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My middle school observation was with a seventh-grade English class at the New Boston Middle School on February 16, 2001. Mrs. Messer was the teacher and she actually remembered me as one of her students in the same class several years ago. The assistant principal, Mary Lovelace, was the one to assign where I was to observe.

The classroom was organized with the desk forming to make a “T” with the bottom of the “T” being at the overhead projector in the front of the class. Mrs. Messer sat on a stool at this overhead projector for the majority of the class period. The use of the overhead is more effective in teaching than using a chalkboard, in my belief. It attracts the students attention better because it’s easier to see and brighter than the dull-looking chalkboard. At the back of the room were two computers and on the side was a small desk for Mrs. Messer, much unlike those that I remember teachers having. It was almost the size of a student’s desk. This made me think that maybe the teachers are spending more time in front of the classroom teaching than they are spending at their desks, then they used to be. Posters of English-related subjects covered the walls of the classroom and they were targeted more towards the student’s generation. Besides the classroom being decorated with English and having good desk organization, it did seem to be messy. I got the impression that this teacher might be a pack rat. Though, I don’t see that being negative towards the student’s learning.

Mrs. Messer gave good, detailed directions, and she chose students at random to make sure they understood. When Mrs. Messer divided the students into study groups, I noticed her picking certain students out of the class to put into certain groups. This was an example of probably heterogeneous grouping. I assumed that because they were studying, she might have been choosing smarter kids and mixing them with slower kids to help them study. Although, she could have been grouping them homogeneously and letting them study with children at the same developmental level. To get the class of student’s attention, she would say “class” in a louder tone of voice than she usually spoke in. Also, Mrs. Messer acted with the students as if they would think of her as “cool”. She talked to them as though she related to them, joked around with them, and dressed very stylish. For every class period, Mrs. Messer had a contest going called “Star Wars”. She would give the class period that participated the most each day a star for that day. The class was very excited that they had the most stars and were going to be having a Pizza Party. This is a good example of how operant conditioning is used in teaching. Mrs. Messer had faith in all her students. When she would call on them, she addressed them as Mr. or Ms. This way she was giving the student’s respect in the same way they should give her respect.

The students were not as attentive in class as the student’s in the kindergarten class and the third-grade class that I observed. I saw a couple of student’s, both girls, working on other class homework while the teacher was going over nouns and pronouns. Some student’s seemed bored by laying their heads on their desks or resting their head in the palm of their hand. All the students interacted well with each other. There were some students that seemed very competitive with answering questions. Although, the kids worked well with others, rooting for those who were called on to answer questions, and talking and discussing while working in groups together.

Considering I am a secondary education major, I found it very ironic that of all the classrooms I have observed, this was probably my least favorite. The teacher was very good, and the students seemed to enjoy being in her class, but I wasn’t as entertained as I have been in the elementary school classes. Although, I did learn that kids, as they go through the adolescent years, seem to be less interested in learning then children of younger ages. However, I also learned that as a teacher, relating to the kids is very effective and important. The students seemed a lot more responsive to Mrs. Messer than they probably would be to any other teacher of her age, because she was, what they would consider, cool.


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