The location in which I chose to do an observation is called Renaissance Academy North located in Millington TN. This is an alternative high school and middle school where students go who are serving long term suspensions. This is the school’s second year in operation. Faculty members have stated that the number of students attending is rapidly rising. Being that Shelby County has only had one Alternative School to service the entire county, located at Lakeside Behavioral Health Systems, school board members decided to open another Alternative School on the north side of the county.
This plan was put in place in order for students that attended Millington Central High School and Bolton High School would be able to attend school at a closer location. Also when one alternative school gets to its capacity parents have another location to send their children. Based on location, parents have difficult times transporting their children to and from school because of work schedules and transportation issues. At this point students are allowed to walk home or ride with another parent if they have permission from their parents. This school is a little different than the regular school.
Being sent to an Alternative School is more of a punishment. This school has several rules that the student must follow: 1. Maintain confidentially of all students attending the Alternative School. 2. Attend school on a regular basis. 3. No profanity or inappropriate language. 4. Daily searches will be conducted and contrabands will be confiscated. 5. Disrespect to staff will not be tolerated. 6. No food, drink, gum or candy is permitted at school. 7. No personal phone calls or unexpected/ unscheduled visitors. 8. No destruction of property 9. No operating any equipment without permission. 10.
No horseplay or personal of any type. 11. Stay together as a group when participating in any activity outside the classroom. 12. No weapons of any kind, including but not limited to guns, knives, explosives, chemicals and sharp or dangerous objects. Students who bring weapons shall be transported by appropriate police agency. 13. No cigarettes, drugs, alcohol, nasal spray, eye drops or related paraphernalia. You must remain drug free. 14. The staff will conduct random drug screenings. 15. Stealing will not be tolerated. 16. You must abide by the dress code. 17. Do not bring money or valuables to school.
18. Hair should be clean and well groomed. Being that the school has several rules, it may appear to be difficult to some students. In every setting there are rules. If someone does not abide by the rules they have to face consequences. At the alternative school the students have to keep a feedback sheet with them everyday. This is a daily sheet that the students have to keep track of their behaviors throughout the day at school. If a student misbehaves they receive a consequence and it is noted on their feedback sheet. If a student receives too many consequences they can be suspended from school.
The school is formerly known as Millington South an old elementary school. The alternative school was designed for high school and middle school. That gave me an opportunity to observe two different types of groups which totaled about 65 students. Two white females, about eight white males, eight black females, and the rest black males which was the majority. Most of the students came from Millington Central High School. The neighborhood in which the school is surrounded appears to be of a poor neighborhood. This has been proven on the amount of students that receive a free or reduced lunch.
Another way to tell the poverty level in Millington is that the majority of the schools are title one schools. When a school is classified as a title one school, they receive funds for various needs such as computers, desks, books, technology, staff development and other needs. The alternative school receives the same funding due to the fact that the students who attend are majority classified as lower class. This was stated by the students. They have mentioned on several occasions that their parents receive federal assistance.
They refer to it “that check. ” The students brag about having a food stamp card which is a part of federal assistance. In order for someone to receive food stamps, their income has to meet the requirements made by the government. As far as grade levels the school has middle school and high school. Based on some of the students academic performance, some of them may not be in their correct grade level. At the alternative school, students have a better chance of passing to the next grade. In most cases it helps the student’s academic performance by being at the alternative school little did they know.
Reason being is that a large portion of the students are classified as special education students. They are able to receive extra one-one teachings due to the school being a smaller learning environment. “I like the alternative school. It gives me an opportunity to pull my grades up,” said one student. Students that have made poor choices have decided to take advantage of pulling up their grades. Doing an observation at an alternative high school has already given me insight on how inclusion works. I have had the opportunity to experience inclusion first hand.
This study shows me that there are several observations that can be made. Depending on particular observations, inclusion may or may not work. Educators have decided that in most cases inclusion can be successful for the child in the future when making various academic transitions. Using inclusion has taught me that every child has a right to be included in a regular classroom setting. This way they have the ability to learn from their peers as well as their teachers. This way could also be socially. Social development plays a major role with inclusion.
