School Learning Environment
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School Learning Environment
This reflection focused upon my field experience school's learning environment, including my expectations and what I had learned thus far.
When I first began to think about my placement at a Montgomery County Middle School, the learning environment of the classroom was one of the first things that had wandered across my mind. I had already known quite a few facts about the Montgomery County school system; I knew that it was completely mainstreamed, that there were none of the special education classes that divided up my middle and high school. I also had heard that the school was set up in “teams” and “pods”; something else I had never experienced in my years of being a student in southwestern Virginia. The phrase “team-teaching” seemed to crop up when someone mentions “pods” or “teams” as well, once more something I was not experienced with. I knew by hearing these initial comments and facts about a Montgomery County Middle School I was in for a change of pace from what I was accustomed.
When I first walked into this middle school, I was struck by the sheer awesomeness of the building; I thought that if the building was this nice then the classrooms had to be incredible. The classroom that I am teaching in is also pretty incredible. The classroom is very science oriented and seemed as if it would be very conducive to scientific learning. There are bright posters on the wall, showing various animals, places, as well as the scientific method. There are specimens in jars, ranging from small worms to large lobsters. Also along the bookshelves there are several books on wildlife and insect identification and other various scientific readings. In the back of the room there are three large fish tanks, two of which are saltwater. Also along the back there are two large sinks that overlook the Blue Ridge Mountains through two large windows. There was a computer classroom right outside as well. All in all, the room looked very conducive to scientific learning and that was very exciting. When I saw this room I thought the class was going to be very hands-on, very lab oriented and very exciting. While there has been a lab or two, for the most part the class is not greatly hands-on. There have been a couple labs, one involving reaction time and one lab involving osmosis. However, this is due to the fact it is the beginning of the year and the teacher and students are starting to learn about each other, sometimes one cannot jump directly into two or three labs a week before knowing more about the students.
One thing I am greatly excited about is that we are going on several field trips. I am really looking forward to participating in these trips and I feel it will only be beneficial for the students to experience science outside the classroom. I always looked forward to taking the classroom outside, where students are able to see that science is practiced everyday, not just in the classroom. Inside the classroom though, the kids seem to be learning; and the classroom environment, seems to be working well for both the students and the teacher.
One thing I did not have an expectation set upon was the teams. I actually did not know how that would work in the middle school environment. The school is divided into pods and each student is assigned to one pod and this student will take their core classes within that pod area. My team really only has two teachers. It is a small team made up of only about 40 students. One teacher teaches science and math, while his teammate teaches English and social studies. This allows the classes to become very comfortable with one another due to having all their core classes together, while still maintaining the independence of middle school. I feel that this is a great method to encourage a student's intellectual as well as social growth.
I have learned quite a bit about the curriculum in middle school. My cooperating teacher is a very experienced teacher, and had taught at the middle school level for some time. The material that is covered in the textbook and asked to be covered in the Virginia Standards of Learning was pretty much what I had expected; a little less complicated version of biology and ecology. So far, the teacher is getting to know the students and their prior knowledge so we are reviewing and adding upon that some new knowledge. The students do not seem too confused or overwhelmed by any of the material, so this learning environment does seem to work for them. Overall, I, myself, am grasping the middle school curriculum as well as the students.
The learning environment seems to be conducive to the children’s learning. They seem to be grasping the scientific concepts of the curriculum. This science classroom is one that focuses on student's growth, intellectually and socially and is one that is focused upon the students' success.