Before we begin…

*Current Educational and Teaching Philosophy

I believe that each individual should have the opportunity to receive an education.  Everyone should have the right to this opportunity.  There is no perfect teaching model; however, there are a number of teaching practices that are effective.  I strive to master the teaching practices that are proven to be effective.  I believe students learn best when they are taught by teachers who show they care to learn about them and care to teach them.  I need to show my students that I believe they can learn and succeed and my primary job is to help them master the skills that they are expected to master as outlined by the state.  In teaching with this purpose I must create opportunities for students to experience success.  Teaching is not easy and it requires a lot of work.  At the micro level, a teacher has to remain positive, take calculated risks in the classroom, reflect back on the choices made related to teaching practice, and make changes to future practice based on the results.  A teacher must come prepared to school every day and track personal growth/areas of improvement as well as the students’.  At the macro level, a teacher must actively participate in school initiatives, s/he should work and cooperate with fellow teachers, and make him/herself available to the school as it relates to student success.  Lastly, a teacher must make every attempt to keep him/herself up-to-date with the latest research in his/specialization to maintain a high level of knowledge about the field, which is then shared with the colleagues. A teacher should be dedicated to student achievement and every choice s/he makes should reflect that goal.

*Work in progress…

Reflection on the 11-12 school year

During the last school year, I taught Humanities to two groups of students: 6th grade group and a 7th grade group.  I will be teaching the same groups during the upcoming school year and need to rethink some of my practices.  The year started off very strongly (my strongest yet) with both classes.  There were good procedures in place and a decent seating arrangement.  However, as the year progressed the two groups went in the opposite directions in terms of academic growth.  Below is the breakdown by grade in terms of what I think did not work well and needs improvement for each group.

The 6th Graders:  The 6th graders were an average group of students with “varied but not so varried” academic and emotional levels.  A big area of concern regarding this group is community building (seating and group work).  These students never really got along with each other.  They followed all my directions and worked in pairs and triads when I asked them to but I had to generally group them according to their social compatibility rather than academic needs.  So, I must incorporate community building exercises for this group especially since this will be the group that new students will most likely be added to.  Homework also failed last year.  The independent reading homework that I gave on a daily basis was just not satisfactory.  Kids seemed to have no incentive to read at home other than the 10% grade.  They weren’t practicing, for the most part, anything for homework that I was teaching them  in class.  Another weak area is collaboration with the paraprofessionals.  Although I used the paraprofessional’s services a great deal with this group, I was not as systematic and deliberate in this area as I can be.  The para and I did not clarify our roles and responsibilities in the class at the beginning of the year, which resulted in the shifting of roles and responsibilities back and forth, throughout the year.  Technology is always an area of concern.  I feel I could have managed the use of laptops much better with clearer procedures on the handling of the laptops, signing in and out, what to do when a laptop stops working, when the use of laptop is not permitted, and distribution of usernames/passwords which kids never had.  I had to give the students this information daily.  Only a few of them memorized it but none of them would write it down in a place where they could find it later, which also points out that I have to improve in the area of holding students accountable for their responsibilities.  Lastly in terms of computers, I need to develop strategies for creating work for students who are not permitted to use the laptops for whatever reason.  Both groups used computers and internet heavily last year and this year I am expecting an increase in their use.  So, a system that wastes no time needs to be in place for next year.  Lastly, I struggled with time management a lot. Time management in terms of planning my lessons and in terms of their execution.  The pacing of lessons was off.  This carried over to the unit planning too, as I had a difficult time covering all the social studies material that I had initially set out to cover.  In terms of individual students there is one student I need to prepare more for this year. He did not participate in a lot of the work we did in class.  He refused to attempt work of any kind in the second half of the year, no matter what it was, broke computers, and did nothing.  Some strategies for him are crucial to a positive year for him, for the other students, and for myself.

Things to focus on next year: 

  • planning
  • pacing
  • tech systems/procedures
  • para collaboration
  • community building
  • engagement (student specific).

The 7th Graders: The seventh graders were majority boys with only 3 girls including one who is dyslexic, another who was an 8th grader actually and a beginner level English language learner, and the last who wes an 8th grader as well.  The biggest area of concern hear as I look back is meeting the needs of these students, which I feel I fell quite short on last year.  I will continue to have ELLs and Dyslexic students.  So I have to figure out ways to give them content and skills that they need to get as close to mastery as possible.  Its the skills that are difficult to teach students with more severe academic needs.  There are many ways to give them knowledge but skills is where I need to provide more supports for these students.  There are some high level students in this class that also need some additional attention.  These are at same three students that were extremely bored majority of the school year last year and showed a lack of interest and motivation.  The students’ needs are much more diverse in this group and far apart from one another.  In the area of assessment I fell really short.  I did not assess enough.  I did not use pre- and formative assessments to as well as I need it.  Overall, the two areas that sum up what I need to focus on with this group are “engagement” and “differentiation.”

Things to focus on next year:

  • Planning
  • Pacing
  • Engagement
  • Differentiation.
  • Para collaboration
  • Tech Systems
  • Assessment and Grading.

Goals: The things to focus on I’ve listed here are simply too many.  Outside of classroom, I want to seriously invest some time in reading the current research in the field of special education.  However, to keep my goals achievable I need to narrow down my focus.  I feel planning will be addressed regularly through the Humanities team meetings at school (since we plan together) and through collaboration with the other teachers  through the weeks so I will not list it explicitly as a goal for me.  Pacing is another issue that does not need to be prioritized because we have chosen a new template for lesson plans, which pre-determines the duration of learning activities at a broad level.  I’ll have to just hold myself true to it by timing myself more. Lastly, tech systems is a procedural issue.  As long as I develop solid system, communicate it with the paras, and enforce it consistently, I can manage technology well. 

The biggest area of improvement for me is “assessment and grading.”  Then, I need to set goals for para collaboration, differentiation, and student specific engagement.

Goal 1:  I will create pre-assessments for each new unit.  I will use at least four written formative assessments per unit.  I will track Keep track of the data in the gradebook.

Goal 2:  I will create portfolios for students who demonstrate a lack of interest and motivation in the lessons by the end of the first marking period.  Then I will check in with these students at least once during each unit to monitor progress on their individual portfolio.  For the subsequent units, I will involve students in creating their portfolio assignments.

**I’m going to approach differentiation from the lens of engagement  as well as providing the necessary scaffolds toward unit objectives throughou the unit.

Goal 3: I will meet with the paras on a weekly basis to discuss the upcoming week and its objectives.  I will provide paras with consistent feedback (at least one time each unit) and give them a chance to give me feedback as well.

Goal 4: I will use the school grading policy and grade on the basis of achieving mastery in specific standards.  I will update grades biweekly and use a system that will allow the students to monitor their own progress in-between the summative assessments.

 

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