Rick is White, married to a former teacher, the father of two daughters, and a teacher. He has taught in the same classroom in the same working-class




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The Story of Rick Kleine Chapter 6

Rick is White, married to a former teacher, the father of two daughters, and a teacher. He has taught in the same classroom in the same working-class neighborhood school in Vallejo, California, since 1987. He teaches fourth and fifth graders in a combination class and has been "looping" with half his class for the past several years. Rick is particularly interested in the so­cial, emotional, and ethical lives of his ethnically and linguitically diverse students.

The case study of Rick Kleine presented in this chapter is a synthesis of this teacher's thinking about pedagogy across his 13-year teaching career (1987—2000). In this chapter, I describe how his thinking about teaching and learning developed over time, and how a theoretically cohesive teacher preparation program, such as the DTE program at UC—Berkeley, may have contributed to the development of his thoughts and actions regarding ped­agogy. I begin by describing his teaching context and current pedagogical thinking. I also provide a description of his current classroom practices. I discuss influences from his personal life on his thinking as a professional educator because they impact his thoughts and actions as a teacher. I also analyze the nature, sources, and evolution of Rick's praxis and pedagogical beliefs over time, including changes in his personal metaphors for teach­ing. Finally, I highlight changes in Rick's pedagogical thoughts and actions since he started in the DTE program at UC—Berkeley in 1985.

This case study is structured differently that the three previous cases be-cause I have written about Rick's earlier development in other places

This case study appeared in "Lives of Teachers: Update on a Longitudinal Case Study," Teacher Education Quarterly, 28, 29-47, 2001. 203

204 6. RICK KLEINE DESCRIPTION OF RICK'S SCHOOL AND CLASSROOM: MAY 1999 205

(Levin & Ammon, 1992, 1996). This chapter compares Rick's development between 1997 (Time 5) and 1999 (Time 6), which corresponds to his 10th through 13th years of full-time teaching. However, like the previous case studies, this one also ends with Rick's own reflections written during the summer of 2000 toward the end of this 13th year in the classroom.

DESCRIPTION OF RICK'S SCHOOL AND CLASSROOM: MAY 1999


Vallejo, California, is about 30 miles north of San Francisco. It is a fast-growing, blue-collar town where a downturn in the local economy and rising unemployment during the 1970s and 1980s led to boarded-up buildings, out-of-business signs, and out-of-work adults. Driving across the bridge over the Carquinez Straits on Interstate 580, you catch your first glimpse of Vallejo to the west. Looking down to the water below, you can see docks that belong to the California Maritime Institute where generations of Merchant Marines were trained. Vallejo was also home to Mare Island Naval Shipyard where many cruisers, battleships, and submarines were built and maintained be­tween 1854 and 1996 when the shipyard was decommissioned.

As you drive through Vallejo, turn west toward now defunct Mare Island, and turn in the direction of Federal Terrace Elementary School, you can see the impact of losing so many jobs on this once viable and vibrant com­munity. Federal housing that surrounds the school, which used to be bus­tling with military families, is now a ghost town with leaves blowing in the wind off the Bay, but no voices—only echoes of more prosperous times.

Federal Terrace, however, is still the neighborhood school for over 500 students in Grades K to 5. It is 1 of 13 elementary schools in the Vallejo Unified School District. The students who attend Federal Terrace come from mostly blue-collar and low-income working poor families. The 31 fourth- and fifth-grade students in Rick Kleine's class represent the ethnic diversity of Vallejo. They are mainly Black, Hispanic, Filipino, Pacific Is­lander, White, and Asian (Chinese), or a mix of two or more of these ethnic groups. For the most part, both of their parents work outside the home and have a high school education.

Like many California schools, Federal Terrace has several temporary trailers that serve as classrooms plus some space for both paved and grassy playfields. The main building and several wings of the school are all on one level with few interior hallways. Children enter and leave Mr. Kleine's class-room from a single door that opens onto the playground. His room is lo­cated at the end of one wing next to the boys' and girls' bathrooms. It is a long walk to the cafeteria and the main office, but Rick does not mind. He is a pretty independent teacher; his focus is on his students, not on schoolgossip or politics that he might hear if he were more focused on the adults in the school.

Rick came to Federal Terrace in the fall of 1987, having completed one of his student teaching placements in Vallejo at what is fondly known as the Farm School. Knowing that he would have support from the principal who first hired him, Elona Meyers, he chose to make the daily 45-minute commute from his home in Berkeley. He never left Federal Terrace, although he has thought about it from time to time. In fact, Rick is in the same classroom in which he started teaching well over a decade ago. Over 350 students have come and gone, but Rick's classroom looks pretty much the same from year to year. The students, however, are not the same when they leave Rick's class-room as when they enter it but more about that a little later.

The floors of Rick's classroom are wooden, once fmished but now scuffed, and the walls are painted a light institutional green. A large bank of windows faces the street on one side, where the empty doors and windows of an abandoned military housing project can be seen across that street. Chairs for 31 students and six large tables are clustered in the main part of the room. Groups of six to eight students sit around each table sharing one basket of school supplies. Their backpacks hang off their chairs, and their notebooks and other materials are scattered on top of and underneath the tables. There is a small alcove for storing coats and school materials near the door to the classroom. Sometimes two or three children will cram them-selves into this small space to work on a project or read together. Chalk-boards cover two walls and, in turn, are covered with posters with lists on them.

