Different School Models 3 page paper

Different School Models 3 page paper

Running head: YOUR TITLE HERE               1


YOUR TITLE HERE              2


Your Title Here


Student’s Name


EDU 650: Teaching Learning and Leading in the 21st Century


Kathleen Schoenecker


September X, 2017






Cedar Valley Elementary


(3rd Grade Gifted/Talented)


Laura Dearing Elementary


(4th Grade Student Teacher/Substitute)


Differences/Similarities identified between schools.  Points to consider.


Type of School


 Public School


 Public School


Public vs. Public


Total Population/Demographics




(Large Military population)




Different student population due to one having a high turnover rate as one is made up of a large military population/Similar low income


Student to Teacher Ratio






 Similar ratio


What are the most important issues you currently face in ensuring all students achieve their potential?


Lack of parent involvement and help at home. Low income community. Deployment heavy. Teachers face extensive paperwork and strict guidelines that focus on state testing. These guidelines can take two weeks to go through lessons which can leave little time for additional help at the end of the year to catch up.


The amount and frequency of state mandated tests/assessments. Lack of parental support and the shortage of teachers. I have taught in classrooms with over 30 students and there are many substitutes filling classrooms.


I see similarities in the lack of parent support towards academics and the concern with state tests and guidelines.


How are you addressing these issues?


Limit amount of assignments that require parental assistance. Sending supplies home to complete assignments. Standing up for students and requesting modifications from higher for students that need additional help.


By reaching out to parents and trying to involve them in the classroom which can be difficult because many work multiple jobs and have multiple children in different grades. We try and help with homework during after school tutoring sessions which are mostly volunteers (teachers working late).


These are similar in that the teachers try and help students with homework in different ways like limiting assignments that require help and offering tutoring after school.


What role does technology play in classrooms to support teaching and learning?


There are great tech tools out there and it takes trying different tools out to see which enrich the students the most. Technology is not necessary but can be a great aide as kids are tech savvy.


It plays a huge role as it helps to keep students engaged , helps teachers present materials in different format and give children the opportunity to interact with technology they would not otherwise have at home.


I see a difference in teaching preferences as the first teacher sees technology as helpful but not necessary and the other who relies on it in their classroom.


If you had to choose one subject area that your students need the most support in mastering, what would it be?


Math and Reading scores are decent but writing seems to be areas where students need the most help. Students receive state testing in writing so the focus should also be taught to 2nd and 3rd graders as well.


I would say science as we focus mostly on reading, writing and math in preparation for state testing. The students aren’t as engaged as I would like them to be and they get bored doing the same things every day.


I see a big difference in this one because one sees the focus on reading and the other chooses science due to the children being burnt out reading, writing and math.


What do you see as the most important skills to be taught?


Reading. It is fundamental to learning. You can’t do math if you can’t read a word problem. You can’t do science if you can’t read the steps. You can’t study history if you can’t read about historical events and you cannot write, if you cannot read.


Critical thinking as students often memorize and read things straight out of a book versus looking for the answer themselves. I want to engage students and have them use their own words versus reading directly from the book.


The difference here is that one sees reading as the foundation to all the other skills and one sees the importance of being able to think on your own.


How would you identify 21st-century skills?


Preparing for jobs that aren’t even created yet. There is a big push for higher order thinking, problem solving and critical thinking. Students must incorporate technology from early on to be prepared for the future.


I would describe it as a lot more technology and the ability to think outside of the box.


These answers were similar to me as they both discuss critical thinking, preparing for the future


How would you describe the teaching in your classroom?


I teach the gifted and talented class so the curriculum is accelerated. Students are expected to complete the third grade curriculum as well as complete a research based program throughout the year. There is a lot of personal responsibility, individual learning and challenging work which motivates the students to do their best.


As both a student teacher and substitute teacher I am encouraged to use hands on learning with small groups lessons. I like when students work together and I push for students to be respectful of one another and of the teacher.


These answers were different as once class is very much self-paced and students are motivated to excel based on a challenging curriculum. The other classes are more group centered and hands on.


What role do you see students having in the teaching and learning process? Teachers?


I facilitate their learning but the students are encouraged to work alone or to teach and help other students. My classroom is very much student lead and the ultimate goal is for them to apply their learning.


