Student Teaching Reflection 4

  1. Professional Practice– The teacher participates collaboratively in the educational community to improve instruction, advance the knowledge and practice of teaching as a profession, and ultimately impact student learning.

This standard addresses the fact that the field of education highly values communication and collaboration among teachers, administrators, and building staff. Professional development trainings and staff meetings contribute to a teacher’s knowledge, experience, and personal desire to continually learn about best practices in education. Students benefit from the extra hours that teachers devote to professional development. A teacher’s responsibility is to incorporate new instructional approaches, activities, and teaching techniques into lessons.

Throughout my student teaching internship, I have attended several staff meetings and professional development trainings. Additionally, I have observed classes and teachers in almost every grade, along with having a few veteran teachers observe me teach. These experiences have been beyond beneficial. I have incorporated several of the ideas I observed into my teaching and my students have responded positively to the changes.

During one of the recent Professional Development trainings at my school, the training committees discussed two topics with the teaching staff. The first presentation was a continuing lecture on the the importance of formative and summative assessments. As a student teacher who has learned about this topic over the past two years, I was a bit surprised to witness the resistance that many teachers demonstrated about assessments. I admit I have found assessments to be an area of challenge and growth, yet I also know the results indicate how important assessments are in the classroom. I recently posted an Assess Yourself chart for my Kindergarten students to use during lessons. The chart includes three signals: a thumbs up to indicate I’ve got this; a sideway thumbs to indicate I need a little bit of help, and a thumbs down to indicate I am very confused. I found the examples for free on Teachers Pay Teachers. Link is available here. There are great assessment options for older students too. I had my students practice using the signals and within two days several of them started using the signs without me asking. It was amazing and I realized how quickly such young students would utilize a form of assessment. It empowers them to think about their learning and understanding of the material.

The second topic at the last meeting was about a new social skills program that the school is implementing called The Feeling Words. A few teachers have piloted the program over the past few months so they shared their application and experience. The Feeling Words is a program designed so teachers focus on the same social skills with all students. The distinction is that every grade describes the social skill word using a different term. Also, teachers in Kindergarten through Second Grade read a book or share a story before introducing the word and making connections. Teachers with students in Third Grade through Fifth Grade review the word and connection before sharing the story or book. The picture below describes the terms used in each grade.

thefeelingwords

I had not heard of this program prior to being introduced to it during the professional development training. I really like how this program unites all teachers and students to focus on the same social skills. Similar to the presentation on assessment, I noticed several teachers demonstrate frustration about being required to implement this new program into their instruction during the next school year. I understand teachers have limited instructional time, but I also believe that resisting the changes wastes time that could be used to figure out how to incorporate the new programs or procedures.

As I have participated in the professional development meetings, I have become more aware about why the Professional Practice standard is an important part of SPU’s program. Hunzicker (2013) researched the importance of a teacher’s disposition and his or her influence in schools. In her part of her findings, Hunzicker (2013) determined that when teachers have a positive perspective about learning and student engagement, then those teachers are more likely to be involved in professional development trainings and pursue a teacher leadership position (p. 542). Once again, I understand teachers are limited on time. With that said, I strongly believe that being as involved as possible in professional development directly benefits myself and my students. I know professional development will likely become more difficult to remain updated on because best practices are constantly changing. Therefore, I believe this is an area that I will always remain cognizant of improving throughout my career as a teacher.

Reference

Hunzicker, J. (2013). Attitude has a lot to do with it: Dispositions of emerging teacher leadership. Teacher Development, 17(4), 538-561. Doi: 10.1080/13664530.2013.849614

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EDU 6989 Observation Reflection

In May 2016, I spent 42 hours observing teachers and students at Endeavour Elementary School in Issaquah, Washington. I primarily observed a first grade classroom. The first grade teacher also arranged opportunities for me to observe in second, third, fourth, and fifth grade classrooms. I was very appreciative for the additional observation experiences because I saw how instruction, curriculum, and collaborative learning changed in conjunction with different grades. Anyone who spends time at Endeavour will quickly observe that key values in the school are respect, teamwork, citizenship, and personal growth. These values apply to the students as well as the administrative staff, teachers, and volunteers. Everyone is responsible for helping ensure the school is a safe, welcoming, engaging environment so students are focused on learning and achieving their academic and personal goals. Values are promoted on posters in the hallways, on signs in the classrooms, through classroom expectations, and in how everyone communicates with each other.