A rather large alcove at one end of the room provides space for three com­puters and a sink with storage cabinets underneath a paint-stained countertop. Science supplies, art materials, children's half-fmished art proj­ects, shoebox-size terrariums, and stacks of textbooks cover these countertops. One large table, piled with student notebooks and and journals, sets this alcove apart from the rest of the room. Large posters of all types hang in front of the windows, on the walls, and from the ceiling. They are not com­mercially made posters with cute pictures and catchy sayings. Everything dis­played around the room represents examples of recent student projects: Na­tive-American masks, Venn diagram comparing two pieces of literature, lists of words (nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs), lists of mathematics vocabulary from a geometry unit, class procedures and lists of things to do when assign­ments are completed, student-generated lists of where and when you can see fractions and decimals used outside the classroom, famous people and what they are known for from a social justice book report and research project, a rubric for proofreading student writing, lists of favorite activities during the last 9 weeks, and lots of photos of the students at Vallejo's Farm School, which all students in the district visit several times a year. All of these posters are

206 6. RICK KLEINE DESCRIPTION OF RICK'S SCHOOL AND CLASSROOM: MAY 1999 207

products of student discussions and problem-solving sessions. All are done in Rick's handwriting, and all relate in some way to the academic, social, and ethical life of the students in this classroom.

The room feels vibrant and looks messy, but all the students know what they are supposed to be doing. At each table, students have specific jobs that rotate every month. Over each table, there is a poster made by the stu­dents of a state in the United States that they have chosen: North Carolina, Texas, California, Oregon, New York, and Connecticut. One person at each table is the governor in charge of the rest of the citizens at the table. An-other student is the treasurer for the state, and there is also an environmen­tal protection officer, a secretary, a technology engineer, and a supply clerk at each table. The treasurer's job is to collect lunch money, money for fieldtrips, or book orders from the citizens of the state. The treasurers take that money to Mr. Kleine so that only 6 or 7 students are at his desk each morning instead of over 30. The governor's job is to maintain order at his or her table, whereas the supply clerk gathers needed materials for any projects, and the secretary collects papers to be turned in among other tasks. Each environmental protection officer is in charge of monitoring the cleanup of the area around his or her table several times a day, and the technology engineer is in charge of the computer schedule and the disks for the group members.

Rick is defmitely the CEO of the class, but each student has responsibil­ities to carry out every day. These table teams are very important groups. Rick arranges them randomly at the beginning of the school year. How-ever, after the first 9 weeks, the students have to decide on their own tablemates according to parameters they decide on, such as equal num­bers of boys and girls and a balance of fourth and fifth graders. The task of deciding on new tablemates every 9 weeks is just one of the many problem-solving and decision-making experiences that the students have through-out the year in this room.

In May 1999, I arrive at Rick's classroom about 8:30 a.m. with plans to spend the day observing. I have been in this classroom many times over the past 12 years as both a researcher and to supervise student teachers placed in Rick's classroom through the Developmental Teacher Education (DTE) program at UC–Berkeley. As I look around the room, I make notes—men­tal ones and extensive notes on paper—about what has changed and what is familiar.

When I arrive, the students are already engaged in playing a card game in pairs. The object of the game is to practice multiplication facts. Students choose two cards from the top of their own deck and multiply to get the to­tal value. As I observe from near Rick's cluttered desk in one corner in the back of the room, one student draws a 9 and a King (9 x 13) and computes his answer (117) on scratch paper while his partner draws an Ace and a Jack

(1 x 11) and computes the total value (11) in his head. The winner, the stu­dent with the highest number for each turn, takes all four cards. The game goes on until one of the partners has all the cards from both decks. Rick is playing with one student and also observing the others.

About 20 minutes later, Rick blows the whistle hanging around his neck. He waits for complete quiet before asking the students to sort out their cards, have one person bring up both decks, get out their homework, and wait for the next direction. At Rick's command, "Carry on," the students get busy sorting their cards and gathering up their homework. Less than 2 min­utes later, Rick asks the students to pair up and discuss the strategies they used to do last night's homework. For the 14 fourth graders in the room this year, this means discussing how they sequenced information found on a time schedule and how they tallied the total time. For the 17 fifth graders, it means discussing how they lined up the decimal points and did some esti­mating to check their answers on a practice sheet about adding and sub­tracting decimals.

