Communication and Collaboration

Communication skills and collaboration are very important in the teaching field.  I possess excellent written and verbal communication skills which help me to be an effective teacher and coworker.

I have been an active participant  in PLCs in both my content areas, English language arts and social studies.  It has been a great experience that allows me to practice lesson planning with other teachers, goal-setting, and calibrating our assessments.  We also collect and discuss data on student progress, and identify effective and ineffective practices.  Additionally, I have been a part of all-staff meetings where I was able to work with teachers in other content areas.  I am well-versed in productively collaborating with my peers and working as part of a team.  I love being able to share ideas with others and brainstorm solutions and strategies in a group.  I feel that everyone has strengths they can bring to the team and it is a mutually beneficial practice.  I am a solution-oriented person who utilizes all resources at my disposal.  I problem-solve with my peers before going to administration with questions and concerns.   That being said, I am comfortable communicating with my administration when necessary. I think it is very important for teachers to pursue collaboration rather than isolation which is why communication is essential.  I like to be involved and get to know everyone in the building professionally.

During my student teaching, I created a PowerPoint on one of our school-wide non-curricular day lessons, which administration shared with the whole staff.   I also was able to reach out to teachers in other content areas/departments to implement school-wide practices such as writing CERs (claim, evidence, reasoning paragraphs) to ensure alignment with other classes.  In addition, I make sure that I am enforcing school-wide rules and expectations for the sake of consistency.  Talking to other teachers about shared students helps to better address student needs.  I plan to communicate with my peers about specific individual students to better meet their needs and help them be successful.  When a student has an IEP you want to talk to their case manager (usually the SE teacher) to see what accommodations and supports the student needs.  You also want to talk to the other teachers who share the same student and see what is and is not working in regards to the student– share successes and challenges.This personalized touch will foster greater academic achievement and engagement.  I am very interested in inter-departmental collaboration, for example teaching WWII while another class is reading The Diary of Anne Frank.  I am supportive of school-wide initiatives and expectations and do my part to enforce them.  As a student teacher, I communicated with parents through email, phone calls, letters/postcards home, and meetings in-person.  I will build positive relationships with the families of my students and actively communicate with them.  I want parents to know that together we are a team that want their student to be successful.  In my experience, parents were happy that I reached out and eager to work with me to address any challenges and to celebrate successes.  Research shows that family involvement increases student achievement and reduces dropout rates.  I make it a priority to be respectful to everyone I encounter, staff, parents, and students.  I flourish in positive work environments where everyone is treated with kindness and understanding.

In order for students to learn, they need to be in a positive learning environment that they feel safe taking academic risks in.  I will ensure that there is mutual respect between myself and the students, as well as among the students themselves.  I will not allow students to negatively impact the learning of others.  This is something I take very seriously and address immediately.  I am a strong supporter of inclusion when it is appropriate. In my own classroom, I utilize scaffolding and differentiation to meet the needs of students of all different ability levels.  I think it’s important for all students to work with peers of different ability levels to prepare them for the workplace, inclusion is mutually beneficial.  I also think that when there are SE and ELL students in gen ed classrooms they work harder.  It also allows other students to take on a leadership role when helping others.  Inclusion may not be appropriate for all students because there is no one size fits all in education, but if they can be successful in a gen ed classroom with supports in place and scaffolding and differentiation of content, I think it is a great placement.  This is part of honoring the least restrictive environment and providing educational equity.

My philosophy of student discipline is to work preemptively to correct issues before they happen. In my classroom, I clearly outline all expectations with my students before each activity so that students know how to be successful, rather than guessing what I expect. This communication with students is key to effective classroom management.  I strongly believe in fostering positive relationships with students at the start of the year and throughout the year.  I find that when you have good relationships with your students you have fewer disciplinary problems. However, if or when inappropriate behaviors escalate, I have a consistent system which I like to use with my students. Students are always given warnings before they receive discipline, this honors students ability to correct their mistakes. If a student receives three warnings within a class period, they receive a step, at this point I contact home and involve parents in the problem solving process.  I contact parents before I refer students to the office because often, the problem can be solved with a simple conversation. Parents appreciate hearing from the teacher before they hear from the principal. I contact home three times before I write a referral. Parents are always well aware of their student’s disciplinary issues before they are sent to administration.  I listen to student concerns and thoughts so they know that I value and respect them as individuals and that I do not hold grudges against students for their mistakes.  Each day is a fresh start as part of the growth mindset I aim to instill in my students.   I also make it a priority whenever possible to have private conversations with students rather than calling them out and embarrassing them in front of all their peers.  In summary, I have effective communication skills and will continue to pursue growth in this area.

