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 6644: Reflection

Module 3’s primary focus was on how general education teachers can support students with learning disabilities and special needs. I selected this module for my reflection because it is an overview of what I need to know as general educational teacher. A portion of my discussion post is presented in Figure 1 below.

Figure 1
There are several factors that influence how a teacher can proactively support students with special needs. First, teachers should have a solid understanding of the range of disabilities, disorders, and unique special needs that will require extra attention in meeting a student’s behavioral, social, physical and/or academic need. Every year general education teachers will assist students with special needs. Lewis & Doorlag (2011) state that about 75% of students who have a mild learning need can receive accommodation in a general education classroom. The more knowledge teachers have about different types of special education needs, the more likely teachers will be comfortable relying on their skills while working with all students.

An essential fact for general education teachers to learn about exceptional learners is that about 75% of students with a mild learning need can be accommodated in the general education environment. I think that when teachers learn this information, it diminishes the misconception that all students with a special need require intense intervention. In practice, I can show other general education teachers we have the ability to provide accommodations. I want others to feel empowered that we have the knowledge, skills, and resources to help students with a mild learning need. There are many benefits when teachers provide support for student with special needs by modifying lessons or differentiating instruction. The student’s day is not disrupted by having to leave the classroom for special instruction. Another benefit is that special education teachers can devote their time with students who do need individual assistance.

In Figure 1, I also discuss how a teacher becomes more comfortable relying on his or her skills after attaining more knowledge about working with exceptional learners. I mention something similar nearly every week because one of my concerns has been how will I be confident in applying my knowledge and skills while working with students with special needs? I value the academic focus on learning about the range of students’ needs, but I know the application of that knowledge can be challenging. After my observational hours, I realize confidence will happen overtime. This is a situation where I need to worry less and instead look for opportunities where I gain experience and apply my knowledge. As I experience working with a range of students I will learn what accommodations produce the best results.

This course has helped me learn about identifying and working with students with special needs. I anticipate many challenges and learning opportunities in the future. With education, reflection and teaching experiences, my ability to support exceptional learners will continue to grow.

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

EDU 6150 Course Reflection – Content Knowledge

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. I believe the content knowledge standard strives to promote student achievement by encouraging teachers to attentively plan lessons with structure and purpose.

Effective lesson planning includes considering what knowledge should be learned, how lessons will be taught, and methods to evaluate learning. The backward design approach is a systematic method to ensure all elements of lesson planning is achieved. EDU6150Figure1

Figure 1.1 illustrates the three stages of the backward design process. This approach enhances student performance since it focuses on planning for the desired results while also identifying students and teachers performances and experiences throughout a  lesson (Wiggins & McTighe, 2005, p. 9). In stage one, the main ideas and knowledge that students should acquire are identified. A lesson target is written to align with academic standards and to maintain the lesson’s structure during decisions related to assessments, activities, and instruction. In stage two, the assessment methods are chosen. Multiple formative assessment opportunities are selected to evaluate the progression of understanding and the effectiveness of instruction. Summative assessments evaluate if a student has successfully learned the lesson’s target. During stage three, teachers decide on specific learning activities and the primary teaching method. The activities and instruction should support the assessment methods, learning target, and students’ experiences during the lesson.

The backward design process is a guide for teachers. It helps prevent too much focus on implementing a particular activity, assessment, or teaching technique since the goal is to organize lessons based on the learning target. The process is a thorough analysis of the lesson and instruction. Backward design process avoids students’ confusion about why something is taught. The learning target is provided so students know a lesson’s purpose and can reflect on their learning process. The activities help ensure students have opportunities to practice what they are learning before the summative assessment.

I think a teacher’s ability to successfully apply the elements of content knowledge is a gradually learned skill. Planning lessons is important and using guideline is valuable, but experience is crucial. All teachers use students’ past performances and achievement to modify a lesson after instruction. Experienced teachers are often more effective at making modifications during the lesson. I believe this is a standard in which I will constantly improve by reading additional research and gaining experience as a teacher.

Reference:

Wiggins, G. & McTighe, J. (2005). Understanding by design. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

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

 

 

EDU 6120: Final Foundations

Question: Many of the authors we study contend that the most important goals of education are to improve the moral and social fabric of student and to raise academic achievement. Explain what this means to you and provide illustrations showing how these goals might be best attained. 

The American public education system serves multiple purposes. When parents send their children to school, it assumed the primary reason is so children learn academic skills to prepare them for the future. While academics do consume the majority of a student’s day, students also learn social skills and societal values during the school day. It is important for teachers to identify opportunities to teach social and moral character while preparing academic lessons.

