Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Online Assignment #1 - Vanessa Marfin

The unifying theme of my Professional Growth and Teaching and Learning Plans is transferring responsibility for directing and monitoring learning to students. As a special education teacher at the high school level, I will serve my students most effectively when I am able to provide them with the tools they need to monitor and improve their own learning. Because my students will always experience academic challenges but will not always have access to intense, personalized instruction, I am doing them a disservice if I continue to take responsibility for diagnosing and meeting their challenges without their active, conscious participation. The Professional Certification standards provide a sound framework for making this transition from a teacher-centered to a student-centered program. This is a highly appropriate shift for a teacher entering the professional stage of development, a stage wherein student learning drives teacher behavior (Steffy).

My first professional growth goal is Effective teaching 1(a): using instructional strategies that make learning meaningful and show positive impact on student learning. After professional growth, I hope students will be able to preview a task and select an effective approach to completing it, accessing additional instructional resources when necessary. Those instructional resources might be reteaching or modeling from me, or the use of instructional materials such as manipulatives, graphic organizers, or other devices or strategies. I would like my students to move from saying, "Let's do my math homework," to saying, "I was thinking of using a table to solve problem number 13. Can you help me set it up?" I would like students to be able to take this active approach towards learning in our learning lab environment, and also in general education classrooms. Currently, students disengage from instruction when they don't understand. My goal is for students in my program to gain the metacognitive and self-advocacy skills necessary to raise their hands and say, "Mr. Chipps, can you please demonstrate another example of that problem type?" or "Ms. Carroll, can you please help me relate this information about the Middle Ages to my own life and goals?" I hope that by explicitly demonstrating a variety of instructional techniques to students and by challenging them to actively critique my instruction and their own learning, students will become their own learning clinicians -- able to diagnose and treat breakdowns in their own evolving understanding.

My second professional growth goal is Effective teaching 1(b): using a variety of assessment strategies and data to monitor and improve instruction. I hope that after my professional growth students will be able to record data on their progress toward IEP goals and evaluate their own performance. I hope that including students in this process will improve motivation and help students to have an accurate picture of their own strengths and weaknesses. Familiarity with their IEP goals will also facilitate self-advocacy. My students currently tend to view their weaknesses in very global terms, i.e. "I am not a good reader." This only hinders their learning as their negative self-talk and learned errors interfere with the development of new skills and understanding. After my professional growth I hope for students to be able to say, when faced with a textbook reading assignment (for example), "I struggle with academic vocabulary. I need some extra time to complete this assignment so I can look up key terms before the reading."

My third goal is Effective teaching 1 (g): Informing, involving, and collaborating with families and community members as partners in each student's educational process, including using information about student achievement and performance. After my professional growth, I hope students will be able to lead their own IEP meetings, especially concerning their Individual Transition Plans. I hope students will be able to write their own post-high school goals for education and employment and that I will have become knowledgeable enough about community resources that I can offer each student at least one off-campus experience to help prepare her for her life goals.

By encouraging students to take a more active role in their educational programs, I will give up some immediate ego gratification. I will no longer be congratulated after a well-run IEP meeting or hear students say, "I need you," "You really helped me with this." But, as a professional teacher, these concerns are inconsequential. What matters is that students graduate from high school with the self-awareness and skills needed to achieve their dreams.

Online Assignment #1 - Mary Loftus

My three professional growth goals relate to where I am in the professional phase. I believe that my goals that I have chosen are goals that will help me grow as a professional teacher and move into the expert phase. As I reflect on my seventh year of teaching, I feel that I have made that shift from concerns such as being able to juggle all of the teacher responsibilities, and being able to handle situations within the staff. Now my concerns focus on my students are learning, coping with peer pressure, and building relationships with my students. It is important that I focus on working better with the parents the staff and community of the school. One statement that I feel reflects how I am now is from the book we are reading “Life Cycle of the Career Teacher”, by Betty E. Steffy, Michael P.Wolfe, Suzanne H. Pasch and Billie J. Enz. It is located in chapter 1 in the section on Professional Teacher. “The professional phase emerges as teachers grow in their self-confidence”. I know that I have become much more confident in my teaching and working with students and parents since my first few years of teaching.” Another statement in the same section is “Students view professional teachers as patient, kind, understanding, and helpful. In turn, these teachers view themselves as student advocates.” I definitely view myself as a student advocate. I believe that it is very important as a teacher to help be the voice of the students.

