Autumn Field Experience Reflection

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

Teaching goes beyond helping students acquire knowledge and skills. Teachers also use their professional judgment to assess students’ emotional and physical health. These two factors often influence a student’s ability to learn, their confidence, and their sense of security. Creating a community of trust includes the teacher building relationships with students by learning about their interests and personalities.

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Figure 1 – Washington State DSHS Guide

Figure 1 is a reminder that child abuse and neglect can occur within any group of people. A child’s safety and well-being is a basic human right, so reports made to CPS help ensure children live in safe environments. In 2006, over 78,000 CPS reports were made in Washington. CPS conducted a further investigation in just under less than half of those reports.

Child abuse and neglect is difficult for teachers to think about, yet it is critical to be aware of abuse signs and know how to talk with students if the issue arises. Teachers should regularly review their school district’s policy on reporting child abuse and neglect. In the event reporting is necessary, it is best to be prepared about the appropriate resources and procedures.

At the beginning of the school year, my mentor teacher had made about five CPS reports concerning child abuse and neglect during her eight years of teaching. I visited her class in mid-November and she was preparing to make her third CPS report this school year. In two of the situations this year, the children reported an issue to her that caused concern to find out more information. In the third situation she observed a drastic change in the child’s personality and mood. She has reported physical abuse, emotional abuse, and neglect. The protocol at her elementary school is that the student talks with the school counselor after a potential issue is discovered. By the end of the school day, the teacher and the school counselor notify the principal that a report will be made. The school counselor is generally present when the teacher calls CPS.

While is it distressing my mentor teacher has already made three CPS reports this year, I think it is because her students feel truly comfortable in her classroom. They know she cares about them, which is why they trust her with sensitive information about their personal lives. She allows them the opportunity to express themselves and share stories. She has so many high need students that I think she should try to schedule a regular time for quick check-ins to ensure she is meeting with everyone. There is a 10-minute block when students return from recess before going to either P.E. or music. It has been challenging for her to use that time academically, so that might be an opportunity to meet with students individually.

Teachers start building the classroom’s learning environment beginning with their first interaction with students. The teacher-student relationship is essential for earning students trust and motivating them to excel academically. The school community balances academic growth as well as emotional and physical development.

Reference

Washington State Department of Health and Social Services – Children’s Administration. (2010). Protecting the abused and neglected child – A guide for recognizing and reporting child abuse (DSHS – 22-163).

 

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.

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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

 

 

Fostering Self-esteem in Students

Teaching involves many characteristics, but perhaps a few of the most important include patience, determination, and positivity. These traits impact a teacher’s approach to instruction and his or her expectations of student learning. Every student has a unique set of abilities and it is part of a teacher’s job to foster students’ personal and academic development. Growth is an ongoing process and teachers can either enhance or hinder a student’s development depending on their interactions with students and how the learning environment has been designed. Joyce, Weil, and Calhoun (2015) emphasize that a classroom’s learning community directly influences what students think about themselves and their abilities, how they interact with others, and how they approach learning. When teachers promote a positive learning community they directly impact their students developing self-esteem and academic growth.

Educators can reference Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs while planning classroom activities. The Hierarchy of Needs theory details how individuals move among various tiers to meet basic, psychological, and self-fulfillment needs throughout life (Desautels, 2014). The five tiers include 1) physiological needs such as breathing, food, and water; 2) safety related to the self, family, and property; 3) feeling love and belonging among family and friends; 4) obtaining self-esteem, respect, and confidence; and 5) self-actualization which results in creativity, problem-solving abilities, and self-reflection. Dr. Destautels offers detailed advice on how teachers can meet these needs for students when planning lessons, projects, and classroom design.

As a teacher, I believe that thinking about my students’ needs and interacting with them in positive ways will help increase their self-esteem. I know how easily certain words or actions can negatively impact someone’s persona or belief in their capabilities. I consider myself a positive, compassionate, patient person and I seek opportunities for improvement, especially when working with children. I babysat throughout my teenage years and always thought about how my actions and behavior would be an example for the children. As a teacher, my approach will be no different. I believe that I can cultivate students’ self-esteem through positivity, encouraging my students to be excited about learning, and teaching them to aspire to do their best.

References

Desautels, L. (2014). Addressing our needs: Maslow comes to life for educators and students. Retrieved from: http://www.edutopia.org/blog/addressing-our-needs-maslow-hierarchy-lori-desautels

Joyce, B., Weil, M., & Calhoun, E. (2015). Models of Teaching (9th ed.). Upper Sadle River, New Jersey: Pearson.

