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  • Standard 4

    2010 - 10.24

    A.  As a teacher, one of the most difficult but important challenges is to “engage students in meaningful learning experiences while maximizing the use of instructional time.”  Accomplishing this important goal required immense planning throughout my teaching, perhaps most importantly in my professional internship.  To try and meet this objective, I worked hard to estimate the amount of time various tasks within my teaching would take, planning such that students might learn the most both from their independent work time, and from whole-class discussion and instruction.  I also strove to plan activities that would be as meaningful as possible, working to assign tasks that would be both challenging and enriching for students, differentiating those tasks as needed.

    Please click here to read sample lesson plans which demonstrate these efforts.

    One instance in which I believe that I met this goal effectively was my Showcase Unit Plan.  By creating three groups which rotated and completed the same tasks but at different times and with different material, I believe that I was able to provide my students with the most meaningful experiences possible, while also providing the most effective instruction possible, giving struggling readers the most time to discuss with me and the most time to complete independent work, while giving the most independent students the most time to work individually (while still providing opportunities to consult with me as needed).

    To read more about this unit plan, please click here.

    B. In my professional internship classroom, I believe that my mentor teacher and I set up the classroom such that “the classroom environment [promoted] positive peer interactions and positive self-esteem, to ensure that each student is a valued participant in an inclusive learning community.”  To start, we continually rearranged our classroom seating, making changes to accommodate the changes that we saw within our students.  When our learners were struggling to concentrate, we arranged desks to try and facilitate a more focused learning environment, while also retaining the capacity for student interaction and whole-group participation.  We eventually made changes again, to ensure that a handful of struggling individuals’ needs were being met, again while facilitating learning and collaboration for all students.  At the end of my internship semester, our room was arranged in groups of three, all facing the front of the classroom.  This arrangement provided for a spacious learning environment, and one which was conducive to both student discussion and participation, as well as classroom focus.

    To better understand our changing classroom arrangements, please click here.

    C. I am a fervent believer in high expectations, and the creation of a learning environment and system of grading in which “both teacher and students have high expectations and mutually understand what is expected of each other to foster optimal achievement of all students.”  In all of my teaching, but perhaps especially during my Professional Internship, I worked to maintain constant communication between me and my students.  I articulated and reiterated expectations repeatedly throughout lessons and units, just as students repeated them back and redefined them for one another.  The manner with which I graded was not a secret, but was an open process which the students were made privy to.

    I worked to ensure that students understood that grades were determined by the level to which students reached or exceeded the expectations articulated to and by them on each assignment.  I strove to ensure that students knew what they were to accomplish, and I believe that my students grasped the notion that their grades were a reflection of whether or not they accomplished what we had discussed.  In this manner, the students and I had high expectations, but expectations which were clearly articulated.  I believe that this clarity helped student achievement; and found that the more direction given resulted in the most successful student work.

    D. In my professional internship classroom, the management plan designed and implemented by my mentor teacher and I used “respectful disciplinary techniques to ensure a safe and orderly learning environment, which is conducive to learning and takes into account diverse needs of individual students.”  In our classroom, we tried to use strategies for management which required the students to reflect upon their own behavior.  Students who were disruptive “moved sticks” from the beginning green level, to yellow, and then to red on a stoplight at the back of the room.  The stop light was intended as a visual cue to remind students of their expectations; the students moved their own sticks in an effort to reinforce the notion of taking responsibility for behavior.

    If student behavior became out of hand, students wrote brief plans articulating what happened, what they could have done differently, and what classroom expectations they were embracing and breaking.  Again, the intent of these plans was to encourage students to think about their own actions and set goals for future behavior.  Finally, we also strove to reward positive behavior, while also enforcing the idea of working together.  If the classroom as a whole had a particularly positive or productive day, or if students were particularly well-behaved during a given task, the group received marbles in a classroom jar.  Each time the jar was filled, students were able to have some sort of celebration to reward the achievement.  These strategies allowed students to think about their behavior in productive ways.  Since much of these actions were addressed individually, students with unique situations or needs were addressed accordingly; however, I strove to hold students to the same level of accountability, even as I kept their unique needs and struggles in mind.

    E. I believe that it is incredibly important to understand and uphold the legal and ethical responsibilities of teaching (e.g., federal and state laws and SBE policies pertaining to positive and effective learning environments, appropriate behavioral interventions, student retention, truancy, child abuse, safety, first aid, health, and communicable disease).”  I am committed to doing just that in my work as an educator.  I will do absolutely everything in my power to protect my students and provide them with the safest and best learning environment possible.

    F. I work very hard in my teaching to use “a variety of teaching methodologies and techniques, and objectively assess the effectiveness of various instructional approaches and teacher actions for impact on student learning.”  In my professional internship, for instance, I strove to vary my instruction as much as possible, trying to allow my students as many opportunities as possible to learn in different ways.  I incorporated whole-group instruction, pair and small group work, brief lectures, demonstrations, and technology use into lessons taught throughout each day.  I also consulted other teachers often, working to teach in whatever way would likely be the most effective for my students.  If one strategy didn’t work for a particular subject or lesson, I tried other methods, and made whatever changes necessary to teach my students in new and interesting ways.

    G. Though I believe that individual work is also incredibly important, I try to incorporate collaborative learning into my teaching as much as possible.  In my Maymester unit, students were encouraged to work together, especially in the revision of their projects, making suggestions to help make writing as polished as possible.  In my Professional Internship, students worked collaboratively often.  In science, students constantly worked in small groups and pairs to investigate scientific principals and concepts.  In reading, students worked in small groups to discuss books and reading strategies.  In writing, students worked with pairs to talk about ways to improve their work.  In these and other moments throughout the school day, my students were constantly working together to learn.

    H.  I also understand the importance of differentiating between assessment and evaluation.  Assessment procedures inform instruction.  These are informal and formal measures taken to understand student progress and learning, and to facilitate appropriate instruction.  Evaluations, on the other hand, are more focused on the level of lessons and units.  Evaluations are more pointed and measure learning that has occurred, rather than inform instruction to facilitate future learning.  Evaluations also have their place in the classroom.  I have used assessment in the classroom for instance in the Showcase Unit plan mentioned above (and in numerous instances noted throughout this portfolio).  I have also used evaluations in the classroom, for instance in mathematics tests given throughout my Professional Internship.

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