The relationship of my Professional Growth Goals to my Teaching and Learning Plan is to help provide guidance for me to follow. By establishing my goals in my Professional Growth Goals I can turn to my Teaching and Learning Plan to help me attain my goals. The Teaching and Learning Plan will give me the details that I need to focus on in order to attain my goals.

Goal 1: Using appropriate classroom management principles, processes, and practices to foster a safe, positive, student-focused learning environment.

Over the seven years of teaching I have evaluated my classroom management for areas that need improvement, one area I want to focus on is establishing my classroom rules at the beginning of the school year with clear and concise expectations. By establishing and teaching my expectations at the start of the school year and reteaching the expectations after winter and spring breaks; I hope to set a safe and positive tone for my classroom and my students. This will ensure my students will be able to achieve their goals and dreams. Positive reinforcement will come naturally as they learn to follow directions and stay on task so all can learn. At my current school we work with a program called “Wise Skills”. This program focuses on values and behaviors that all of us need to work on. “Responsibility” is the behavior we are working on this month. This is discussed with the students in class and ideas are shared amongst them to determine how being responsible with help them become a better person and foster a better learning environment. While I use this program with my students, I feel that I need to relate it to my lesson plan more often to positively enforce this behavior to my students.

Goal 2: Integrating technology into instruction and assessment.

My goal is to use online technology to further instruct my students in health class. I record my grades on the grade pro software that we use at our school. While this software does support online grading, our school does not use this option. Our school is looking at using this in the near future. I look forward to this as it is a quicker way to view the students work and for parents to keep up to date. I have used the online options for my health class, for three assignments this year. I feel that I can reach some students who may not grasp the information in a traditional format. With our society moving towards using computers in white and blue collar workforces, it is my duty to help provide education in this subject area.

My students will be able to log on to the computer, log onto the internet, locate the website and be able to complete the assignment. The other aspect that I like about technology with my students is that they are able to learn more through the internet and they will be in charge of their learning. The students will learn and demonstrate the responsible and ethical use of technology. Our school is fortunate in that we have a computer lab and the students have access to it with teacher supervision.

Goal 3: Informing, involving, and collaborating with families and community members as partners in each student's educational process, including using information about student achievement and performance.

Currently I send home progress reports and report cards. I do not talk to or send enough emails to parents when I have some concerns with their child. By choosing this goal I want to make this a priority in my Professional Growth Plan. I want to set aside more time to talk with parent’s weather good or bad news to make contact with them to discuss how they as parents can be a support to their child’s learning. I will continue to stop and speak to parents as I see them. Sometimes this is the best way to work through things that may have occurred that day. The other aspect that I want to work to improve is being able to establish a plan to serve underserved populations. This will enhance the learning for all of the students who are in this category. By working on all of these practices the students and parents will be gaining more, learning and understanding my expectation as their child’s teacher and therefore their child will be at their highest learning performance.

Online Assignment #1 - Natalie Bowers

As I read Life Cycle of the Career Teacher, I was particularly struck by the line, "Apprentice teachers work to develop a broader repertoire of instructional approaches; professional teachers focus on whether these strategies work with their own students." (Steffy, Wolfe, Pasch, and Enz, 2000, p. 63) I can clearly remember when I began the transition to professional teacher; in my third year, an instructional coach video taped a lesson I taught. During the debrief, she asked me what I noticed while watching the tape; she wanted to know what I was pleased with and what I wasn't pleased with. I was ready for her question, and I launched into a discussion of the various methods and strategies I used. At last, after I finished pontificating on the merits of a particular method, she nodded slowly and said, "Not once, did you mention your students. You clearly know and understand good teaching "moves", but good teaching isn't just about what you do, it is about the learning of your students." I came away from that meeting changed. I began to watch my students closely; I began to use student work to drive my instruction; I became an assessor of students instead of a grader; I moved from an "instructional paradigm to a learning paradigm". (Steffy, p. 65) Over the proceeded two years, I continued on the professional track. I sought "assistance from colleagues" and I became a resource to others. (Steffy, p.64) "With increased mastery of the theories and content within [my] disciplines, [I] learned what is most important to teach," and I developed an "effective classroom-management system" that allowed me time and energy to study student work and deepen my content knowledge. (Steffy, p.65)

Two years ago, two years after I started toward the professional stage, I left the classroom and became an instructional coach. Now I find that the professional phase does not adequately define my development; I seem to have branched toward the expert phase as well. I'm not sure that I can say I have left the professional phase completely; the descriptors for that phase still very much describe me, but I can say I have an "experiential base that enables [me] to serve as effective leader." (Steffy, p. 79) I also continually seek better methods of instruction; I take risks in my teaching and I employ "current educational trends;" I also enjoy learning about education, and I actively spend my own time and money to do so. (Steffy, p. 79) I am excited to continue learning and reflecting on my growth as a professional; as this professional certification process continues, I expect my understanding of teaching and learning and my role therein deepen and grow.

