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 7, Assessment: The practitioner understands and uses formal and informal assessment strategies to evaluate the continuous intellectual, social and physical development of the learner.
As I develop my lesson plans, and craft my instructional strategies, I am meticulous about aligning my content with school, district, state, and national standards and performance expectations. Regardless of my instructional decisions, my students will be held accountable for the mastery of the content laid out in the school, district, state, and national standards. In order to determine my students’ levels of proficiency, I continuously assess their learning. To meet the unique strengths and growth areas of my students, I balance formal, informal, formative, and summative assessment strategies.
I believe in receiving continuous feedback from my students. On a day-by-day basis, I want them to allow me to peer into their minds to determine the barriers that stand in their way of mastering content and developing an intrinsic passion for learning. While I believe strongly in utilizing standards-based assessments as a tool for learning, I also believe that these assessments provide a mere snapshot of my learners at a particular moment along their journey. Although summative assessments provide an opportunity for my students to articulate their overall level of proficiency, there are also limitations to the format.
Standardized test scores cannot possibly tell the whole story of my students. In order to paint a more accurate picture of my students as learners, I believe in conducting consistent formative assessments. The more data points I collect, the more appropriately I can shape and reshape my instruction to fit the day-to-day needs of my students.
In addition to continuously gathering formal and informal assessment data, I am also insistent upon providing my students with feedback. This feedback, in turn, allows me to further articulate my expectations and encourage my students to address possible misconceptions independently. I believe in empowering my students to take ownership of their learning and feel that providing feedback is a valuable step in the right direction. If, after internalizing my feedback, student misconceptions still persist, I then take the necessary steps to address the issue instructionally.
After my 32 students at Andrew Jackson Language Academy have completed an entire reading unit, I implement the curriculum-based benchmark assessment. The assessment consists of multiple-choice questions that are directly correlated to the comprehension, vocabulary, phonics, and grammar skills and strategies emphasized over the course of the unit. After my students complete their unit test, I review and analyze their results. I do not simply grade the assessments and return them to the students with their corresponding letter grade. Using a benchmark analysis sheet, I examine the questions that consistently tripped up my 32 learners. After analyzing the results, I implement instructional strategies based on what would benefit my students on their journey towards mastery of the content and internal enlightenment.
In addition to assessing my students, I am also consistently assessing myself as a classroom facilitator. After videotaping a mathematics lesson on using parenthesis, I encouraged my peers to review my instruction and provide constructive feedback and encouragement. I value the feedback of my peers and am consistently seeking input from my peers to improve my instruction. Just as my students are continuously receiving feedback and modifying their learning accordingly, I too am receiving feedback and altering my instructional strategies to become a better teacher.