Diverse Learners

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 2, Diverse Learners:  The practitioner understands how students differ in their approaches to learning and creates instructional opportunities that are equitable and are adaptable to diverse learners.

Within every classroom, there are students across the academic and social spectrums. Although there may only be a handful of students with required accommodations, this does not mean that all students need appropriate scaffolding. As the main classroom facilitator towards student learning, I must differentiate my instruction to encourage all students to grow and succeed. Over the course of a given day, I am constantly assessing my students’ development and achievement. Based on the information I gather through formal and informal assessment, I establish an academic baseline for every student to help guide my instruction and insure my lessons include appropriate challenges.

I believe that learning should be accessible to all students. As an educator, I am continuously stretching myself and modifying my instruction to meet the needs of my students. I have an innate ability to view the world with a growth mindset and I view successful teaching as my ability to guide my students down a path towards learning. Flexibility and an understanding of differentiation are essential skills I possess. Differentiating instruction is vital because it allows for me to challenge my students regardless of their academic strengths or growth areas. Providing appropriate challenges during my lessons allows me to personalize my instruction.

However, I also believe that students should take ownership of their learning. Therefore, I utilize student strengths to help address growth areas. I provide opportunities for students to work independently, in partnerships, small groups, and as a whole class. Encouraging student engagement and collaboration in these different learning environments allows for student-driven guidance to occur. In order to meet the needs of my diverse group of learners, students need to be involved in the learning process.

At Andrew Jackson Language Academy, my 32 students come from neighborhoods across the City of Chicago: Westside, Southside, Near North, West Loop, and beyond. Each student enters my classroom with an entirely unique academic and social background. No two students are identical, except the identical twins. I utilize the Fountas and Pinnell leveled texts and DIBLES fluency snapshots to establish an academic baseline for every student in reading. This information allows me to more accurately guide my students towards texts that are accessible for them to read independently. I also utilize the information gathered during these assessments to structure and provide strategic intervention if needed. I also conduct consistent formative assessments during my math instruction. Over the course of each lesson, I use entrance and exit slips to assess student development. These assessments are quick and formative, yet they help to provide a day-to-day snapshot of each student’s individual growth.

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