Tuesday, November 15, 2016

On Substitute Teaching

On Substitute Teaching: Perhaps the scariest part of substitute teaching is figuring out if you can control the classroom.  At the middle school level, this is a particularly challenging aspect of the job. There's something uniquely rambunctious about having 25(+) 13-year-olds in one room for 5 or 6 periods during the school day. From the start, a substitute teacher gets thrown into the middle of a learning unit which he or she has to quickly adapt to in order to help students. And aside from being an adult, the substitute teacher does not command the same degree of respect from students as the full-time teacher. With these two key disadvantages, a substitute teacher can rapidly become overwhelmed. Nevertheless, there are certain elements of substitute teaching which can be quite rewarding. For instance, some students will embrace the substitute teacher as a welcome change of pace. While other students will start to trust the substitute, and thus, divulge some intriguing information. And with middle schoolers, there's little-to-no filter.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

On B. F. Skinner and Behaviorism

On B. F. Skinner and Behaviorism: Often considered one of the most important psychologists of the 20th century, Skinner was a pioneer in the field of behaviorism. And for the most part, behaviorism can be seen as a kind of 20th-century reaction to the 19th-century development of psychoanalysis. Whereas Sigmund Freud's psychoanalytical methods tried to uncover "meaning" behind deep dreams and repressed feelings, Skinner's behavioral techniques put forth that dreams and feelings were secondary concerns. What truly mattered to behaviorists like Skinner were social appearances and personal actions. With a limited free will (and a limited capacity for self-expression), Skinner argued that most people could be conditioned to act a certain way. By examining routines, and conducting experiments involving reward mechanisms, he believed that through the principle of reinforcement, people could be programmed to learn specific behaviors.