Support through Professional Community

8. Professional Practice – The teacher participates collaboratively in the educational community to improve instruction, advance the knowledge and practice of teaching as a profession, and ultimately impact student learning.

8.1 Participating in a Professional Community – Relationships with colleagues are characterized by mutual support and cooperation.

The eighth standard of the Internship Performance Criteria emphasizes the importance of participating in a professional educational community to advance student learning. It is important for teachers, especially new ones, to have a support network of other teachers, administrative staff, librarians, parents, and online communities to learn from and develop professionally. Regularly attending workshops and reading about the latest research-based instructional strategies is important to grow as a teacher.

Throughout my internship, I have attended grade-level team meetings to discuss curriculum, potential unit and lesson plans, and ways to assess student learning. One way I have been supported by my mentor and colleagues is by exploring a new curriculum for English Language Arts by the Collaborative Classroom that was approved for implementation at my school next year (see Figure 1).

Figure 1 - CCC Learning Hub Curriculum

Figure 1 – CCC Learning Hub Curriculum

As a third-grade team, we collaborated one day when there was an early dismissal and I experienced exploring the unit for fiction writing. We all agreed to use a specific rubric to evaluate the students’ fiction writing (see Figure 2). Together we modified it to fit our classroom needs.

Figure 2 - Fiction Writing Rubric

Figure 2 – Fiction Writing Rubric

Another way my colleagues and I supported each other was by sharing resources for the next unit about poetry. I borrowed an instructional guide for poetry from another 3rd grade teacher and used many of the lessons from it to teach types of figurative language to my students.

According to the U.S. Department of Education (2010), “half of teachers leave the profession within the first five years” (p 39). This is partly due to the lack of a support network of other educators and high amounts of stress as brand new teachers navigate the first few years of teaching. One way new teachers can be more successful is to build a support network around them. The U.S. Department of Education (2010) discusses the practice of “connected teaching” in which “teachers engage in personal learning networks (PLNs) that support their own learning and their ability to serve their students well” (p 40).

I am fortunate to have been placed in a school that has dedicated teachers that support each other to make sure we are doing what is best for our students. I am always willing to help my mentor and colleagues and want to support them too as I grow into this new profession. I have learned that it truly takes a village to teach children and without my colleagues’ support, I would not have been as successful teaching our poetry unit. In the future, I plan on continuing to talk to colleagues about different instructional strategies and ways they have taught poetry. I also plan to join an online community where teachers share lesson plan ideas and other resources that can help me engage students and support their learning in the best way possible.

Reference:

U.S. Department of Education, Office of Educational Technology. (2010). Transforming American Education: Learning Powered by Technology. Washington, D.C.

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EDU 6526: Fostering Student Self-Esteem

Teachers can have a profound effect on students’ well-being, self-confidence, and self-esteem. According to Joyce, Weil, and Calhoun (2015), “our primary influence on our students is what we model as people” (p. 310). When expectations of behavior or learning are clearly communicated, good behaviors are modeled by the teacher, and students are taught to self-monitor, self-evaluate, and self-reinforce, they can be more confident and have higher self-esteem. Social-cognitive learning theory is based on the assumption that we learn through the observation of others. Students learn by watching their parents, peers, and teachers model behavior. According to Joyce et al. (2015), schooling can have a significant impact on how successful a student is and how they grow as people. First, all students can learn how to learn if we provide them with ample opportunities and multiple types of environments. Second, “the more skills students develop and the more they widen their repertoire, the greater their ability to master an even greater range of skills and strategies” (Joyce et al., 2015, p.301). Finally, the community developed in the classroom can influence how students feel about themselves, how they interact, and how they learn (Joyce et al., 2015).

Making sure students’ physiological, safety, acceptance needs are met is crucial before a teacher can hope to foster student self-esteem. According to Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (see Figure 1), people are motivated by their needs and progress in to more profound needs as other basic needs are met. The first is physiological, which includes water, air, food, sleep, and other bodily needs. In the classroom, should could mean allowing students to take a restroom break when they need them, allowing students to have a snack mid-morning, or giving them a chance to stretch their legs by standing at their desk for a minute.