Two areas I focused on during my observations were classroom management and assisting students with special needs. Since the observation occurred near the end of the school year, classroom management and organization were already a polished process. Students knew what their teacher expected from them and what management cues their teacher used. One universal cue was a hand gesture students used to indicate they wanted to go to the restroom. In the first grade classroom, the primary focus teaching students to line up quietly to prepare to walk in a silent line to recess, lunch, P.E., art, or music. In second, third, and fourth grade, every student was assigned a classroom duty. These jobs helped the classroom remain a safe, productive learning environment for students while reminding them they are responsible for helping take care of the school. Each teacher had their own system about how to assign tasks to students on a rotating based. It appeared every student took pride in their assigned task and they did not want to leave the room for the day until their job was completed. Designating classroom duties assisted in the organization of the room since jobs included responsibilities such as turning on and off computers every day, handing out papers, collecting assignments, and cleaning the desks.

Most students demonstrated very respectful behavior and self-control. Teachers practiced different age appropriate solutions for student misbehavior. In the first grade class, students were seated on the floor for a lesson when two boys started badgering another boy, B. B asked his classmates to stop bothering him. A fourth boy even tried to tell the instigators they were not following class rules. Once it was obvious this issue was not going to be solved among the students, the teacher stopped mid-lesson to remind everyone of the class rules. The consequence for the two boys who were not following classroom rules was to verbally apologize and to write an “I’m sorry” note to B. The teacher also praised the boy who tried to help, explaining that it is important to help your friends. In the third grade classroom, the teacher privately talked to a few students in the hallway since bullying-type behavior had recently developed and seemed to be escalating. Each student was talked to individually for a few minutes. The teacher taking the time to have one-on-one conversations indicated her respect for students as individuals and provided students the opportunity to engage in a conversation with their teacher. Both teachers demonstrated how a response to misbehavior changes depending on the action and age.

Supporting exceptional learners is a priority for teachers, school administers, and specialists. It is a collaborative effort among the staff to ensure students with behavioral, intellectual, physical, attentive, and/or social issues receive an education that aligns with their needs. Depending on the individual’s need, students might work with a specialist for one-on-one help or spend a portion of their school day in the resource room while also receiving specific academic and verbal instruction from their general education teacher.

I focused on observing how general education teachers differentiated instruction and learning activities for students with special needs. In one class students were working on learning their multiplication facts. First, this activity recognized that all students learn at different rates. Students had to correctly answer a set of multiplication facts before progressing to the next set. The teacher added an extra support to this activity for L, a student with a learning disability. L learned the same material as her classmates, but focused on learning half as many multiplication facts in one set at a time. This differentiated instruction recognized L is capable of learning the multiplication facts. Chunking the information into smaller sets made the activity more attainable for L. I also observed the techniques a second grade teacher used when she assisted two students with special behavior needs. A strategy she used with both students was to create a self-monitoring behavior chart that the students used every day. She tracked their behavior too, but believed that the charts helped them stay focused on positive classroom behavior and interactions. It was enlightening for me to observe how the teachers managed the learning and behavioral needs of students with distinctive needs.

Endeavour offers programs to support highly capable students. For students in Kindergarten through second grade, there is a qualification process to participate in the Primary Enrichment Program (PEP). Students in third, fourth, and fifth grade have two options available. Mind Education Right Left Integration (MERLIN) is a program all students in the district can participate in after a nomination and evaluation process. Endeavour is one of the two elementary schools in Issaquah that hosts the MERLIN classrooms. MERLIN classes have high expectations and challenge students through higher level thinking instruction and independent work (Highly Capable Program, 2016). Highly capable third, fourth, and fifth graders may also qualify for Special Approach to Gifted Education (SAGE), which is a program that enhances the learning experience for students placed in the general education classroom (Highly Capable Program, 2016). PEP, MERLIN, and SAGE reflect Issaquah School District’s commitment to providing highly capable students options that appropriately align with their learning needs.

Student’s academic learning and personal growth are very important at Endeavour. Achievement is guided through direct instruction, applied learning experiences, and student’s exploration into individual interests. Student inquiry and questioning is encouraged as a primary method of learning and understanding. Nearly all direct instruction lessons included a review about students’ background knowledge, especially during math and science. Students were often instructed to incorporate critical thinking skills throughout all subjects. This technique was always used after silent reading ended. All the teachers asked for student volunteers to talk about what they had read, if they had any predictions about what was going to happen next, and if they had any lingering questions.