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Meeting the Diverse Needs of our Students

How can a teacher foster student self-esteem?

Abraham Maslow was an American psychologist who was interested in figuring out what motivates people.  He conducted a lot of research in his life about human potential as well as mental health.  He came up with a hierarchy of human needs.  You can see an illustration of this concept in figure one.  The needs are arranged with the most basic at the base all the way up to the peak, which is self-actualization and meeting one’s full potential.  Individuals cannot progress to the next stage before having their needs met at the previous level.

maslows-hierarchy-of-needs

figure 1

The very first level of needs is physiological. These are basic needs such as food, water, shelter, and clothing.  Unfortunately not all of our students get these needs fully met, but when they come to school they can get breakfast and lunch, and will be in a warm building.  The school also has resources and counseling available for students and their families that are struggling to get these base needs met.

The next level is safety and security.  Teachers want school to be a safe and stable place for all students.  This is why school and student safety is such a high priority for educators and administrators.  We want all students, regardless of their race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, or socio-economic status to be able to come to school without fear.  Teachers want their schools to have a positive climate for all students and to be a welcoming place for all learners.  This is why so many schools have put anti-bullying campaigns into action and have worked on PBIS (Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports) lessons that aim to make the school and inclusive place.  Through PBIS, they emphasize the importance of all students being respectful, responsible, and safe.  At my school, we give students golden tickets (they can be entered into a raffle for rewards/prizes) for good behavior, which includes helping others and being good citizens.  My school also periodically gives something called Second Step lessons which were designed by the Committee for Children.  These lessons contain information about stress management, coping skills, bullying, staying in control, disagreeing respectfully, giving and receiving support, working well with others, identifying future goals, and prejudice.  Key components of these valuable lessons are posted around the school on posters, and example of one such poster can be found in figure two.

Second Step Poster

figure 2

The third level is love and belonging.  We want all students to feel like they are a meaningful part of the larger school community.  Teachers want students to make friends, and have kind interactions with their peers.  Teachers can ensure that their classrooms are a positive learning environment that has a positive learning community.

The fourth level is self-esteem.  As teachers, we want to foster feelings of self-worth among our students.  This level is so important because it is absolutely necessary for reaching the final level—self-actualization.  “The important message is that students can learn not only academic content and social skills, but how to become integrated selves that reach out into the world and reciprocally contribute to and profit from their transactions with it” (Joyce, p.301).  Educators understand the importance of going beyond content and curriculum, of educating the whole child.  This means meeting their emotional needs and teaching them skills that are not purely academic.

Students need to gain independence and strong self-concepts.  This is accomplished through self-actualizing behavior.  In practice, this is the act of reaching out to the environment with confidence that there will be a fruitful interaction.  A person who is self-actualized seeks out opportunities for growth and ultimately helps others develop as well.  They have strong coping skills, and are not focused on merely surviving.  They feel good about themselves and about their lives.  It is important that we as teachers make it a priority to lead by example for our students.  “If we model activity and reaching out toward the world, we encourage active states” (Joyce, p.310).  I personally make a great effort to encourage my students, and also to show them how I am working on improving myself.  I share my love of reading and learning with them.  I talk about higher education, and my experiences in college.  I want them to feel empowered to accomplish great things, and meet their full potential.  Positive relationship building and sharing our excitement for self-growth will encourage students to seek self-improvement as well.  “In general, positive human relations are related to positive human behaviors” (Rogers).  Teachers displaying empathy and asking students for feedback are ways they can make their classrooms positive learning environments for everyone.  Studies have found that “for students identified as having learning difficulties, the teacher’s level of interpersonal facilitation was the single most important contributor to the amount of gain on all outcome measures” (Rogers).  This means that teachers have a great deal of influence upon their students and their achievement levels.  When students feel valued by their teachers, and have an affirmative relationship with them, they do much better academically.

It is clear that Maslow’s work is very relevant to educators and students, and something we should be mindful of in our practice.

Sources:

Joyce, B., Weil M., & Calhoun, E. (2014). Models of Teaching. 9th Ed. Allyn & Bacon.

Rogers, Carl. 1970. Teacher Effects Research on Student Self-Concept.

 

 

 

 

Citizenship in the Classroom

How can citizenship be promoted in the classroom?