My three professional grown goals are “using a variety of assessment strategies and data to monitor and improve instruction,” “integrating technology into instruction and assessment,” and “informing, involving, and collaborating with families and community members as partners in each student’s educational process…”

I chose the assessment goal because as a teacher I became very good at assessing students and using those assessments to inform my instruction; however, I never took it to the next level. I never taught my students how to assess themselves, how to become metacognitive about what they know, how they know it, and how well they apply it. I think in order for me to truly move to the expert phase I have to engage students in this deeper understanding of their own knowledge. I want my students to be independent of me, to be able to examine their work and set goals for their own learning.

I chose the technology goal, because to be quite honest, I have never really valued technology in my classroom. I’ve always taught reading and writing, and with the exception of word processing, I haven’t really seen the need for technology in my room. I suppose, in this area I haven’t really progressed far into the novice stage. In working with some excellent teachers, I have recently become aware of my folly. Students can now use technology to creatively publish writing, to blog about and keep track of books they are reading, to research content and enhance their learning. I want to first learn these technologies and then I want my students to become discriminating in how they choose resources from the web, I want them to choose unique ways to make their thinking visible through writing, and I want them to find communities with which to share their learning and passions.

Lastly, I chose the family and community goal because each day I become increasingly aware of the great influence these two things have over a student’s success at school. As a professional/expert phase teacher, I have the time and confidence to invite and engage families in the learning process. I want to grow my communication from that of a bandage (what can we do to help a kid who is already flailing) to that of a revolving door. From the outset, I want to be and I want my students to be in constant communication about their successes and struggles at school.

Steffy, B. E., Wolfe, M. P., Pasch, S. H., & Enz, B., J. (2000). Life cycle of the career teacher. Thousand Oaks,
CA: Corwin Press, Inc.

Online Assignment #1-Silvia Gomes

To read the descriptions of teachers in the various phases of the teaching cycle is like reading a passage of my own journal. Reading that teachers are susceptible to fatigue, withdrawing, and reality shock reminds me of the winter months during the school year. The pressure is on to meet the standards of the year and after a few conversations with tired coworkers, I question why I subject myself to the endless hours, the viral infections, and the inappropriate treatment from parents. After weeks of darkness and gloom, when I am able to attend an event like a seminar or workshop, I come back renewed and reinvigorated to change something in my classroom. The negative side of the teaching profession is put away with a new zest for an exciting classroom experience.

I have a feeling that I lie in between phases, not that this is difficult to do. With the constant change of grade levels, I find myself unsure of what I am doing and seeking out ways to change how I teach in order to better meet the expectations of the new curriculum. According to Steffy, "Teachers who have entered the professional phase of their career cycle focus on students and the relationships established with them." This focus on myself, and not on the students, is more reflective of the apprentice teacher. However, when I attend professional development, I often come back with new ideas on how to better meet the needs of my students which is more reflective of the professional teacher.

It is in the role of the Professional Teacher that I find my growth goals are aimed. By focusing my development towards student understanding of assessment, challenging curriculum for all learners, and more effective communication with family and community members, the outcomes will be most beneficial to the students who will have a stronger grasp of what and how they are learning as well as being able to connect the multiple worlds he is a part of (school, home, psychologist, etc).

By the time I finish my Professional Certification, my students will be able to describe how any assignment is graded in the classroom due to their personal investment in the scoring criteria. Students will have an opportunity to identify their strengths and areas of growth. My students will be able to monitor their progress throughout the trimester and make any appropriate changes when they see their plan is not falling into fruition. The goal of standards and objectives is to meet a minimum criteria and if, despite the guidance of their teacher, their goal will not be attainable, students will be able to adjust their goals appropriately. I will also see my students engaged in communication and collaboration of their learning between home and school. They will be an integral part of their own learning and will voice concerns and ideas with equal weight as the adults in the same conversation.

