Interview With Teacher, Michelle Barone - Tips on How to Manage a Clas
Mar 24, 2010 Other 2186 Views
Principal, teacher, and children's Author, Michelle Barone talks about her teaching and writing career.
Dorit: Hello Michelle, I want to thank you so much for taking time to take part in this interview. I guess I could say that being busy is an understatement for you. There are many words to describe you, author, principal for two years, teacher for eighteen years.These are the hats I wear as well with exception of the principal hat so I can definitely identify with the multi-tasking. Since you wear both hats of teaching and writing, I will address both sides of your expertise. Let's start first with the teaching.
Dorit: What do you think are the more challenging elements affecting teachers and their ability to effectively manage a class today?
Michelle: Our school in Aurora, Colorado is heavily impacted with second language learners. We have 73% Mexican students, many of whom are not literate in their native language and we are challenged to raise their academic proficiency. Class size (28-32 students) is also a mainstream issue and how to reach the gifted students, students in the middle.
Dorit: My last online teacher survey showed that teachers need strategies in differentiating instruction after assessment. What initial advice can you give them? What are some resources that can help new and seasoned teachers with this?
Michelle: We meet in grade level teams during a planning period once a week. Every week we look at various subjects and the group in need. We work on special intervention and plan lessons around a group of students. We try a lesson on the group using special intervention strategies. In our collaborative planning groups, we discuss their math assessments for example and what we need to do with this group particularly in terms of our providing for their support and literacy., what can we do with planning, planning with support, literacy.
Dorit: You bring up a critical point for new teachers and their development - collaboration and its importance, which is actually the focus of what I am writing on. New(er) teachers often don't have the "luxury" to work in teams like you ideally described. What advice then can you give a new teacher in this situation?
Michelle: New and prospective teachers should look for schools that offer a variety of support systems. During the interview, teachers should ask questions such as: "Do I have a mentor? What kinds of special developments are embedded in the district? Is there peer coaching? If these kinds of support aren't in place then every new teacher has every right to request to work with a mentor on a regular basis to help him/her get through the first year.
Dorit: And, if these support systems aren't available, then perhaps that is a red flag to new teachers that perhaps this school or school district isn't the right one.
Another area of critical need that is quickly gaining ground is how particularly newer teachers can engage their students more effectively as part of a classroom management plan. What are some of your thoughts?
Michelle: With the classroom management piece, you have to have your day planned very tightly plan in terms of learning where learning is at a high level and behavior is at a low level. Students need to know your routine such as expectations, consequences, rewards, procedures and classroom organization.
You also have to be ready to address the behavior problem before it becomes worse. I called a parent on the first day of school. Being proactive helps a difficult situation before it becomes worse. By taking action, teachers should communicate right away that misbehavior is going to interfere with the learning.
Dorit: Let's go now to the writing elements of your work. You also write middle grade historical fiction and you have a middle grade historical fiction out now. How fascinating! Tell us a little bit about it and how does it fit in with some of the standards and curriculums.
Dorit: Speaking of your middle grade novel, what are some successful techniques you have used in middle grade to successfully engage students in their reading and become better readers?
Michelle: Use good literature as well as skills of predicting and confirming, actively thinking, having the questions as the students read and then confirm to answer those questions.
I use my own book to teach the craft of writing, the technique of foreshadowing at the end of chapter, descriptive and similes to revise the craft the writing and how to read for deeper meaning.
Together, we break down the questions and find proof of the answers back in the text. I also encourage them to look at the questions, find that language of the questions, and confirming their answers using the text.
Dorit: Thank you very much Michelle for your time. I'm sure your insights and information will be valuable for all teachers.
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