In my quest for answers to questions to submit in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the International Certificate of Teaching Mastery that I got in February, I asked Robert Vincent* these specific questions about student-related issues in his daily
2. Do you allow students to make mistakes or do they get a failing grade every time they make a mistake?
I have students to work in a group (usually four people) and attempt a problem individually. When they are complete, they compare answers and debate why their answer is correct based on science reasoning. They have learned by now that we do not make fun of or put down a team member when they are wrong. They encourage and positively encourage them to see why their answer may be incorrect. I then present possible solutions on the chalk board. They may all be correct. It may have only one conclusion.
3. Do you have opportunities for students to help each other out with lessons? Can they work together?
I enjoy peer tutoring and assistance. It allows students to realize what a good citizen is. The rule is: Do not give them the answer. Guide them toward the answer and follow steps such as properties in mathematics.
4. Do you have any “real world” application projects such as letting them help decide on classroom rules or consequences for behavior?
We decide what our classroom creed will be. We decide as a group what acceptable jobs are for the four people in their team. There are always basic rules (guidelines) they must follow. A hitchhiker is a person who waits on someone else to give them a ride (free transportation). We have no hitchhikers in our group. They must do their part in solving the problem
5. Do you take them outside? Do they get to work in other ways besides just sitting in their desks?
We do what I call a "walkabout." We go outside and begin to name the common trees in our area. We learn how to recognize poisonous plants and creatures. We may go out and measure the dimensions of a play area that has a border with rock inside for safety. We will measure the average depth by creating a grid. I will then take them back in and we will calculate total cubic units of gravel and how much gravel is in a 1X1X1 cubic area. This is a major project with many mathematical/geometric lessons.
6. Are you teaching by the standards for your grade level?.
I attempt to follow our state standards for education. However, the United States is beginning to implement what is called Standard Core Standards that is global. We will teach our students to be able to go anywhere in the world and be able to compete equally. The United States is very low in basic and advanced knowledge due to the past generation of laziness. That is coming to an end. Most of our students are not disciplined as this nation once was.
7. Are you connecting lessons to the world so students can see how important they are in the global picture?.
I am a multiculture teacher. For instance, I teach the students how a student in Brazil divides and how a student in Mozambique divides to allow them to see similarity and difference. We discuss that mathematics is an international science as are the sciences in general.
Finally, global mindedness is and has always been important. We just have been too arrogant to teach the idea. I love global knowledge. Today, we looked at the fact that there are hickory trees in many areas of the world. I am teaching that different types of wood have different densities therefore the choice of wood used to cook and warm the home is important.
*Robert Vincent is a dedicated Math and Science teacher at Grove School in Shawnee, Oklahoma. Check out his website:http://revincentiii.com/