When I look at my Professional Growth Plans and compare then to my Teaching and Learning Plan, I find that I have an abstract idea of what needs to occur to meet my areas of growth. However, I struggle to turn these abstract ideas into concrete action and strategies. I have a few activities that would meet the needs of my growth, but have no detailed plan or archive from which to work. This may be due to a few reasons. Having only taught for 3 years, I have experienced a lot and very little. Though I have had amazing mentors in my career, every child and family is different and their reaction to different teachers will also change. What will work well for a veteran teacher who is married and has children, does not always work for a young teacher with no children of her own (and yes, this matters. I have received many comments that I "don't understand because you don't have kids."). As this as my goal, I hope to improve the quality of education I can provide my students.

Online Assignment #1 - Juli Rangel

I am a 2nd grade teacher and consider myself in the Professional Phase on the Life Cycle of the Career Teacher continuum. For my Professional Growth Plan, I’ve chosen to focus on the goals of 1) Using instructional strategies that make learning meaningful and show positive impact on student learning, 2) Using a variety of assessment strategies and data to monitor and improve instruction and 3) Integrating technology into instruction and assessment. These 3 goals are relevant to my stage of professional development because I currently feel more capable in addressing them in a more thorough way. After spending numerous hours progressing through the novice phase as well as the apprentice phase, I have grown in self-confidence and built a broad repertoire of instructional approaches. I have the “nuts and bolts” of my classroom established, and my “head” is freer to look more deeply into my job performance and more importantly into my students’ behavior and growth. Our Steffy book tells us “to maintain professional growth, teachers must continually experience or initiate a process of reflection and renewal.” Although I feel I have been engaging in the reflection and renewal process informally from the onset of my career, I am now more ready to identify areas of self-improvement. Our Steffy book also acknowledges how challenging it can be to find the time for this important process, something I relate to all too well!

After my professional growth, I hope my students will be able to understand and respect how each person has a unique learning profile, a profile that contains weaknesses and strengths that affect how we learn and get along socially each day. I want my students to build their own repertoire of strategies to better address any breakdowns in their learning as well as be able to identify their strengths and affinities. I also hope my students will begin to monitor their own learning progress more regularly as well as establish goals for future growth. Lastly, I hope my 2nd graders will see technology as a tool to enhance and showcase their learning rather than solely as a tool to play games!

As I continue to work on my Professional Growth Plan and apply it to my Teaching and Learning Plan in the area of reading, I’m struck by the probing questions that ask me to not only reflect on my teaching but also the learning and growth of my students. Honestly, I have felt challenged and a little overwhelmed at times in attempts to answer the questions thoroughly. Even though I feel like a skillful teacher who is appreciated and acknowledged by my peers and principal, and I feel that I inherently address many of the best practices criteria in my classroom daily, I can tell this formal reflection and renewal practice will require careful assessment of my teacher effectiveness. Not an easy task, but worthwhile if I want to make a difference in my students’ lives!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Assignment #1- Christina Spencer

Our text, the Life Cycle of the Career Teacher, has truly opened my eyes to the maturation process of an educator. In my humble opinion, the text is fairly accurate in illustrating the roller-coaster ride that reflects the developmental phases of an educator. All though "further research is needed to confirm the phases in the Life Cycle of the Career Teacher model," the text "presents movement through these phases as a means for teachers to stay vital, informed, and purposeful over time and, as a result, maintain excellence across a lifetime of teaching for the benefit of all learners"(Steffy, Wolfe, Pasch, and Enz, 2000, p. 2). It is my hope that my continued growth and development will propel me out of the realm of the classroom and give me the ability to affect students and education in a more global capacity.

As I think back on my experience as a new teacher, I realize that the first half of my teaching career was motivated by fear. The fear of failure, flying textbooks, irate parents, mismanaged classroom time, not having enough dry eraser markers, failed lessons, not completing the assigned curriculum, an inability to find the staff bathroom, and a myriad of other intimidating events. The case studies presented in the first two chapters of the Life Cycle of the Career Teacher reflected many of the feelings that I had during the most vulnerable time of my career. Through support from a few of my colleagues and a family of educators, I managed to side-step "withdrawal" and I successfully shifted from apprentice and novice to the position of professional teacher. This shift in my career was marked by my need to “move from an instructional paradigm to a learning paradigm. The former orientation emphasized my dependence on methods and teacher behavior; the latter stressed my need to positively influence learner behavior and induce student growth”(Steffy, Wolfe, Pasch, and Enz, 2000, p. 65). Unfortunately, I have been nesting in the professional phase for the past three years. I would classify myself as a professional teacher who is more than ready to move towards the role of expert. This new phase of my career fuses my intense focus on student productivity, an increased level of professional efficacy, high standards, reflection, and leadership. The creation and implementation of my three professional growth goals marks the beginning of this transition.

