Foundations, Reflection, and Professional Development

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 8, Foundations, Reflection and Professional Development:  The practitioner continually evaluates the effects of the practitioner’s choices and actions on students, parents, and other professionals in the learning community, and actively seeks out opportunities to grow professionally.

As an educator and classroom facilitator, I am continuously reflecting on my teaching. Not only am I analyzing and assessing my instructional decisions, I am also reflecting on my inactions as well. Over the course of any given week, I ask myself questions such as, “How did I hook my students’ attention? Did I maintain their engagement throughout the lesson? Did my instruction allow for students to better understand the content presented to them?” and countless others. I try my best to provide myself with immediate feedback after each lesson but I also realize this is not always possible. However, I do set aside time after each and everyday for personal meditation and reflection. The art of teaching is the art of revision.

While reflecting on my teaching, I often revisit my foundational experiences and coursework. As an undergraduate student in the Coe College Teacher Education Department, I was familiarized with the fundamental yet essential skills successful teachers utilize throughout their careers. My familiarity with educational psychology, emergent bilinguals, students with exceptional learning realities, and content-area methods all contribute to my professional development and reflection.

Prior to my 17-week student teaching experience at Andrew Jackson Language Academy, I developed an individualized education plan (IEP) for my semester. In my IEP, I outline professional and instructional goals for my experience. Additionally, this thought experiment encourages me to view my student teaching experience as an opportunity for continued growth and development. Even before I had stepped foot into my 3rd grade classroom, I had specific instructional and professional goals I aimed to accomplish.

An additional essential component of my successful teaching career is my dedication to continuing my personal journey as a learner. I believe that an individual never stops learning. This is especially true of educators. Over the course of my time as an educator, I have continued to grow my knowledge base by attending as many professional development opportunities as possible.

Over the course of my time at Andrew Jackson Language Academy, I attended every single professional development session, regardless of their instructional focus. I believe that engaging in constructive conversations, collaborating, and receiving feedback from fellow educators is an invaluable resource. In addition to growing my instructional knowledge base, these opportunities also provide opportunities to strengthen grade-level and vertical-team relationships that help to establish an exceptional school-wide learning environment.

One session I found to be particularly powerful was Loyola University’s CPELL (Chicago Partners for English Language Learners) yearly conference, which centered on parent-teacher engagement. I found the conference to be beneficial for multiple reasons. First and foremost, the parent-teacher relationship is essential component of student success in the classroom. Tapping into my students’ lives outside of my classroom begins with successfully reaching their parents and guardians. Additionally, the conference’s underlying focus on English Language Learners allowed me to reflect on my foundational practices and develop more appropriate strategies for welcoming all families into my classroom environment.

 

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