Atlas Field Observations 1-5

Atlas Case #66: Making Good Decisions When You Are Mad

When I read the title on Atlas called “Making Good Decisions When You Are Mad” (Case No. 66), I immediately had the question of what teachers can do in order to help a child with their temperament. It is no surprise that children can be overwhelmed in class with all of the stimulation they experience. Before watching this, I thought to myself, what could I potentially learn from this? How can I help my students make good decisions in the face of their anger or overstimulation? 

Before delving into the observations, I want to note the description of this observation; this case shows a teacher reading to students and asking questions about appropriate choices of behavior when they are mad and students looking at different choices and deciding if they are appropriate or not. Upon watching the video, I noted that the teacher was open and is speaking really clearly. She is using the children’s names and is actively having them engage in the questions she’s asking. Such as “Nick what is something that makes you mad? Makes you sad?”. Additionally, she validates their feelings, “That would make me upset too”. I really appreciated this teacher putting herself in a position where she was equal with her students and acknowledging it is okay to be upset about something- but it is what we do with that emotion that is truly important. 

I also was able to observe the way this teacher was able to ask scenario based questions and allowed her students to answer them. For example, she asked her students, “If someone steals your toys, what do you do?”. She not only gave them scenarios, but allowed them to work through what this may look like and how to appropriately react even when it may be difficult. I thoroughly enjoyed watching this observation because it is something I am likely going to use during my time as a School Psychologist. It is hard for some children to regulate their emotions and reactions, but teaching them these emotions are acceptable and how to cope is so important. This teacher did a great job keeping her students engaged and correcting her students when they were engaging in unacceptable behavior and allowed them to correct themselves. 

Case #1155: Analyzing Social Interaction to Develop Perspectives about Changes in Society

When I was browsing through Atlas and read the title above, I was immediately intrigued by what this lesson was going to entail. As we have been discussing in recent classes, our society is constantly changing and we have to learn to adapt with it. Therefore, when I read this title I was excited to see how we can teach our students how to in a way critically think and facilitate a conversation around these changes. The question I asked myself before delving into this observation was; “How can we facilitate a productive and genuine conversation about societal change? Especially with keeping emotions and feelings in a good place?”. 

To preface, this observation was done in a tenth grade classroom, where the teacher engages students in a discussion about Protest Movements and in turn the students engaged in an activity to respond to questions and develop a thesis statement about social interactions in history. I noticed the teacher was asking them about different spans of time and what the social issue at that time was and what was done in order to enact change. I also noted that she furthered the conversation by asking her students what they would personally be willing to do in order to enact the change they were discussing. This allowed the students to really dig into their personal beliefs and apply them to the issues they were reading about. 

I enjoyed watching this teacher work with her students and engage with them in their thoughts and opinions. She allowed her students to work in small groups to bounce ideas off one another and she walked around to talk to each student as well. I noticed she was able to build great rapport with each of her students and it allowed them to feel comfortable to openly talk about the social changes and protest prompt she gave them. Additionally, she not only gave them compliments on their thoughts and ideas, but she asked relevant questions to expand on them. The main aspect I took away from this observation was that students need to feel comfortable in order to have conversations about societal issues. We touched base in class a couple of weeks ago about “cancel culture” and the negative impacts it brings about to conversions we need to be having. I think this teacher did a great job in this lesson of establishing an environment that was respectful and receptive to the conversation and truly allowed her students to express their thoughts and feelings on the matter.

Case #1154: Examining How Intelligence Testing Bias Contributes to Ethnic and Racial Stereotypes.

Upon seeing this video on Atlas I was immediately excited to observe the conversation between the teacher and his students about how Intelligence Testing not only can be biased, but also contribute to stereotypes. I found myself excited to observe this because I will be working with intelligence tests daily in my profession as a School Psychologist. I thought to myself after seeing the title; “How will this teacher bring relevant examples to the conversation?”. Testing is an aspect of school that is often redundant and truthfully dreaded by those in the education system. So I was curious to see how this teacher would engage the students and allow them to think deeply about the issue he presented to them. 

During the observation, I was able to see that he was very engaging with his students. He called on them to think not only broadly, but specifically on what aspects lead to these biases and stereotypes. What struck me was that he brought up the aspect of geographical location and prior knowledge- specifically where this school was located and how this impacts these tests. I also observed the teacher going around to different groups of students and asking them their varying opinions on if a test can truly exist without bias, and if so, why? The teacher did a great job of building rapport with his students and allowed them to bring real life examples into their arguments. For example, one student noted how he was an avid sports player and fan. If the test in question included questions that had to do with sports, he would likely do well. Whereas someone with limited knowledge in sports would be at a disadvantage, noting how the test would be biased towards the sports player and fan. 

