Final Portfolio


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Final Portfolio

  1. 1. Standard 1: Understanding Content KnowledgePhilosophy: Respect occurs from understanding. With knowledge of another’s language, history, andculture, racism ceases and appreciation for others reigns. In Spanish, there are two verbs toexpress knowledge of certain things—saber and conocer. Saber refers to knowing grammaticalstructures, facts, and dates, whereas conocer implies meeting people, knowing places, orunderstanding culture. Conocer is the more humanly of the two. Applying these meanings inforeign language instruction, it is important for people to know (saber) the many structures andsounds of another language; however, it seems more pressing that people know (conocer) theplaces, the people, and the culture of the speakers to gain the deepest insights into the lives ofsomeone different than oneself. For these reasons, it is crucial to bring these themes into life inmy own classroom, compelling students to not only know, but sense and feel another culture. As a Spanish teacher, I can enliven my teaching through mastery of each--the language,the history, the places, and the culture of its speakers. By having a thorough understanding ofeach theme, students might make their learning meaningful and relate with the growingnumber of Spanish speakers in our own city, country, and world. Learning the language, theywill know (saber) the words and grammar structures to create dialogues. In effect, they willmeet (conocer) and converse with other native speakers. By learning the history of Latinosstudents might know (saber) how many struggles have shaped Latinos’ identities. They willsympathize with Latinos, and in turn fight for Latino rights today. Moreover, discussion aboutculture will enable students to sense and feel the practices and traditions associated withSpanish speakers. They will internalize how the Latino and Spanish culture pervadetheAmerican
  2. 2. culture, coexisting within our diverse society. Full comprehension of these aspects establishesrespect towards and appreciation for all—mandatory for justice and peace in an increasinglyglobalized society.Exemplar: To refine my understandings of each of these themes, I studied Spanish in my highschool and university classrooms, in a Costa Rican language school, and then utilized myproficiency in an internship in Spain. Studying Spanish for ten years allowed me to perfect mySpanish grammar and writing skills. Here, I was able to learn the language through vigorousstudies of the rules associated with Spanish. I could analyze and think critically about theliterature of Spanish. (Sor Juana de la Cruz). Moreover, I was able to study about othereconomies in Spanish with my language skills. (Los Dos Mexicos). My strong foundation of thegrammar, literature, and history was evidenced when I received the Outstanding Senior inSpanish from Trinity University upon graduation. Although I felt extremely competent in writing the language, it was not until I tookintensive Spanish classes abroad that I developed proficiency in the language. Receivingindividual instruction thirty hours per week in Spanish aided in my verbal communication skills.My instructors drilled me over grammar, while also introducing me to Central American historyand culture. Because I was touched by the story of Chava in Voces Inocentes in my class, Iincorporated this movie into my unit on Justice in my fall take over. (WS fall take over) Onestudent ultimately concluded,
  3. 3. I liked watching the movie Voces Inocentes . . . I enjoyed researching the children in the war. I learned a lot about the Civil War in El Salvador and its corrupt government.” (feedback form- Izzy)Indeed, my own experiences studying in Costa Rica enriched my curriculum, impacting theperceptions of many students in my Spanish V classroom. My true understanding and knowledge of culture, language and history occurred whilein Madrid for my internship. Working at Intensa, an international development company, I wasimmersed into the Spanish language, its people, and its culture on a daily basis. I used mybilingualism to translate the bi-laws about the process of receiving subsidies from the SpanishAgency of Cooperation for Development. (translation). Although I refined my verbal and written skills of Spanish here, it was outside of my fifthfloor office that I enriched my understanding of Spain’s government, economy, history, andculture. As a part of the program, I took courses about the Spanish economy and the EuropeanUnion under instruction of my professor, Dr. Gonzales. (Mi presentación). We studied Spain’shistory and how it influenced its development during the dictatorship of Franco. We learnedhow its involvement in the European Union had helped it to become one of the most developedSpanish speaking countries in the world. Although we had a classroom component, the majority of our learning took placeoutside of the classroom in site visits, productions, exhibitions, and museums. In theseexperiences, I began to meet the Spanish people and sense and feel its culture. We met the Ex-president of Spain, Aznar, and visited the office of the European Union located in Madrid. We
  4. 4. witnessed Spanish culture by attending productions of popular plays, such as Hoy No Me PuedoLevantar, and operas. Wewatched flamenco dancers and experienced the bull fights. Werelived history through tours of the Prado’s artwork and Granada’s architectural phenomenon.Immersed in la cultura madrilena, I began to truly feel as if I were a Spaniard (Diario #1). I used all of my learning and experiences during my summer in Spain to design my leadteaching to students: in effect, my teaching was more authentic. During my lead teach, mystudents saw the many artifacts from my trip and studied the numerous cultural themes withinSpanish society. We analyzed an art piece by Goya in the Prado in Madrid. (Spanish 3, lesson 1)My understanding of Spanish history allowed me to incorporate the history behind a paintingby Goya into my unit. After the history lesson, one student stated,“Wow! I learned more inSpanish about World History than I do in World History.” (1.28.08) The lessons I taught aboutthe historical events behind artwork allowed me to tap into students’ prior knowledge in myown classroom. Moreover, my lessons about the tango and music of Carlos Vives were grounded in mytravel experiences. One student quoted, “I learned a lot about Spanish culture *in Ms. Pierce’sclass+. I really enjoyed the music…but what I will remember most is “la danza”.” She proceededto say, I was challenged to relate Spanish culture to myself. I asked questions like, what does this mean to me, and How does this affect me?” (Feedback form-Kayla)
  5. 5. I firmly believe that my experiences in Spain not only made me more informed about thelanguage, its traditions and its people, but it made me more passionate about my teaching.Consequently, the students were able to make their own learning more meaningful.Growth: Despite my deep understanding of Spanish, I initially struggled in teaching and speakingthe language to my classes. Although ideas made sense in my head, I had difficulties translatingmy own understandings into strong, guided instruction. My first weeks in Spanish One weredifficult in explaining the usage of estar and applying it into sentences. I discovered thatstudents hadn’t mastered the objective when assessing their knowledge, as many of thestudents left the quizzes blank. Because of this poor instruction, I chose to re teach the usage ofestar later in my unit. However, the second time, I had greatly improved my direct instructionof estar plus other adjectives and verbs. I used a song I wrote about ser and estar to elucidateits usage. (Ser and Estar song) Afterwards, I guided the students through instruction of how toconjugate it and how to apply it to write sentences. While being observed, Dr. Breidensteincommented, Class responds well to hands on practice, and all of this repeated practice is good for them. Good guided practice and independent practice after your presentation of new material—this is an exemplar of direct instruction—well done! (Observation 3.12.08)My ability to teach the content knowledge I knew improved greatly through my year in theclassroom. Additionally, my hesitation of speaking to my class vanished with confidence andpractice. I had several study sessions with Dr. Rocio Delgado before my Oral Proficiency Examwhere we practiced my Spanish skills orally. She assured me of my own fluency in the language,