In my current state, I possess a heightened level of confidence as well as the “emotional and mental energy” needed to stay in tuned to the various needs of the students in each of my classes as it relates to the increase of their personal educational capacity. In order to facilitate continued student/teacher growth and innovation, I have decided to increase my effective professional practices in the areas of instructional strategies, assessment strategies, and technology. An improvement in my instructional strategies will add more specialized tools to my teaching repertoire. I hope that it will give me the keen ability to anticipate and effortlessly adjust to meet the needs of all learners. It is my goal to increase my students’ confidence so that they understand that there is more than one “correct” way to approach learning and that they learn to choose tasks that reflect their unique way of mastering all levels of content. I hope to help my students mesh academic requirements and personal affects to illustrate their true learning. My focus on assessment strategies will aid in the tailoring and fine tuning of my current instructional strategies so that my assessments accurately reflect what has been taught and what was supposed to be learned. I will be more cognizant of my use of differentiation and increase the use of this strategy in my assessments to create fair and equitable evaluations of student learning. Students will also have more of an opportunity to reflect on their personal knowledge base and how that relates to their ultimate goal for my class. Lastly, I plan to increase my use of technology in my instructional and assessment practices. The increased use of technology will be one way that I will allow students to show their autonomy as learners. It is my hope that it will help students increase their ability to produce quality work and allow more opportunities for freedom of academic expression.

As I embark on this new position in my career, I am excited by the new challenges that it will bring. I welcome the opportunity for self-reflection and growth. I can’t wait to be motivated by the responses of my students and the collegial interactions fostered by the process of obtaining my professional certificate and my maters degree in administration.
Steffy, B. E., Wolfe, M. P., Pasch, S. H., & Enz, B., J. (2000). Life Cycle of the Career Teacher. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press, Inc.

Online Assignment # 1 Rebecca Bland

I have throughly enjoyed reading Life Cycle of the Career Teacher. It has given me the oppertunity to reflect on my development as a teacher. Throughout my four years of teaching I was unaware of the stages I was traveling through however in reading about the stages and reflecting on them, it is clear that I spent time in each one. To date, I am in the professional stage. I realized that I was in the professional stage after reading, "the benchmark of the professional teacher is a shift from personal needs to the needs of students." (page 63) My instruction is driven by where students are intellectually and by what learning needs they have. That is, I restructure the curriculum and lessons to meet the students where they are. In some cases that means teaching one lesson over several days and in others it means providing background knowledge so students can understand the why's of the lesson. My goal as a teacher went from teaching the curriculum as a script to altering the currculum to meet the students learning needs.

My three professional growth goals are assessment, family involvement and technology - all within the focus area of math. Steffy points out that, "Professional teachers recongize the importance of refective practice and find ways to work it into their daily rountines." (page 67). We as teachers learn vast amounts from taking time to reflect. I think students can learn also from taking time to reflect on their own work.

Part of my assessment goal is letting students think about and discuss what they have learned and how they have learned it. One way this will be accomplished is before a chapter is taught students will be given a survery to rate how well they understand specific topics. Then they will create a chapter goal. This same survey will be given at the beginning of the chapter test. Students will then compare the two surveys thus being able to see the learning that has taken place and if they met their chapter goal. Regardless of whether their chapter goal was met, students will take time to reflect on what they learned or did not learn. To support technology growth students will also track their chapter learning on bargraphs created on the computer. In addition to recieving surveys, students will also take chapter pre and post tests. These scores will be ploted on a bargraph. Students and families will then be able to clearly see the learning that has taken place throughout a math chapter. To increase family involvement, this process will be shared with students' families. Students will have a math profolio that will contain their surveys, chapter goals and pre/post test bargraphs. Students will share their profolio with their families during each math chapter and during conferences. Discussion questions will be provided to encourage families to discuss the learning that is taking place. Through this process, reflection is encouraged on not only the student but the families as well.

My hope for students, through my professional growth goals and teaching and learning plans, is that students become refective in their learning. Reflection is the key to understanding for meaning, it also helps us take pride and ownership of our new knowledge. As I stated earlier, being a professional teacher means meeting the needs of the students and not the teachers needs. I think student reflection will help me meet students' needs. Students will be better abled to communicate what they have learned and what they do not comprehend. Student reflection will help students internalize their learning but it will also help me understand what learning needs I need to meet.

