During my practicum at Morgan Park for I have discovered many things about the schools that I would never have learned in a class at UMD.  It’s exciting to see some different teaching styles and what it is actually like to be in a middle school classroom.  It is interesting to see where the middle school children are at emotionally, cognitively, and socially.

            My cooperating teacher Sheila Nyback is an amazing inspiration to me and is willing to support me in my growth as an inspiring teacher. She does this while caring about each one of her students individually.  In the classroom, Ms. Nyback is a fun and energetic teacher.  She tries to make her lessons a little more interesting by adding humor.  She also uses proximity control by not always teaching from the front of the classroom.  She walks around the classroom and even stands in the back of her classroom while teaching.  In addition she tries to change the materials that she uses, such as an overhead and the chalkboard on a day-to-day basis.  Even when she is transitioning she will try to use a different object. Another thing that Ms. Nyback does in her classroom is admitting, “Math teachers aren’t perfect.”   I think this helps so much because she is not expected to be perfect, and she can make the kids laugh most of the time by saying this. 

One thing that is especially useful in Ms. Nybacks classroom, and I think any mathematics class in general, is that Ms. Nyback sets the students up for success.  At the beginning of class, her algebra students always have four minutes to correct their assignments.  Along with homework success, she also uses this to help shy students participate in class discussions.  For example, while walking around the classroom Ms Nyback will see if particular students understand. If she sees that a particular student has the right answer, she will call on him.  This sets the students up for success because then they can figure out if they were doing something wrong before correcting the assignment; of course she uses proximity control here again by walking around the classroom while her students correct. Finally she gives her students responsibility, for example Ms Nyback lets the students correct their own homework, but while she does this, she walks around the classroom using proximity control. 

            The three different students I am choosing to write about are going to be referred to as Bob, Jane, and Fred.  Bob is a boy in Ms. Nyback’s Math 8 class.  He has severe ADHD and is morally at the stage where he lies to get attention this also affects his social development.  He tells lies about what he has and what he does to impress other students.  He also takes leads off of other students in the class to say unacceptable words and misbehave.  Bob easily understands what is being taught in class he just can’t concentrate on it with so many distractions.  I have seen Ms. Nyback join Bob during study halls to help him with his work and to get organized.  She will also try to keep him on track by taking him away from a group that he wasn’t working with.  She does this by reminding him to stay on track, but never by just singling him out.  I have also had the chance to work with him on some occasions.  Even though it can be a ton of work to keep him on track and keep a positive attitude, it is enjoyable to see him understand how to work a problem and why it works.

            Jane is another student in Ms. Nybacks class.  Jane participates often, works hard and is very organized.  Through some conversations with Jane I have found that she is mature for her age, but is still very much a kid at heart.  Through classroom interactions and watching her in the hall, I know that Jane has many friends and gets along with many of her classmates. Jane has a drive to succeed and is willing to make changes.  She switched from Algebra to Math 8.  Ms. Nyback encourages Jane and calls on her.  I also noticed that Jane has learned to succeed in a school classroom, because of her ability to answer questions and learn auditory.  She has friends but mostly a close little niche of friends that she spends much of her time with. 

            Fred, the last boy that I am going to talk about, has an interesting agreement with Ms. Nyback.  He is nice to her and she in turn is nice to him, but Fred has trouble shifting allegiances to other adults.  Fred doesn’t say a lot during class, in any typical classroom he might be labeled a sort of troublemaker, but in Ms. Nyback’s class he behaves himself fairly well.  My heart goes out to this young gentlemen and I try to work with him even though it generally doesn’t go as smoothly as I would hope.  Fred has a lot of trouble with mathematics.   He has a hard time doing most of his assignments.  Most of the time he won’t do them at all or at least not try them.  His interactions with his classmates come at the cost of someone else for the most part.  This means that he is teasing, saying something negative or distracting someone who is trying to get his or her work done.  Yet still most students’ respond positively toward Fred.  Most of them, after they are done with their work, tend to draw towards Fred and this just let’s Fred get even more off task.  Ms. Nyback doesn’t interact a lot with Fred because they have come to an agreement about his behavior though she will still not let him say anything mean about any of the other students.   Fred has a hard time interacting with me, and I have a hard time constantly fighting for control over the situation.  It’s a battle that is giving me good practice in handling students that have similar traits as Fred.  One thing that I am trying to do with Fred is to get him to just to let me work with him, any interaction is an ok interaction.  I may not get to a point where Fred doesn’t hurt my feelings or I may never handle the situation with Fred the “right way,” but I am learning and trying to figure out what works.  We have gotten to a point were he will listen to me when I tell him not to do something but we are still working on him trying to do the assignments when I can work with him.  Some days I want to cry, some days I want to scream, but I enjoy his company for the most part and I want to help him learn to understand mathematics.

            One thing that is really nice to see at Morgan Park is the Team philosophy.  Even though my teacher isn’t on a “true team” as she calls it, it is nice to see how the Team philosophy works, and it does seem to work.  I will talk a little more about this in my meeting reflection.  The team is nice because it gives teachers a chance to communicate about students, their class work and other issues pertaining to school.  The Teams help the students that I chose because it gives the teachers a chance to talk about how each one is doing in all of their classes.