Figure 1 - Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Figure 1 – Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Image Credit: J. Finkelstein via Wikimedia Commons

The second basic need is safety. Students need to feel safe and secure before they can even begin to learn. According to John Medina (2014), students who are stressed due to a troubled home life, one or both parents in legal trouble or worse, do not learn as well. Stressed bodies have higher levels of anxiety. Teachers can help students feel safe by assuring students they are important and that if they are afraid of something, they can talk about it with a teacher or counselor. Another idea from a study by Carl Rogers is to allow students to individually talk to the teacher about anything they wanted them to know – something they are worried about, something on their minds, or even something exciting they wanted to share. This can help relieve any anxiety the student might have that prevents them from learning efficiently.

The third need is love or a sense of belonging. Teachers can help students feel like they are a part of the classroom community by including them in decisions about what they would like to read or learn about. Allowing students to voice their opinions and work with others can improve their sense of belonging. Ideas include signing up for a classroom service project or having students work with a partner on classwork in a cooperative learning setting to foster more friendships. Teachers should also model empathy for others and provide opportunities for students to practice.

Self-esteem can be fostered by teachers by modeling behaviors that lead to success. The skill should be as personally relevant to the student as possible in order to increase attention. According to Carl Rogers, “when students’ feelings are responded to, when they are regarded as worthwhile human beings capable of self-direction, and when their teacher relates to them in a person-to-person manner, good things happen.” This allows them to learn about themselves and in effect, they grow as individuals and can become more successful. Another way to help a student’s self-esteem is to make sure they have the tools necessary to be successful with a moderate amount of struggle. One particular danger to help students avoid is comparing themselves to others, which can be especially toxic if they are significantly underperforming compared to other students.

When students are equipped to overcome obstacles they face, they will have a greater sense of self-worth, self-esteem, and self-efficacy. Being able to learn from mistakes and failures instead of obsess over them is crucial to self-esteem. Teachers should also model self-monitoring, self-evaluating, and self-rewarding. When teachers are clear about expectations and set appropriately difficult goals to achieve, students will be able to monitor their progress and correct any errors along the way with feedback from the teacher. When teachers provide a safe, caring, welcoming environment, students can have high self-esteem and be successful in school and life.

References:

Joyce, B., Weil M., & Calhoun, E. (2015). Models of Teaching. 9th Ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retreived February 27, 2016, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow’s_hierarchy_of_needs

Medina, J. (2014). Brain Rules. Seattle, WA: Pear Press.

Rogers, C. “Teacher Effects Research on Student Self-Concept.”

EDU 6526: Constructivism and Cooperative Learning

When I started this teaching program, I thought I would be the teacher that lectured and simply told my students the information while they took notes and repeated it back. I suppose this is because that’s all I knew from my childhood: teachers spoon-feeding the information to us so we could pass a test and never use the information again. Now, I believe that a more constructivist approach can lead to improved learning, and even more so when done in a cooperative learning setting.

Constructivism is defined as a theory of learning asserting that knowledge is not passively received, but actively received; and cognition functions to organize the experiential world. It is important to understand that when a student is given authority in the classroom to come up with their own ideas, hypothesis, and categories for information, they will learn and remember better than if the teacher had simply given them all the answers in the beginning.

One way to incorporate this constructivist approach is to use group learning as a tool to promote social abilities and skills. Students today need to possess not only intellectual skills, but also social skills in order to work efficiently and effectively with others (Dean, Hubbell, Pitler, & Stone, 2012). Allowing students to follow their own curiosities while in a group setting can be an exciting thing. Cooperative learning has many benefits including increased academic engagement, higher self-esteem, better attitudes about school and peers, and an increased desire to work with others (Dean et. al., 2012).

I don’t have fond memories of my group projects and cooperative learning when I was in school. I was always the one that did the majority of the work while the other students in my group took the credit just the same. I realize now that my teachers may not have implemented the group projects in the best way possible. The following elements are essential to a successful cooperative learning environment (see Figure 1).