  6. 6. and had ongoing conversations with me during tutoring. My studying and practice allowed meto organize my thoughts quickly in response to questions. As a result, I was able to pass my OralProficiency Exam, despite certain apprehensions. Familiarity with my students and ease in my teaching allowed me to speak moreconfidently and frequently in Spanish. My first days of teaching, I only spoke Spanish whenintroducing new vocabulary words. I doubted my own speaking skills, and I feared havingstudents notice my limitations as a speaker. However, by the end of my teaching, I greetedstudents in Spanish, gave instructions in Spanish, and also used the call and response tointroduce new grammar concepts. Time and practice allowed me to become more proficient inspeaking my second language. In fact, more confidence and consequently proficiency led onestudent to ultimately conclude, “You really understand Spanish.” (Feedback form). At thebeginning of the year, I would have never expected a student to note my competency in thelanguage, because doubt and uncertainty about my speaking skills unnerved me. However,clearly, with greater confidence and more practice throughout the year, students commendedmy growth and my competence in the subject.Future: My passion for Spanish compels me to constantly learn more about each of the facets Ihave mentioned: Spanish language, history, and its many cultures. I look forward to continuingmy education of each through studies abroad again. I delight at the idea of attending classes inanother Latin American country, so that I might magnify my understandings of the culture. Theexperience would frame the content of my curriculum. Also, I marvel at the thought of beingimmersed in the language again so that I might further my speaking skills. Spanish proficiency
  7. 7. comes after years of practice, and constant usage in another country would greatly enhance myproficiency. I have even considered teaching abroad for a year, so that I would have a longer,more authentic experience as a language learner and teacher. Any of these possibilities wouldimprove my understandings of these themes. In addition, I hope to pursue an advanced degree in Spanish or Economics, to deepenmy understanding of the content. Stronger mastery of the content will enable me to clarifydifficult concepts more efficiently to my students: in effect, they will internalize once seeminglyinexplicit concepts. To improve my practice of teaching, I intend to attend many professionaldevelopment opportunities. In them, I will gain new insights on the strategies developed toteach any foreign language. Additionally, I will consult with my fellow colleagues to ask forsuggestions about activities or assignments in my own classroom. I will never hesitate to askthe more experienced veterans in my content area, knowing that they have a vast repertoire ofstrategies and ideas after many years of experience. My eagerness to learn, willingness to askfor help, and my determination to constantly refine my own practice will ensure that I mayconstantly grow in my content area. Determination to deepen my understanding and teaching of the content will add amultidimensional and humanly perspective to Spanish—students will know the grammar butalso sense, and feel the historical struggles and culture of its people. Consequently, a greaterrespect for the increasing number of Spanish speakers in our city, country, and world will arise.Students will yearn to learn more in all topics within Spanish.
  8. 8. Standard 2: Planning for Student LearningPhilosophy: I firmly believe that a well crafted lesson minimizes classroom management problemswhile maximizing student engagement. Thoughtful, backward designed units allow teachers tobetter meet the needs of all learners: teachers see their intended outcomes in understandingsfor students. According to Understanding by Design , We cannot say how to teach for understanding or which material or activities to use until we are quite clear about which specific understandings we are after and what such understandings look like in practice. (Mctighe and Wiggins, 2007, 15). This book identifies that student learning cannot occur without teachers clearlyidentifying the essential questions they intend to answer—the first stage in planning. The UBdstrategy urges teachers to devote much thought and time to planning. When teachers knowtheir desired results, they can then communicate to students the purpose of their teachingspecific objectives. Therefore, planning backwards facilitates students’ purposes in learning. Planning cannot be optimized without a clear understanding of the multiple strategiesused to design a lesson. Knowledge of when to implement the varying research based models—from direct instruction in the deductive model to the group investigation of the inductivemodel—is crucial when designing an engaging lesson. A teacher must tactfully organize unitsand lessons that employ specific models to teach specific objectives. In this way, the bestteaching and deepest learning occurs. For these reason, it seems to me that planning stands asone of the most integral parts of teaching—it lays the foundation for student engagement, andin effect, student learning.
  9. 9. Exemplar: Evidence of my thoughtful planning exists in both levels of Spanish I taught over thecourse of the year. Throughout my internship, I designed my units with my intended results inmind, relying on my knowledge of specific strategies that would best teach these outcomes.Planning in such a way allowed me and my students to achieve my goals in teaching. In my Spanish One classroom, the first unit I designed was on Education. I spent manydays deciding how to incorporate the content from the textbook into a much larger theme thatrelated to students in my classroom. After much contemplation about what I wanted studentsto learn, I decided students culminating understanding should be twofold: the effects thateducation has on future success and integrity, and education as an individual right for allchildren. (UBd Spanish 1) At the end of my unit, one student ultimately concluded, “I have come to realize how important an education is in the proper development in a community . . . In Mexico, there is a vast lack of educational opportunities for the youth of the communities . . . my eyes were opened to how important and special education really is . . . I hope to be able to enhance and increase the education in other countries so there can be kids just as lucky as I am.” (Essay after Webquest)My intentional planning allowed my students to critically analyze and consider the theme ofeducation in my unit. As a result, my assessment of their knowledge displayed deep learning. The use of the inductive model in my Spanish Three class demonstrated my ability toplan for an inquiry based learning experience. This lesson in total spanned thirty-five pages.(Lesson 1) The design and plan for the day occupied over a week’s worth of my time. Iresearched the top causes of death in the US, I toiled over how to implement the informationinto a lesson, and then, I contemplated on the questions to guide students’ thinking during the
  10. 10. lesson. Before I executed the lesson, I even took it to my Critical Friends Group to receive morefeedback on how to modify my lesson. In total, the lesson plan consumed four weeks of my life. When viewing my plans in action, I discovered once again the benefits of intricateplanning. I intentionally placed students into cooperative learning groups to open specificenvelopes, and the results were astonishing. While observing the students working, Dr.Breidenstein ultimately stated, “Inquiry lesson works well-they are using their brains, usingeach other, using the text (in Spanish and authentic) and using dictionaries—well done!”(Observation 2.5.08) All of my planning for this lesson was worthwhile, and at the end of the day both I andmy students were grateful. A student told me, “Ms. Pierce, this was really fun today!” (2.6.08) Andin my own reflection, I concluded, “Planning and hard work pay off… Students *were+ very excited about the “Chalk Talk”, and a few of them stayed after class to watch some more of Supersize me.” (Reflective Memo 2.4.08)Clearly, the complex planning involved in both situations facilitated the execution of my lessonand the engagement of my students.Growth: As expected for a novice, particular skills are unrefined in the beginning. With more timeand practice, however, the skills develop, and the beginner becomes more adept. Likewise, newteachers, including me, lack certain skills at the start of their professions. However, with timeskills improve. In my case, my ability to plandeveloped over the internship.
