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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Mo’ Strategies, Mo’ Problems?????


The time a teacher spends in front of the classroom utilizing traditional instructional methods may set a more rigorous pace, with more time allotted for covering curriculum content in-depth. However, time spent in front of the classroom dos not necessarily mean that the students are mastering the material or learning more quickly.

Teachers have to be aware of mixed method approaches for maximizing student learning. Some ways to do this is through the implementation of Peer Mediated Interventions (PMI) and Self Management Interventions (SMI). As human beings, we need social interaction and can learn a lot from our environment. Likewise, we need to have the ability to self-evaluate and self-monitor. If these skills are not mastered early on in life, it could have detrimental implications for the child academically and in social settings.

With the increasing demands on educators due to No Child Left Behind Laws and other tasking duties due to testing requirements, what time is allotted for teachers to implement programs such as these that require a lot of time management and organization?

Some districts offer professional development and consultation services, however, what support do school districts have in place for teachers to utilize PMI and SMI strategies.

Teacher education programs are also criticized for not providing enough in-class experiences for students prior to graduation. With the amount of time and expertise required for implementing PMI and SMI strategies, how are novice teachers prepared to perform the role of a researcher?

Should teachers compensated for the extra work that goes into implementing such a rigorous curriculum?

With the amount of empirical research showing the effectiveness of PMIs and SMIs and with the added fact that it is one of the most cost effective ways of improving student learning, it seems like a rational decision to support the execution of such programs in school districts. The school psychologist can play a pivotal role in supporting such causes.

This Blog was created by Toyin Adekoje and Monique Garcia.

25 comments:

lisa said...

While I am a fan of positive peer interaction. I don't see PMI being implemented in secondary education any time soon. At least from my experience at my high school teachers spent so much time on behavior, making sure students understood basic concepts that peer involvement in certain subjects would be ineffective.

Monique said...

lisa, in what subjects do you think this could be ineffective? I agree with you, I think that this could be a total flop in some areas but, I also think that it could be very successful at times.....It depends on your classroom dynamic and whether or not the students are able to work at the same...or do they have to be able to work at the same pace?????What if you have a classroom full of children who all function at different levels??

Kasandra said...

I think SMI is an effective, yet underused tool, possibly because of the reasons that you listed (time and money). My experience with kids is that when you give them a task that has to do WITH them, they'll be more excited to complete it. I give the kids I work with a checklist of things that need to be completed within that period and there is a huge sense of accomplishment when they are able to check those items off. For other students, I use a behavior checklist and the same feeling of accomplishment is there. Now I'm speaking about grades 3-5. I don't know how this would work with older kids; I know if I was in high school and someone tried to give me a list like this, I would probably crumple it up and toss it.

As far as professional development days for implementing PMI and SMI strategies, I think it's a great idea. But from experience, some teachers aren't even fully implementing IEPs and behavior contracts with our students...the teachers that aren't even doing that are not going to be going above and beyond to implement PMI and SMI without some sort of extra compensation.

*note* I am not saying ALL teachers. I'm saying SOME and I AM speaking from personal experience.

Monique said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Monique said...

I think a checklist as an SMI tool is great for younger kids.. It teaches them to be self sufficient and to teach themselves which is great.. There are programs that parents can implement outside of school that can help children teach themselves. I know of one program in particular ..it is called "kumon" ...its goal is to teach your child to become self reliant, independent and motivated to learn on their own..One of my family members does this with her children and it's great!...check out this website and tell me what you think??? http://www.kumon.com/

Toyin said...

@ Kassandra,

I think part of the problem is teacher accountability like you pointed out. If a teacher is already not doing the bare minimum that they are supposed to, then why would they go above and beyond. While I agree that not all teachers are like this, there needs to be a way to hold ineffective teachers accountable.

I think our focus is targeted at teachers who are effective, and doing the extra things to make sure their kids are doing good, should there be some way of rewarding such teachers or do we think that it's just part of their job description? Let's keep in mind, other people are doing mediocre jobs while these teachers are going above and beyond to make sure their kids are high achievers by implementing PMI or SMI strategies.. I think it's worth thinking about.

Thoughts...

Kasandra said...

@ Toein-

:-)

Toyin, of course, ideally it would be nice to be able to afford to pay effective teachers extra as an incentive to implement/continue implementing PMI and SMI strategies. However with the budgets schools have, there isn't any room to pay teachers any extra. If there was, I'm all for it. I believe that effective teachers should be paid more. How effectiveness is judged is a different matter (like we discussed on previous blogs).

Monique said...

toein and kasandra
you guys bring up great points. I agree that there are many teachers who go above and beyond to make sure that their students are performing to the best of their ability and others are mediocre..Many teachers are very overwhelmed!!They don't have the time or energy to learn how to implement a new teaching strategy..Perhaps the focus should be on teaching programs..Students in education programs should learn these strategies while they are in their teaching program...What do you guys think??

