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Hillary Walker

EDUF 2120D

Teaching Persona Reflection

March 30, 2006

My Observations of Pedagogical Paradigms in the Classroom

There have been countless teaching methods and strategies that I have examined

in classrooms during my time in school and observing classrooms in my field

experiences. I agree with many of them, and have begun to develop my teaching style

and the ways in which I want to direct my classroom and students when I graduate and

become a teacher. After watching Mrs. Welsh, the first grade teacher I am observing at

Rincon Elementary School, viewing two episodes of Boston Public, watching Stand and

Deliver and Dangerous Minds, and of course being a student in the classroom setting, I

believe that the Transmissionist and Constructivist paradigms are the ones I want to

model in my classroom. I believe that the teacher should be at the front of the classroom

or walking around during lectures and class time, but students should also have a voice in

the classroom and should always feel a part of their learning processes. I do not agree

that one single paradigm is completely right; instead, I believe that each teacher should

have a combination of methods and develop a style that works for him or her and makes

learning enjoyable for all who are involved.

One of the most important components of a good teacher is the ability to direct

and discipline a classroom in a positive manner. The Transmissionist paradigm is the one

I agree with the most for numerous reasons. First, I believe that classrooms should be

highly organized and follow a set of rules and instruction that the teacher directs.
Students are at school to learn, and since the teacher has college degrees and experience,

he or she is the qualified person to teach the class. If teachers let students have too much

control over their classrooms, then students think they make the rules and it is harder for

learning to take place. Second, although teachers need to be nurturing to students’ needs,

they also need to be the authority figure in the classroom and develop on-task learners.

Mrs. Welsh, my clinical supervisor at Rincon Elementary School, follows a very strict

Transmissionist model in her classroom. She has let the students know from the very

beginning that she is the one in charge and her students will follow her rules. The

students respect her because she has not wavered from this belief, and does not allow

misbehavior to occur in her classroom without consequences. I admire her persistence

when it comes to discipline and authority in her classroom. Although I do greatly agree

with Mrs. Welsh’s classroom management policies, I also concur with some of the

Constructivist viewpoints.

Constructivists believe that students should have equal control over their learning

and disciplining. They think that internal incentives within each student are the way to

motivate the child, and that the teacher should encourage student voices in the classroom.

I do not feel that students should have the opportunity to discipline themselves, especially

in elementary schools, because they are too young to know how to handle that kind of

responsibility. Teachers must instruct students on what is acceptable in their classrooms,

and then follow through with consequences when a rule is broken. Students will not take

on this responsibility simply for fear of getting into trouble. I do, however, agree with

students’ having a voice in their classrooms. Teachers should always take into

consideration students’ feelings and beliefs because otherwise students will feel that they
are being ignored and might give up on the learning process. In the first Boston Public

episode we watched in class, Danny was very inspiring to me because he discussed a

controversial issue in his class that could have gotten him fired, but he did it simply

because his students wanted to confer about it and learn more about the topic. I think that

took courage and I admire his character for that. I also liked Louanne Johnson’s teaching

style in Dangerous Minds because she allowed her students to take charge of part of their

own learning, but went about that in a way that still permitted her to stay the authority

figure in her classroom. She also gave the students incentives to do well by offering them

free meals and candy. I believe that rewards are a wonderful way to encourage students

to succeed.

When we watched the movie Stand and Deliver in class, I was extremely

impressed with the main character Jaime Escalante’s devotion and desire to help his

students excel in calculus. He never gave up on them, even when it seemed that they

would never do well, and he put in countless extra hours coaching them before their AP

exam. Although Jaime’s teaching style is clearly Liberatory, and I do not agree with

much of their beliefs, I do strive to be as dedicated to my students as Jaime was. Jaime

went above and beyond his call of duty, and I am sure it made it all worth it when each of

his students passed his or her exam. One of the reasons I feel that Jaime is a Liberatory

teacher is because he teaches underprivileged students in a bad part of Los Angeles.

These students have been given up on by countless teachers and have had the message

instilled in them that they are destined to fail. But Jaime Escalante had a different plan

for his students, which was to do everything in his power to assist them in learning
calculus. The students in Jaime’s class are also in charge of their own learning, which is

another characteristic of Liberatory teachers.

Since I will be teaching at the elementary level, I do not believe in allowing

children that young to be in charge of their own learning because they, again, are much

too young to understand how to study on their own. The students I will be teaching will

have been in school for less than five years, and most of them will not have mastered the

skills of teaching themselves the tremendously imperative concepts that are taught at the

elementary level. The concepts I will be teaching my elementary-aged students will be

the basis for all the other knowledge they will acquire for the rest of their student careers,

and I believe it is important for teachers to teach these concepts well to their students. I

will encourage and reward my students for excellent work in my classroom; however, I

will not expect them to understand the ideas that I will be teaching without my

instruction.

My clinical supervisor has many techniques and methods used in her classroom

that work very well. For example, she keeps her students on a strict schedule that she

rarely deviates from. She covers all subject areas thoroughly each day, and takes the

children to the library to find a book to read for a day and then take an accelerated

reading test on the next day. Mrs. Welsh also keeps very good contact with her students’

parents, and tries to insist on their involvement in their students’ education. I believe that

parent engagement in their child’s learning is particularly pertinent, especially at the

elementary-level. I hope to have as good of relations with my students’ parents when I

graduate and become a teacher. However, there are also some techniques that Mrs. Welsh

uses in her classroom that I do not agree with. I do not think that her disciplining
practices are acceptable. She often will let many things slide that should be dealt with

when they happen, will let her anger build up, and then suddenly explode on the student.

I do not believe that is fair to do to a child of any age. If a teacher constantly allows

students to misbehave and only rarely punishes them for their actions, the students will

not understand that their behavior is inappropriate and most likely will not modify their

behavior. I also do not think that letting her students sit and wait for five minutes while

Mrs. Welsh is having a friendly conversation with her para-pro is suitable. I think that

teachers should be engaged with their students during school hours, and personal

business should be handled after school. I have learned numerous lessons and methods

from Mrs. Welsh that I would like to carry with me throughout my teaching career; but

there are also many things I would never model in my classroom.

In conclusion, I have begun to develop a teaching paradigm that I will carry with

me after college and use in my own classrooms in the future. I am generally a

Transmissionist teacher because I feel that teachers should have the majority of the

control over their classrooms, should keep the class focused on the subject matter being

taught, and should discipline in a way that is consistent. I observed the Transmissionist

teaching method practiced mostly by my clinical supervisor at Rincon Elementary

School. She forced her students to recognize from the beginning that she was the person

in charge and this caused her students to respect her more. I do, however, agree with

some of the Constructivist paradigm. I like how they encourage students to get involved

with their own learning, although I do not feel students should be in charge of it. I also

like how Constructivists are open to students’ suggestions and ideas. Danny, the main

teacher in Boston Public, exemplified these characteristics when he allowed his class to
discuss a controversial topic during class. I am not, however, a Liberatory teacher simply

because I do not feel that students at the elementary-level should be in charge of their

own learning. I am not going to stick to only one pedagogical paradigm when I begin

teaching simply because I would like to combine the aspects of each paradigm that I

agree with and make it my own. I feel this experience will help make me a wonderful

teacher one day.