  11. 11. Initially, I struggled to design lessons that would span the entire ninety minute classperiod. It was difficult to judge how long activities would last. When the intended ninety minutelesson ended early, I would have to improvise without plans. It was in these moments that myclassrooms became the most chaotic. However, by the end of my teaching, I learned to “overplan” for my classes, especially my Spanish One classes. My agenda would have items listedthat every class didn’t reach; however, I discovered classes move at different paces, so havingextra activities for some classes was mandatory. Additionally, my efficiency in planning increased over the internship. This summer, Ispent two weeks planning just three lessons and wondered how I would ever be able to spendso much time planning as a teacher. When I became the teacher of Spanish, I knew I had tobecome more time efficient in my planning. With tutoring, grading, my Master’s level course atTrinity, and my graduate assistantship, my time to plan diminished greatly. At the start of mytakeover, it was my goal to refine the particulars of each week’s lessons over the weekend.However, by the middle of my lead teach, I lost this time to my weekend obligations with SME.As a result, the night before school I would spend writing plans and creating worksheets.Gradually, I became more efficient in my lesson planning, always remembering my intendedoutcome. My time devoted to lesson planning decreased from two weeks per lesson to acouple of hours per lesson. Clearly, this skill improved tremendously with practice over time.Future: Seeing how planning ultimately determines the outcome of student engagement andlearning, I will constantly develop backwardly designed units. I will take advantage of the many
  12. 12. opportunities to write curriculum in the summers or during the year. One institute I hope toattend is the program offered by Trinity University during the summers. In it, first year teachersand more experienced teacher gather to craft units that follow the UBd design. Teachers workalongside each other and amidst like-minded thinkers in their profession. This opportunitywould benefit other teachers, along with my own teaching and students. Additionally, I will collaborate with my faculty when planning for my classes. As I havelearned during my School Climate Study, faculty collaboration contributes to a more positiveschool climate (School Climate Study). With common goals, faculty can work together to ensurestudents receive the deepest learning. During my conference periods, I hope to plan with mycolleagues from similar grade levels and departments. With their help, I might constantly refineand modify my curriculum. They might guide me in potential topics to study or advise me onuseful activities in the classroom. In this way, mentoring and coaching will improve my ability toplan with others. Additionally, concepts will echo throughout all disciplines so that students willmake connections and have more meaningful learning. My goals to thoughtfully createcurriculum and plan alongside faculty will refine my own planning skills, and in turn myeffectiveness as a teacher.
  13. 13. Standard 3: Teaching: Engaging All Students inLearningPhilosophy: Quality learning arises from constant engagement in one’s own learning. Whenunprepared teachers don’t deliver meaningful lessons, students may lack motivation to learnmaterial that seems unconnected or unrelated to their own lives. Without motivation to learn,they disengage from learning and can ultimately fail out of high school. This cause and effectrelationship partially explains current high school dropout rates. To reform high schools, Ibelieve teachers should constantly strive to engage students by drawing upon their students’interests and learning styles through diversified pedagogy. As educators, it seems mandatory toengage our diverse student populations. This act captivates students’ attention and motivatesthem to learn something with purpose and meaning. In effect, they succeed through highschool while enjoying their educational experiences. I believe teachers can engage students by drawing upon their students’ interests. In myfall research project, I developed and distributed student surveys to see what classroomactivities students believe they learn from best. Although several readings from Trinity’s Masterof Arts in teaching courses taught me that cooperative learning “eliminates competition, andgives students more individual accountability so that all understand,” (Cooperative learningnotes) I wanted to witness first hand that students learned from Slavin’s cooperative learningmodel. If they did, the benefits of implementing it in my classroom would be far reaching. In myresults, the majority of students in all grade levels selected that they learned best fromclassroom activities involving working with peers. Not only does research state that cooperative
  14. 14. learning allows for deep learning (Brooks and Brooks, 109), my surveys reveal that it guaranteesstudent engagement. These findings verify that cooperative learning facilitates studentlearning. Intrigued by lessons, students remain captivated throughout the course of the lesson. Moreover, I believe teachers’ implementation of multiple strategies to engage studentscan better ensure constant student engagement. To captivate students from the start of thelesson, teachers must design stimulating “hooks,” or anticipatory sets, to their lessons. Theymust differentiate their teaching to reach all different learners throughout the lesson.Additionally, they must employ the multiple models of teaching, coupling them withcooperative learning activities to continually engage students. When prepared well, teacherscan vary their pedagogy to deliver their curriculum, students remain interested. Using multiplepedagogical methods throughout the entire lesson and unit facilitate student engagement andconsequently, student learning.Exemplar: My discoveries from my teacher research (One page implications) guided the activitieswithin my own classroom during my lead teach. I incorporated cooperative learning activitiesinto every lesson regardless of the model employed or the information taught. Learning alanguage demands constant conversation, so having ample opportunities for students to workcollaboratively promoted dialogue among my students. Student-to-student dialogue is thefoundation upon which cooperative learning is structured, so adding it into my classroom wasmandatory. (Brooks and Brooks, 109) All levels of my classes involved learning through groupconversation, group games, or group projects. As a result, multiple students described ourclassroom as “fun and engaging,” working alongside their peers. (feedback form)
  15. 15. To increase engagement in my classroom, I linked students’ interests with classroomactivities. As a result, students would connect with content that they could relate to. Oneparticular lesson allowed students to match their own interests with a topic. In a lesson onexercise around the world, I allowed students to choose a popular exercise in Spanish or LatinAmerican cultures to research. (WS over Exercise) The students chose from the running of thebulls, tango dancing, flamenco dancing, soccer, samba dancing, or salsa dancing. After selectinga topic, the students read information about the topic, designed a poster, and then presentedtheir information to the class. Although I was hesitant initially about the effectiveness of thislesson, I discovered that students loved the activity, and that they were engaged from the startto the end of the lesson. When reflecting on the day, I wrote, I wasn’t sure if the students would want to do this type of activity that I designed, but they all enjoyed it. I think it helped that I let them choose the topic they were going to learn about. It was interesting to see what they chose to discuss to the class. (3.10.08)Students voiced their enjoyment of the activity in my feedback form. One student stated thattheir favorite activity from my lead teach was “the dance lesson, because it was great fun toprepare our lesson.” (feedback form-Sarah) Another student echoed this response by stating,“When we did the presentation over the running with the bulls…I learned … and presentedsomething that I found interesting that I didn’t know about before.” (feedback form- Kayla)Learning a topic of choice interested and engaged students the entirety of my lesson. Additionally, I used questions that allowed for student voice and response to guide mystudents learning—the incorporation of their ideas into my lesson captivated their attention.During a lesson over music and dance, I began the class asking, ¿Con que música teidentificas?(With what music do you identify with?) I allowed students to first think about their
