During my student teaching and practicum at Grafton High School, I worked with students of a variety of different backgrounds. I also had the opportunity to teach students with a range of learning styles and ability levels. Grafton High School is located in the York County School Division, which is a suburban area. The school has about 1,340 students. The student population is 66.3% White, 8.8% Black or African American, 7.3% Asian, 6.6% Hispanic, <1% American Indian/Alaska Native, <1% Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, and 10.2% two or more races (non-Hispanic). Grafton High School also has over 100 students that have been identified as requiring an IEP or 504 Plan.

In my classroom, I had students of a variety of ethnicities, religions, and ability levels. I was able to build a positive relationship with my students by fostering an atmosphere of respect and by being myself. It is important that students see their teachers as people too because that allows us to build a rapport with one another. It also helps to gain students’ respect because they understand that I am being genuine. They also see that I care about all my students and their success, and that I work hard to help them learn and achieve. One technique in particular that I tried during student teaching was the Two for Ten Strategy which allows a teacher to take just two minutes a day to build a relationship with a particular student. I chose a student that seemed disengaged and unmotivated in class.

I used a variety of techniques in the classroom to make sure that all students were able to learn. I attempted to use the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) by implementing lessons that included visuals, audio, and opportunities for students to learn by doing. I gave students a variety of ways to show what they know through tests, essays, discussions, and art.

I had several students who enjoyed drawing, so I would incorporate art into certain projects. I had one student who was passionate about maps. He would make sure any map he made in class was perfect. However, there were also several students who struggled with maps, so I made sure to incorporate maps of the places we studied in all units. These activities would challenge the passionate student and help those who struggled.

I also had several students with IEPs or 504 Plans. Of course I made sure these students received their legal accommodations, but I also worked closely with the exceptional special educator in the classroom to make sure that these students were learning and achieving. She had a background in social studies, so we were able to work together seamlessly. She gave me great insight into the students with IEPs that I had in my classroom, so I was able to teach these students more effectively. I was able to pair students up much more effectively by knowing who worked well together. I have also been able to develop my lessons to work for all students in the classroom. It was a challenge in the beginning to figure out how to handle all the different ability levels in one classroom, but I feel confident that I have made significant strides in this area.

By the end of student teaching, my classroom was running smoothly in terms of challenging each student to work to the best of their ability. My Socratic seminar lesson plan demonstrates how I have been able to choose material that is achievable for all students, and yet still intellectually stimulating for more advanced students. The version of the text that I chose was in understandable language for all students, but the ideas are still rich and thought provoking. In addition to differentiation within an activity, I always make sure to have extension activities for students who finish more quickly than other students.
One of the classes that I taught was World History I. This course involves a number of different civilizations all over the world, and it is important for students to develop an understanding of and a respect for these different cultures. I made sure to present the achievements of all civilizations and show that peoples from all corners of the globe have made significant contributions. This is important as social studies in this country has shifted its focus from a European and Western point of view to a more global viewpoint.