editing disabled

I see the field of education as a career which requires professional individuals. This requires someone to do more than simply show up to work, do their job, and go home. It requires planning, effort, reflection, participation in continuing learning and development and more. I believe that I have developed into just such as individual through my coursework, student teaching, and outside experiences in the professional field.

Collaborate with members of the school community
In today’s school community, the door to the classroom does not cut off a teacher from the rest of the world. Gone are the days where students belonged only to one teacher, and as such, it is the vital role of an educator to work with others in the school community to promote the learning of our students. I have developed my collaborative skills in several ways. Throughout my education at The College of William and Mary, I took many opportunities to work with others in my field. I worked together with other future educators on several major educational projects. one of which was a complete unit about the five senses based on the requirements of the Virginia SOL. This unit is composed of eight lessons, four of which are fully described in this module. Working together with a different set of cohorts, I helped to create a Discovery Circus for a science unit about matter which we then taught together.

Beyond my coursework, I have sought out working collaboratively with the established educators at my student teaching placement. One collabortive lesson written by myself and Mrs. Adelaide Grattan, the visual arts teacher at Rawls Byrd Elementary, combined language arts, science, and visual arts. In this lesson, I began by reading The Great Trash Bash by Loreen Leedy, which is a book about recycling, with the students and then Mrs. Grattan took over with instruction for the students to create a "Recycled Rabbit." The students really enjoyed making these projects and I believe the collaboration was a success. Below you can see photographs of my students as they were creating their Recycled Rabbits and other students with their completed projects.

Within my student teaching placement, I also had the pleasure of working collaboratively with my other grade-level teachers. I have created a few lessons that have been used by the members of the kindergarten team. One of these was a social studies lesson on the 2008 presidential election and another was this lesson I created about pennies, nickels, and dimes, which was focused around a wonderful trade book I found as a resource.

Outside of the classroom environment, I have also attempted to take part in the school community at large. During the fall of 2008, I became a member of both the Virginia Association of Science Teachers (VAST) and the National Science Teacher Association (NSTA). I attended the 2009 state conference for VAST, which was held in Hampton, VA, and served as Secretary for The College of William and Mary Chapter of the NSTA. Through this group, I have worked with other members to create such projects as a demonstration of beach erosion for a live inter-university teleconference. Additionally, I attended the 12th Annual Tidewater Mathematics Teachers Convention where I got to work with other educators in learning to develop better instructional skills and techniques for math. Beyond conventions, I have also become part of the school community by attending faculty training events such as a Cognitively Guided Instruction training session held at Rawls Byrd and by attending school board meetings. This document is a review of my experiences at a Rawls Byrd training meeting and a school board meeting for Williamsburg-James City County. By becoming involved in the school community in such a way, I am able to get a better understanding of the larger community beyond the classroom as well as reflecting upon where I fit in order to best serve my students.

Professional who reflects actively and continuously
I believe that reflection is a vital part of an educator’s profession. If I do not reflect upon what I am doing in the classroom, I may easily miss out on improvements that could be made to my instruction or I could possibly under serve some or all of my students. To avoid doing this, I try to reflect and record my thoughts about my practice as a teacher as well as student learning and development.

Reflection on my own teaching has become a common practice for me through the education I received from The College of William and Mary. As part of the foundation of the program, I learned a great deal about analyzing my own teaching and what I see around me. One set of assignments in which I reflected upon my teaching was in my mathematics course. For this project, I reflected upon teaching three different problem solving activities to the students in my kindergarten placement. I considered what they did but also what I had done. Within social studies, I wrote this reflection upon the ways in which the social sciences and the arts play a vital role in education as well as my demonstration of meeting the requirements of the college’s conceptual framework up until that point.

Within my student teaching, I try to reflect on how my students are progressing by keeping anecdotal records. After teaching a lesson, I use what I have titled a Student Participation Sheet. This sheet lists all the students in my class, and next to each child’s name is space for a note. If the student is absent, I make note of it so that I can address the learning with the student during choice time when they return. I did just this with a student who missed three days of school to spend time with her father before he was deployed to Iraq. I also use this sheet to make note of students who are doing exceptionally well with a lesson and need more challenges or who are struggling with a concept and need additional help. I am unable to always do one of these sheets for all students, but I feel having something on which I can make notes of important information about student progress during lessons helps me to be a better educator.

Meeting professional expectations
There are many parts to being a professional, and it is important to live up to the expectations of the education profession. I believe that I have shown that I am a responsible individual who holds myself to high standards. I consistently put forth as much effort and enthusiasm as I can in all the work I do, but especially when it comes to being a teacher. I strive to make lessons which meet the needs of all my students and treat them fairly. I took initiative during my practicum to help out in my classroom as much as possible as well as using the resources available to me to the best of my ability. I have been a constant observer, trying to learn all that I can from the skills of others as well as the knowledge I have gained from my coursework. For instance, I learned about “catching a student being good,” and now I try to use that as a technique for classroom management.

One of the most important expectations of being a teacher is communicating and connecting with others. I feel that I have a natural ability to connect with students and parents alike. While teaching in early childhood education, communication between myself and parents occurred daily and was vital to the development of the students for whom I cared. Now in the general classroom setting, my interactions with parents are more limited but no less important. I feel that I have developed a friendly yet professional relationship with many of the parents I have come to know. But perhaps even more importantly, I feel that I have developed a strong rapport with the students I teach. I am no longer the young woman who comes and observes as they do their lessons. They know me; that I am here to help them learn and to teach them. It gives me the greatest joy to hear from parents all the things that their children have told them I have done with them at school such as lessons on magnets or counting money for a classroom store. Because, really, connecting with students is one of the most meaningful and rewarding ways to help them learn and grow.