A self-contained classroom may prohibit the child from interacting with other peers. I have experienced children in a self-contained not be socially interactive due to shamefulness. A regular classroom setting will give the child to have a normal day at school. As far as academically, the child’s learning abilities may not be on the same level as their peers. When working in groups the child will have the ability to learn from their peer as well as their teacher. On the other when the child is working individually, he or she may need the assistance of the teacher due to the fact he or she has a learning disability.
Some educators may feel that inclusion may not work in all cases due to the fact that the child may be disruptive and prohibit others from learning. Gaining knowledge of inclusion has given me the opportunity to relate to the kids I educate at work that have various learning disabilities. I was able to interview some of the students to see what actually got involved in alternative school setting. One student told me that he was there for gang activity. Shelby County has a zero tolerance for any gang activity.
The student, who was a second time repeater, was caught on school cameras throwing up gang signs. He was suspended for 180 days. He told me that he regrets doing that. Another student who was only there for 45 days told me that his regular school suspended him for having too many referrals. This is when the student’s behavior is continuing to get out of control and the student is constantly receiving write-ups. Another student that I spoke with said she and her sister both were suspended 180 days for fighting with two other girls. The student told me that the fight happened on the bus.
Describe Characteristics Often times children in middle school tend to have a growth spurt which begins at about age ten and reaches a peak at age 12 and is generally complete at age 14. Since the majority of the students have received a 180 day suspension, this gives teachers an opportunity to witness the middle school children grow. Some have facial hair and some have already reached the puberty stage. This has been noticed by teachers throughout the year that they see their students. Social characteristics can vary when it comes to middle school children.
I learned in my observation that all children have different ways of expression when it comes to social interactions. I witnessed one student who interacted by hitting his peers in a playful manner. After each time hit a student he would always respond by saying “I am just playing. ” He still seemed to get along with his peers but he appeared to be extremely playful. Once he received consequences his argument would be that he was innocent of wrong doing. Emotional characteristics usually involve a student’s feelings of confusion, anxiety, and depression.
One student claimed she had been problems at home with parents getting a divorce. She would usually arrive to school and request to put her head down on the desk for large portion of the day. Some days she would isolate herself and did not want to be bothered. Other days she would act out by negative attention seeking. Her excuse was that she was dealing with her parents divorce. There was another student who displayed periods of isolation but claimed there was nothing wrong. The cognitive students were the ones who appeared to be the class clowns. I noticed that they thrived for attention.
They seemed to think different from the other children due to their outburst in class. When the teacher would ask the class a question, it appeared that these students would always respond by giving an answer that had nothing to do with the lesson. The teacher did not consequent those students due to the fact that they are special education students and learning disability can sometime prevent the right answer to come out. The middle school students were able to interact with each other in a positive way most of the time. If ever the teacher was not looking that would be an opportunity for them to horseplay or hit each other.
Being that some of the students were very young, the girls and boys always found opportunity to flirt with each other. There way of flirting was telling on one another or hitting to show that they like each other. One of the middle school students was a person would cried when he did not get his way or when he got into trouble. He was the oldest of group. The teachers revealed to me that his parents spoiled him and he is used to getting his way. The teacher said that she was trying to teach him how not to be spoiled and to be role model for his younger peers. Theories Discussed Psychosocial Development- Identity v.
Role Confusion I witnessed the students trying to fit into groups such as gangs. In this stage they want to feel like they belong to something. This can often become a small case of peer pressure. Becoming a member of a gang was the majority of the students, middle and high school. Being that there are several opposite gang members in and around Millington, the staffs have to conduct gang intervention meetings to help control the heavy population of gangs. One teacher brought to my attention all of gang graffiti on the desk and on the walls that students had carved into the wood making it difficult to remove.
Gang members have various codes and slang terminologies that teachers and staff members may not be aware of. The gang intervention meetings has helped teachers and staff members to notice talk of gang activity. Moral Development With the middle school group, having rules already in place for them to follow keeps the program structured for them. Unlike the high school, the middle school group seemed to be following all the rules except for the horse playing. This is more based on the fact that they are at a young age.
Courtney from Study Moose
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