Professional

Cheryl Varga

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Hello! I am a graduate student in the Master of Arts in Teaching program at Seattle Pacific University. I have lived in Ohio, California, and Washington. I attended San Jose State University in California to earn my bachelor’s degree and moved back to Washington after graduation. Before joining SPU’s MAT program, I worked for a law firm in an administrative position. I spent nearly every day knowing I should return to my original plan to become a teacher. I plan to teach elementary school students and would love to work with students in second, third, or fourth grade. I live in Seattle with my fiance, dog, and three cats. I spend my free time reading, cooking, baking, and running. I also love traveling and exploring new places. In the last few years my travels outside the country have included visiting Cambodia, Canada, Czech Republic, England, Germany, Hungary, Holland, Laos, Mexico, and the Philippines. My current dream trips are to visit Italy and Peru.

Interest and Experience in Education

I have always dreamed of becoming a teacher and working with children. As a teenager, I was the neighborhood babysitter. I developed close relationships with the children I watched and many of their parents. I often felt like an extended member of those families and there is still a special place in my heart for those kids. I have also worked for the YMCA as a camp counselor for a group of kids between the ages of 5 and 12.  My first job after graduating from college was a nanny, caring for a one year old girl. Although I left that job to work in a law firm, I have always felt that my life purpose is to teach.

I am drawn to teaching children because of their natural curiosity to learn about life. Children display such excitement when they understand something new or have the opportunity to teach someone else what they have learned. Elementary school children are at a special time in their life figuring out what activities they enjoy participating in and which school subjects they enjoy the most. I am thrilled to be part of this program. I look forward to learning about instructional practices and determining the best educational methods to apply during lessons.

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Purpose of this Portfolio

This portfolio is to document my educational and professional growth as a graduate student in Seattle Pacific University’s MAT program.

Expected outcomes are expressed as program standards, which are aligned with State-designated teacher preparation approval criteria shown in WAC 181-78A-270. Program standards include criteria (e.g. 1.), elements (e.g. 1.1), and examples. Any level of the program standard is appropriate for reflection, feedback, or evaluation.

1. ExpectationsThe teacher communicates high expectations for student learning.

1.1 Demonstrating Knowledge of Content and Pedagogy

E.g. Teacher recognizes the value of understanding students’ interests and cultural heritage and displays this knowledge for groups of students.

1.2 Communicating with Students

Teacher’s explanation of content is appropriate and connects with students’ knowledge and experience.

1.3 Engaging Students in Learning

The lesson has a clearly defined structure around which the activities are organized. Pacing of the lesson is generally appropriate.

2. Instruction – The teacher uses research-based instructional practices to meet the needs of all students.

2.1 Using Questioning and Discussion Techniques

Most of the teacher’s questions are of high quality. Adequate time is provided for students to respond.

2.2 Engaging Students in Learning

Most activities and assignments are appropriate to students, and almost all students are cognitively engaged in exploring content.

2.3 Reflecting on Teaching

Teacher makes an accurate assessment of a lesson’s effectiveness and the extent to which it achieved its instructional outcomes and can cite general references to support the judgment.

3. Differentiation – The teacher acquires and uses specific knowledge about students’ cultural, individual intellectual and social development and uses that knowledge to adjust their practice by employing strategies that advance student learning.

3.1 Demonstrating Knowledge of Students

Teacher recognizes the value of understanding students’ skills, knowledge, and language proficiency and displays this knowledge for groups of – students.

3.2 Demonstrating Flexibility and Responsiveness in Lesson Adjustments

Teacher makes a minor adjustment to a lesson, and the adjustment occurs smoothly.

3.3 Demonstrating Flexibility and Responsiveness in Persisting to Support Students

Teacher persists in seeking approaches for students who have difficulty learning, drawing on a broad repertoire of strategies.

4. Content Knowledge – The teacher uses content area knowledge, learning standards, appropriate pedagogy and resources to design and deliver curricula and instruction to impact student learning.

4.1 Demonstrating Knowledge of Content and Pedagogy

Teacher’s plans and practice reflect familiarity with a wide range of effective pedagogical approaches in the discipline.

4.2 Setting Instructional Outcomes

All the instructional outcomes are clear, written in the form of student learning. Most suggest viable methods of assessment.

4.3 Designing Coherent Instruction in the area of Learning Activities

All of the learning activities are suitable to students or to the instructional outcomes, and most represent significant cognitive challenge, with some differentiation for different groups of students.

4.4 Designing Coherent Instruction in the area of Lesson and Unit Structure

The lesson or unit has a clearly defined structure around which activities are organized. Progression of activities is even, with reasonable time allocations.

5. Learning Environment – The teacher fosters and manages a safe and inclusive learning environment that takes into account: physical, emotional and intellectual well-being.

5.1 Creating an Environment of Respect and Rapport

Teacher-student interactions are friendly and demonstrate general caring and respect. Such interactions are appropriate to the age and cultures of the students. Students exhibit respect for the teacher.

5.2 Managing Classroom Procedures through Transitions

Transitions occur smoothly, with little loss of instructional time.

5.3 Managing Classroom Procedures through Performance of Noninstructional Duties

Efficient systems for performing noninstructional duties are in place, resulting in minimal loss of instructional time.

5.4 Managing Student Behavior by Establishing Expectations

Standards of conduct are clear to all students.

5.5 Managing Student Behavior by Monitoring

Teacher is alert to student behavior at all times.

6. Assessment – The teacher uses multiple data elements (both formative and summative) to plan, inform and adjust instruction and evaluate student learning.

6.1 Designing Student Assessments around Criteria and Standards

Assessment criteria and standards are clear.

6.2 Designing Student Assessments with an Emphasis on Formative Assessment

Teacher has a well-developed strategy to using formative assessment and has designed particular approaches to be used.

6.3 Designing Student Assessments to Inform Planning

Teacher plans to use assessment results to plan for future instruction for groups of students.

6.4 Using Assessment to Provide Feedback to Students

Teacher’s feedback to students is timely and of consistently high quality.

7. Families and Community – The teacher communicates and collaborates with students, families and all educational stakeholders in an ethical and professional manner to promote student learning.

7.1 Communicating with Families

Teacher communicates with families about students’ progress on a regular basis, respecting cultural norms, and is available as needed to respond to family concerns.

8. 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.

8.1 Participating in a Professional Community

Relationships with colleagues are characterized by mutual support and cooperation.

8.2 Growing and Developing Professionally

Teacher welcomes feedback from colleagues when made by supervisors or when opportunities arise through professional collaboration.

Elements of a Model Entry

There are different formats for writing portfolio entries. However, responding to writing prompts 1-6 helps to address desired performance on professional knowledge and skills, along with identifying steps for having a greater impact on K-12 student learning.

1. Citation of the program standard (either criteria, element, or example) along with an interpretation of what the standard means.

2. Presentation of evidence with description. The description includes context and related research or theory associated with the creation of the evidence.

3. Justification of how the evidence demonstrates competence, or emerging competence, on the program standard.

4. Summary of what was learned as a result of creating the evidence or having the experience.

5. Comment on the implications for student learning.

6. Propose specific changes or next steps to increase effectiveness in the area under examination.

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