First Day of Practicum (Spring ’11)

Today was my first day of my Practicum assignment, and I observe six students with Special Education needs (only three today) and follow them throughout their first four periods. These students have a Special Education teacher as well as a Teacher’s Assistant who also follow them, as the students are often in need of additional help as far as reading and writing and following directions (etc.) is concerned. Five of the six students have Autism (the other has speech problems), so it is very difficult for them to stay at the same pace as the other students, which is why they need that intervention. I observed four classes: Technology, Social Studies, Health, and AIS Math.
Technology, Social Studies and Health are all taught by male teachers, and, for the most part, they are not very interactive with the students; instead, they simply give directions and attempt to manage the classroom by asking students to do what they need to do, such as quiet down, for example. The one exception is the teacher who teaches Social Studies. He is not the “official” teacher of the class (that would be a woman), but he is a Student Teacher who is actually teaching the class currently. He, by integrating the topic, of course, makes conversation with the students.
Many of the students have books that appear to be of choice taken out from the library, and this makes me wonder if their English teachers are asking them to read books as an Outside Reading Book (ORB) assignment, or if the students simply like to read outside of school time. I also noticed that the teaching methods used are not very interdisciplinary, since the teachers really seem to make an effort to keep their content areas compartmentalized. In fact, one student in the Social Studies class tried to connect something to Science, and he/she was told that this was a Social Studies class.
In the Health class, the students read out loud in a method which can best be described as the “popcorn” method, which is when students read a paragraph or two and then call on another student to do the same, and then that keeps repeating. It is a “Round Robin” method of reading, which is probably best for the students with Autism, since most of them seem to have trouble reading to themselves. The teachers are very patient with the students, despite the students’ need for so much additional help, which is really good to see. I also don’t mean to pass judgment as far as there being a lack of interdisciplinarity is concerned, because that works for some and doesn’t for others and is still a debate up in the air. Ultimately, what I saw today is quite different from what I have observed in other schools. In other schools, the students tend not to be as respectful as most of these ones are, and the students are also incredibly animated and mentally energetic, even early in the morning.

About the Author

Hey, I'm Christopher. I am currently a graduate student in the SUNY Oswego English program, and I am also a Desk Attendant in Sheldon Hall (where I am also living). I graduated with two degrees in May 2012 - English and Adolescence Education with a Concentration in English. I substitute-taught in Rome City School District fall 2012 and then came back to school in January 2013 in order to obtain a masters degree in English, which I plan to obtain in May 2014. I love to read, and I love TV shows, especially science-fiction and fantasy.
Email: ccook@oswego.edu
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