Students should be involved in the learning and teaching process. Students should be involved with one another, helping each other learn and learning to work in groups. Lectures get boring and I see my students start to ignore me and start playing around. The like to be engaged.


Both teachers facilitate learning and agree that the students should be involved in the learning process.


How has teaching changed over the years?


I have been a teacher for 10 years and nothing is the same as when I started. Students and parents are not the same and the lessons, technology and approach has really changed over the years. Schools have stepped up and given the teachers a mentor and additional training, they are more supportive and the classroom is becoming more student lead. Safety has greatly evolved to include drills and scenarios that I never dreamed of.


I have only been in a teaching position for about a year and will probably not pursue it as a career. There is a lot of distraction with cell phones, bullying and teachers are not appreciated. I think that the constant focus on state assessments leaves teachers feeling blamed if students are not meeting or exceeding the standards and parents who don’t play a role expect teachers to do all the work. I think that technology is something that should be embraced and am glad to see its greater use now versus when I was in school.


One teacher has taught for ten years and has seen teachers have more support and has seen technology gradually be introduced. The other teacher is a student teacher/substitute who has been negatively affected and has seen a school where technology should play a larger role.


What are the key issues you currently face?


Personally, the scripted curriculum the district purchased does not align with the state standards or assessments. We have to follow it but sometimes make our own choices about what is best for our students.


The key issues I face are lack of parent involvement, the force to teach common core to standard as we have very little freedom to teach in our own way, the lack of teachers in the county and the high turnover rate. Teachers are definitely underpaid, over worked and undervalued in society.


Both see difficulties when it comes to the curriculum and have little freedom to teach to their own standards. One school seems to have a high turnover rate of teachers.


What I learned from my Interviews


I was able to conduct my interviews through phone calls and emails with two teachers in relatively different positions who both work in public school settings. The first teacher serves as a Gifted and Talented third grade teacher that teaches in a largely military populated school district. The students face moving every few years and live in households where one or two of the parents deploy often. The second teacher is not only a student teacher at his school but also serves as a substitute teacher in many of the classrooms.


I also learned that both Cedar Valley and Laura Dearing Elementary Schools serve low income students and identify as having little parental involvement at the schools and in the children’s education. I noticed that both schools view 21st Century Skills as having critical thinking skills, have the ability to problem solve and preparing students for future jobs. What I found interesting was that both teachers’ felt that reading and math were areas that their students did well in. The Cedar Valley teacher stated that her school needed the most help in writing as it was their weakest when it came to passing the state assessments. The Laura Dearing teacher stated that they had a good grip on reading, writing and math but lacked knowledge in the sciences as this was an area that they did not focus on in the state mandated curriculum.


The classrooms were also run very differently as the gifted and talented classroom was focused on individual learning, fast paced, challenging and required self-motivation. The other classroom was very hands- on; group centered and encouraged the students to work well with one another. They did not do well in a lecture type environment and would become bored and start acting out. An article on motivating weak students states that “students with an interest in a subject tend to pay more attention to it and work on it to a level greater than greater than the required one. Their engagement is high with respectively higher quality of learning” (Ganah, 2012). I feel that both teachers believed in facilitating the learning of their classrooms and while one encouraged individual work and the other group work, they both believed that they could encourage their students to find answers on their own versus lecturing them.


Lastly, I feel that one school had not only focused on the students but was being supportive of the teachers by assigning mentors to the newer teachers and encouraging continued education. The student teacher/substitute seemed to have a negative experience and was not going to pursue teaching due to the lack of support. While I was only able to interview public school teachers, I was still able to gain insight on what happens to a teacher and a school that is supported versus a teacher and school that lacks it.


Implications for your own Teaching and Learning and Philosophy of Education


Conducting these interviews has encouraged me to take a look at my philosophy of education and consider their ideas, concerns and identify areas where I can not only improve my own thoughts but implement some of theirs. During these interviews both teachers echoed the sentiments of Sir Ken and Seth Goding. Creativity and critical thinking skills are missing and need to be encouraged in the classroom. Sir Ken states that “we are now running national educational systems where mistakes are the worst thing you can make and we are educating people outside of their creative capacities” (TED, 2006). The Laura Dearing teacher said in his interview that he wanted to encourage students to explain answers in their own words versus finding the answer in the book and reading that answer aloud.


