Directed Field Experience Essay
Intro To Teaching – EDF 2005
Professor K. Foster
Mrs. Humphrey’s 1st grade classroom is a fast-paced learning environment that is as diverse and as gifted as its 16 students. Throughout the short amount of time I’ve spent with the Seminole County veteran educator and her vibrant students, I’ve been inflicted with insightful educational wisdom and sheer creativeness. Mrs. Humphrey has a very successful approach to education. In “Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences: In Today’s Classroom”1, my research yielded results that focused primarily on highlighting students’ unique needs by meeting them in equally unique teaching methods. I’m excited to share the results of my observation time with Mrs. Carolyn Humphrey regarding her methodology, materials, classroom environment(s), and finally the outcome of this unique classroom’s learning experience for the most important learners of all…her students.
Humphrey’s methods of teaching are primarily centered around teacher-student interaction. This, of course is quite natural, given the age group of her young classroom. Her ability to serve a multitude of unique needs within the same class is no small feat. As an effective learning tool, the majority of days are devoted to criteria that the kids enjoy. Beginning in the mornings, her students enjoy “carpet time”, in which they sit politely on the floor and learn about the days of the week. The students also build sentences explaining that “Today is Tuesday, yesterday was Monday, and tomorrow will be Wednesday.” This does a fantastic job of illustrating a favorite approach of mine that Humphrey has perfected…structure. Starting out this way, gives the students realistic expectations for the day’s remaining seven hours. It’s this structure and diligence that her students and, perhaps all children, have learned to depend on and eventually crave.
Academic lessons with Mrs. Humphrey have been focused on reading, spelling and mathematics. The criteria seems like it’s very enjoyable and quite natural to teach. The students are quite comfortable with and challenged in a healthy way as a result of these subjects’ presentations.
Being faced with adversity in the classroom is an everyday, perhaps every hour occurrence. Every educator’s greatest fear, Humphrey engages her students’ adverse behavioral problems with a cool head. She agrees that, “you must pick and choose [your battles]”4, and that not every action deserves a reaction. This concept, although not novel, is quite challenging for most. Luckily, she has had a lot of practice and did well to divulge invaluable insight.
The materials used within the classroom are varying. Keeping the children’s mind’s occupied as well as stimulated, Mrs. Humphrey takes advantage of Dr. James’ concept of “unchanging objects”2 in his theory of fixed functions. In keeping with the sincerity of objects that children enjoy, i.e. action figures, foam shapes, Legos and dice games, she creatively puts academically relevant spins on items often found in a toy chest at the foot of a child’s bed. Of course, the well-seasoned educator takes a page out of traditional education’s book just as naturally. Worksheets and booklets are on hand for most standardized lessons that are applicable to the majority of students.
Mrs. Humphrey’s flexibility concerning applicatory classroom materials lends greatly to the success of her classroom. As I stated before, her classroom is incredibly diverse and in a culturally rich community, which demands much of an educator.
Around a quarter of the classroom requires more attention from Mrs. Humphrey in the different areas of study. This time is made available through her good use of a large classroom environment and lots of different available learning stations of her own invention. During more independent students’ study at these stations, she is able to work in close proximity with ESOL, special needs and generally speaking, students that are behind in their studies. It’s been my observation that this constantly evolving classroom concept yields positive results for both Mrs. Humphrey and her students.
A wife, mother and distinguished grade school teacher for more than twenty years, Mrs. Carolyn Humphrey has been an ideal observation candidate. Her approach to education is a very successful one. Taken away is an informed standpoint about teaching young students in general that assists greatly to the morale of a perspective teaching professional.
- “Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences Theory: In Today’s Classroom”. Previous coursework.
- “The Principles of Psychology”. Pg.571, paragraph 2. Dr. William James. 2007 Cosimo.
- Photograph on cover courtesy of Microsoft clip art.
- Carolyn Humphrey, Aloma Elementary, Winter Park, FL. Fall 2010