The Power of Reflection
The impulsiveness of middle school students is one of the reasons most of us enjoy teaching this age group. During adolescence they are forming their opinions, ideas, and likes/dislikes, about the world and reality they live in. Ultimately, this is the time when most students begin to form their personalities as well as share every thought that runs through their heads without filter. We love it; it is very satisfying to be able to help guide students to become the people they are. We have the amazing opportunity to teach them about the world through our subject and content area, but we also have the opportunity to help them develop and grow as good citizens and great human beings.
This is no easy feat to accomplish. Working with middle school students is very challenging and it requires teachers to have a strong set of social skills, patience, perspective, and behavior management techniques.
One of the management techniques we discussed has been the creation and development of classroom expectations as a whole class. This is a great strategy to guide and manage behavior in a class because students were involved and in control of the final product. Students need to have their voices and opinions heard. But, what are we to do as teachers when students make poor choices and do not follow the expectations. Regardless of the framework your school district has adopted for your teacher evaluation plan, it is evident in order for a teacher to receive a distinguished in his/her summative evaluation more ownership needs to be put in the hands of students. As teachers make the shift from direct instruction to the role of facilitator, an easy place is classroom behavior because it can benefit both the teacher and students. There are numerous techniques that can be implemented to address negative behavior, but we are going to focus on utilizing a behavior reflection log as an intervention.
We have all been in a situation where we have a student who is not following classroom expectations. The student is disrespectful, disruptive to classroom learning, and after several re-directions and maybe even a personal discussion, cannot simply not get their behavior in line. So, what are you going to do?
There are so many possible factors and variables impacting this student. From situations at home, social issues at school, lack of sleep, or hunger. If the behaviors do not warrant a significant consequence according to your school handbook, we recommend trying to resolve the situation within your class as often as possible because we feel it helps to foster an environment of mutual respect. But please use your professional discretion and follow all school guidelines and rules in any matter.
We have developed a Behavior Reflection sheet where students will have the opportunity to reflect and process their choices. The sheet is self-explanatory and will limit the time a teacher needs to take to deal with the misbehavior. It also needs to be signed by a parent, which allows for a possible conversation with the student and their parent and/or a future conversation with the teacher. The sheet can be used as documentation. This behavior intervention or management technique has worked for us so we figured we would share our practices. The goal is for the student to perform the cognitive sweat and to reflect upon their decision making and to identify its’ connection to the classroom expectations; it also allows them a chance to develop a path towards redemption with guidance from the teacher.
The process should look something like this:
The Behavior Reflection Template can be found here to download and can be modified to fit your classroom expectations and needs.
As an educator and curriculum designer, it is vital I have systems and processes in place to write and design curriculum. There are many approaches to designing curriculum but I like to think WHOLE and work my way down to the PARTS. So for me, I think about what standards and topics I am instructing in the whole unit and then work my way down to the specifics of each lesson.
As with many in the profession, I like to utilize the framework of Know, Understand, and Do or the infamous acronym KUD’s. This allows me to break down all of the content, skills, and understandings I want my students to know into a framework.
After designing when and what students are to learn during instruction, the next logical step is to identify how I will know and measure if students actually learned what I taught during instruction. There are many different techniques and strategies for assessing the KUD’s. The methods I apply are the use of formative and summative assessments. I incorporate these assessments into the scope and sequence of the curriculum unit to get a rough idea of when I will be assessing my students.
I use formative assessments for the goal of monitoring student learning and to provide students with ongoing feedback to improve the learning process. These are usually low-stakes used for improvement.
The goal is to use these formative assessments to accrue specific data that helps me measure and provide evidence where the student currently stands in relation to learning targets and overall framework of the unit.
What does the student know?
What can the student do?
What does the student understand?
Here are some specific examples of forms of formative assessments I use:
In these new or modified lessons, I must provide specific feedback and a plan of action for what students need to do to improve. Then, I allow for immense amount of practice of the content in the KUD in varied contexts with significant amount of time for the learning process to occur, even if that time must be outside of school hours.
Once I have taught the entire unit, I use a summative assessment to evaluate student learning after my instruction by comparing it to the specific standards or learning targets. These are usually high-stakes used to provide a grade or mark for the student.
I can use the data from the summative assessment to guide future students through instruction that will mitigate the known student struggles and misunderstandings.
This is an example of the importance of experience in the teaching profession and cannot be undervalued. I am always a better teacher during my second class than I am in my first class. The same is true when I have experience teaching a whole unit a couple of times. I am better because I have the data and information from my assessments as well as the personal experience. Keeping a personal journal or blog helps to revisit ideas and thoughts you had during the actual instruction experience.
So, let’s recap, when you are trying to design or write a new curriculum unit for instruction in your class, I suggest following this process:
I have included a hand info-graphic of our process that you can view below and download.
We are always looking for feedback and ways to improve so do you know of any methods or strategies we should incorporate in our curriculum design?
What are some tricks or methods that you have used in your classrooms?