Classroom Observation and Teacher Interview Leslee Reaves EDU/305CA-Child Development September 26, 2012 Greg Frates Introduction My classroom observation took place at Golden Hills Elementary School in Derek Devine’s classroom. I observed his class for a little over six hours. Mr. Devine’s class is a special education class that consisted of fourth and fifth graders. There were 14 students and a teacher’s aide. Mr. Devine seemed to be in tune with the needs of his students. Interview Questions Leslee: What is your professional background?
Mr. Devine: I began my career as a Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT), then did social work for a while, and finally decided to get my teaching credential in Mild/Moderate Special Education. Leslee: What is your teaching philosophy? Mr. Devine: I believe that the role of a teacher in a child’s life is to help them reach their academic, social, and emotional potential. The manner in which this is done can vary significantly, and it is the teacher’s job to find out what strategies, methods, and interventions work best for each child.
I believe that children learn best in positive, safe, and consistent environments, and that a teacher has been given a special role in each child’s life and should do their best to help succeed. Leslee: What specific training have you had—beyond an introductory course in your teacher education program—in developmental issues? How effective was that training? Mr. Devine: When I was getting my MFT, I had several classes that dealt with developmental issues, most of which I found helpful. Leslee: How often do you consult with peers or specialists about developmental issues?
Mr. Devine: I consult with peers and specialists about developmental issues on a relatively regular basis, as many of my students present with developmental challenges. Leslee: What are the developmental issues you deal with in your classroom? Leslee: Cognitive – What are the academic abilities and challenges in your age group? : Mr. Devine: I have students who are working anywhere from a pre-primer level to a fifth grade level. Leslee: Physical – What are the differences in gender or size? What are the visual differences or milestones? Mr.
Devine: I usually have a class of about 75% boys and 25% girls, some of which present with a variety of physical motor difficulties. The great majority of my students do not look any different from students in the general education population. Leslee: Emotional – How do the students handle life situations and stress? How do they solve problems? Mr. Devine: Many of my students are emotionally immature and some are unstable/volatile. The manner in which my students handle problems/stress varies from appropriately to immaturely and/or aggressively. Leslee: Social – How are their relationships with their peers or at home?
How do they perform in a group setting? Mr. Devine: Many interact well together, but there are typically enough students that need help in this area that I teach social skills on a regular basis. Leslee: What are the specific challenges and strengths of your age group? Mr. Devine: Strengths would include creativity, kindness, wanting to please, artistic, and friendly. Challenges include short attention spans, difficulty focusing, verbal/physical aggression, lack of academic motivation, and poor social skills. Leslee: Which issue seems to dominate? Why do you think that is the case?
Mr. Devine: Because many of my students have ADHD, one of my primary concerns is how to keep them focused. Leslee: Think about the most significant developmental issue you have worked with in your career. What are the details of the issue? How did you address the issue? What was the outcome? The most significant developmental issues seem too often involve students on the autism spectrum, due to the fact that many have been reluctant to participate/engage, in large part because it is difficult for them to find motivation through social or physical means.
I have set up several plans involving their particular interests, as a way to motivate them to work and behave appropriately, and have found that this approach works well, in general. Because their world consists of primarily what is interesting to them, using their interests (and many students on the autism spectrum are very fixated with particular things/items) can get them to engage academically. Allowing them to be a part of designing a plan for them is also very helpful. Leslee: Is there anything else you would like me to know about developmental issues in your classroom teaching experience?
Mr. Devine: Only that each student’s developmental difficulties need to be examined and addressed on a individual basis. Leslee: Do you think as the years go by children are progressing better or do you think children are having more developmental issues? Mr. Devine: I have only been teaching for five years, so it is difficult for me to say. My experience, so far, has been fairly consistent, in terms of number of students with developmental issues. Leslee: Do you feel that different cultures have different developmental milestones?
Why? Mr. Devine: Yes, because a culture’s values and traditions would dictate what they believe their children’s milestones should be, etc. Milestones we value here in the west may not be valued as much, or at all, in other cultures. Developmental Theory There are many different developmental theories and the use of these theories can be useful to a teacher in a classroom. Especially, in Mr. Devine’s classroom because he is dealing with children’s handicaps on all different learning levels. According to Mr.
Devine he like Piaget’s theories the best but he said that he really cannot refer to them because of the different learning disabilities that his students have. He said that this year he has been doing many hands on because that seems to work with about 80% of his students. Mr. Devine said that he focuses a lot on the social development of the kids in his room because a lot of them do not understand how to interact with other and that is why he does hands on because he can put them in groups. Interview Experience Mr.
Devine is a very calm natured person, very knowledgeable in what he does, and all of his students really like him. I did the interview when I first got into the classroom that way if I was not able to finish what I wanted to ask I could do it at the end of the day. He was able to answer each question without any hesitation. While answering the questions he knew what I was referring to in regards to different types of development. If I did not understand something, he said I would ask what he meant and he would explain it to me. Overall, this was a great experience.
Graphic Representation While doing the classroom observation Mr. Devine used many different types of flash cards. One of the subjects that he focuses on a lot is social skills. He made flash card with a bunch of different images and words. Some of the images were of kids fighting, playing, and talking. Some of the words were share, friendship, play, kind, happy, social, and pride. Mr. Devine did the flash cards as a lesson plan. The students had to raise their hands and tell what was happening in the picture and if it was right or wrong. With the words, they had to know the definition.
This lesson plan would be great to incorporate in to any class. I would definitely use this lesson plan in my class by taking 20 to 30 minutes of the day and talking with the students on the rights and wrongs of how we treat our peers and non-peers. The theory that Mr. Devine used here is social development and teaching them how to get along with others. Conclusion The classroom observation and teacher interview was a great experience. While working in his special education classroom I learned that student with learning disabilities are under developed in areas that other students are not.
I also learned that working with these types of students you as a teacher have to be much more creative than a general education teacher does. Something that I took away as a mental not is that each year may be completely different from the year before, therefore the lesson plan that work the year prior may not work the following year because each students learning abilities are so different. References Derek Devine, Golden Hills Elementary School, Special Education Teacher, Fourth and Fifth Grade