My Reflection On My Teaching Position At A Fabulous Arts Academy

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Introduction Throughout my 10 years teaching, I have had the opportunities to teach in several different schools, subjects, grades, and achievement levels. I have had experiences that were amazing, and some that really made me look within myself to discover how to improve the situation for my students and myself. I feel like as an educator, I must always observe situations around me, ask questions, and when I disagree, speak a voice of concern. I believe far too often in education, we get comfortable, things get easy, and we get complacent. However, I believe our students deserve much more. In my current teaching situation, I am teaching 8th grade English at a fabulous Arts Academy, filled with good moral teachers and students who come every day ready to learn. However, after observing my teaching situation for the past 3 years, I think we are doing something wrong. It began with just a gut feeling in the pit of my stomach, but it has now blossomed to a full blown critical analysis of this topic. The issue at hand is we are grouping our students in English based on ability. We have bilingual classes, which are considered the highest achieving, and then there are the advanced classes, then lastly the regular classes. As a “regular” teacher of a “regular” English class, this label is unsettling, mainly because my students are far more than regular. They are amazing. However, with this label, they are often overlooked for awards, invitations to clubs, and as a regular teacher, I am excluded from these conversations. These experiences brought me to question. Are homogeneous groups based on ability best for students? Tracking/Ability Group Defined Tracking, ability grouping, heterogeneous groups, homogeneous groups, so many terms, a... ... middle of paper ... ... various points of views. Research overwhelmingly supports the idea that in secondary education (including middle school) heterogeneous grouping is what is best of learners. Cheng et al (2008) discussed that groups that have a heterogeneous composition are shown to have a higher group efficacy, and as a result, “it has shown that groups with high collective efficacy contribute more effort to the groups endeavor, have greater persistence in the face of setbacks and have a greater group accomplishments (209).” Peklaj (2006) also discusses that students in mixed ability groups had the most favorable affective responses toward their school, whereas students in highly set schools had the least favorable ones. Students are constantly judging their intellectual capabilities, curriculum demands and value of school tasks, and decide to persist in the schoolwork or not (335).

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