After about 7 or 8 minutes, Rick asks the students to fmd another part­ner and read each other their drafts of editorials that they also completed for homework. He also asks them to look at one of the charts on the wall in the front of the room that contains a list of criteria for this writing assign­ment. Rick goes over the items in the list, which the class generated earlier in the week, and he reminds them to rate each other from 1 to 5 on each of these criteria:

After 10 minutes, the students appear to be fmished with sharing their editorials and doing their peer evaluations, but Rick is still reading some students' editorials. The class gets loud, and Rick asks the secretaries to col­lect the math homework, the supply clerks to collect the editorials, and the governors to collect the permission slips for their upcoming fieldtrip to the symphony. The treasurers are also asked to collect permission slips and pledge cards for next week's "Jump Rope for Heart" event. This transition takes a long time, but Rick waits quietly without saying a word. One child fi-

Neatly written

_ Paragraphs (3) Pro paragraph Con paragraph


Written in student words Complete information from article

Written so audience can understand it Uses descriptive writing

On the subject—NO BIRDWALKS _ Opinion paragraph has reasons for opinions

Factual information, not made up


Title, date, name, spelling, punctuation

208 6. RICK KLEINE DESCRIPTION OF RICK'S SCHOOL AND CLASSROOM: MAY 1999 209

nally calls out, "This is not talking time." Rick responds with a brusque, "Thank you," and waits for their complete attention before proceeding.

When the students finally settle down, Rick talks with them about a schoolwide earthquake drill scheduled for later in the morning. After let­ting the children complain vociferously for a minute, Rick validates their feelings and emotions about earthquakes and earthquake drills and then asks them to practice how they will act during this drill. In between practice sessions, as they try to squeeze their bodies under their tables and stay quiet for at least a minute, Rick asks them to share solutions to conflicts that arise about the lack of space when six to eight children have to crowd together under a table that is no more than 3 x 4 feet. Several times he asks them to "Give me your best" and makes them practice four or five times until they get it right—or at least almost right.

All of this takes about 15 minutes, and then it is time to start math. Rick gives the fourth graders directions about their assignment and a new tool to use on the time schedule problem from the night before—a stopwatch. He emphasizes that they are to fmd a different way to solve the problems and discuss strategies they use with the partner with whom they will share a stop-watch. Later they write down their new strategies in their math journals, which Rick collects and reads after each assignment.

As the fourth graders move to various parts of the room to work with their partners, Rick calls the fifth graders to gather around the overhead projector at the front of the room. He asks them to summarize the data they recorded yesterday during a probability activity involving flipping coins. As Rick asks for ways that they recorded the results of their first 10 trials, he recognizes and praises a student who uses a good strategy to organize his data. On the overhead, Rick develops a chart based on this student's strategy of organizing the data by the number of times he flipped heads in every 10 trials. Rick then models how they might all pool their data and translate them into fractions and decimals. He does the first two examples with them and then asks them to work with their partner to complete the rest of the chart.

# of # of trials Fraction Equivalent %

heads out of 10 N/10 fraction

N/ 100

0 5 5/10 50/100 50%

1 6 6/10 60/100 60%

2

3

4

5

At 9:40 a.m., another teacher sticks her head in the door and reminds the class that the earthquake drill is imminent. When the siren goes off, the students are pretty noisy and a few shriek as they dive under the closest ta­ble. Rick makes them wait until they are quiet for a full minute before giv­ing them instructions about going outside. A few minutes later, as we walk outside into the bright sunshine, he reminds a small group about showing respect to other people in the school when he finds them talking loudly near one of the portable classrooms that border the playground.

After a 20-minute recess and bathroom break, the students return to the classroom and go back to work on their math assignments. Later at PE time, Rick will ask everyone to run three laps around the grassy playground area near the ball diamond. He will remind them to pace themselves and not cut corners. Rick will walk the same path with several of them and talk with indi­vidual children while encouraging others to keep going. Rick later tells me that this break is intended to get them ready to concentrate for the rest of the morning and to shake off the emotions generated by the earthquake drill.

Later that morning during science, Rick gives directions about what needs to be accomplished with regard to the plant experiments they are in the midst of doing with their terrariums. Before dismissing them to make observations and record them in their science notebooks, Rick asks stu­dents to repeat his instructions one at a time. He also asks them to discuss how they might solve the problem of having limited space and only one sink. The students have several ideas, but there is no agreement. Instead of dismissing them, Rick takes the time to process this problem and encour­age them to see patterns in this discussion compared to previous discus­sions when they have tried to solve other problems. Some of the students mention that they have been working on listening to each other's ideas without fmding immediate fault in them. After a 10-minute discussion, he tells the students to "Carry on," and they begin their assigned tasks: observ­ing any changes in their terrariums, measuring their plants with handmade paper measuring tapes they made earlier, and recording their observations and measurements in their notebooks. As students fmish their journal en-tries, they take them to Rick. After he reads their entries and asks them about their observations, most of the students get out a weaving project they have been working on for about a week.

Sometime during the half hour devoted to science, Rick talks privately with Antonio, tells him that he will need to go home today if he is going to hurt someone, validates his feelings as Antonio shares what Desmond said to him, and rubs his back. Rick then listens to Desmond's side of the con­flict and asks the boys to talk together until they can decide what they are going to do about their conflict. Rick then talks to Tyler about not bother­ing other children, even if he is not interested in working on his weaving. He also talks with Tyler about quitting too easily when things get hard. He then moves on to talk to three other children who appear to not be using their time productively.

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