Blog #2: Can a case-based , online learning environment prompt change in pre-service teachers knowledge of effective parent-teacher communication

Throughout the time I have been part of this research project, Doctor Walker and I have made great progress. We have now shifted gears and have been coding data in a different area of education. Each project is related, both showing the progress of beginner teachers, just in different areas. We have now coded data relating to parent-teacher communication. There are seven elements to constructing parent-teacher conferences. These include an opening, sharing information, gathering information, establishing an action plan, maintaining a positive relationship, accepting emotions of the parents (s), and managing the flow of the conference. Several undergraduate and graduate students were to create a list of steps to follow before being guided through a parent-teacher conference. These students were later assigned to watch cases of certain conferences that were performed and were to read through certain case studies. After watching and reading each case, students were to reflect on what they saw or read, learning from the mistakes that were made by other teachers. One of the theories that we have come up with is that watching others fail and succeed; including opportunities for making decisions and observing model practices, can enhance one’s performance. Once the students were able to analyze these cases, they were able to go back to their original responses to add or eliminate anything that they learned. When analyzing this data, we coded each step that they included, based on the seven elements created by Dr. Walker. The post-case responses revealed that there was an increase in awareness of parent-teacher interaction that included many of the seven elements. This experience made both undergraduate and graduate students aware of potential strategies that could be used in the future.

Before I began coding all of the data, I read my work first to compare it with the others, out of my own curiosity. I learned that some of my methods were similar to many and I learned from those that were different. Analyzing the data has been very interesting and has had an impact on actions that I will take when interacting with parents in the classroom. This experience has made me more open minded and aware of many ideas that could benefit me in the future. I have learned several approaches to take when being faced with these situations.  When analyzing the data, I did not have many challenges because I was fortunate enough to have learned this information before hand when I took the Teach 301 course and was familiar with the elements of a parent-teacher conference, which benefited me when coding the data. I was successful in analyzing the data, learning from a variety of approaches, and am now able to put it into context. Working with a faculty member one on one seemed to be more beneficial for myself because I felt like I was able to learn more focusing on one topic, rather than jumping from topic to topic in a classroom-based environment. A few questions that came to my attention when analyzing the data was the different experiences from each student and how each student was prepared. These factors may have changed the outcomes of some of the post responses because they had enough experience to have many of the elements needed in their pre-response. Overall, tactics that I have learned through this process will benefit me in the future and have made me more open minded towards other strategies.

Blog #1: Learning to Teach Through Simulation

The title of the research that Dr. Walker and I are working on is, “Learning to Teach Through Simulation.” In class, myself and my peers were taught classroom management strategies that foster effective teaching and learning. Before familiarizing ourselves with such strategies, we created definitions that reflected what we knew about classroom management and what it is. Throughout the course, we learned about what classroom management is and were able to take part in simulated classrooms with the avatars to give us a better  understanding of what it feels like to lead a classroom of middle school students. At the end of the course, we defined classroom management once again. Not only was data from undergraduates gathered, first year teachers in New York City also answered the same questions. Data from each of these groups will be analyzed by Doctor Walker and I to create reoccurring themes that were found within each response.

Our goal is to create theories  and educational models that can help beginning teachers create new skills to adapt their management strategies to fit students’ individual personalities and temperaments. These skills include an equal balance of humanist, behaviorist, and self-regulatory skills. If teachers learn how to use each of these skills effectively, they will be on their way to a successful school year. To fulfill our goal, we created themes that we hope to define when going through the data. Each theme reflects a different part of classroom management. These include control (behaviorism), care (humanism), and self-regulation (teachers’ behavior). We are using a coding scheme to categorize each part of every definition. By coding our information, it will help us confirm if our hypotheses are correct. We hypothesize that the pre- unit definition will be more focused on control and the post- unit assessments will include a more balanced definition of all three themes. Every piece of data will be helpful in guiding us towards a solid answer of what classroom management is, and what skills are needed for students/ teachers to come to this conclusion. The pre- and post- definitions were later analyzed by each student themselves; and we have been comparing their pre- and post- definitions as well to determine what was learned from this course experience. These data provided us with data that was useful for our research. We analyzed the pre- and post- definitions created by each student, comparing their definitions to record how much more complex their ending results were. By doing so, we were provided with data that was useful for our research. Our initial findings suggest that students made a shift from thinking about classroom management as controlling student behavior to thinking about it as meeting students’ needs and regulating their own personal teaching behaviors. After we finish analyzing these data we will move on to look at what the study participants thought about their performance in the simulated classroom. Our goal is to submit a proposal to the American Educational Research Association Conference by July 22.