Teachers also emphasized that students should read stories that matched their reading level. The third grade teacher reminded her students of the 5-Finger Rule during reading time. This strategy helps a student determine how challenging the book is based on how many words they understand on a random page. Students begin reading a page in the middle of a new book and for every word they do not know on that page, they put up a finger. A book is “just right” if they have two or three fingers up by the end of the page (Mascott, 2013). I talked with a fourth grade student about he was reading. It was quickly apparent the story was just above his reading comprehension level. I mentioned this interaction with the teacher. She said that he likes to challenge himself, but she would talk with him and recommend he change books.

Student’s safety within the school and at home is critical. If school personnel have any concerns about a child’s well-being, it is recommended to immediately review the district’s regulation manual to ensure the proper action is followed. Pursuant to the regulations, if an employee believes there is a reasonable cause to suspect child neglect or abuse, the situation must be reported to the appropriate law enforcement agency as soon as possible and no later than 48 hours after reasonable cause was suspected (Regulations, 2012). The policy also states the report should made in the presence of the school principal when possible (Regulations, 2012). The recommendation to review the policy every time a situation arises is an essential process because students’ safety is an issue that should be handled correctly and efficiently.

Observation was an extremely valuable experience. I witnessed how professionals supported students with diverse needs and personalities, as well as how they collaborated with their colleagues. I was inspired watching how excellent teachers incorporated various instructional methods into the curriculum while maintaining the students inquiry and learning as the priority. I am beyond grateful that the teachers and students at Endeavour welcomed me into their community and look forward to returning to observe preparation for beginning of next school year.

References

Issaquah School District. (2016). Highly capable (gifted) programs overview. Retrieved from: http://www.issaquah.wednet.edu/academics/programs/gifted

Mascot, A. (2013). Help kids to p.i.c.k. the right books. Retrieved from: http://www.scholastic.com/parents/blogs/scholastic-parents-raise-reader/help-kids-to-pick-right-books

Issaquah School District. (2012. Regulations: Child abuse, neglect, and exploitation prevention-3421. Retrieved from: http://www.issaquah.wednet.edu/docs/default-source/district/regulations-manual/3000/3421p-child-abuse-neglect-and-exploitation.pdf?sfvrsn=0

Educational Standards

One of the most controversial education debates centers around the issue of standards and curriculum decisions. Should standards be regulated at a local state level or by United States government at a federal level? There are advantages and disadvantages to regulation at both levels, although it seems everyone agrees a decision should be made so the United States can experience proper progress in education reform. The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) passed in the early 2000s brought the topic to an even greater debate. One of the biggest issues of NCLB is that educational standards each state must meet were decided on at a federal level, but the act authorized states to decide if schools met the required proficiency level.

Support for federal regulation includes the rationale that national standards create a comparable and equitable educational experience for all students, support for the growing need to compete globally, and allow for better collaboration among educators across the country (Evans, 2008, pp. 7-9). These are very valid reasons, especially if states have not demonstrated they are not capable of solving these issues. However, a better approach might be to advise local officials about steps they can take to enact similar policies to work toward common educational goals. Main arguments against national standards is that centralizing educational decisions and authority results in a loss of policy makers understanding needs within the local community and the loss of valuable teachers and administrators (Evans, 2008, pp. 14-16). In a country as large and populated as the United States, how can the federal government properly and efficiently decide on the educational needs for all? While there should be similarities among states, it is not beneficial to students or educators for all decisions to be implemented at a national level.

National versus local regulation is a very complex subject that should involve a longer discussion. I am still undecided on my preference as I reflect on my experiences as a student and my desires as a teacher. In 6th grade I moved from California to Washington. I remember one day in a science class when I realized I had previously learned what my teacher was teaching that day. At first I thought it was great that I did not have to learn something new, but then I wondered what I was going to miss. Did my new class already cover a different topic I should know? This memory leads me to believe national standards will help prevent this from happening. As a teacher, I think about how easy it would be if there were national standards and regulations. It would be easier for me if could easily move around the country and not think about a new state teaching certification or creating a completely new set of lesson plans. But it is more important to me to feel like my professional opinion will make a difference. I also believe that my students’ parents should have easy access to how standards are decided and regulated. I doubt our voices will be heard on a national level. Overall, the foundations of a democratic society area more important to me than the advantages of the federal government making all the decisions.

Evans, D. (2008). Taking sides: Clashing views in teaching and education practice. New York, NY: McGraw Hill Higher Education.

ISTE Standard 5 – Engage in Professional Growth and Leadership

ISTE Standard 5 stresses the importance for teachers to stay updated on technology research and trends. In addition, teachers should participate in a digital society by sharing their knowledge and research through digital communication methods. Standard 5 also emphasizes that teachers find creative methods to use technology during classroom instruction and create engaging activities so students can practice and apply new digital skills. This standard prompted me to ask myself: as a new elementary school teacher, what local and online communities can I join or monitor to ensure I am devoting time to continually learning about updated technology and integrating new digital ideas into my curriculum?