I found this observation to be a great tool I could possibly use in the future. When individuals hear the word testing, especially Intelligence Testing, it comes with a lot of negative connotations. After observing the way this teacher allowed his students to think deeply about the components in the test as well as question them, it led me to believe that holding a meaningful conversation may be a good way to alleviate some of the negativity behind testing. While I still hold the belief that testing is not always beneficial nor necessary, addressing testing and the negative implications is an important conversation to have.

Case #586: Building Classroom Community Through the Study of Chinese Art and Culture

As seen in the previous observations I had done on Atlas, I was immediately interested in how this teacher was able to build a classroom community through Chinese art and culture. To think back on previous experiences, I cannot recall a time in which my school had done any sort activity in which we emerged in a different culture than the dominant one. The question I went into this observation with was “Did children seem receptive to learning and emerging into the Chinese culture? Did this activity help in building the classroom community?”. 

This specific video was recorded in a second grade classroom in which the teacher was helping the students work through different stations that included various Chinese art and culture activities. I noticed immediately upon observation that the children were indeed very receptive to the Chinese art and culture activities given to them. One specific comment a student made was “Wow! That is so neat.” I was joyed to see the children were not only curious about the culture and asked questions, but they were so appreciative of the culture they were learning about. The teacher I noticed was also very encouraging of the student’s comments and their excitement. The teacher additionally did a wonderful job of allowing the students to express themselves and thoroughly enjoy the stations without attempting to reign in a lot of control. It can be challenging for a teacher to maintain a functional classroom when there are various stations, but the teacher did a good job of this. 

After I had watched the observation, the first thought I had after was the article we had read in class fairly recently with regard to Culturally-Relevant Pedagogy by Gloria Ladson-Billings. I had thought of this after the fact because the teacher was allowing other cultures (besides the majority) to be actively represented and encouraged during class. While this class is young and was just exploring Chinese art and culture instead of truly critically thinking or challenging it, I still found this pedagogy to be present in this classroom. I overall was very happy to see that teachers are actively including other cultures into their classrooms and are allowing their students to really delve into them. I was able to deduce that the students truly seemed to build a sense of community in the classroom through learning about other cultures and how fascinating they found them, even how similar some aspects were to their own culture.

Case #1256: Creating Academic Goals and Organizational Strategies

To end my observations, I was intrigued when I saw this title because I am sure it’s an aspect of teaching and counseling that may not be given much attention. Personally speaking, I remember early on in my education when I did not truly understand how to be organized and what that may entail. When I read this, my immediate question was “Will this counselor in the video be teaching her student organization skills? Also, are these skills actually doable?”. Keeping these two questions in mind, I went into my observation hoping to have these two questions answered. 

The video begins with the counselor asking the child, with ADHD in this case, why his science grade is poor when he is in fact good at science. The student is very self aware when he states that he is not organized, he forgot to take notes and it seems as though he just was in a state of disarray. While the student was self aware in the matter, I noticed the counselor was doing her best to encourage the student by noting that he is in fact good at science, and he is capable of managing his materials as well as increasing his organizational skills. I was also happy to see that she had the student write down his strengths in order to see that he is capable and already good at a variety of things. Additionally, he was able to see where some of his weaknesses were and how he could fix those. Such as getting a folder in order to organize his papers without losing them, paying close attention to how focused he is as well as turning in all assignments. 

After watching the entire video, I was able to observe that the counselor did not explicitly tell her student how to fix his disorganization, but rather she helped him set goals. I actually found this to be a better technique than explicitly teaching him some skills that may not even work for him. In a counseling class I am currently taking, we actually were taught to guide students through making their own goals instead of telling them what to do. If we take away a students autonomy, it may lead to the student not being willing to make those necessary adjustments. Keeping that aspect in mind, the counselor did a great job of asking relevant questions such as, “What does this goal look like? How could you hold yourself accountable?”. The counselor allowed her student to think of solutions to his own problems and what may work well for him, since it is not one solution fits all. In all, this observation allowed me to get a glimpse into what a goal setting meeting looks like and how to conduct one. I feel fortunate to have the chance to see a session play out with a student and what questions seem to work well so I am able to apply this to my profession in the future. 

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