Classroom Observation Essay

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Classroom Observation and Commentary
How the Teacher Promotes a Positive Classroom Environment for Reading Instruction

The teacher promoted a positive classroom environment for reader instruction first by greeting the class warmly and announcing the activity that the class was going to do in a warm and enthusiastic tone. The teacher then used cue cards with large print words in different colors to go over the various vocabulary terms that the class was going to read in their reading material for the day. The teacher sounded out the first few words and then invited the class to sound them out with her. Thus the teaching approach was varied and oriented towards appealing to diverse learning styles (Souto-Manning & Martell, 2016). Then she asked if anyone could spell the word. If a student raised a hand but had difficulty spelling or reading the word, the teacher encouraged the student by asking helpful questions in a warm and friendly and encouraging tone, such as, “What sound do the letters ‘ck’ make?” and if the student was able to answer correctly the teacher gave a warm expression of approbation, such as, “Good job! I knew you could do it!” The students would invariably show their pleasure at this form of external motivation and smile happily in return, which is consistent with demonstrations of positive reinforcement according to (Mazur, 2016).

The teacher addressed the students by name asked who would like to take turns reading. With students who read well, she was just as encouraging and warm as students whose reading was halting and uncertain. She never dismissed a student for failing to read a word out loud correctly and always encouraged with the same line of questioning in an attempt to get students to think back to the earlier part of the lesson in which she explained the sounds of the letters and practiced reading the vocabulary words with the students. Every action and tone of the teacher was measured and implemented to achieve a warm and friendly environment; however, it was never so light that the children misread her warmth as a cue for rambunctiousness. The teacher’s tones and attitude were supportive of an ordered by positive learning environment.

How the Teacher Engages Students During Reading Instruction

After going around the class once, the teacher gathered the students together separately who required further assistance and spent about fifteen minutes with them working on their reading at a small table, while the other students read a brief excerpt and answered the questions on their own. The teacher working with the slower students read the same excerpt, having each student at the table take a turn answering one question. In this way she kept all the students together at the same pace but was able to devote extra time and attention to those students who were struggling. By taking time to work with these students separately the teacher was differentiating instruction for each segment, which is a recommended practice for promoting inclusion (Souto-Manning & Martell, 2016).

With the whole class together once more, the teacher engaged students about the reading by bringing into the question concepts from their own lives that they could associate with...…certain point in the lesson. This made it seem inorganic and the lesson could have been much improved had she spent more time linking the content to the student’s lives.

The teacher also did not implement lesson delivery very well. The goals of the lesson were not defined at the outset, so it was somewhat ambiguous what the purpose of the reading exercise was. Students were not given any information that explained what they would be focusing on, other than the going over of certain vocabulary words. As Gottlieb (2006) shows, lesson delivery is an important part of the teaching approach and the learning acquisition process because it puts before the learner the specific goals and the methods by which those goals will be achieved throughout the lesson. The teacher’s lesson was somewhat wide-ranging and went from vocabulary to reading to context clues to plot diagramming, so it lacked direction and form. It seemed as though the teacher were simply moving from one idea to the next without having an overarching focus that would allow the students to benefit from a complete vision and sense of purpose with what they were doing.

Overall the lesson was delivered well enough and the teacher was positive throughout and kept the students engaged with the reading material. They practiced pronouncing words, comprehending the reading material and engaging in critical thinking, all of which are important for a reading lesson. The main points that could be improved upon would be pacing of the lesson (slowing it down to allow for deeper acquisition of knowledge), building background and lesson delivery.

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