  16. 16. answer and write it in English on a red card, and then share it with the class. After listening tomusic, watching dance, and learning the vocabulary related to each, the students returned totheir cards at the end of class. They then answered the question in Spanish using theknowledge learned during the class. Dr. Breidenstein noted, “It is great that you go back to *the+red card-now [students] can answer in Spanish— [a] great concrete sign of growth in one classperiod.” (Observation 1.23.08) After engaging students through music and video clips, theywere able to apply their knowledge by answering the guiding question in Spanish. Students hadmade their own learning meaningful. To appeal to the many learning styles in my classroom, I used video clips to initiallyattract students to my lessons. Throughout the course of my unit, students saw clips fromTango, Rent, City Slickers, Havana Nights, Supersize Me, Motorcycle Diaries, and NoReservations as an anticipatory set. Showing scenes from these films enlivened the languageand culture. One student stated, “I liked how we had video clips or songs to go along withlessons. That made it so people with different learning styles could truly understand thelesson.” (Feedback form) My self-expressive learners would always perk up during thesemoments as the songs or dance intrigued them. The positive feedback I received from usingclips to enhance my teaching compelled me to use them in each unit. At the end of myteaching, one student expressed, “Thank you for making each class different and exciting to goto. Bringing in movie clips and songs gave a good variety while incorporating [them into] thelesson." (Feedback form-Haleh)
  17. 17. Moreover, I created songs and chants to reengage students during my instruction. Toexplain the differences between ser and estar, I rewrote lyrics to the tune of “I am a Rock” andrecorded it for students. (See Ser and Estar song) Students listened to the lyrics, and then sangalong with my recording. During this activity, Dr. Breidenstein noted students commenting,“This is intense,” and “I love it” with loud cheers in my classroom. After singing along with thesong, she noted that students once again cheered. (Observation 3.12.08) One student stated, “Iwill always remember when ser and estar are used because of *Ms.Pierce’s+ song” whileanother concluded, “When you taught us estar through a song it was really cool.” (Feedbackforms) My implementation of personally written songs and chants engaged students whileelucidating new concepts. These pedagogical strategies captivated my students during my leadteach.Growth My ability to redirect students and open up to my students increased over the course ofmy takeover—in effect, engaging students became easier. At the beginning of my unit, I haddifficulties keeping everyone’s attention at all moments of the lesson. I often froze whenstudents disengaged from my lesson to chatter with their neighbors. My fear of being sterncaused these students to take control of the classroom. I didn’t want to be seen as anauthoritative figure, so I lost control of the larger classes. However, through coaching andpractice, I discovered the multiple techniques teachers can use to redirect students: waiting forstudents, proximity to talkers, or even the teacher eye. These methods in redirectingdisengaged students did not demand an authoritative, angry teacher. Instead, it required atactful, confident, but patient teacher to take control of the class.
  18. 18. Moreover, ease and comfort in my classroom enabled me to open up with my students,engaging them with my personal touch. By the end of the nine weeks, I felt comfortable usingpersonal anecdotes or singing chants to reinforce concepts. I discovered this personality to alesson appeals to students. I remember how uncomfortable I felt at the start of the year insimply presenting the particulars of the lesson. The first week, Melissa led the class in a chant,and I shyly followed her lead. I felt uneasy singing in front of others. However, by the end of myteaching, this apprehension disappeared. My last week of teaching, I developed a chant toexplain the purpose of the subjunctive tense. (Graphic Organizer) I eagerly sang to them,“Subjunctive, subjunctive, what’s your function? Doubt, desire, and emotion!” Not surprisingly,the students raved when I sang the chant. The chant was such a hit that several studentsrecited the words in my feedback form, saying it was something that they would alwaysremember. One student ultimately concluded, “Jingles are awesome!” (Feedback from) Imarveled at how adding my creative touch and personality to the classroom enlivened studentsand enhanced their learning. Comfort in front of students clearly allowed me to better engagestudents. Lastly, my ability to better explain my own intentions and assignments throughexamples and rubrics allowed for better engagement and learning. In January, I assigned aproject to my Spanish One classes where students had to create a representation of theireducational journeys from the past to the future. Although I had created a rubric to guide theirthoughts, I didn’t effectively communicate my assessment measures to them. As a result, manystudents didn’t complete the project or enjoy the project as much as I had hoped. (Rubric forEducation project) However, by March, I learned a better method in explaining projects to
  19. 19. students and my expectations to them. For the recipe project with Spanish Three students, Ifirst revisited commands, then explained the project and rubric, and then showed my own“recipe.” Written and visual representations of the project clarified its objectives. (Rubric forRecipe project) As a result, students fulfilled the specified objectives in the rubric, and theyreceived high grades for their exemplar work. With a clear understanding of the project,students eagerly completed the assignment. As a result, one student wrote, “My favoriteactivity was writing the recipe . . . because I had never done anything like it and it incorporatedthe things we’d learned in class.” (Feedback form) Because I better explained the project, morestudents could take ownership in a new assignment that allowed them to express their owninterests and creativity. Students worked diligently throughout the class period on the project.Future: Engaging my students in the future will allow me to be a more effective teacher. I willalways rely on my innovative nature to craft stimulating lessons. Moreover, I will always seek tomake student learning meaningful by incorporating student choice and voice in the classroom.Attention to these details will inspire students to actively engage in their own learning. It is my hope to inspire students such as Debra to learn. Debra quoted, “I learned a lotthis nine weeks . . . more than the past because you made our learning activities fun!”Moreover, I dream of motivating students in ways as I did with Kayla, “I can tell how much youlove teaching. I want to be a teacher and it is inspiring to have seen how much work and careyou put into your lessons. I felt pushed to learn and excited to learn.” Comments such as theseremind me of the high rewards teaching offers. I will constantly push students to engage inlessons to excite them to learn. My students will eagerly participate in their own learning. In
  20. 20. effect, each student will excel through high school while appreciating their many learningopportunities.
