Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Final Project Hugh B. Bain Student School Improvement Team

A Brief History:
    The Student School Improvement Team was formed five years ago. We would meet once a month
and discuss student concerns. Some of the students would then report back to the School Improvement Team. Two years ago we began meeting twice a month. At the end of last school year I asked my Principal if the student SIT team could play a more active role in the school and she agreed. I went to our school social worker and I asked her if the student SIT could be attached to the school climate committee and she was very enthusiastic. She and I laid out a tentative plan for the new school year. My principal spoke with me over the summer and it was decided that student SIT kids would be in my advisory/homeroom so I have both 7th and 8th graders. My principal and I decided that it would be best if I didn't have students until the second week of September. The first day of school I met with all the team leaders. I laid out the plan for the student SIT committee. The 7th grade team leaders were told that they would be going back to their teams and choosing the SIT students. This was because they knew the incoming 8th graders better having had them the year before, and they hopefully know which new 7th graders to pick after three weeks of school. The teams chose 19 students and my advisory was successfully up and running by the third week of September.

Criteria on How Students are chosen:
     We try to choose students who show leadership qualities but who  are not normally the ones that are picked by other students. They have to have an A/ B average and be a good student. They should have a very low absenteeism rate and be on time for school. The teachers should choose students who will be good role models for the other students. Another important factor is that the team  should be made up of students that represent the diverse population all the students in our school.

My Student School Improvement Team:
    This year's school improvement team is made up of 19 students, 10 eighth graders and 9 seventh.
There are 8 boys and 11 girls. Most of the students on the team are Hispanic along with 1 Haitian student, 1 Jamaican student and 5 white students. We also have students on the team who have IEP's and are in inclusion classes. The 7th graders will be on the team for two years.

How the School Improvement team is run:
      We have advisory Monday,Wednesday,and Friday first period of the day. We try to have a whole group meeting on Monday. Most of the time this is student run. Wednesdays are for the subcommittees to meet. At this time committee chairs and co-chairs meet with the principal if needed. Most Fridays the students are helping the school social worker with school improvement activities for the whole school. In addition to this three students come before school every other month to attend the SIT committee meeting. The students decide who will be going and  what they will be speaking about. I submit this to the SIT chair and they put it on the agenda.

Subcommittees: The students have formed three subcommittees that they feel is important to the school this year. They created a peer tutoring team to help tutor students in homework club after school. The team is made up of 25 students both 7th and 8th graders. There is also a peer mediation group. Another group is raising money for new auditorium chairs. They have found an organization that has schools recycle items for money. That is a win win for the fundraising as well as the environment.

Reflection: Although I was on board to have this advisory before this class began, I do believe that I am running it differently because of it. I have become more aware of how this advisory should be run. I have become more of a facilitator and an observer. I do much less talking and for the most part, I am not in charge. This was a bit unnerving at the beginning but now I am amazed at how well they do without me! I love to see how enthusiastic these kids have become. They are a great group of kids that kids that didn't have a place to show their skills as a leader. I think that now they have found that place and I hope that this experience gives them the confidence to do so in their future endeavors.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Chapter 4 from Kliewer's book, Schooling Children with Down Syndrome was very familiar to me. I have co-taught in an inclusion class for 15 years and all the rest of my classes have students with IEP's. I aspire to create a community within my classroom similar to Shayne Robbins where opportunities are provided for all children, that their individuality is celebrated Douglas Biken describes a classroom where all students are accepted.If anyone came into my inclusion class no one would know which children had IEP's and the students that don't. My inclusion class this year is a bit different. I co-teach with two special education teachers. Each special ed teacher has 5 students on their case load in my class. Five of the students are at a second grade reading level and until this year they were in a self contained classroom. That is what it looks like on paper....but not in the actual classroom. Many of those students are group leaders when we do labs or group projects. They participate regularly and are an asset in my classroom. These kids are not afraid to to take chances. They are not afraid to fail. They also are very resourceful. They have a great deal of common sense, qualities that are very important in a science class. I love this class, we get so much done but we have so much fun!
Gardner's 7 patterns for learning to me is the essence of how students should be taught. We need to look at each students' strenghts and weaknesses and teach them accordingly. Gardner also believes that schools take a narrow position when it comes to judging student intellect. This is so obvious with assessments. Look at standardized testing! A few years ago I had a student that had brain damage due to lead paint poisoning. When he was in class he knew the answers but then when I would give him a test he would fail. I decided to give him an oral exam. He got an A. At the end of the quarter his grade was an A. He came to me and thanked me for giving him an A. I told him that that was the grade that he earned. He was so proud. He had never gotten an A before. This was a boy who had the knowledge but didn't know how to express it.
It is so important to have teachers who can co-teach together. I am very lucky. We work well together. This video explains the importance of good co-teaching. I have had both good and bad experiences in co-teaching. When it is good it is awesome but when it is not it can be really bad.