Amber said...

I think the answer might lie with US! Maybe it's up to school psychologists to bring about ideas/workshops and PASSION about these methods!

It seems, like the original question suggested, that PMI strategies could initially take away content-based time in the classroom. Time needs to be taken for the students to learn the methods, to master the methods, and then to implement them as well. The argument can be made that with the pressure on performance-based outcomes from the NCLB that these strategies could be stressful to teachers, and detrimental regarding funding, but the only thing I've seen coming from NCLB is that I had a teacher in HS tell me "In order to get funding I need to teach you specific things that somebody is telling me to teach you. If you want your football teams, your basketball teams and your drama clubs we have to scratch the rest of our curriculum and I have to teach you how to take this test." Is that what the purpose of education has come to?!?
A crucial part of PMI is the teaching of STRATEGIES. These strategies have potential far beyond the content based instruction that may/may not get the students the right score on a test. These strategies teach caring, self-confidence, self-advocacy, self-monitoring.

I don't think teachers should be paid more as an incentive to implement these strategies. Some teachers may not agree with these strategies and should have the freedom to choose how they want to teach without also choosing to be paid less. Perhaps other incentives can be given for teachers that attend workshops school psychologists offer about these strategies, or for teachers who implement it? I haven't had enough experience in classrooms yet to be able to tell what things teachers may want that school psychologists/school system could offer as incentives that isn't directly monetary, but my naive outlook on this situation tells me that it would work best and be the most effective when the teachers strive to do it mainly because they believe in it. I agree with Monique that it would be great if it was introduced to students in teaching programs (along with a specific class in special education??), but for now maybe it will be up to us to transfer our knowledge, passion and strategies.

Amber said...

I am wondering how PMI strategies fit in with Inclusion. In the chapter I was confused about whether or not students with disabilities would be lost. In some areas, the authors reported success of strategies with children with autism or students with ADHD, but I wondered if it was only an afterthought or an unintended bi-product. Do students with disabilities have a place with PMI? What are the limitations and how can they be handled? For example, team based game-like activities can be a great motivator for students to participate in peer-tutoring/cooperative learning strategies, but this part of PMI seems to not be as forgiving to lower-performing students… is one of the points of PMI that the students would come together to make sure the lower performing student truly understands the material? Or should the teacher take this into account and wait to do an activity like this when the student may be participating in a pull-out program?

Linda said...

In response to the question, "How does PMI fit in with inclusion and students with learning disabilities?" When one refers to inclusion in the context of education, there are two ways I interpret it to be. One way is the transformation of schools to provide the same quality of education to all students (including students with disabilities) and to maximize the participation of all learners.

The second way of thinking is a bit more traditional and in some instances limits the scope of inclusivity to students with disabilities. It simply boils down to the students' rights and the educators' duty to accept all students.

In order for PMI to work effectively, I think students must be taught "roles" of how to respond to learning cues that are alternatives to the more traditional classroom environment--such as lecture format, demonstrations, independent study, individual paper/pencil worksheet work that produces little interaction between the teacher/student, etc. The PMI process would place importance on the teacher accepting the role of monitor and faciliator of the students' progress.

In the high school setting, I've observed students paired by the teacher and in some cases the students play (assume) the role of tutor and/or the student being tutored. Is it a time consuming task to intergrate into a daily lesson plan? Yes, if you have lots of students who require special attention, very little resources, etc., it could be difficult--not impossible to do. I believe that if teachers know their students (capacity for learning, know their social/behavioral maintenance levels, etc.), the possibility is there for some form of PMI. Teachers need to be able to clearly articulate what is being taught and know when to re-teach regardless if PMI is an intergal part of the daily lesson or not. I also believe professional staff development should include PMI training for all faculty and staff members (including school psychologists and other CST's) who work with students and it should be an ongoing, consistent process. I do not think extra compensation should be afforded to teachers to incorporate PMI into their daily routine--it should be an intergral part of the teaching role and experience.

Kevin said...

I think that both of these strategies are important for all students and possibly more so for special education students. a lot of the time if sudents can learn how to keep themselves organized just knowing what they need to do and where everything is can take a lot of stress out of having to do schoolwork. I believe it is equally important that students learn to work together even if the only thing they take from it is that yes it is ok to get help from your classmates.
Kasandra mentioned briefly that she did not know how this would work with older students. i think this brings up a good point of not really older students but any level of student that is just not into the method. these strategies are reliant on student cooperation and if you do not have that as effective as these strategies can be they will not work without that cooperation.
as far as getting these strategies implemented by teachers i think that incentive based pay leads to more problems than it solves. Someone said something about these strategies being introduced in teaching programs and i have to agree with this because that way the teachers will have the knowledge of the strategies and can make their own decision on whether to use them or not.