Teaching is a complex, time-consuming profession that requires many character traits including commitment, organization, effort, and motivation. One of the goals of teaching is for students to master challenging content and learn new skills. Effectively incorporating technology is difficult for many teachers because technology is constantly changing and sometimes complicated. The U.S. Department of Education (2010) asserts that educators can become more effective teachers when they practice a connected teaching model. The connected teaching model is a technology-centered approach that encourages teachers to continuously use the necessary computer equipment, resources, and technical assistance to connect with students, teachers from around the world, and to access current course-related content (U.S. Department of Education, 2010, p. 40). The connected teaching model reflects how important technology skills are in a rapidly changing global society. This type of instructional approach and planning is quite different than what I experienced as student. As a teacher, I need to monitor resources and websites that will help me practice being a connected teacher and continually learning about technology.

StudentGuide lists essential resources for teachers who want to incorporate technology in the classroom. This list is very helpful for me because it divides potential resources into seven categories. Under each category are links to corresponding websites, resources, articles, or organizations. The seven categories include: 1) general educational technology tools; 2) technology initiatives and grant funding; 3) integrating technology; 4) web tools; 5) planning lessons using digital tools; 6) using technology to enhance learning among special education students; and 7) ongoing professional development. I like StudentGuide’s website because resources are organized by specific topics and I think I can find additional information through the recommended links. A classmate of mine shared a different source from TeacherVision that includes information about similar categories, along with links to specific lessons and resources about how to begin using technology in the classroom. I like TeacherVision’s list because it has more subject specific links and activities. When I review any resource, I know the purpose is for me to acquire additional knowledge so I can create innovated learning activities for students instead of relying on traditional teaching instruction approaches and assignments.

Module5Image2

ISTE Standard 5 for teachers is one of my favorite standards I have learned about over the last few months. I do not want my lesson plans and curriculum to become outdated or repetitive. That is not interesting for my students or myself. I can prevent that from happening if I continually explore what new technology is available. I also need to maintain communication with other teaching professionals and my students. Through routine communication I can ask questions and assess what technology is effective during lessons or how activities could be changed. My students will experience my commitment to technology as they become involved in the process of continually researching, connecting, and reflecting.

References

StudentGuide. 2013. Essential resources for integrating technology in the classroom. Retrieved from: http://www.studentguide.org/essential-resources-for-integrating-technology-in-the-classroom/

TeacherVision. 2016. Technology in the classroom: Resources for teachers. Retrieved from: https://www.teachervision.com/educational-technology/teacher-resources/43743.html

US Department of Education, Office of Educational Technology. (2010). Transforming American education learning powered by technology. Washington D.C. (38-50). Retrieved from: http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED512681.pdf

 

 

My Digital Storytelling Video

I created my digital storytelling project on why I decided to become a teacher because then my video serves multiple purposes. First, I can use it as an example to show my students what a digital storytelling project is. Second, they know I have finished one before too. And lastly, the video has another message to them about why I enjoy being their teacher. This video is primarily focused on my students as the audience in a formal educational setting, but I would likely share it with parents and other educators too.

The recommendation of ISTE Standard 1 for teachers is to create an inspirational student learning community through technology. The entire digital storytelling creation process is fun for students while engaging them to apply technology skills and research content for their topic. Also, because the videos take time and planning to finish, students’ learning is enhanced as they continually combine prior knowledge with new information.

Creation Process

The creation process can be as simple or as a complex as someone wants it to be. I decided fairly quickly on a topic and began gathering my photos to include in the video. I typed out a script so I could think about what other photos I needed. While writing the script I tried to use simpler vocabulary words and thought of how I would emphasize certain terms during the audio recording step. I searched for the additional pictures using the website Creative Commons. I specifically downloaded map pictures for the different geographic locations so students had a visual representation of where I was during different parts of my story. I searched for graphic art style pictures too because I thought the variety added more character to the video.

As I collected pictures online, I saved them in an iPhoto folder. Next, I imported the pictures to iMovie. Since I had not created any videos before, I watched a few videos on YouTube about how to use iMovie. I preferred an educational series from user KQED Education because the videos were in a sequential order and concise. After watching a few videos I worked on making transitional changes between pictures and extending their length for more than four seconds. The tutorial videos advised that the pictures are timed a bit longer than your audio so it would be easier to adjust after recording narrative.