My education philosophy will include real world lessons and will continue to change as technology improves, as new curriculums are adopted and as I gain new experiences. Technology plays a huge role in our classrooms to support teaching a learning educators must adapt and adopt new methods. Currently in my state I know that math is an area where many students struggle. As I intend on working in early childhood education I know that it is going to be my job to introduce math and numbers in a way that is engaging, fun and encourages young children to enjoy it. I hope that they develop a healthy foundation and become fluent in mathematics more and more each year.


Exploring new Areas of Knowledge


As someone who has not had experience inside the classroom, I am encouraged to explore many different avenues when it comes to teaching. When I entered the first grade many years ago, I remember the new technology was scan-tron testing sheets which were used to take and grade state tests; rolling television carts and heavy projectors had to be signed out and shared between entire grade levels and would eventually morph into small and compact units that could be stored in each classroom. I also remember phasing out chalkboards for white boards and dry erase markers. Each of these items was introduced, shunned by many and then became standard items in every classroom.


I am reminded by these small technological advances and I see how teachers began to incorporate these items into their classrooms. After reading the ISTE Standards I know that combining technology and traditional methods I will be able to reach more students and inspire their creativity. The ISTE Standards states that “teachers use their knowledge of subject matter, teaching and learning, and technology to facilitate experiences that advance student learning, creativity and innovation” (ISTE Standards, 2008). I know that as a teacher I will also be introduced to more advanced technology and I plan to embrace them. There are several items that are in use in many schools across the country and I will ensure that these are items I turn to as well, they include iPads, Smart Boards and curriculums that encourage the use of web-based sites that offer interactive games, videos and applications. Students are given access to this web-based learning and can have additional instruction and assignments that can be done at home.


Similarities of Differences in Thinking


I found that there were mostly similar views between myself and the teachers that I interviewed. I feel that we shared the same views when it came to having parental involvement within the school and with the child’s learning in the home. Math and Reading are areas that need improving across the board. I also agree with both teachers that creativity and critical thinking skills are important assets in the classroom and help to motivate students. Students should also be able to problem solve whether it is working in groups and bouncing ideas off of one another, but also if the student is working alone.


There were differences when it came to each teacher running their own classroom and I think that it had to do with one teacher being responsible for a classroom of gifted and talented students, our text states that “those students are identified as gifted and talented are considered to have the potential to achieve beyond what is expected of their peers” (Newman, 2013, p. 3.4), and the other teacher taught various grade levels and students. The gifted and talented teacher gave accelerated assignments, allowed the students to work on their own and facilitated some group work. She believed that challenging her students by allowing them to work alone and learn on their own was a good fit for her classroom. The second teacher did not like lecture and was more inclined to do small group and interactive lessons. When I think about my own teaching style I feel that I could take away from both teachers and find a way to encourage small group learning, but to also encourage the students to learn on their own. When I think about my future classroom I hope to make it appealing to younger age groups, make it interactive, bright and really create an environment that fosters creativity and gives my students the opportunity to get a lot of hands on learning time.


Addressing Classroom Issues


Classrooms are made up of many students who come from many different cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds and there are going to be issues that will need to be addressed. Newman states that “schools are complex organizations that, on any given day, have a multitude of issues that confront them beyond the material that will be covered in a lesson” (Newman, 2013). Both teachers discussed an issue with parental involvement and I think there is very little a teacher can do to mitigate this. Cedar Valley Elementary is in a military town and has a high enrollment of military families. I think a way that this school can encourage parent involvement is to work with the military installation and host military nights, invite military mentors to come in and read to the students and for the units themselves to step in and support students whose parents may be away.