Figure 1

Figure 1 – Elements of the Cooperative Learning Model

Joyce, Weil, and Calhoun (2015) describe the classroom as a miniature democracy where students works together to inquire and solve problems and become more effective as a group. Constructivism in this case involves students being presented with a problem and they think about possible solutions while the teacher plays the role of counselor, consultant, and friendly critic (Joyce et. al., 2015). “Inquiry is stimulated by confrontation with a problem, and knowledge results from the inquiry. The social process enhances inquiry and is itself studied and improved. The heart of group investigation lies in its concept of inquiring groups” (Joyce, et. al., 2015, p.250). Figure 2 describes the phases of the group investigation model.

Figure 2

Figure 2 – Group Investigation Model

In my future classroom, I hope I can follow these ideas and suggestions in order to create an environment conducive to students constructing their own knowledge and in turn improving their academic success through positive social interactions with peers.

References:

Dean, C., Hubbell, E., Pitler, H., Stone, B. (2012). Classroom Instruction That Works: Research Based Strategies for Increasing Student Achievement. 2nd Ed. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Joyce, B., Weil M., & Calhoun, E. (2015). Models of Teaching. 9th Ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.

Course Reflection: Intro to Teaching EDU 6918

8. Professional Practice Criteria – The teacher participates collaboratively in the educational community to improve instruction, advance the knowledge and practice of teaching as a profession, and ultimately impact student learning.

8.1 Element – Participating in a Professional Community

8.1 Example of Proficient – Relationships with colleagues are characterized by mutual support and cooperation.

Program standard 8 encompasses working with other educators to learn about the teaching profession to improve student outcomes. In Introduction to Teaching (EDU6918), we learned about the teaching profession by reading research articles, participating in group blogs, and working together on a group wiki assignment called the Internship Performance Criteria (IPC). According to Gentry et al. (2011), exemplary teachers exhibit certain characteristics that distinguish them from others (see Figure 1). This article discussed teachers that have a passion for their work and relate coursework to the student’s lives and future choices. Teachers who view their students as people first and students second are successful at forming a positive relationship with them (Gentry et al., 2011). By reading articles such as the one in Figure 1, I was able to have a better sense of what it takes to be an exemplary teacher.

Research findings

Figure 1 – Qualitative Thematic Findings (Gentry et al., 2011)

IPC

Figure 2 – Internship Performance Criteria Wiki

The group wiki assignment IPC was an excellent way for me to work collaboratively with other teacher candidates in brainstorming what it means to be a distinguished educator. Figure 2 shows a portion of the work that one of my group members and myself wrote. For program standard 5.5 Managing Student Behavior by Monitoring, I discussed characteristics from the Gentry article about setting high expectations. By monitoring student behavior throughout the year, I can set a good example for my students so that they also begin to monitor themselves and their peers. I also incorporated some ideas from Marzano (2007) regarding walking around the room to monitor behavior and looking at a student who is causing a disruption until they realize they’re not on task (see Figure 3).

Art and Science of Teaching 2015-11-27 14.20.01

Figure 3 – Classroom Behavior tips (Marzano, 2007)

By reviewing these articles and resources with my peers and reading what they described as distinguished characteristics, I am better able to picture what an exemplary teacher encompasses. By working together with my colleagues and having their input to consider, I learned that teaching is both an art and a science. Participating in this Introduction to Teaching class with other teacher candidates gave me a clearer understanding of the teaching profession. If we can utilize these characteristics in our own classrooms, student behavior will be improved, creating a more conducive learning environment. I hope to continue to explore ways to be an exemplary teacher by reading more books about teaching. As I continue in the MAT program, I hope to work with my fellow colleagues again and learn more about how to have a positive impact on student learning.

References:

Gentry, M., Steenbergen-Hu, S., Choi, B. (2011). Student-Identified Exemplary Teachers: Insights From Talented Teachers. Gifted Child Quarterly. 55(2). 111-125.

Marzano, R. J. (2007). The Art and Science of Teaching. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.