Monique said...

Amber I have to agree with you. Perhaps whether or not students participate in PMI should be partially our decision(parents,teachers etc. Will also have a say) If teachers should be taught PMI and SMI strategies in their teaching program then, school psychologists should learn the pros and cons of SMI and PMI.In order to make proper recommendations and instuctional interventios we need to be aware of these strategies and whether or not they can be effective.

Toyin said...

@ Linda and Amber,
I think you both brought up very good points with regards some basic tenets of teaching. Teachers have to 1. Know the content, and 2. Know how to teach it to each and every kid in their classroom. Whether it is through the use of PMI or SMI, or any other teaching strategies, the overall goal is to make sure that the method you are utilizing works. The teacher has to be able to self-assess and monitor students’ progress by how they’re mastering the content being taught. In doing so, the teacher also cannot be married to one idea and think it is the golden one. Teachers have to know when to abandon one strategy and try another. I think in doing this, students needing extra help will not fall behind, and the interest of “gifted-and-talented” students will be preserved.

Perhaps what happens due to the daily demands of our jobs (whether as school psychologists or teachers), keep doing what we’re doing because it takes a lot of time and effort to stop and self-evaluate. I think this is where Professional development and effective administrators can step in and help us by offering professional staff development etc or doing other things to empower us and reignite the passion.

While I agree that we don’t need to pay extra $$ to teachers who are doing what is considered their job, I think we need to think of different ways to make sure that they are put in some type of leadership roles or find ways of highlighting the good and effective things that they are doing in their classrooms and share it with other teachers. Outside consultants and professional development could be great, but I think it is equally important to share knowledge in-house to help motivate each other. The recognition we give good teachers does not have to be monetary, but maybe have something like a monthly series where people sign-up to share what they’re doing that’s working. This could even be a district wide effort, and perhaps doing 5 of these things earn teachers PD hours. People in the corporate world do things like this to keep their employees motivated and tap into the knowledge of their star employees without making others feel left-out. I think we need to continue brainstorming innovative ways to make sure that no kid falls through the cracks.

Toyin said...

I noticed that classroom management crept into our conversation based on the comments we're all leaving. The teacher has to know how to handle their classroom, know each student's strength's and weaknesses, and know how to get and keep their student's attention in order to get the point across, etc. This is important regardless of the setting or age-group being taught. I brought this up because there is empirical research out there showing us that there is a missing link with teacher education programs and the topic of classroom management as part of the curriculum. I feel this is going to be an ongoing problem if it is not addressed at the college level.

Here are some numbers from 2008 at how many education majors we are graduating:

"Of the 1,563,000 bachelor's degrees conferred in 2007–08, the greatest numbers of degrees were conferred in the fields of business (335,000); social sciences and history (167,000); health sciences (111,000); and education (103,000). At the master's degree level, the greatest numbers of degrees were conferred in the fields of education (176,000) and business (156,000). At the doctor's degree level, the greatest number of degrees were conferred in the fields of health professions and related clinical sciences (9,900); education (8,500); engineering (8,100); biological and biomedical sciences (6,900); psychology (5,300); and physical sciences (4,800).

Linda said...

Larry Cuban, an education reformer recently wrote a book called, "As Good as it Gets." In the book, he discusses the difficulty of sustaining reform efforts in our schools and the need to combine school improvement with community resources to address the problems of students "falling through the cracks." Perhaps, our colleges and universities could increase efforts (community resources)to collaborate with school systems in addressing the "missing link with teacher education programs and the topic of classroom management."

Kyra said...

I don't think teachers should be compensated for extra work that goes into implementing PMI and SMI. Instead of viewing these things as supplemental strategies, they should become the new standard for educational practice. It seems as though implementing them in only some but not all educational settings would not provide enough consistency for them to be optimally effective. So, returning to the question posed in the original blog entry, I think that simply rewarding educators based on their choosing to implement these strategies is not enough to make the necessary change; a new standard should be passed which would make it mandatory to incorporate PMI and SMI to some degree in all educational settings.

Toyin said...

I had the opportunity to meet a key player from the Newark Public Schools today. Everything about the conversation I had with her is worth sharing with the class, however, one quote stuck out to me: "You can't get to the head of the child without touching their heart first". While I'm sure I messed up the quote a little, the point is that we need to work closely with children and find ways to get through to them so that what is being taught can actually stick in their heads. It goes to show the important roles school psychologists have to play in students' lives. I think Linda made a good point about getting into the community. We have to know where these kids are coming from, know their families, what parks they hang out at, and their world/community as a whole so we can get through to them. The job does not stop in the schools! It goes well beyond that.

