As an undergraduate student participating in an accredited teacher preparation program in the State of Iowa, I am required to develop an electronic teaching portfolio. My portfolio is divided into ten sections. Each section meets one of the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners’ (BOEE) ten New Teacher Standards. Prior to receiving my teaching license in the State of Iowa, I must present and defend my portfolio to faculty at Coe College, my home institution.
Over the course of my four years as an undergraduate education major, I have been collecting artifacts to use in my portfolio. These artifacts include individual lesson plans, week-long plans, home-school communications, professional development materials, and reflections. Each of the ten sections of my portfolio includes at least two artifacts.
In addition to the artifacts, the Iowa BOEE requires all new teacher candidates to include ten synthesized rationale statements describing their instructional decisions, assessment strategies, teaching philosophies, and reflections. You will find one of my rationale statements below. I will post all ten over the course of the next few days. To view my teaching portfolio, please click on the tab at the top of my page.
Standard 1, Student Learning: The practitioner understands how students learn and develop and provides learning opportunities that support intellectual, career, social and personal development.
As I develop my lesson plans, I am meticulous about aligning my content with school, district, state, and national standards and performance expectations. My students must be held accountable for the mastery of the content I present but I understand that there are a multitude of potential barriers that stand in their way. My students come from diverse social, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds. Instructional content that is simply presented without an opportunity for student connection and ownership fails to breakdown the barriers between my students and their learning.
I believe in empowering my students with skills and strategies that allow them to play an active role in their own individual learning processes. I approach my instruction and view student learning through a constructivist lens: Actively involving my students in the learning process is essential because an intrinsic motivation and love for learning transcends the classroom. While my students will spend the majority of their year within the walls of my room, they will spend the majority of their lives outside the classroom. As an educator, my ultimate goal is to instill a sense of intrinsic motivation and passion for learning within the souls of every one of my students. I believe they should leave my classroom with an inspiration to contribute to our global society.
I realize that students are successful learners when they are engaged. One of the greatest barriers that stood in between my 32 students and enlightenment was their overall level of engagement. To increase student engagement, I implement mini lesson style lessons throughout my instruction. During my mathematics instruction, I infused a series of math games to help reinforce fundamental and essential math skills. These games aligned with the instructional focus of the lesson yet provided students an opportunity to engage with the content in a student-centered environment.
However, I believe that the most essential component of student learning is the development of strong relationships between the teacher and their students. In my classroom, I meet one-on-one with each student at least once a week. These meeting occur throughout the school year. During my initial meetings, I ask each student to share their previous experiences with school and learning. I establish a baseline for my students’ existing attitudes towards teaching and learning. As the year progresses, I shift to questions addressing each student’s current levels of engagement with my instruction. I encourage my students to be honest. They know I value their opinions and recommendations.
These conversations are extremely enlightening and allow me to develop a strong relationship and rapport with each student. These discussions also allow me to peek into the minds of each of my students, uncovering more clues as to what drives them as learners. Using the knowledge I gain through these meetings as well as the academic information I gather during formal and informal assessment, I connect day-to-day educational experiences with each student’s personal strengths, growth areas, and future career aspirations. These intentional connections allow me to begin dismantling the barriers that stand between my students and their path towards enlightenment, learning, and success.