When it comes to Laura Dearing Elementary, one of the main issues was lack of parental assistance due to parents working multiple jobs. I think that this school was already helping in this area by offering tutoring after school, but I also feel that the school could reach out to the college students in the local town who may be looking for internships or volunteer hours. This teacher also addressed issues with behavior and a lack of respect for the teacher and one another. I fell that this really has a lot to do with students not being able to focus or getting bored easily. One method that I think would be helpful is something that my child’s school practices which is alternative seating. Teachers, donors and the school took out traditional desks and replaced them with tables that used cushioned milk crates, stability balls, rocking chairs and lowered the tables so that students could sit on pillows. Students are also allowed to choose floor seating and those that do best in a desk are also accommodated. Teachers have said that their students are less antsy and pay better attention in class.


Prioritizing Work in the Classroom


Prioritizing work in the classroom is extremely important as teachers must create lesson plans that cover all of the material set forth by the state and school district. According to the Common Core State Standards Initiative website, “the Common Core State Standards establish clear, consistent guidelines for what every student should know and be able to do in math and English language art’s from kindergarten through 12th grade” (Corestandards.org). Teacher’s face strict timelines and must create lesson plans that cover specific information and follows the lessons being taught by other teachers in the same grade level.


It is difficult to balance what needs to be taught versus items that the teacher may find helpful but is not included in the lesson. One way to dedicated time to creating effective lesson planning was to allow for team meetings during school hours one day a month. Lopez discusses the benefits of time banking in No Excuses University and states that “it was more valuable for me to allow grade level teams to plan lessons, talk about assessments, and devise interventions for the week ahead” (Lopez, 2013). This type of cooperation and collaboration allowed for teachers to go through their lesson plans and the curriculum and focus their attention on items that needed to be taught and areas where they could get the best results. I think that teachers can really find a way to adhere to the mandated curriculum and refrain from items that may just be busy work.


The Role of Technology in the Classroom


Technology is a part of the modern classroom and is something that will prepare students for the workforce. “There is an obvious need for students to be prepared to use technology in order to compete in a 21st century global economy” (Pittman & Gaines, 2015). Classrooms are incorporating technological tools such as iPads and interactive smartboards at early ages which help to stimulate learning and making students part of the process. Teachers are also gaining new experience and have the ability to reach out to other teachers and parents through technology. Lessons can be created with built in programs, report cards are being sent out through email and assessments can be graded and evaluated against previous scores in real time and with graphic representation. This information can be shared with parents and school officials and can really tell whether the purchased curriculum is working for the school. I believe that technology should be embraced but should also be taught alongside traditional methods so as to encourage creative thinking and skills.


Reflection on the  ISTE Standards for Teachers


The ISTE Standards for Students (Standards•S) introduce a model that effective teachers should follow. Some of the points covered include “assessing and implementing effective and positive learning experiences that engage students and help to improve learning; enrich professional practice and provides positive models for students, peers and the community” (ISTE Standards, 2008). When reviewing the standards and comparing them to the teachers that were interviewed, I can see how important technology can be. I did notice that the newest teacher concluded that technology would be a greater asset and should be embraced more as the more seasoned teacher found it to be helpful but not necessary. I feel that by incorporating standards and using the new tech friendly resources within the classrooms, computer labs and encouraging parents to use the parent portals, each individual is learning the importance of technology and how it will affect future education, communication and careers.




(CCSSO). (2010). Preparing America’s students for success. Retrieved from Common Core


State Standards Intitiative: http://www.corestandards.org/


International Society for Technology in Education.  ISTE Standards Teachers. Retrieved from




Ganah, A. (2012). Motivating Weak Students: A Critical Discussion and Reflection. Education, 133(2).248-258. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.


Lopez, D. (2013). No excuses university: How six exceptional systems are revolutionizing our


schools(2nd ed.).  Turnaround Schools Publications.


Pittman, T., & Gaines, T. (2015). Technology integration in third, fourth and fifth grade classrooms in a Florida school district. Educational Technology Research & Development, 63(4), 539-554. doi:10.1007/s11423-015-9391-8


Newman, R. (2013). Teaching and learning in the 21st century: Connecting the dots   San Diego,


CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.


TED.  (2006, June).  Ken Robinson says schools kill creativity [Video file].  Retrieved from http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity.html


TED.  (2012, October 17).  Stop stealing dreams: Seth Godin at TEDxYouth@BFS [Video file].


Retrieved from http://tedxtalks.ted.com/video/STOP-STEALING-DREAMS-Seth-Godin

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