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Lauren Wagner

ED 493/ Younghee Kim

November 7, 2014
Expert Teacher Observation
On Tuesday November 4th, I observed Kathleen Mateas 1st grade
classroom at Walker Elementary in Ashland. I observed two different lessons
from 9:00 am to 10:30 am. The first was a math lesson, followed by reading
centers. Between the lessons and during transitions, I observed so many
wonderful ways to help the students transition and stay focused on the
tasks ahead. I also gained the most insight and got a good sense of flow
during the math hour. Even though I observed two subject hours, the second
was one I have seen in various classrooms, and there was really no
difference in approach or style.
When I first walked in the classroom, the students were working at
their desks, mostly focused on their own work, but there was some talking to
neighbor. Kathleen was at a table offering help, and there was another
person assisting the classroom. I later learned that this assistant was actually
a student teacher also going to SOU. Once I caught Kathleens attention, she
informed me that it was the students free work time, and that they would be
transiting to math in about 5 minutes. I then settled in at a table in the back
of the room so I wouldnt be in the way.
The very first thing I noticed about Kathleens teaching style was this
sense of music or theatrics that she put into her voice. Up to this point I had
really not heard a teacher that before from a non-music teacher. She later

told me that she was first a music major. The first transition, between free
work and math lasted about 10 minutes. She first turned on a upbeat pop
song loud enough for everyone to hear. Over the song she gave very clear
instructions that only had about three steps. I assume the students had
heard these instructions before, because there was little confusion about
how to execute them. The students were instructed to put their work in their
cubby, go back to their chair, push it in and stay standing behind it. She
used a slow ten-count, giving the students more than enough time. During
this ten count one student asked a question about where to put something,
she answered by advising to go ask a buddy what they should do. I thought
this was a good way to give the students some accountability, and
encourage working together and problem solving skills.
Once everyone was at standing, she switched the song and began
stretching, similar to a P.E. type warm up. At first I thought she was using this
time to stretch and get the students warmed up for the transition. It wasnt
until I saw the cross body movements that I realized she was using Brain
Gym exercises in conjunction with yoga stretches, to better transition them
into math. During the math hour I really noticed how much movement and
variety she put into her day. After the two songs worth of stretching, the
student then headed to a rug where they all had certain squares they sat on.
The days math lesson was taught from here and was very short and easy to
follow. One of the ways she had the students answer a question, so they
wouldnt shout it out, was to blow it into their hand and then whisper it all

together. The lesson she gave also directly related to the work they would be
doing on their own, and she also went over the worksheet, this a saw as an
excellent example of frontloading.
Once the students were seated and working, she floated around and
offered help. I first noticed the words she used in acknowledgement with the
students such as sweetheart, sweetie pie, and my sweet. I thought this gave
the kids assurance that they were cared for, which in turn created a sense of
ease and calm in the classroom. Kathleen also provided the students with
small stress management skills, like folding the math worksheet in half, so
the amount of work wouldnt over whelm them. Also she built students selfesteem by writing small notes of encouragement on their finished work,
which really excited the students and huge smiles followed.
Many of the things I observed about Kathleen were extremely positive.
I can honestly say that I did not observe a method that I did not agree with.
Sure, there were some methods I could not do, such as the complicated
singing, and the wonderful voices she used in a read aloud. But these added
such a sense of theatre and fun to the day, which I couldnt help smiling at.
Even though there was a sense of fun, I also saw that a lot of methods were
extremely strategic, and well thought. Most of these were processes, and
transitions, which I have seen a lot of teachers struggle with or get lost in.
What I will take away the most from this observation is the sense of
calmness, fun, and thoughtfulness in how the day is planned. Growing up, I
have been in classes where we sing on a daily basis, and I know that I want

to bring that into my future classroom. And I think seeing the way Kathleen
brought it into hers further solidifies the fact that I do. Also, the sense of
deliberate routine she established in her classroom was very comforting and
had a nice natural flow to it. Another important aspect I noticed was, along
with the endearments she used, there was also the use of uplifting and
positive words. And, there was little micromanaging of the students work
time. I really thought this created trust in the students ability to stay on task
and complete their work. In all, words can only begin to describe the feeling I
got observing Kathleens classroom, not only was it warm and inviting, but it
also had a sense of theatrics and fun that is both rare and wonderful.