  21. 21. Standard 4: Creating and Managing a ClassroomLearning CommunityPhilosophy: Learning cannot occur without a conducive classroom climate. This environment mustinclude order, respect, and positive perceptions of mutual learning goals. Without theseattributes, chaotic and disrespectful climates develop, which detract from student learning, andprevent students from mastering content material. According to Marzano (18), “Withoutpositive attitudes and perceptions, students have little chance of learning proficiently, if at all.”Indeed, classrooms lacking this positivity not only limit student learning, they may hinder itcompletely. To establish a positive learning community, teachers must create a culture of learning atthe start of the year. Marzano describes this process in his Dimensions of Learning … Teacherscan foster this culture by clarifying classroom norms and daily procedures. By communicatingboth, teachers establish and maintain standards for student behavior, so all students can have aclimate conducive to learning. In addition, teachers must initially model an enthusiastic passionfor learning. In my First Day’s Inquiry, I noted how my mentor teacher, Steve Magadance,communicated his passion, and fostered this love in his students through extreme energy andenthusiasm in the first week of class. (Steve’s culture) I discovered how communication of thesepassions facilitates the creation of a positive culture of learning. Additionally, teachers must maintain positive environments throughout the year bycreating relationships with students and between students. As my Microeconomics mentor,Steve, stated, “It is not how much you know *as a teacher+, but rather, how much you care.” His
  22. 22. conclusion about the importance of relational teaching echoes throughout current educationaltheory. According to ….. They both describe teaching as relational. One important way that teachers can foster relationships with students is by allowingall learners a voice in the classroom. According to Brooks and Brooks (60), “Awareness ofstudents’ points of view helps teachers challenge students, making school experiences bothcontextual and meaningful.” A personalized education creates for students a degree ofownership in their learning. Moreover, with student voices guiding instruction, teachers candevelop stronger and more personalized relationships with their students. Teachers gain insightinto students’ minds by recognizing their talents, aspirations, and even fears. Teachers can alsocreate strong relationships between students through cooperative learning (Slavin, ).Collaborating together, students learn to respect and to appreciate their peers, and additionallyare able to tailor sharing and acquision of knowledge based on one antoher’s needs in a waythat single classroom instructor cannot. This process allows each student a degree of ownershipover both teaching and learning, with enhanced learning for all as the result. Finally, teacherscan improve relationships with their students by adding personal anecdotes and passions intotheir lessons and curriculum. In effect, students feel they can trust an open, outgoing teacher. Clearly, to ensure that students experience genuine learning, positive attitudes andstrong relationships must coexist within every classroom. With such classroom climates,students can move into the fifth dimension of learning---using knowledge meaningfully--andcultivate habits of mind that will serve them beyond any individual classroom or teaching-learning setting. Indeed, true learning depends on classroom’s learning community.
  23. 23. Exemplar: Because I have seen the linkage between student learning and classroom environment, Isought to maintain my mentor’s classroom procedures and rules while deepening relationshipswith and between my students. At the beginning of the year, Melissa and I presented the students with our expectationsthrough a Syllabus. In it, we reinforced specified policies about grading, late work, absent work,and retakes. As a class, we discussed each, and Melissa and I elaborated our expectations. Thisallowed students a clear understanding of the expectations and procedures in our classroom.Halfway through the year, Ms. Liberatore noted, It is obvious that Melissa, Steve and Susanna have taken the time to establish norms and routines in their class that provide a strong structure for kids, but do not stifle their learning . . . Because kids know the procedures and boundaries, there is space for learning to happen. (see Evaluation from Midpoint 12.21.07) As I began my lead teach, I consistently enforced the same expectations that had beenestablished these first few weeks of school in order to maintain familiar structure. I continuedto encourage active participation through the continued reward system of stamps, designedactivities around cooperative learning, and adhered to the previously established gradingpolicy. In this way, students had consistency in expectations despite having two differentteachers. To deepen relationships amongst peers in my classroom, I infused cooperative learningactivities into my lessons daily. I selected groups using Popsicle sticks so that students mightwork with new peers regularly. Students often needed me to physically move them into groupsto facilitate learning. Although some students initially disliked moving, working with students
  24. 24. other than their friends was well accepted overall. In a particular lesson with my Spanish Threeclass, I selected student groups. Dr. Breidenstein noted, “groups move easily—no groans—[thisis] another endorsement of teacher-selected groups (vs. student).” Organizing students ingroups allowed for the formation of new relationships while focusing learning. Dr. Breidensteinnoted students were “consistently productive and on task.” (Observation 2.6.08) Clearly, myemployment of cooperative learning activities with pre-selected groups fostered anenvironment conducive to learning. In addition, I deepened relationships with my students by adding personal anecdotes toelucidate concepts. For example, I shared my experiences working and living in developingcountries during our unit on health, and discussed my difficulties as an athlete during myexercise unit. (Lesson over Doctor’s office) Personal anecdotes humored my students, as thisprovided a direct and personal framework for understanding vocabulary, grammar concepts,and language structures. The students quickly warmed to this approach. Indeed, one stated: I would describe you as a teacher who really likes what you do . . . and who want[s] us to learn as much as possible. As a person I would describe you as being able to relate really well with us kids. (Feedback form- Demi)Because I contributed personalized humor, energy, and enthusiasm to my classroom, mystudents related with my youthfulness while recognizing my desires for them to learn. Strong relationships in our learning community also created respect in my classroom.Individual and collaborative voices guided learning throughout my lead teach. Because studentsfelt that a degree of equity existed, they were more willing to participate and support oneanother. In effect, one student commented, “I would describe our class as very creative and
  25. 25. educational. No one is really left behind when we are learning and it’s really fun because of thediversity of people.” (Feedback form- Demi)Growth: Over the year, I learned to create structure in the classroom by using instructional timeeffectively. In November during my take-over, students would often complain that I movedthrough material too quickly. Uncomfortable in front of the class, I would give direct instructionfaster than students could follow. They did not have ample time to take notes, and often fellbehind as I moved through guided practice. As a result, the classroom environment felt rushedand chaotic. However, by the spring, I learned how to properly pace my instruction. Dr.Breidenstein commended my pacing, “Notes *have a+ good introduction and pace . . . *students+are all involved actively while you check for understanding.” (Observation 3.12.08) With greaterpractice and comfort as a teacher, I learned how to instruct more effectively. Our classroomhad regularity and comfort, and students were not longer rushed in their learning. My greatest insight into fostering group learning occurred outside of the classroom,during my weeklong expeditionary trip to Washington, D.C. During this trip, I learned how tomediate conflicts among varying student preferences. The seniors in my group were in chargeof selecting sites to visit and organizing each day’s activities. Although I was the sponsor, it wasthe group’s role to design our trip agenda. I quickly learned that it was impossible to pleaseevery member of the group—never was every person satisfied with a decision that we made.Members of the group would become angry and refuse to go somewhere they didn’t preferhighly. I therefore communicated the value of compromise—I stated, “You are going to have towork with others the rest of your life. You guys have to compromise to be able to see
