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  • Standard 1

    2010 - 10.24

    A.  I have demonstrated my ability to “synthesize, analyze, reflect upon, and write with clarity and structure about ideas, information, and data from a general and liberal education, and the relationships between the various disciplines,” primarily through the reflective and analytical work that I completed alongside my teaching throughout my time at Albion.  In addition to the work that I completed during my professional internship (referenced frequently throughout this portfolio and my discussion of the standards) I also articulated my understandings about teaching and learning in other teaching experiences and projects.

    The manner with which I reflected upon a unit plan created during the spring semester 2009, and a case study in which I interviewed a friend with a different educational experience that me are two telling demonstrations of this ability.  The synthesis, analysis, reflection, and writing required for these two different tasks were incredibly important to my initial thinking and learning about teaching, and helped inform my teaching decisions in other courses and field placements.  The aforementioned unit plan was the first unit that I constructed, and forced me to think and write deliberately and carefully about my planning and the manner with which my unit fit the needs of the learners in my field placement.  The case study allowed me to investigate the experiences of a friend who immigrated to the United States and had a very different experience in the elementary and middle school grades than I had.  My discussions with her, and the research, reflection, and writing that followed, made me look at teaching and learning in a new way, and reminded me of the importance of honoring the perspectives and identities of others in teaching and learning.

    Please click here to read more about this unit plan.

    Please click here to read more about this case study.

    B.  The nature of the magazine project from my Maymester (Boundary Crossings into Elementary Schools) teaching is a good representation of my understanding of, and appreciation for “free inquiry in English, literature, humanities, social sciences, mathematics, natural or physical sciences, and the arts.”  My unit focused on English, so I will emphasize my work with free inquiry there, though I do have an appreciation for inquiry in all disciplines.  My students were encouraged to conceive of, and answer, their own questions throughout the creation of their magazines.  They provided their own standards for project completion based on what they found to be the most salient features of magazines.  Then, they came up with their own questions to drive our discussions of community, and they wrote their own original works according to their own interests and investigations of community.  This freedom to choose and investigate on an individual level was important to me, and represented an appreciation for inquiry that was present throughout the planning and teaching of this unit.

    C. I have striven to “understand global and international perspectives of the disciplines” primarily in my liberal arts course work at Albion College.  The Holocaust seminar and East Asian Cultures and Civilizations course that I took during my sophomore year provided for in-depth investigations of the perspectives of other countries as they are applied to history, culture, politics, and literature.  In addition, the British Literature, Greek and Roman Literature, and Age of Satire courses that I took opened my eyes to different perspectives in relation to writing and reading.  Also, the Greek and Roman Art course that I took during spring semester in 2008 provided for a fascinating exploration of cultural and artistic trends that were and continue to be influential in the art world on an international and global scale.

    Even with such exposure to varying cultures and histories and how those contexts inform different perspectives of the academic disciplines, I think that my knowledge in this area has much room to grow.  In an increasingly global society, I value the importance of understanding different cultural perspectives and am eager to learn more about other approaches to the disciplines.

    D.  My learning about the tenets of a free, democratic, and pluralistic society has centered on my work in government and history courses.  In my AP U.S. Government and Politics class, I learned extensively about how the governmental and political system of the United States works and the way in which our system was created upon the principles of democracy and freedom.  In my AP European History course, I learned more about the philosophy behind these terms and their implications for both our governmental system and the political structures of other societies currently and throughout history.

    As a teacher, I appreciate the importance of a free, democratic, and pluralistic society.  Teaching depends on these facets of our society, and I find that it is important to incorporate these understandings into classroom learning.  I strive to support the pluralism and dedication to justice and freedom in my own classroom as I teach my students about the place of these ideals in society at large.  This includes, for instance, the learner-centered classroom, and affirmation of diversity and multiple perspectives so central to my teaching philosophy.

    Please read more in the Teaching Philosophy section of this portfolio.

    E.  In my teaching during Maymester, I believe that my understanding and “respect [for] varying points of view and the influence of one’s own and others’ ethics and values,” came through most clearly in the very nature of the project that the students completed.  Each student created his or her own complete work that was based entirely on their unique point of view.  It was repeatedly emphasized that each students’ ideas mattered and should be represented in their magazine.  No one person was ever emphasized as “right” or superior, rather each individual was affirmed as an individual, with a point of view that was valid and worth representing.

    I also demonstrated an understanding and respect for “varying points of view and the influence of one’s own and others’ ethics and values” when I consulted other teachers and colleagues throughout my Maymester teaching and my professional internship.  It was very important to me that I speak with others about my teaching, learning from the unique experience and perspectives of the people around me.  Such consultation helped inform my teaching decisions, and I believe they made me a more informed and better teacher as a result.

    F.  So far, my learning regarding the importance of the individual has primarily pertained to discussions of recognizing and supporting the uniqueness of each student in a classroom.  In a “Child/Youth Study” completed in my Education 201 course (Fall 2008), I closely observed a particular student in my field placement classroom, trying to understand who he was as an individual interacting with his class and his society.  In my observations and supporting research, I found that I developed a greater understanding of the role that the child played in the context of the classroom, and in the larger context of his community and the world.  I also was reminded of the importance of upholding and striving to learn about the unique qualities in each student, and the ways in which doing so allows teachers to have a more complete view of who each student really is, and how best to reach and teach them.

