Teacher Assistant Support
Even with the best set of directions students still needed some guidance or individual assistance. My school currently uses a full inclusion model (Special Education students are included in the general education classes) and SPED students often need additional support. I want all my students to learn to be independent and take ownership of their learning but I also do not want them to "suffer in silence" if they need help or are incapable of access the material. Having a co-teacher adds an extra set of hands and eyes to the classroom and gives my the flexibility to even create multiple classrooms within the class.
My co-teachers and I use a simple set of three rules to guide our blended classroom: 1. Respect all people, property, and ideas; 2. Follow directions the first time; and 3. Be prepared. The consistency of these rules is really important for middle schoolers and creates a great culture of learning in our House. We share these rules with students at the beginning of the year in a community-wide Town Hall Meeting.
To take a quick pulse of the class I may do a fist to five (students hold up a fist if they had difficulties or were unable to get in synch with the rest of class to a five which means they felt successful and are ready to transition to the next station). This Likert scale type voting gives me the opportunity to be responsive to specific student needs and quickly ascertain which students need my immediate attention or which student’s work/submissions I should review. There are also times when I feel it is appropriate to hear from students and give them the opportunity to exercise their student voice. During this exercise I take both volunteers and non-volunteers to give me their “thrills and chills/roses and thorns/high and lows of the day”. I think it is important for students to see me receive critical feedback or praise and be able to appropriately respond. It is extremely powerful for students to make a suggestion on how our class should operate and see it implemented almost immediately.
During Live Investigation and Task sessions (both teacher-led), I often use a whole group discussion format just like a traditional classroom. Blended or not, there is no substitute for discussion.