  26. 26. everything each person wants to visit. And we are all going to be enthusiastic about it.” (seeReflection) I stepped away from the group members, and I allowed them to resolve theirconflicts without further guidance. In this moment, I realized that high school seniors can compromise, but they need aleader to outline the ground rules for the problem solving process. Because we initially hadunclear group expectations, discussions about priorities were chaotic and segregated. However,when I finally clearly expressed that we would not segregate, students began to compromise.By the end of the trip, each person had chosen and visited a museum or exhibit of choice. Thistrip refined my mediation skills with a diverse group of seniors, and the refinement of the skillsallowed me to restore a positive learning community. (Group pictures)Future: In my career as a teacher, I will always strive to implement class norms and consistentlyenforce classroom procedures that will foster learning. At the start of the year, each section willhelp develop its own class norms, so that students have ownership of their learningenvironments. I will post these ground rules on the wall, so that everyone can reference them
  27. 27. throughout the year. If at any point in the year I begin to encounter discipline or behavioralproblems, I will refer back to our communal discussion about what students need to learn best. In addition, I will strive to create relationships within my classroom by using a newseating chart every nine weeks. While in DC, I noted numerous student cliques and concludedthat more frequent reseating of students might help prevent these. My goal will be to help eachstudent meet many of their peers—not just a few close friends---throughout the year. Our classwill evolve into a “learning community” that values each person’s thoughts and ideas. Finally, I will be more assertive. One of my weaknesses as a teacher is getting everyone’sattention or helping the class to refocus. I noticed this reoccurring theme in my feedback forms,as many students advised me to be more firm as a teacher. One student recommended, “Crackdown on students who are interrupting class . . . Remember, sometimes us kids need a “talkingto.” Don’t be afraid to be a bit stern when needed.” (Feedback form-Hamed) Although I fearbecoming a “mean” teacher, I now understand there exists a happy medium between strictnessand laxity, one which allows considerable room for a fair but predictable discipline, which intrun promotes productive learning for everyone.
  28. 28. Standard 5: Demonstrating ProfessionalCommunicationPhilosophy: Open communication fosters deep respect. Schools grounded upon suchcommunication can harbor respect for each constituent: teachers, parents, and students. Tocreate this by-product, schools must constantly encourage collaboration within every school.Doing so will create a school climate that supports teachers, families, and ultimately allstudents. Every participant in a school can benefit from communication. To enhance students’learning, teachers must communicate with students through instruction and assessments. Withboth oral and written communication, students will internalize respect for others and respectfor themselves. Teachers should collaborate with each other on how to address the needs ofmany students. Together they might develop plans to resolve dilemmas or differentiateinstruction within classrooms. To establish even greater support for student learning, schoolsmust communicate with families. Many studies have noted the linkage between studentachievement and parental support. With administrators, teachers, students, and parentsworking towards a common goal, the dreams for greater student academic achievement will beobtained. In effect, a respectful learning community can educate and support the leaders of thenext generation.Exemplar: I have exhibited my value of communication in the many arenas of schooling---withstudents, with parents, and with faculty to create a trusting and cohesive learning community.
  29. 29. To build trusting relationships in my classroom, I have constantly interacted andcommunicated with students. Through my verbal communication, I have increased respect fordiversity worldwide. This respect was gained during my unit on worldwide health. In it, studentswere shown an online photo gallery with images of families seated with groceries and told theaverage spending on food per family per week. Students evaluated the healthiness of thesecultures after viewing the images. (What the World Eats?) They were shocked at the sparseportions for families from Chad, only spending $1.23 per week, and concluded that thesecountries were malnourished. This verbal communication compelledstudents to become moreaware to the social strives of many impoverished countries. One student asserted that hisfavorite activity was when “we did research in other countries on what they eat. I find culturevery interesting.” (Student feedback form) Because of my conversation about world health,students gained a deeper respect and appreciation for the multiple cultures worldwide. Additionally, I have communicated in writing with my students through feedbackon projects. Both warm and cool feedback ensured that students gained a deeper respect fortheir teacher who sought to support them and challenge them in academic endeavors. BecauseI devoted over twelve hours to grading one particular project, students from my classesreceived praise and ideas for improvement on their projects. In effect, the assessmentrespectfully evaluated each student’s work. Written communication reaffirmed their academicachievements. During my internship, I have also utilized my communication skills with families toincrease support for student efficacy. The greatest use of these skills occurred in my position as
  30. 30. Coordinator at SME. Ms. Liberatore noted this opportunity in our Fall Assessment Conference,“*Susanna’s+ SME experience . . . has given her the opportunity to give feedback to peers and to(possibly) practice difficult conversations.” (Fall Evaluation, Standard 5). Indeed,the entire program demanded prompt response to parental inquiries orcomplaints. (Email to parent) Our prompt communication with parents demonstrated ourdevotion and commitment to the program. With support from parents, we knew that each childwould benefit greatly from SME. Moreover, if a parent had any complaint about our program,we proactively responded to minimize dissatisfaction. A specific example this year was aparent’s concerns about two of our mentors. She believed that students in her son’s class werenot receiving enriching lessons and were not challenged by their mentors. Because parentswere not satisfied with their children’s learning experiences, the Coordinators and I addressedthe issue immediately, knowing such disappointments reflected poorly on our program. Toimprove SME for these students, we hired new mentors, and subsequently informed parents.(Letter about New Mentors) Our proactive response and communication in this experienceincreased support for student efficacy. Throughout my internship, I have communicated with my colleagues to resolve conflict.In Washington D. C., perpetual conversations with senior team members, Mr. Magadance andMrs. Reed, allowed me to resolve arguments in my group about each day’s agenda. Moreover,our detailed response to an upset professor about the condition of his room after our SaturdayMorning program demonstrated our value of communication with Trinity University faculty. Init we declared,
  31. 31. “We understand the gravity of this situation. We plan to follow-through by discussing the matter with the mentors, and reemphasizing the urgency of communication with Coordinators and Physical Plant if necessary.” (Email about SME Paint Incident)Our prompt communication to the faculty involved with the incident indicated our seriousnessin the matter. In addition, it enabled us to resolve the conflict quicker with more information. Finally, I have participated in meaningful conversations with faculty during myparticipation in Critical Friends Groups. By presenting at a meeting twice, I was able to clarifyquestions about planning and grading. The protocol that guided our discussion provided mewith helpful feedback from each member of our group. (IssaquahProtocol) During this process,more experienced members of my professional community showed me how to modify mylesson to reach more learners. The overall evaluation of my communication with others was referenced in my FallAssessment Conference. Here, Ms. Liberatore concluded, Susanna is an excellent written and oral communicator, as well as an excellent listener. . . The multiple arenas in which she operates have given her practice in communicating to different audiences and in different media. This is a huge strength . . . She is respectful of everyone, which in turns garners her respect from everyone she interacts with. My constant communication with each level of the school during my internship fosteredthe creation of a supportive and respectful school climate; students could learn with supportfrom their peers, their teachers, and their parents.Growth: The constant communication I had with parents as a Coordinator of SME allowed me toimprove my communication with parents in my Spanish classroom. I believe my ease in