Teachers know that content is only one part of their job, they are also shaping youth who will one day be members of larger public.  Educators try to impart good values to their students in hopes that they will be positive and contributing members of society.  One of the goals of education is to help our students develop into good citizens.   This can be done accomplished in many ways.

First and foremost, the teacher themselves can and should model good citizenship.  Teachers have an incredible amount of influence upon their students, and they should be mindful of their actions because they are being actively observed.  Educators should aim to exemplify positive qualities.

Another way of promoting citizenship is through classroom rules.  The teacher can work with the students to create a classroom charter that everyone will follow.  Through the cultivation of a positive learning environment, teachers can establish classroom expectations that support good citizenship.  Educators can also actively look for teachable moments in which they can promote good citizenship in a tangible way.

Role-playing is an effective way to model positive interactions and teach kids how to handle conflict.  It is an excellent example of experienced-based learning, which means that this process will make learning more meaningful to students.  They become familiar with the how to interact with and disagree with others in a respectful way.  Additionally, this can help students develop empathy which is valuable component of relationship-building they can use in their everyday lives.  Being able to understand another person’s point of view and put themselves in their shoes are both significant abilities.  In other words, role-playing has practical real life applications.  We want our students to be comfortable with and capable of advocating for themselves and others.

There are several important aims of role-playing.  They are:

  • Exploration of feelings and emotions
  • Gaining understanding of attitudes, values, and worldviews
  • Improving problem-solving skills
  • Exploring content in a variety of ways

Another positive outcome of role-playing is that “…individuals can gain some measure of control over their belief systems if they recognize their values and attitudes and test them against the views of others” (Joyce, p.263).  This technique can improve students’ self-awareness as well as interpersonal relations.  This undoubtedly shows how useful this method can be when done effectively.

Teamwork is an important aspect of good citizenship.  As teachers, we can facilitate the growth of cooperation among our students.  As adults, they will need to be able to have positive working relationships with their coworkers, neighbors, and many other people in their lives.  We want to instill in children that there is great value in sharing ideas, and that group work has potential to enhance our thinking and learning.  Being able to listen and learn from their classmates is a good foundation for teamwork.

Teachers can incorporate positive values associated with citizenship into their lesson plans.  This can be done through intentional selections of reading materials and learning activities.  The world we live in is globalized and diverse.  This necessitates that we are also transforming students into global citizens.   Students need to be aware of world events, and current news on a global scale.  Banks says “There are many opportunities in school curriculum to link multicultural education and global education, and to help students view international events, concepts, and issues from the perspectives of the ethnic and racial groups that live in the various nations of the world” (Banks, p. 23).  Including this in your curriculum will promote multicultural citizenship and global identity. Teaching citizenship to students means that they can fight for social justice.

Another type of citizenship that is becoming increasingly relevant in today’s world is digital citizenship.  Students in schools today are often using technology inside and outside of the classroom.  Teachers should have discussions regarding appropriate conduct while using technology and also about what students say and do online.  Due to the fact that digital citizenship is a relatively new concept, many students are not learning from their families what is appropriate and what is not.

We want students to not simply be morally literate, meaning that they understand what is right and wrong.  We want them to be people of action who can make a positive difference in the world.  As a future teacher, I know that teaching content is only one aspect of my job.  I also need to instill positive values in my students so they can be knowledgeable and good citizens.

 

Sources:

Banks, J. A. (2009). Teaching Strategies for Ethnic Studies (8th ed.). Boston: Pearson.

Dean, C. B., Pitler, H., Stone, B., & Hubbell, E. R. (2012). Classroom Instruction That Works Research-Based Strategies for Increasing Student Achievement, Dean, Ceri B.; Hubbell, Elizabeth Ross; Pitler, Howard; Stone, Bj (2012-01-05). Classroom Instruction That Works: Research-Based Strategies for Increasing Student Achievement (2nd ed.). McREL.

Joyce, B., Weil, M., & Calhoun, E. (2015). Models of teaching (9th ed.). Boston: Pearson.

Weissbourd, R. (2012, February). Promoting Moral Development in Schools. Retrieved from http://hepg.org/hel-home/issues/28_1/helarticle/promoting-moral-development-in-schools_522

EDU 6918 Course Reflection

8.1 Participating in a Professional Community

 Relationships with colleagues are characterized by mutual support and cooperation.

