Reflective practice in diverse settings
Educators should continually reflect on their practice to extend their knowledge, improve their teaching, and refine their evolving philosophies of education. They should stay abreast of developments in the profession, and be able to think critically about various teaching practices. Educators should continually strengthen their knowledge of subject matter through scholarly study, professional reading, and discussion with colleagues. They should deepen their understanding of children’s learning and development through classroom-based action research. Educators should be open to change and innovation, continually engaging in the process of professional growth.
Reflective practice in diverse settings tells me that good educators need to be constantly aware of the evolving practices in education and how those changes can improve their own teaching. Teachers are responsible for their own professional development and it is the responsibility of every teacher to remain knowledgeable of their students’ learning and development. Good educators need to reflect on their own lessons and practices to improve their teaching. They should also remain open to discussion with their colleagues about their practices so they can improve their teaching and promote the academic growth of their students.
This standard is important because it challenges teachers to think critically about their educational practices so they can constantly improve their teaching. This analysis goes beyond reflecting on lesson plans; good educators need to attend professional development trainings and read educational theory. Taking courses at local colleges or volunteering on various school committees are also ways to fulfill these responsibilities. By continually reflecting on the growth of our students, as well as our own personal growth as teachers, we will be able to build a better classroom community and ensure the success of our students.
According to Grant Wiggins and Joy McTighe (2006) “teachers, teams, departments, and entire faculties must ask themselves each year: What approaches to curriculum design, teaching, and assessing actually yield the greatest student learning, regardless of our habits and attitudes?”(p. 286). It is important for educators to refine their own practices, no matter how well they may have worked in the past, to respond to the needs of the students in their current classrooms. We need to look critically at our methods and teaching styles to make sure that we are ensuring the success of all our students.
Over the course of my Wheelock career I have found that one of the most helpful sections on our lesson plan templates has been the last one: Post Reflection on Lesson. While it may not seem like an important one compared to the sections that focus on standards and implementation of the lesson, this section challenges us to critically reflect on our lessons. Even the ones that seem to be perfectly planned and executed have room for improvement, and taking the time to write down what we could have worked on or would change for next time is helpful in planning future lessons.
Artifact 6.2 is a copy of the reflection I wrote after watching my videotaped lesson for my pre-practicum at the Lawrence School in Brookline. I had meticulously made 44 “auction cards” with pictures of either a book or a moon. These pictures represented the two sounds that the “oo” can make. I created an UNO game for the students to play that reflected the spelling patterns they had been learning in the past few weeks. I created sentences to show the different uses of the homonyms to, too, and two. The experiences were created to meet the learning styles of my students and I was confident in my ability to execute the lesson to a t. What I did not spend a lot of time thinking about was the classroom management I would use to guide my second grade students through this multi-step lesson. This reflection not only helped me think of how I would have taught this lesson if I could do it over again, but it also helped me to write lesson plans for that class in the future.
At the beginning of my Curriculum Development class we were asked to write down some notes about what we believed education should be. These notes lay the foundation for our educational philosophies. The task seemed daunting at the time; I had just begun student teaching and was terrified at the thought of teaching a lesson and one day having my own classroom. However, over the course of my educational experience at Wheelock, my philosophies have grown and changed. My own educational philosophies have become much more refined, as you can see in the introduction to this portfolio when compared to Artifact 6.3, my original list.
Collaborating with fellow teachers is important in strengthening our knowledge and teaching practices. When developing the Revolutionary War unit I used during my Leadership Week I spent a lot of time talking with the Social Studies teacher at my practicum site. The Revolutionary War is not part of the state Social Studies standards for fourth grade, but since the material was not covered in the third grade I wanted to make sure the students had some understanding of the events before they learned them extensively in the fifth grade. I looked over the materials that Colum, the Social Studies teacher, used with his fifth grade classes as well as the materials that were used with the third graders to develop educational experiences that the students would best benefit from. I made sure to show Colum the plans throughout the development process and took his feedback to heart. At the end of the unit it was especially gratifying to hear him ask if I would be willing to let him use some of the materials I developed for my unit in his future teachings.
Ismat Abdal-Haqq (1996) writes about the value of professional development for teachers, and the importance of making time for further development. He states, “Awareness of professional development's value in advancing school improvement is evident in several state and national reports, as well as in research reports on school restructuring initiatives” (p. 1). Professional development gives teachers the opportunity to learn and practice the latest advances in educational pedagogy. It allows educators to learn from their colleagues, and share their latest ideas. Most importantly, good professional development is based on student learning. These developmental training programs are designed to make better teachers out of us; and as educators it is our responsibility to keep up with the latest advances in education.
The day before school started in September of 2009, the Joseph Lee Elementary School hosted a professional development day that was dedicated to Reading Street curriculum. Previously, the Boston Public School system had used the Trophies series for English Language Arts and this marked the first year of change. I was fortunate enough to be there for the professional development day. My only previous experience with scripted Reading curriculum was with the Trophies series during my Elementary Literacy class. The information I learned that day at the professional development seminar allowed me to “jump right in” to the curriculum on the first day of school.
To further my development with the Reflective Practice in Diverse Settings standard I would like to implement more classroom-based action research into my teaching. While I am able to observe the children in my classroom and to make notes on their learning styles and development, I want to have a more concrete way of doing this that results in the collection of quantitative data. I am especially interested in the amount of questions students ask during math lessons and if their participation in class helps them to score better on tests. To do this, I will carry a clipboard with me during the class that has a list of all the students’ names. I will mark a check next to each child’s name whenever they ask a question or answer a question. After the test I will compare the participation check marks to the grades to see if the students with higher participation received better scores on their tests.
Abdal-Haqq, I. (1996, Oct.). Making Time for Teacher Professional Development. Eric Digest, 1-6. Retrieved Apr. 12, 2010, from http://sdiplus.tie2.wikispaces.net/file/view/MakingTimeforTPD.pdf
McTighe, J. & Wiggins, G. (2006). Understanding by Design. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.