Case Study

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A teaching case study is defined as a narrative that describes a specific event within the school environment that allows professionals to investigate critical issues that impact the learning of students. Creating a case study can be seen as a form of professional development, educators learning from real examples. A case study is a powerful way for educators to reflect on the actions of other professionals. “Case studies force individuals and groups to think somewhat differently then they have before (Taylor & Whittaker, pg. 70).” The case study of Jim Peterson is multifaceted. Different teaching philosophies and beliefs in student expectations are critical issues which are discussed in this teaching case study. Recognizing the Problem

The trigger of this particular case happened on a Thursday morning, when Mr. Peterson and his students were beginning to read a story about an African American athlete. The single white student jumped out of his seat, threw the reading material on the ground and shouted “I ain’t reading this no more, I’m sick of niggers!” Two of the African American students responded with. “We’ll whip your ass”. This prompted the White student to run from the room, with Mr. Peterson running after him. Mrs. Fitzgerald shouted at Mr. Peterson for creating the chaotic situation and told him to put away his teaching material and to never use the material again.

Jim Peterson was beginning his student teaching experience. He is teaching in an eight week summer program for students with disabilities. Jim has limited teaching experience and is excited about the possibility of getting his first teaching job. He has had experience working with a diverse population, specifically with students with emotional disabilities as a residential counselor and teacher’s aide. Jim considers himself to be “laid back” and easy to get along with. Jim’s believes that the key to effective classroom management is a relevant curriculum that addresses his student’s interests and needs. Jim is flexible when it comes to classroom management. As a sergeant in the military, he feels that he does not have a problem addressing discipline issues. Jim is confident about his student teaching placement because of his experience with the student population and the courses he has taken in multicultural education. Mrs. Fitzgerald is Jim’s cooperating teacher. She is a veteran teacher who is married to the principal. She believes that effective classroom management is an essential teacher responsibility. Mrs. Fitzgerald is a traditional teacher with limited experience with a multicultural classroom. She uses teacher editions and basal readers for her lesson planning. Mrs. Fitzgerald prefers to start the first day of school with academics and is less concerned with activities that will enhance group cooperation. Their classroom consists of seven students, ages 11 to 13, who were classified as emotionally disturbed. Six of the students were African American and one was white. The community is semi rural and minority students only represent three to five percent of the student body. Mrs. Fitzgerald’s classroom represented a large amount of minority students because the emotionally disturbed students came from many schools throughout the counties. There are many discrepancies between various individuals’ expectations and the actual events. Mrs. Fitzgerald strongly believes in strict classroom discipline and traditional education. When the disruption occurred, she was angry and told him that he was not allowed to use the lessons and materials he planned. Jim wanted to impress his cooperating teacher and students by using materials and methods that would engage his student’s interest and needs. Jim was also concerned that his lesson triggered the White student’s outburst.

Because there were differences in expectations, several problems emerged in this case. There wasn’t any communication about differences in...
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