Screen Shot

Figure 1

A key component of 8.1 is collaboration with other educators to improve practices and student learning outcomes.  For my Introduction to Teaching class, my group had to come up with what an exemplary teacher would do to fulfill each rubric of the teaching standards at the distinguished level. Figure 1 shows the section of our project associated with standard 8.1.  Professional learning communities are an opportunity for teachers to share ideas and strategies with one another.  Together they can reflect both individually and as a team with the goals of making instruction better and increasing both student and educator learning.  A successful teacher maintains friendly and professional relationships with their coworkers.  They work as a team and help one another and successfully use their awareness of each teacher’s strengths and weaknesses to their advantage.  A teacher who excels in classroom management may mentor another teacher who is struggling in this area to help them grow.  It is a reciprocal, mutually beneficial alliance.  Communication about student progress within the school community is another important aspect of participating in a professional learning community.  Teachers should keep others informed on how a student they share is doing.  They can discuss their successes and areas that need work.  For example, if a math teacher is really struggling with a student in their class while the same student is doing very well in another teacher’s English class, this presents a chance for the two teachers to come together and brainstorm how to best meet the student’s needs based on what has been working in the language arts classroom.  This would not be a fruitful meeting if the two teachers did not have a positive relationship.  There is a strong connection between this standard and the concept of teacher leadership.  Teacher leaders are a significant part of their school community.  They seek feedback from not only their colleagues, but also their administration and are open to constructive criticism.  A teacher leader may ask to be observed so that they can improve.  One teacher leader stated that “Asking a teacher for advice empowers them in a way nothing else can.  It helps me refine my own teaching and helps create the type of environment in which I desire to work” (p.548) [1].  This illustrates the give and take that characterizes a professional learning community.  Teachers in a professional learning community can make decisions as a group regarding changes in pace to best meet the needs of everyone in the group as well as their students.  Furthermore, they accomplish this without compromising a cohesive and well-aligned curriculum.  Being an active contributing part of a professional learning community, and ultimately becoming a teacher leader is a great goal for all teachers to aspire to.  The importance of relationship building with your coworkers cannot be understated in the teaching profession.

Reference:

[1]Hunzicker, J. Attitude Has a Lot to Do With It: Dispositions of Emerging Teacher Leadership. Teacher Development, 17(4), 536-561.

EDTC 6431: Final Individual Project

Part of being a well-rounded educator is being flexible and adapting to change.  21st century students are living in the digital age.  Part of setting them up for success is ensuring that they have proficiency with technology, and possess digital literacy.  This is not accomplished in a single lesson plan, but rather developed over time.  Technology can be incorporated into lesson plans that promote greater student engagement, and allow for learning content and technology skills simultaneously.

For this class, I wrote my own lesson plan that incorporates common core as well as an ISTE standard.  I used the ASSURE model.

Analyze learners
State standards and objectives
Select strategies, technology, media, and materials
Utilize technology, media, and materials
Require learner participation
Evaluate and revise

Here is a link to the Google Doc containing my lesson plan.

Google Doc

ISTE Standard 5 Reflection

My question was; what are some strategies for teaching students good digital citizenship?

Digital citizenship is appropriate and responsible behavior with regards to technology.  Digital citizenship is becoming an increasingly essential issue that schools and teachers need to address with students.  Many schools are using technology in the classroom in the form of desktop computers, laptops, tablets, Chromebooks, and other devices.  This is also an issue that parents need to address as many students have access to technology at home.  There are nine components of digital citizenship that should be considered.  They are access, commerce, communication, literacy, etiquette, law, rights and responsibilities, health and wellness, and security.  Lessons regarding digital citizenship can be tailored to meet student needs.  Teachers start as early as kindergarten teaching relevant age appropriate digital citizenship skills. It is an extensive topic, and everything cannot be covered in a single lesson.  Digital citizenship  needs to be taught over time, and the lessons should vary with age and grade level.

One strategy teachers can use is a learning management system such as Edmodo.  Systems like Edmodo can be used to manage lessons, make content that engages students, and interact with other teachers and students.  Another important aspect of digital citizenship teachers should discuss with students is safety related issues.  These can include lessons on not sharing personal information online, being cautious about interacting with strangers, how to change privacy settings, being selective about posting photos online, and cyber bullying.  Another important topic of discussion is the idea of cultivating a positive reputation online.  Helping students understand that what they post online can stay there even after they post it, and that a person’s online presence is a part of how others (such as employers) get an impression of them and evaluate them.

Bruder, P. (2013). Digital citizenship: Responsible technology use in the classroom. Retrieved from https://www.njea.org/news-and-publications/njea-review/january-2013/digital-citizenship-responsible-technology-use-in-the-classroom

ISTE 5

Link to Coggle