  32. 32. speaking to parents was evidenced in my participation in ISA’s Report Card Night in the SpringSemester. Although I understood the importance of connecting with parents during the fall, it wasnot until the spring that I initiated this communication with parents. (Report Card Night ISA) Init, I spoke with the freshmen parents confidently about myself and about the content of myclass throughout the nine weeks. After the night, Mr. Monteith stated, “[Susanna] presented[her]self confidently as an equal member of the team . . . She [was]. . . very positive in [her]delivery *of information+.” Whereas the first semester I only introduced myself to parents, bythe second semester, I eagerly communicated with parents about my classroom as a memberof the freshman team. My expository speech about our classroom compelled multiple parents to introducethemselves to me after the event. I met parents from both sections of my Spanish One classwho were enthusiastic about what their children were learning. Because I had refined myspeaking skills during SME, I was able to effectively inform parents about my class. The parentseagerly supported me and their children in learning.Future: Because collaboration with each constituent in a school improves its climate, I willconstantly communicate throughout my teaching career. In my classroom, I will communicatewith students both orally and in writing to create true respect and to facilitate deeper insight instudent learning. I will also communicate constantly with faculty at my school to clarify
  33. 33. questions and resolve dilemmas within in my school. As a cohesive unit, we will be able to trustone another for support. In the future, I will strive to refine my communication skills even further: I willcommunicate more ardently with the parents of my students. To inform parents aboutclassroom activity, I will update my classroom website with pictures, homework, and projects.Parents will be able to freely access information about their child’s learning. Moreover, I willconsistently call parents or set up conferences to discuss concerns I have about certainstudents. Immediate responses to students falling behind will improve the likelihood of studentsuccess. Both teacher and parent can aid students together in their learning. In effect,struggling students will have support at home and at school in their academic pursuits. Communication with students, with their parents, and with fellow faculty will not onlyminimize conflicts and confusion within schools, it will optimize learning for each student. Bycreating more collaboration and support within the learning community, each student mighthave numerous advocates for academic success.
  34. 34. Standard 6: Developing as a Professional EducatorPhilosophy: Tony Parker didn’t become a professional overnight. Through deep commitment, andextreme dedication, he refined his skills as a basketball player through daily practice. Hefocused on his skills as both an individual guard and as a team player for the Spurs. As adeveloping professional, he trained and practiced with great attention to all these details. Hisresulting expertise enabled him to win the MVP of the NBA Finals in 2007. This same processTony underwent to develop into a professional basketball player is applicable to allprofessions—even teaching. Teachers can become professionals in their field by modelingsimilar qualities. By exhibiting a learning virtue, a collegiality virtue, and also a leadership virtue,teachers can evolve from a novice in their field into a successful, leader in their profession(Sergiovanni, 2008). With a learning virtue, teachers might be professionals, practicing at the edge of theircraft. Teachers must be learners like their own students. They must be responsive to feedbackfrom both colleagues and their students so that they might modify their practice. Both serve asmentors and coaches into discovering the “blind-self” of their teaching (Sergiovanni, 1977).Moreover, they must reflect daily on classroom activities so that they might improve theirteaching. As learners in their field, they can seek out ways to become more effective. Theirconstant motivation and dedication to learn strategies for improvement as a teacher willfacilitate their development within the profession.
  35. 35. Teachers must value collegiality to became members of a shared practice, feelingmorally obliged to help one another. Working alongside their faculty, they must participate inClinical Supervision, Critical Friends Groups, departmental meetings, and professionaldevelopment to collaboratively improve practices and consequently student learning. Together,administrators and teachers can foster student learning by helping one another to becomeprofessionals in their field. And finally, skilled teachers must demonstrate strong leadership. They must modelprofessional integrity within their field to students, teachers, and also parents. Throughexample, they can demonstrate how to positively support every member within thecommunity. As professional educators participate in the broader communities within their field,they display morality, humility, and dedication. Consequently, all will respect these leaders asfacilitators of an integrated learning community. As a learner, colleague, and leader in the field, professional educators serve as theepitome of a successful, moral person. Other colleagues replicate their integrity. In effect, theentire field might demonstrate morality: professional teachers will positively impact allmembers within the learning community—colleagues, families, and students.Exemplar: During my internship, I have sought to develop professionally by valuing learning,collegiality, and also leadership. Adherence to each virtue has allowed me to greatly refine mypractice and my professionalism as an educator.
  36. 36. I have demonstrated my value of learning through my constant reflection and myreceptiveness to feedback about my practice. Over the course of my lead teaching, I reflectedeach day after teaching over nine weeks. In my reflections, I observed and analyzed studentbehavior, my teaching, and the overall effectiveness in my lessons. Thinking about ways tomodify my lessons, I was able to consider the means to modify lessons in the future. Oneexample comes from my conclusion after February 14th: If I show this movie to a group in the future, I would like to incorporate Che’s ideology and its effect on Latin America . . . in more depth. The kids were very interested in the topic, so I’d like to give them more information about it. (2.14.08)Regular reflecting on my own practice allowed me to seek ways to enhance learning for myfuture students. In this way, I could become a more effective teacher in the upcoming year. Additionally, my receptiveness to feedback allowed me to refine my practice. During mytakeover, I participated in my Critical Friends Group, presenting twice to elicit feedback aboutgrading and lessons from my colleagues. As a result, I could clarify policies and activities in myclassroom from their suggestions. Additionally, feedback I received during my ClinicalSupervision project allowed me to manage my classroom environment better. My fellowinterns advised me to use a seating chart to diminish distracting conversations duringinstruction. I accepted their feedback, and more productive conversations occurred in myclassroom as more students could easily focus in their learning. (Clinical Supervision) Mywillingness to accept feedback to develop as a teacher was ultimately evidenced by my mentorteacher, Mr. Magadance. He concluded, “The fact that Susanna has been so inquisitive andinviting of critical feedback . . . shows [her] ability to locate sources of feedback.” (Fall
  37. 37. Assessment Conference, Standard 6). Consequently, both my colleagues and students couldassist me in developing my craft. Moreover, I exhibited my virtue of collegiality throughout the year. I have participatedin senior team meetings, Social Studies and Spanish departmental meetings, faculty meetings,and Critical Friends Group gatherings. As a result, I have deepened relationships with thefaculty at ISA. Working with the senior team, I was able to help set up Parent Conferences withSpanish speakers. As a member of CFG group, I was able to offer teachers insights on teachingfrom the perspective of the youngest teacher, closest in age with high school students. I usedmy age and my speaking skills to assist my fellow faculty with dilemmas. Ms. Liberatore notedmy contribution to these meetings in my Assessment Conference, “Susanna has been an assetto her team, department, school, and CFG. She has tried on the leader hat in many of thesearenas.” (Fall Assessment, Standard 6)As, a result, I have developed my ability to interact withcolleagues. Beyond the school, I traveled on a trip to Alabama with the entire faculty of ISA toredesign curriculum for our junior expeditionary trip. The connections and relationship madeduring this trip facilitated collaboration over the course of the year at ISA. All the teacherssought to revise the unit on Justice for students. The collaboration during this trip carried intothe school year. Alignment of content and collaboration among faculty was discussed weeklybetween departments and grade levels. The benefits involved a greater since of camaraderieamong faculty that allowed for a more supportive school climate.
