Critical classroom characteristics.

This is a blog post about what I am looking for in a future school that I will one day be teaching in. Also, I will be discussing a few bits about what I have learned about myself and my teaching philosophy.

From my time in India thus far, I have established a few “must-haves” when searching for a school district to work in post-graduation.

My own classroom.

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Showing off some beautiful work.

This one is pretty essential on my list of must-haves when I begin the hunt for teaching jobs. Since working at Magnolia Public School, I have noticed that the students basically stay in the same classroom throughout the day, while the teachers move from class to class. I can see the benefits of such a system due to the reduction of chaos and traffic jams in the hallways; however, I have noticed that this has left little room for individualization in each classroom. For instance, I imagine an English classroom having posters and decor relevant to reading and writing. Maybe a few Shakespeare quotes, etc. And for my future classroom, I would like to be able to customize my classroom to reflect the atmosphere I would like to create for my students. Also, another perk is that this will allow me to keep all of my math-related resources in the classroom.

“Block” schedules.

Another item on my educational wishlist is to have block scheduling or hour and a half classes that would be held every day, rather than 50 minute classes every day. At Magnolia, I have experienced what a typical day and week is like with 40-50 minute classes every day. In my field experiences in Columbia Public Schools, I have experienced block scheduling. Comparing and contrasting both types of schedules, I think my preference would be for block scheduling. I have found that with block scheduling, I had more time to go in-depth with topics and to have more creativity with the lesson planning. Whereas with 50 minute classes, I sometimes feel rushed and feel as though my creativity is limited for what the class period allows for. My teaching style entails students having time to think critically and to come up with ideas on their own. However, with time constraints, I feel as though teachers are more inclined to teach more “by the book” and in a more procedural manner. This, in essence, can be detrimental to students learning. Math classrooms are intended to teach students how to think, rather than how to memorize formulas and procedures.

More flexibility & freedom.

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Poster projects about quadrilaterals.

In order to keep things interesting for myself and my students, I like to be able to have a good amount of freedom when it comes to lesson planning. I have learned from working alongside some of the Magnolia teachers, that each math class should be giving the same homework and covering the same content as the other classes in their grade. So essentially, all 6th grade math classes should have the same homework. The amazing and hard-working math teachers make this system work and clearly it is working for them due to their high student achievement. I just think that in my own classroom, I would like to move at my students’ pace. One of my classes may be able to cover material faster and another might need more time to grasp a concept. Also, I like the idea of using a textbook little to not at all. I think that basing majority of lessons off of a textbook can create efficiency and flow in the content. Although, not using a textbook will most likely create my work for me, I think it will be worth it. It will push me to be creative in my lesson planning. Not relying on a textbook will push me to find other resources that I find will best promote learning and understanding among my students.

Diverse student population.

Having a diverse student population is a MUST. Spending time in India and learning about the culture has really solidified this for me. Being thrown into a school that is nothing like my own, with traditions, teaching philosophies, and norms that I am not used to, has been so eye-opening for me. I do not like the idea of going back to teach in a school that is very similar to what I have been accustomed to with a homogeneous teaching staff and student population. Teaching in India and serving in Detroit, has allowed me the opportunity to get out of my comfort zone and to put myself in a situation in which I am the minority. After finishing my undergrad at Mizzou, I would like to get a Master’s degree that focuses on minority and urban education. After serving in Detroit and teaching in the urban area of Bangalore, I know that this is an area in which I am most interested. Teaching in an urban and diverse school district is where I see myself in the future and where I feel that I can make the most positive impact.

**Technology

This one is not a requirement, but definitely a plus and I have truly experienced the benefits of technology in the classroom. And by technology, I do not necessarily mean SMART Boards and iPads for every student. I can do without this. But having experienced working in Magnolia, which has little to no technology in the classroom, I have become more grateful for basic technology such as a projector screen and computer in the classroom. I even miss having such resources as little dry-erase
boards for the students. I know that with a lot of creativity and perseverance, I can do without technology and with very little resources, but I feel that if used effectively, these resources can definitely promote student thinking and engagement. I used to think that a chalkboard was all I needed to teach, but not that I have been experiencing it for a few weeks now, I appreciate the freedom these other resources allow in the classroom.

In summary, I am not trying to say that one way of teaching is better than the other. From comparing and contrasting the different school systems and teaching styles I have encountered as an education student, I have discovered what my preferences are. I am so thankful for the opportunity to continue to experience the Indian school system. I feel that every teacher should get out of their comfort zone and experience first-hand what it is like to teach in another country’s school system.

I have gotten the opportunity to teach many times since I have arrived in Bangalore and I hope to share what I have learned and experienced by the end of this week! I hope to enjoy every minute of the next 3 school days before we head off for a 4-day weekend to Coorg and Mysore.

P.S.

Just to give you all an update, I have been in the process (and struggle) of learning my students’ names. Although I get an earful of laughter when I painfully try to pronounce their names, I have gotten a few students down and hope to keep improving:)

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