EDU629: Module 3 Journal

3 minute read

EDU629: Module 3 Journal

Looking back on my high school career I distinctly remember how I felt in my 11th grade Chemistry class. Reading about body chemistry and cortisol’s ability to raise anxiety, shut down processing, and refocusing the brain on the cause of stress rather than learning objective(Tomlinson, 2018, p .21) was all too real. My chemistry teacher was dead set in his ways, unwilling to provide additional supports, and didn’t seem very capable of empathy at the time. As students we followed along with many of his worksheets that he had digitized over the years, primarily we took notes on lectures in a “fill in the blank” format. This was quickly followed by doing practice problems usually on the black board in-front of the class. This opened up all students to the feeling of public humiliation and created a negative learning environment for us students(Tomlinson, 2018, p .27). Looking back at the time it seemed like the teacher was not meeting our needs or even remotely close to having a growth mindset. Many of us didn’t want to be there and our teacher clearly focused on students who understood the content and left many of us behind. The slightest bit of empathy shown towards us, or the realization that students needed to be met at different levels would have been useful.

On the contrary I had an English teacher in 9th grade who seemed well versed using empathy and differentiation within the bounds of the school. While I was taking the chemistry course with a very negative environment I joined the Yearbook Club as a photographer with my former teacher as an advisor. I made the decision to be a photographer because I thought that I was not a great writer at the time. I was verbal about this within the club, and over time she listened and met me at my level as she still wanted me to engage in writing. I remember slowly being tasked with editing photo captions, and eventually whole sections of the yearbook with the team. Looking back on this I realize that she was able to refocus me on writing in a context different from the routine English class. Because I was able to learn in a different way using my interest in photography as a guide, as well as natural goals and tools aligned with my interests(Tomlinson, 2018, p. 42) my brain was better able to experience language arts learning under her guidance.

With regards to my own instruction I look to engage my students in my content through their own interests every chance I get. I do this especially with my level 2 and capstone students as they have many of the baseline skills needed to work and create in my shops. My level 2 students have a small independent project they work on throughout the year and my capstone students formulate and execute an independent capstone project for their senior year. I am highly flexible as I know my students will come to class with various levels of skill and interest, but I sometimes lack a proper framework for being so flexible. The reflections on cognitive traits clearly outlines some things I already do, but provides clarity on identifying areas I may focus on. While my learning environment is rich with tools and materials and I myself am flexible I believe I still need to work better on “supporting meaning making”, “continual goal setting”, and “more focused collaborative learning”(Tomlinson, 2018, p. 42). Looking towards next year I hope to better implement smaller short-term groupings and activities early in the year to make long-term peer groupings normalized as they are established. I find that my capstone students can become increasingly isolated as they focus on their individual projects, and to combat that I must begin their collaborative practices earlier in the year. I want my students to feel that they’re working alongside their peers towards common goals all the time and not just when it comes time to present work progress. My hope is that by pushing for collaborative work throughout the year student engagement will be higher(Hansen, 2019, p. 26), crosspollination of ideas, and as well as peer accountability will be more formally realized.

Tomlinson, D.A.S.C. A. (2018). Differentiation and the Brain. [VitalSource Bookshelf]. Retrieved from Hansen, C. B. (2019). The Heart and Science of Teaching: Transformative Applications That Integrate Academic and Social–Emotional Learning. [VitalSource Bookshelf]. Retrieved from