Arthur Foshay identifies four learning areas that teachers are obligated to recognize as part of a student’s education. The four areas are: 1) academic coping skills; 2) character development skills; 3) citizenship skills; and 4) self-realization skills (Ellis, Session 6, p. 3). These four skill areas align with purpose of education: academic, social, and moral lessons. For example, academic achievement is influenced by academic coping skills, characters development skills, and self-realization skills. Acquiring academic coping skills helps students since they learn the foundations of certain subjects and how to effective study habits. Character development and self-realization relate to academics because these skills teach students perseverance when schoolwork becomes challenging.

Similarly, values and morals are taught when students learn character development skills, citizenship skills, and self-realization skills. Part of developing one’s character is deciding certain values to live by and self-realization occurs in situations when students have to follow their values. If a student believes cheating on tests is wrong and discovers their friend cheated, then this situation becomes a personal dilemma. That student must decide to either inform the teacher or talk to their friend first. These types of situations test a person’s morals and character. Lastly, morals are learned through citizenship in the classroom. Teachers expect students to follow certain procedures as part of class management during the school day, just as citizens are expected to follow societies rules which function to maintain a sense of order. Morals are an underlying component of any classroom or society rule. Rules are created based on the belief that people should practice respect, not harm others, and make positive contributions to the community.

Since part of a teacher’s responsibility is to teach academic, social, and moral skills, how do teachers effectively incorporate these skills into the classroom? Richard Hersh proposes that the academic and social climates of the school contribute to effective teaching and effective learning (Ellis, Session 4, p. 10). According to Hersh, effective teachers promote a positive academic climate by using a variety of teaching techniques, ensuring students stay on task to increase instruction time, monitoring student progress, and evaluating assigned homework. (Ellis, Session 4, p. 10). Hersh also provides suggestions for how teachers cultivate a positive social environment. Recommendations include that teachers explain expectations and goals to their students, have high expectations of students, demonstrate a caring disposition toward students, and publically recognize positive student behavior (Ellis, Session 4, p. 10). With this advice, teachers can ensure students are learning academic, social, and moral skills in the classroom and during other interactions in the school community.

When teachers are aware of the responsibility to teach a variety of skills and know how to effectively teach these skills, then teachers can keep these goals in mind during lesson planning and instruction. To successfully teach academic skills, teachers should use grading rubrics to ensure students are accomplishing learning objectives and have students track their own learning goals on individual assessment forms. A thorough grading rubric guarantees students and teachers understand instructional goals and that everyone also knows the performance that is required to reach that level of understanding (Marzano, 2007, p. 23). A rubric is an efficient method for teachers to outline and describe the academic skills that are the purpose of a specific lesson. Teachers should also distribute Student Progress Charts so students monitor their progress after deciding on a learning goal in a particular subject. The Student Progress Chart requires students to choose a goal score to attain at the end of a unit and then student’s track their progress in graph form. (Marzano, 2007, pg. 25-26). This self-assessment is very helpful for students as they learn academic skills because it is a visual guide for them to see what areas they are struggling in compared to areas where progress has been made. Rubrics and student self-assessments are valuable tools for teachers to monitor if academic skills are being learned.

Teaching moral and character skills might not involve such explicit techniques. Instead, to teach these skills, teachers should create a sense of community within the classroom and find opportunities to praise students when their behavior reflects community values. One of the first lesson plans a teacher should include in the beginning of the school year is collaborating with students to create a list of classroom rules. Involving students in the process is critical because it helps students think about why rules are important and how they can demonstrate the behavior described in the rules. Another way teachers may incorporate learning about character and morals is while reading literature or during history lessons. In these examples, teachers should initiate class discussions about character personality traits. If a character in a story did something that negatively impacted themselves or their community, then students might discuss what that character could have done differently. Similarly, when studying history, the class might talk about the character traits or morals of an individual who had a positive impact in history. These discussions help students connect school lessons with the real world. A goal of these lessons is for students to think about the impact of their behavior inside and outside the classroom. When students know their core values then it is easier for students to practice those morals.

It is evident that a student’s education must include lessons that teaching academic skills, along with social and moral skills. When a teacher considers all three skills to be a priority while teaching, then students will likely be better prepared to handle the diverse challenges that occur in every day life. Academic skills are critical for a child to be a successful student, but building character helps students persevere throughout difficult subjects while knowing core values guides student through complicated life situations. Teachers must include the three skill areas for a student to receive a meaningful education.

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Question: Of all the individuals and philosophies we have discussed during this course, select one or two whose ideas have influenced you the most. What are those ideas, and what relevance to they have to your own philosophy?