I practiced my script a few times using my iPhone stopwatch to record how long it took to read through. The stopwatch ended just before four minutes and thirty seconds so I knew I had the right amount of content. I recorded the audio in iMovie was satisfied after my fourth recording. I adjusted the pictures to ensure photos changed at appropriate times. Next, I looked for music to add to the background. The music is from YouTube’s free library, although I searched a bit on SoundCloud as well. I found two free songs on YouTube and added them to the video. I watched and listened to the video at least five times while making slight changes before deciding I liked the final product.

Learning Process

The biggest challenge of this project was thinking about the fact that nearly all of the technical steps were completely new to me. I was really overwhelmed before starting to make my video, but soon realized I had enough research skills and basic technology knowledge. Finding music was probably the most difficult step because I was really nervous about how I would know if it was free or not. I also wanted to find music that had good tempo, was a bit calming, and not a distraction from my story and the pictures.

The most significant thing I learned from this project is that as a teacher, I must practice whatever I assign my students and have many resources available for them when they need help. This is definitely a project I would assign to my class, although I would specify a shorter video time for younger students. I would also build the class up to a project like this by having them practice skills in recording audio, finding music, searching for pictures, and slowly combining information along the way. I am excited to see what types of videos my students create in the future.

EDU 6918 Reflection

8. Professional Practice Criteria– The teacher participates collaboratively in the educational community to improve instruction, advance the knowledge and practice of teaching as a profession, and ultimately impact student learning.                                                                                                           8.1 Element – Participating in a Professional Community

I think this standard means that a successful educator continually educates oneself about educational practices and exchanges information with other educational professionals.

As described in Figure 1, Michelle explains that once she started teaching she had a natural bond with another teacher and experienced the benefits of collaboration. Eventually, she realized she needed to develop relationships with other colleagues and so she made it a goal to network with more teachers. This example is relevant because after I graduate, I need to form relationships with a new community. Part of this program’s learning process involves analyzing information and sharing knowledge. My cohorts and I discuss the articles we read, concepts we have learned, and how we imagine applying these concepts in the classroom. I am experiencing the benefits of sharing ideas because it is part of the MAT program structure. Michelle’s example demonstrates that to be actively involved with my future school district, it is my responsibility to make connections. I cannot wait for others to approach me with their ideas, questions, or advice. Rather, I need to express interest and take initiative to collaborate with other teachers.

Students benefit the most when teachers make an effort to exchange knowledge and experiences. My colleagues will likely introduce me to a variety of techniques and activities that I might not have had access to or had the opportunity to read. Additionally, I might receive advice about how to work with a struggling student. This shared information directly impacts student learning. It provides me with more instructional methods to target students with different learning needs or to help students build on the knowledge they have already attained.

The most effective step to progress in this standard is to currently build professional relationships. During this program, I can develop relationships with my cohorts and faculty. This is beneficial because it is also an important network after graduation.  Further, building relationships now is practice for when I need to connect with teachers and other professionals when I start working at a school. Studying and learning about teaching does not end at the completion of the MAT program. To be an effective and involved teacher, I must continue to seek new information and find opportunities to share knowledge with others.

Characteristics of an Effective Educator

Every educator has a unique teaching method and approach to classroom management, yet successful teachers share a few traits and skills that contribute to their effectiveness in the classroom. Some of the characteristics that effective teachers share are patience, compassion, adaptability, and a commitment to continually learning.

Patience helps teachers be calm and composed as they balance a variety of responsibilities throughout the day. Daily responsibilities include teaching lessons plans, managing the classroom, attending to students needs, communicating with parents, and recognizing time constraints. Patience allows teachers to remain poised when some of these responsibilities overlap and they have to evaluate how to proceed.

Compassion is important since students enter the classroom with a variety of life experiences, backgrounds, knowledge, and expectations. Teachers should understand that these factors might affect a student’s behavior and performance during the school day. Being compassionate can help teachers develop a stronger relationship with all students, but especially with those who might need some extra support.

Adaptability is important for numerous reasons including the ability to recognize when students need information taught in a different manner and being able change the lesson to help teach those students. Being adaptable also helps educators when a lesson has diverged from the original plan. A teacher can either guide the lesson back on track or allow time for students to explore other issues that were not part of the original lesson.

Effective educators are also committed to continually learning about education by reading research journals and articles. Teachers can apply the new concepts and strategies to their lesson plans. Another benefit is that when teachers have a desire to continually learn, then they are modeling to their students how learning is a life-long process.