  38. 38. My leadership skills were refined during my graduate assistantship as a SaturdayMorning Experience Coordinator. Here, I was able to display my professionalism to mentorswhile participating in the broader community with the parents of our students. From thebeginning, I understood the need to model professional discernment and behavior to bothmentors and parents of the program. To mentors, I displayed the traits of a supportive leaderby giving feedback to them on their lessons and attending to any concerns they might have. Asa result, mentors approached me with questions the entire year. They respected myorganization and leadership as a Coordinator. With parents, I encouraged participation on fieldtrips during the summer camp and during the year. As a result, both students and parentsactively engaged in learning outside of the classroom. Our culminating field trip to theAquarena Springs carried eighty-three students, forty parents, and fourteen mentors to SanMarcos, Texas. As one community, we all were able to support our students in hands on,authentic learning. (Pictures below)Growth: Over the year, my greatest advancement in my development as a professional educatoroccurred in my Spanish One classroom. Through constant reflections and receptiveness to
  39. 39. feedback, I was able to overcome many hesitancies in teaching Spanish One and teachingfreshmen. During the fall semester, I greatly feared teaching freshmen. They seemed too toodifficult to teach. Observing their rambunctiousness during classes, I noted, “9th graders [are]too energetic, [are] slightly immature, and [are] uncontrollable.” (“I Got My A”) I loved teachingseniors, as they were much more mature and calmer than these younger students. I felt I couldbetter connect with students closer in age. As a result, I dreaded the prospect of teachingSpanish One in the spring. My initial reflection over this fear occurred during my assignment over The Art ofInspiration by Zander and Zander in my Advanced Clinical Practice course. In the assignmentgiven in January, we had to write in the future, as if it were May, explaining to our professorswhy we got an A in our class. This assignment encouraged me to contemplate the person Iwould become over the next six months as a teacher. In it, I stated, During my lead teach, not only did I fall in love with my students, I fell in love with the language I so ardently studied throughout college. I was able to connect with these younger students and to mentor these students . . . Clearly, the program changed me: I fell in love with teaching younger kids, and I fell in love with teaching foreign language. (“I Got My A”)Theact of writing this paper allowed me to set goals for myself ultimately affecting the outcomeof my lead teach. With my intended goals in mind, I was able to recognize the possibilities I hadto improve. These aspirations encouraged me to reflect daily so that I might clearly meet theexpectations that I set for myself in this letter.
  40. 40. With a clearer image of who I wanted to become, I routinely reflected on ways toimprove my teaching to freshmen. At the beginning of my lead teach, I had difficultiesmaintaining students’ attention during transitions in my lessons. Evidence of my recognition ofthis weakness is shown in my reflection from January 24 th: I lost a lot of kids’ attention during the game at the end, and also during the transition periods. I think it was difficult to get their attention after they switched back and forth from the dry erase boards. (1.24.08)After noticing the reason for student disengagement, I would consult with my mentor oruniversity faculty on how to adjust my lesson. I employed many suggestions from Ileana andMelissa on how to restructure my lessons over the nine weeks. Their feedbackcoupled with myown ideas allowed me to revise lessons to render more perpetual student engagement. Afterconsulting with Melissa about the order of a particular lesson, I concluded, “[Today] I saw howmuch better lessons can get if you just reorder some of the activities.” (1.29.08) Thisdiscoveryencouraged me to routinely reflect so that I might constantly refine my teaching. As aresult, the students gradually became more engaged in my lessons over the nine weeks. Seeingmore students contributing in my class allowed me to feel more competent in teaching them.With greater confidence in my teaching, the appeal of teaching this level of Spanish increased. As I became more secure in teaching the content of this level, I was able to focus myenergies on student interactions within the classroom. I deepened relationships with mystudents through their enlightening, yet humorous contributions during classroom discussions. Iappreciated their willingness to participate in class. Likewise, they beganto appreciate myyouthful, affable personality. We developed a mutual respect for one another. In fact, several
  41. 41. students told me that I was their favorite teacher.(3.11.08) The preconceived image of myselfinthe future came into fruition; after nine weeks teaching Spanish One, Iloved teaching freshmen.Future: In the future, I hope to continue exhibiting my learning virtue through reflection,but also seek ways to elicit feedback from my students. In my evaluation of myself inDecember, I noted, A weakness I have is incorporating student criticisms or suggestions into my classroom. I sometimes take offense from complaints of my students, and I would like to become more open to cool feedback from my students. Their insights are very important in developing as a professional educator, and I hope to welcome any suggestions from my students in the [future]. (Fall Assessment, Standard 6)After reading my student feedback forms from every section, I have already learned ways toimprove my future classrooms. (Letter to students) In particular, I will use their constructiveinsight on classroom management strategies to better my effectiveness as a teacher.Implementation of student feedback into my practice will ensure that I differentiate myinstruction to meet specific needs of diverse learners each year. Additionally, I aspire to refine my leadership skills by demonstrating better professionaldiscernment, morality, and unyielding compassion. In my Educational Autobiography in thesummer, I described, Many teachers motivated me, challenged me, and inspired me to achieve throughout high school . . . Each inspired students with [a] deep passion for motivating learners. Most importantly, these models exhibited the traits of an influential person: selfless, genuine, and loving. These teachers shaped my life, and changed my life. (Educational Autobiography)
  42. 42. By modeling the same professional integrity as my past teachers, I will influence the lives of mystudents, their parents, and my colleagues. With a value for learning, collegiality, and moralleadership, I will evolve from a novice teacher into a successful, impacting leader within theteaching profession. After years of determination and practice, I, too will become a“professional”.