    Though I have learned about the importance of individuality through such exercises, I have had fairly little direct instruction regarding how that individuality is connected to the functioning of a free democratic society.  I have a vague understanding of how individuality functions in such a society, but have much more to learn.  I can appreciate that such central features of democracy as free speech and voting require an affirmation of the individual, but know that the “role, rights, and value of the individual in a free democratic society” is a much more nuanced and complex idea.  I need to learn more about this concept as an individual in such a society, and as one who will teach this idea to my students.  I already value individuality; I need to connect that value specifically to the functioning of the individual in a democratic society for my students and myself.

    G.  My understanding of “technology and its use for gathering, processing, evaluating, analyzing, and communicating ideas and information” was emphasized in multiple facets of my teaching experiences at Albion college.  To start, I used technology in the creation of a documentary, which I created as a part of the Boundary Crossings into Elementary Schools course.  I used a medium that I have scarcely worked with before, using technology in a new way to explore and express my students’ and my ideas about community and Albion.  Though challenging, it was an enriching experience, and one which forced me to renew my appreciation for the uses and advantages of technology.

    I also used technology in a new way in the creation and use of my virtual learning environment, created as a part of my Showcase Unit during my professional internship.  I created a simple website for my students, to be used in the classroom as a way for the students to review and test their understanding about the books they read during the unit.  The intent was for the students to experience the material in a new way, expressing their ideas in a manner that would be fun, enriching, and different.  This project, just as the documentary, reminded me of the manner with which technology offers unique opportunities for student and teacher enrichment.

    Please click here to view my virtual learning environment.

    I also used technology to present my Action Research findings and reflections toward the end of my professional internship.  I used a Power Point presentation to portray my teaching and learning during my research, presenting the information to an audience of friends, family, professors, fellow student teachers, and other colleagues.

    To view this use of technology, please click here.

    H.  I think that two of most unique features of American society are the fact that our culture is comprised of similarities and differences and the related emphasis on both the individual and collective that is central to our culture.  The United States is a unique amalgamation of cultures, histories, religions, ethics, and morals that are motivated and informed by a wide array of influences both foreign and domestic.  Individuals are expected to uphold their own ideas and identities while also contributing to and participating in a collective culture.  In my teaching, I have demonstrated a commitment to upholding these identities in the classroom throughout my teaching, perhaps most explicitly in a case study and child/youth study already mentioned in my reflections upon this standard, and in other facets of my teaching.

    To read more about my commitment to honoring “similarities and differences in our culture” and in the classroom, please read the teaching philosophy section of this portfolio.

    I also understand the notion that a culture rich with these similarities and differences supports the importance of the concepts of “common good” and “responsible citizenship.”  By understanding one another, striving to honor and respect the similarities and differences among the people of the United States, and by fostering that respect in the classroom, people will have a better capacity to work together toward the good of society–a society built upon the differences and commonalities which make the United States what it is.

    I.  To be perfectly honest, I don’t believe that I have had much exposure to the constitution, governmental framework, and history of Michigan since the Michigan history unit in my fourth grade class.  Contrastingly, I have learned an immense amount about the workings of the United States constitution, the political history surrounding its creation, and about the history of the United States at large in my government and history course in high school and at Albion.  Although my background in these subjects is slightly stronger, I need to review and reflect upon that which I already know, and must also add to those understandings with new information and experiences.  If I am to teach these topics, I definitely need to learn more.

    J. One instance in my work at Albion College which reflects my “understanding and respect for individual differences” is the aforementioned case study that I created during the Fall semester, 2008.  This case study centered on an English Language Learner and her experiences with Elementary and Secondary Education in Michigan.  This case study really opened my eyes to the struggles of students who lie outside of the so-called classroom “norm,” and the incredible importance of respecting and affirming those differences in teaching.

    Please click here (or above) to read this case study.

    K.  Having the skills “necessary for effective communication in speech, writing, and multimedia using content, form, voice, and style” came through primarily in my teaching during Maymester (Boundary Crossings Into Elementary Schools) and my Professional Internship.  In the teaching of my Maymester unit, done over three weeks, I tried my best to communicate effectively the expectations that I had for my students.  I created multiple check-lists and written explanations of instructions for their project, we discussed expectations and goals each day, and we discussed multiple areas of content regarding community and building community throughout the Maymester.  I also communicated with my mentor teacher throughout this process, working towards being as effective as possible in my teaching.

    In my professional internship, I constantly reiterated expectations with my students, asking them to speak about their goals and objectives as I articulated them as well.  I strove to make communication a central facet of my teaching, working hard in my speech and written directions to inform my students clearly about what was expected of them.  I also communicated in writing and speech with my mentor teacher and other colleagues, working to make my teaching as effective as possible.

    As an English major and Education student, I also worked hard throughout my College experience to communicate my thoughts, reflections, and analyses with clarity and structure, working to convey my ideas in a positive and interesting way.

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