I hope teacher education programs will start adopting some new models of teacher preparation because obviously what we've been doing is not working. Also, all the talk has been about "teacher preparation programs". We should also think about how principals, school psychologists, school social workers, and others are being prepared by graduate programs to be effective in a school setting.

Julian said...

I believe that both of these strategies are beneficial for the students but like Kevin and Kassandra point out, it may depend on the age in order to determine success. In my practicum, I pretty much travel from pre-school to elimentary school, and then to the high school. I see the differences in how students react to different situations. So, what may work for opne age level may not work for another age level. But I think that is how ot goes with everything.Both of these interventions are necessary. It is like Monique and Toyin pointed out, we need to learn how to slef-monitor and work in the social settings. If we cannot control ourselves or work with others, then it will be more difficult to succeed or even trust oneself or others.

Joey said...

I think we need teachers who aren't teaching because it was easy to do or there was nothing else to do; no , " I guess I'll just be a teacher". I don't know how this works but teachers are really important! The focus of teaching is to help the child to learn. When you have teachers who care immensely for their children to learn the best possible ways, you would hope that they would want to learn strategies such as PMI and SMI because it will help them teach. You dont want someone to avoid a beneficial tactic just because it may be extra work.
In saying this though, teachers should not be paid extra for this. There are a number of professions where employees go above and beyond the general floor of productivity and get nothing for it. I don't want teachers to be motivated to bring in beneficial tools because it'll be paid more. You want to do it "from the heart" like Toyin mentioned. (btw i don't know how to enforce the right kind of teachers at all, it just sounds good- any ideas?).

In regards to some comments, yes PMI and SMI seems a more general way of teaching, but can't you incorporate core curriculum required by the state by using the two strategies to increase performance and focus? I don't see how they are exclusive. If trained properly, you can cover required material in more diverse ways.

Kasandra said...

@Joey-

You're right, we do need teachers who truly love the profession and want to do everything possible to help out their kids. For some who are currently teachers, especially those who are seasoned, I can't imagine them learning AND implementing these new strategies. It's hard enough to get them to implement what is currently in IEPs. So I think the extra pay idea came by as an incentive to get those who wouldn't do it otherwise to comply, even though it should NOT be necessary.

I guess it goes back to what many people have said throughout the blog- college. Maybe things need to be taught differently and new standards need to be set.

Nicole said...

I agree that teachers need to love their jobs. This is not the typical career choice where doing bare minimum on a certain day is acceptable. Every day the students in the classroom depend on the teacher(s) in the class. Linda makes a good point by saying that we need to know the children (where they come from, etc) because that makes all the difference, and as successful school psychologists I feel that that should be a big part of our job, because if we do not truly know the student, we cannot help them to the best of our ability, and the teacher should be on board with this as well. I also agree with what Kevin said in response to Kasandra's comment about giving students checklists. When I read her comment, the first thing I thought about it how effective that technique can be with special education students. Working at a school where students are ED or on the ASD, I see these checklists all day long. I also see other students helping each other, and the way that this gives every student involved the feeling of having a purpose.

Jennifer said...

Everything seems to be going back to training, which costs money. Many of our school districts have had to cut necessities. In the district I'm in we have a middle school with one Guidance counselor, and elementary schools with none. I think it's easy to say that their should be more trainings and in-service days, but realistically there is no money to fund it. I agree that teachers should have the knowledge base to run their classrooms as effectively as possible while meeting the individual needs of the students, but even the best teachers are only human. They can't be expected to do it all. Our districts are understaffed. A teacher who was once responsible for 20 student is now responsible for 36 students, 15 of which have an IEP. There are definitely teachers who are ineffective and shouldn't be teaching, but the majority are doing the best that they can with what they have.

Maybe, as Amber suggested, they should be exposed to PMI and SMI in teaching programs. This way teachers can be better able to gauge whether PMI or SMI would be a strategy that may work well with their particular group of students. After a few years of teaching it would be more difficult to implement new strategies if they feel the strategies they are already using are working well.

lisa said...

@ Tyoyin and Linda
Community involvement is crucial element in urban districts to sustain and achieve success. However teachers should not become to involved where their role takes on a social worker or counselor aspect. Which from personal experience I have seen.

I agree that teacher education programs should be reformed to include classroom management as well as learning how to implement strategies like PMI and SMI. The question is how do we make that happen. Unfortunately educational standards are based on need to know information to satisfy standardized tests as Amber stated previously. How can we incorporate these strategies into the curriculum of required lessons without stressing out teachers.

Michelle Montoya said...

I agree with having teachers interact more with students to find a way to help them develop different learning skills that have more results. Yet i also do not see this peer mediated interventions happening much in public schools.Its is not easy for one person to help three hundred students individually.