For thousands of years people from around the world have been interested in figuring out the best method to educate others. Philosophers, educators, and scholars have written countless articles, essays, journals, reflections, and performed studies that scrutinize the most effective educational approaches. These resources have provided modern educators with a plethora of information to study, examine, and analyze in the context of present day education and philosophy. When studying these historical methodologies, it is essential to remember that several ideas were likely written for a particular audience and during a time when students tended to be from a similar group. Yet many of the contributions are still relevant in modern society and can be applied in the classroom. Throughout this course, I have been primarily influenced by principles of the Progressive philosophy and the educational contributions of Horace Mann.

Progressivism is an educational approach that centers on the manner in which information should be taught. A progressive philosophy is the belief that students should be taught how to think rather than what to think (Ellis, Session 5, p. 6). Progressivism does not teach students that the purpose of education is to memorize information in order to pass examinations. Instead, when a teacher practices a progressive approach, he or she strives for students to be independent thinkers and learn how to analyze the information they are being taught. The goal is to provide students with the skills necessary to adapt to environments that are constantly changing (Ellis, Session 5, p. 6). This philosophy aligns with one of my teaching goals. I believe students should think about why they are taught certain information and to consider how that information might apply to future situations.

John Dewey, an American educational philosopher, contributed to many of the main principles of progressivism. A few of Dewey’s principles include the belief that education is a lifelong process through active involvement, that students’ interests should guide lessons, and that students require different teaching styles (Scheuerman, Session 8, p. 1). These principles support my teaching philosophy because I want students to develop a passion to continually learn throughout their lifetime. This idea is supported when teachers make lessons relevant to a student’s interests. If a lesson is about a subject a student is interested in, she or he will show more focus, comprehension, retention, and examination about that topic. Teaching lessons relevant to students’ interests persuades them to explore learning opportunities outside the classroom and hopefully become lifelong learners. Teachers can further support lifelong learning when it is recognized that students have different interests and learning styles. These factors should be taken into consideration when teachers are planning lessons. A variety of lessons, activities, and teaching techniques help make learning more relevant to a diverse audience of students.

Horace Mann, who was the first director of the Massachusetts State Board of Education, is influential because he understood the complexities of providing a public education for all students and valued various subjects being taught in school. Mann lived until 1859, yet he envisioned a public school system that is quite comparable to present day. He believed students benefitted from instruction in a range of subjects. In one of Mann’s Annual Reports, he wrote about the importance of lessons in music, health, and physical fitness (Scheuerman, Session 7, p. 1). In modern society, these subjects are included in students’ school schedules, but these classes are often the first to either be eliminated or have reduced instruction time because of budget constraints. While the specific classes might be removed from my students’ schedules, I can still find ways to include these subjects into the general classroom. For example, I can incorporate music into the classroom by reciting lyrics during literature readings or plan for activities that allow students opportunity to move around the classroom. Creativity while lesson planning will help students continue to be exposed to a variety of subjects.

Mann also acknowledged the numerous benefits of living in an educated society. In 1848, in his Twelfth Annual Report, Mann emphasized several community-related advantages of all citizens attending school including that education provides independence, prevents poverty, decreases the class system, and teaches logical thinking, innovation, and socialization (Scheuerman, Session 7, p. 2). This report is influential because Mann’s analysis was written over 160 years ago and it helped provide all children access to an education. These societal advantages continue to be discussed today as the American education system struggles to balance providing an equal education for all students. It is also remarkable that Mann devoted his career to education yet began his professional career as a successful lawyer (Scheuerman, Session 7, p. 1). I think this decision is very inspiring because I strongly believe teaching is my calling in life. Becoming a teacher is a career change for me after working in typical office environment for about five years. I believe that my work experience outside the field of education will help me empathize with parents when figuring out scheduling conflicts and trying to determine the best communication method. My prior experience offers a unique perspective, yet I have a lot to learn from teachers who have always worked in education. Mann’s story has encouraged me that following one’s life calling will lead to success.

The progressive philosophy and the work of Horace Mann have greatly influenced my preparation to become a teacher. One of the greatest lessons is that I must acknowledge how the principles will impact my work. If I am cognizant of why I plan lessons a certain way or practice certain teaching methods, then it helps ensure my students are receiving the benefits of those principles. The progressive approach encourages lifelong learning and this belief is applicable to my personal growth and development. I am open to learning about additional philosophies and instructional techniques to enhance my knowledge Furthermore, when I continue researching educational philosophies and applying new concepts in my lessons and teaching activities, then I am modeling the behavior that I hope my students will develop. My instructional approach will continually change as I gain experience working as a teacher, learn additional educational principles, and observe how my students respond after applying certain techniques. Just like learning is a lifelong process, teaching is a lifelong process of adapting and evolving.

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.