COLLABORATE WITH MEMBERS OF THE SCHOOL COMMUNITYNo teacher is an island! The ideal school is a community of collaborative professionals working together to enhance student learning. Throughout my student teaching experience, I met weekly with my grade-level team and coordinated assignments and assessments. By discussing planned activities and timing, each member of the team was able to benefit from multiple viewpoints and creative ideas. Many of the most effective activities I conducted, such as the Gallon Frog Song, were shown to me by other teachers. I also contributed to the partnership by contributing questions for use on a common Science assessment and by sharing my detailed knowledge of SOL required skills. For example, the Math teacher was planning to teach measurement to the nearest 1/2 inch because she thought it was a 2nd grade SOL. I was able to (slightly) reduce the amount of material we presented to students by clarifying that the SOL was actually to the nearest inch, which helped because 2nd grade students have only begun to study fractions. REFLECT ACTIVELY AND CONTINUOUSLY ON PROFESSIONAL PRACTICEAfter teaching a lesson based on a comprehensive plan, it is important to evaluate what went well and what should be changed (or even if the lesson is worth using again). After every lesson I teach, I mentally critique each portion and make notes about what to do differently and what to keep. Often these notes are quickly handwritten in a space that I leave on my lesson plans, but I do sometimes type my thoughts in order to better organize them. Here is an example of a lesson plan where I analyzed my lesson after teaching it and made some suggestions for how to improve it. While not all of my lesson reflections are quite as organized as this example, I keep a copy of each lesson plan I use and notes that I keep as I make last-minute changes and adjustments and have ideas for improvement.
MEETING PROFESSIONAL EXPECTATIONSAs a novice teacher, I know that I can use all the help and advice I can get. I attended all of the professional development sessions offered to teachers at my school during student teaching, and sought out different teachers seeking a demonstration of their routines and organizational systems. During the fall of 2010, I attended a math conference on "Teaching In A Time of Algebra for All" organized by the Tidewater Team for Math Education. I learned about valuable, hands-on teaching methods at all grade levels. I also had the opportunity to participate in a session on Agriculture in the Classroom. This hands-on, active learning experience taught me some ways to bring the great outdoors into my classroom and I received a classroom set of Virginia maps and other materials which will be useful for my future students.
I plan my lessons thoroughly in advance and actively seek out new materials and teaching strategies. I assess my students understanding often and use the results of formative and summative assessments to inform my teaching, making sure that I address widespread issues. I strive to give my students the best education I can by engaging them at every turn through a wide variety of activities. By doing all of these things to the best of my ability, I meet professional expectations every day.