The Learning Process

One of my goals is to understand how people learn so I can practice more effective teaching methods. A standard teaching strategy generally involves a teacher providing information to students and expecting them to memorize everything. Next, the teacher assigns homework or worksheets focused on fact-based information. At the end of a unit, students usually complete a multiple-choice test to evaluate how well they have remembered specific facts. This is a repetitive process that rarely advances a student’s thinking skills. It is not my intention to primarily use a memorization strategy, but I do believe memorization is an important part of the learning process. A major teaching objective is to help my students learn how to remember what they are taught and to know how that information will eventually assist them in critical thinking.

Students can practice a variety of memorization techniques depending on what they are attempting to remember. Joyce, Weil, & Calhoun (2015) present a four-phase process to help students memorize information. The four phases of memorization are: 1) attending to the material; 2) identifying connections; 3) using techniques to expand sensory images; and 4) practicing recalling the information until it is completely learned (Joyce, Weil, & Calhoun, 2015).The strategy used in each phase will depend on what type of content is being taught and learned. Eventually students learn which strategies are best applied to what they want to memorize.

Memorization is an important part of the learning process because students scaffold their knowledge and thoughts before applying different thinking strategies. Benjamin Bloom’s Taxonomy of the Intellectual Processes aptly describes how the learning and thinking process develops. Bloom’s original model of taxonomy was created in 1956. The 1956 model categorizes the learning process into six domains, with knowledge as the first domain to be mastered before achieving success at higher levels (Armstrong, 2016). In 2001, the categories were relabeled as verbs in order to more distinctly demonstrate how people discover and apply their knowledge (Armstrong, 2016). Figures 1 and 2 below are examples of the original and revised versions. Both images include a short description explaining how learning occurs in each category.

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Figure 1: Original Version from 1956. (Image retrieved from http://www.uaa.alaska.edu).

 

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Figure 2: Revised version from 2001. (Armstrong, 2016).

 

As shown in both models, memorization is a significant part of the learning process since it must be mastered before moving up to the next level. Once students remember and understand knowledge, then I can apply other teaching strategies that guide students to a deeper thinking process. Bloom’s Taxonomy is a valuable resource for me to reference when planning lessons and to assess where my students are in the learning process. It is also important to share this model with students so they are cognizant of how their learning progresses overtime. I believe once students are aware of how learning occurs, then they will be more successful at mastering each level.

References

Armstrong, P. (2016). Bloom’s Taxonomy. Retrieved from: https://cft.vanderbilt.edu/guides-sub-pages/blooms-taxonomy/

Joyce, B., Weil, M., & Calhoun, E. (2015). Models of Teaching (9th ed.). Upper Sadle River, New Jersey: Pearson.

Student Affairs, University of Alaska Anchorage. (2012). The Assessment Cycle. Retrieved from: https://www.uaa.alaska.edu/studentaffairs/assessment/assessment-cycle.cfm

Strategic Questioning

There are numerous reasons a teacher might ask a student a question. A primary rationale is to evaluate what a student has learned. Asking questions also encourages students to think. Joyce, Weil, & Calhoun (2015) state that humans are naturally curious and teachers should guide learning in all subject matters by helping students develop their learning abilities. Questioning is a technique that teachers strategically use to support a student’s learning. When students have many opportunities to practice thinking, it creates a more powerful learning environment as they connect their thoughts with information and knowledge (Joyce, Weil, & Calhoun, 2015, p. 23).

Monica Baines, a high school teacher, practices questioning as a teaching strategy. In this video segment, she explains several reasons why she thinks asking questions is important. She consistently uses questioning as a teaching technique during lessons to guide discovery, to clarify information, to ask follow-up or connecting questions, and to help students understand what they should be thinking about. Her explanation is very relatable for teachers and can be applied with any age group or subject.

A questioning approach I plan to practice when I begin teaching is the Socratic Seminar method. This technique categorizes questions as knowledge-based, comprehensive, or evaluative. To use this method requires planning ahead, but I think it will help me practice thinking of quality questions so they eventually become a routine. All questions are important, but I prefer to mainly ask comprehension and evaluation questions during lessons. I believe these types of questions are more challenging for students to think about and will help build more useful critical thinking skills. These questions also provide more opportunities for students to make connections between their knowledge and what they are learning. Asking questions stimulates thoughts, which is essential in an effective learning community. By responding to a variety of questions, students will develop their thinking skills that will be applicable in all areas of life.

Resources

Baines, M. (Date unknown). Using questioning to develop understanding. (Video file). Retrieved from: https://www.teachingchannel.org/videos/questioning-in-the-classroom#

Joyce, B., Weil, M., & Calhoun, E. (2015). Models of Teaching (9th ed.). Upper Sadle River, New Jersey: Pearson.

 

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.