Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Observation Workshop (Write-up) Who are my learners?

Notes on observation at Rivertown Mall July 22, 2011 (2-4 pm)

1st Group of students:
Who? 2 students:
-one girl and one guy
-playing with a phone and texting.
-They are both high school aged.
-Interaction is revolving around using the phone.
-sometimes the phone is used as a tool for conversation for both of them perhaps to look at something like a text, picture (media file) or even the internet
-sometimes it is used individually so that they can communicate with others outside of the situation.
So what? The interaction seemed to revolve around technology. This suggests that they find it very useful and they are familiar with it.
Now what? If technology is very familiar to them and they use daily, then I should not feel apprehensive about using it in my classroom. The key is how to incorporate it appropriately in the classroom. I also wonder if I should allow cell phones in my classrooms or have a policy that they can only be out and used when we are doing an activity with them.

2nd group of students:
Who? I observed a group of 3 boys who are latino. They have no cell phones out (at least that I could see from a distance). They are wearing simple clothes (white short sleeved t-shirts). They are joking with each other and appear to be in late middle school or early high school. They do not seem to be focused on appearance and have simple sneakers on.
So what? They seemed focused on each other and personal interactions without technology being used. They also seemed interested more in their friendship than what they were wearing or their outward appearance.
Now what? This was the first experience I had with really observing Latinos in terms of a classroom setting. It seems that they were definitely interested in each other and the social interaction which is interesting because of their sex. Perhaps, Latino culture values interaction over personal appearance. This is important to know as a teacher because I can make sure that I do not favor those students who are dressing nice. It is so easy for teachers to not purposely give attention to those students who dress nicer or have brand name clothes on. However, the book The First Days of School, stated that no matter whether we think that it is right or wrong to judge people on their outward appearance, it happens anyways. The goal as teachers is to not show favoritism.

3rd group of students:
Who? I observed a group of 7 boys and 3 girls who were all middle school aged. They are all Caucasian and most of them do not have visible cell phones out. When I did see a cell phone it was not a smart phone. I observed that they were telling each other stories and one of them was pretending to use a telephone as part of the story. They were a very dynamic group of students when they were all together. They could not sit still and were very vocal. The boys primarily had a “skater” boy look and had hair in their eyes. One of the boys had an Abercrombie and Fitch t-shirt one and another one had a Hardley t-shirt on. The girls were wearing standard informal clothes but did seem slightly worried about looking good (one of the girls had a t-shirt that was tied in the back with a hair-tie making it slightly more tight). I observed twice that the boys got up and left, leaving two girls behind. The two girls that were left behind seemed very bored and did not appear to be having a good time. Eventually one of the girls started playing with yarn to make friendship bracelets, and another girl brought out her ipod. They were staring out into thin air and were not talking with each other. When the group returned they had not bought anything. I thought that was interesting because most students were buying things and had bags with them. Perhaps they were just hanging out at the mall.
So what? It was important to observe a group of students who were younger as I will be working with middle school aged students. I need to realize that they have a ton of energy and find ways in my classroom to channel that energy to a positive end. It also means that I need to be willing to do multiple activities so they are not sitting too long. I also know what it looks like to be bored and as a teacher I need to watch for that in my classroom. If I do see boredom, I need to have activities in place that hopefully mitigate the boredom.
Now what? The next step is to see if I see the same level of energy in other similarly aged students and note whether or not I see boredom as well. I also want to note if other middle school aged students do not generally buy products at the mall but use it as a hang out.

4th group of students:
Who? I observed three boys and one girl. They seemed more appearance focused based on the clothes they were wearing. The boys all had baseball caps on and had Pac Sun bags. One of the boys seemed a bit younger and it did seem plausible that the older siblings were taking care of the younger boy. They were middle school aged.
So what? It was important for me to see what might be family interactions and how family life influences the social relationships that my learners have.
Now what? I would like to observe more of the family relationships that my learners have. I think that it is important that I know where my learners are coming from (i.e. if they have to take care of siblings, etc.)

5th group of students:
Who? I observed two girls who were eating Taco Bell. They were high school aged, and Caucasian. One girl had a Vera Bradley bag and the other girl had an iPhone. They were talking to each other but the girl with the iPhone kept having her hand on her phone either as a security measure or to check for texts.
So what? This is important because there were only two girls interacting with each other and I also got to see where they shopped. Vera Bradley is a high-end quilted purse company and iPhones are not inexpensive. I was able to view that they probably were middle class.
Now what? I do not know who my learners are going to be but I think that it is important to note all learners that come from a variety of backgrounds. I would like to see if Muskegon has a similar group of Caucasian girls. Is what I am seeing here indicative of my student population?

6th group of students:
Who? I observed a group of African American girls and boys. There was one boy and 5 girls (one of the girls seemed like she was late elementary or early middle school aged. It seemed like there were 4 teenage girls and 1 teenage boy. Near the end of observing them, I noticed that 2 younger boys joined them who were late elementary or middle school in aged. Perhaps this was a group of sisters and brothers or a group of children from two families. One of the girls was on her cell phone and she seemed like one of the older girls. Perhaps, she was the one who was in charge of them all.
So what? This was interesting because I got to observe a group of African Americans and see how much they valued the family environment and caring for one another.
Now what? Am I making a generalization about African American families in that they congregate? Do older siblings generally take care of younger siblings or is that generalization unfounded? I would like to see if I see the same pattern with other African American learners or if the pattern is different.

7th group of students:
Who? I observed 6 latino teenage girls and boys. They were sitting for a long time and had cell phones out until a mom or family member came. It seemed like they were joking with each other and having a good time.
So what? Like African American students, it seems like these teenagers have a huge responsibility to their families. It seems as though they take their family as their number one priority. This means that my learners that are Latino might have more of a responsibility to their families and for taking care of their younger siblings.
Now what? Is this really a pattern? How do I deal with this in a classroom setting? How do I meet their needs in a classroom when their minds might be focused on home issues?

8th group of students:
Who? 2 teenage girls, Caucasian, looking for friends, using long strapped purses, simple shirts, trying to find their friends.
So what? The mall is a place to find their friends and socialize and enjoy each other.
Now what? Friendship is essential to development and how can I create an environment in my classroom that fosters real relationships.

Lastly, I observed multiple high school couples. Some high school couples seemed shy about their affection and were only talking with each other and not publicly holding hands where other couples did not feel shy and were showing affection by holding hands. This is important because I need to realize that teenagers might be uncomfortable admitting they are in a relationship and do not want to bring attention to it whereas others might be overly public about it. This is important in the classroom because I should not comment on a person’s relationship unless it gets in the way of the learning process.

1 comment:

  1. Good job, it seems like you have a good foundation as it relates to teenage youth in the Greater Muskegon Area.

    A few questions I have after reading your blog include the following:
    - 2nd Group, you refer to learner's "sex" so I was wondering what you were referring to?
    - 4th Group, I have repeatedly asked myself why you have decided not to include the racial make-up of this group, even though you specifically identify that characteristic in the other seven groups?
    - 5th Group, the questions you bring up are very important. Does the data/stats for the district provide any insight?
    - 6th & 7th Groups, Again, I find your observations of interest. How did their dress compare? This characteristic was mentioned in all other observations.
    - Your last observation is one many teachers forget to consider. This may also be true for many different types of relationships (friends with someone who may not fit in, students labeled as special ed who hang out together...)

    Over-all nice job with your observations! I look forward to how you analyze and build your final compilation.