2003) (Johnson, 1994)

Moreover, these techniques should be adjusted to reach out to different demographics of individuals and the backgrounds they represent. This will offer repeated explanations and reinforcement of key concepts. When this happens, the curriculum is taking into account ethnographic observations of the class through utilizing a strategy that is tailored to each demographic of students. (Ivers, 2003) (Johnson, 1994)

To determine the effectiveness of these techniques; requires watching how they are reacting to the content that is examined. The way that this can be achieved is by seeing their interest in the material from participating in discussions and reading their body language. Those who are more involved will show signs of enthusiasm and excitement. While those who do not understand; will have reactions which appear to have no interest in critical ideas presented. The key for educators is to identify these indicators early and determine how to quickly make adjustments in their techniques. (Ivers, 2003) (Johnson, 1994)

For instance, students that appear to be bored may not understand the main points. This is when they will often lose interest in the subject. One way to increase their involvement is to discuss these concepts from their perspective by utilizing cultural references during the process. This will help them to see its importance and bring them back into the conversation. When this happens, a foundation can be established of key concepts and their importance. (Ivers, 2003) (Johnson, 1994)

Next, there must be a focus on having different group activities to enhance everyone's comprehension of key ideas. The way that this will take place is through using technology (such as: computers, videos and interactive demonstrations). This occurs by having everyone break up into small groups in order to understand important ideas. During this process, they will have certain activities to perform in order to demonstrate their understanding of them and the way they are influencing their views. At which point, the entire class will reconvene and each group will share their findings with everybody. These factors will provide further explanation of major points and enable students to see how they can be utilized in the real world. When this happens, the will remember them and continually recall these concepts in the future. (Ivers, 2003) (Johnson, 1994)

Evidence of this can be seen with observations from Wren (2011). She concluded that technology is critical to overcoming various cultural gaps which can have an impact on student achievement with her saying, "Assessing students' live performances is challenging because the marker needs to make complex judgments, often very quickly, while at the same time recording information and watching the performance. This is further challenged when multiple markers are involved and moderation of marks is required. It can be difficult to maintain good assessment principles, such as fairness and validity and to offer students quality and timely feedback. The digital assessment tools enable… [END OF PREVIEW]

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