Online Assignment # 1 Megan Ackerman

I cannot believe I have been teaching for almost three years. It feels like it was yesterday that I was hired on as a new fourth grade teacher fresh out of the teacher certification program. I was hired two days before school started and when I stepped into my new classroom for the first time, I had a major anxiety attack. All that I had learned during the teacher certification program disappeared. I had no idea what to do, or how to get started. According to Steffy, I was experiencing a reality shock which, "...begins as apprentice teachers, working alone, assume total respsonsibility and accountability for planning, classroom managment, instruction, and student assessment." (pg. 49) The shock hit me so hard that I had tears in my eyes. I wondered what I had gotten myself into and if I could perform all the duties of a teacher. I was doubting myself. Then, I saw the empty desks and began to smile. It dawned on me that I was finally a teacher with a class of my own. I decided to start by moving the desks, and that was all it took to get going and start my first year teaching, in which I faced many challenges and experienced, "The shift from novice to apprentice...the most complex intellectual and emotional transition on the continuum of teacher development." (pg. 48) Without having any support or time to plan for the year, I took it one day at a time and focused on surviving my first year.

I feel I am in the process of shifting from the novice phase into the professional phase. I do feel that having taught for almost three years that my teaching focuses more on the needs of students, "...and the relationships established with them." (pg. 63) As I have gained more self-confidence in my teaching, I have come to realize, little by little, I am making a commitment to making a difference in pedagogy. Rather than focus on my instructional approaches, I am starting to put the focus on whether the "...strategies work with my students." My three professional growth goals, assessment, cultural diversity, and technology will be more student oriented, in which I will listen more to my students and collaborate with them in a "mature and insightful manner." As I begin to use and implement a variety of assessment strategies and data in my classroom, my students will be more informed about their learning progress. They will collaborate with their teacher in creating and setting individualized academic goals. There will be more parental involvement and communication on how their child is doing in the classroom. By integrating technology into teaching and assessment, my students will deomonstrate evidence of their learning and become more experienced in using technology. My students will have a stronger awareness in cultural diversity around their school, community, and world. Focusing on these three professional growth goals will help guide me to being more in "tune with my students" and becoming a professional teacher.

What I hope my students will be able to do after my professional growth that they are not now able to do is to be more in charge of their learning. There will be a stronger partnership between my students and I in regards to their learning. After each lesson, I would like my students to tell me what worked for them or did not work for them. I would like them to have more say in how assessments are administered and to be well-informed on how they are used. My students will set academic goals every trimester and strive to achieve them. My students will see me as a teacher who will listen to her students and collaborate with them in ways that will meet their learning needs and be a successful student. My students will know that I have high expectiations for them. They will also see that their families will be a big part of their success. As students develop and set their learning goals, they will share and work on their goals with their families throughout the year. My students will be more involved in projects that involve technology and cultural diversity. In my classroom, my students will become more culturally aware of the diversity that exists in and outside of their classroom and become advocates and allies for peace.

I am excited to incorporate my three professional goals into my curriculum. They will stimulate my relationship with students and enhance pedagogy in the classroom. Students will be well-versed in how assessment is used. They will be actively involved in being accountable for their progress. Before every assignment or project is handed out, I will share with them academic expectations. My students will set learning goals every trimester. At the end of every trimester, my students will be given time to reflect on their progress, and give themselves a grade based on their efforts. Then, they will fill out an evaluation worksheet stating what they felt they did well on, what they can improve on, set new goals, and lastly, show areas where they need further support on. When all is complete, I make copies for their families to go over with them, sign it, and return stating they have read their child's progress report. Throughout each trimester, I will strive to be in better contact with families about their child's progress in the classroom. As for implementing my Teaching and Learning Plan with my Professional Growth Plan, I will strive to collaborate with my team members in finding good resources and projects for my students to be actively engaged in, such as pen-pals. My Teaching and Learning Plan will focus on Language Arts (reading/writing). Through a safe organization, my students will be paired with a student from another school and write monthly letters that will be based on cultual diversity. This project will familiarize students with technology and cultural diversity. As I put my three professional growth goals into practice, I am excited to see my students creatively express themselves and learn to be autonomous learners!

Online Assignment # 1 Rachel Bergere

“The benchmark of the professional teacher is a shift from personal needs to the needs of the students”(Steffy, Wolfe, Pasch, and Enz, 2000, p. 63). From reading Life Cycle of the Career Teacher, I have discovered in my fourth year of teaching 6th grade that I am moving from being an apprentice teacher to professional teacher. This particular quote from the book defines that change within my development as an educator. As I try new strategies, or further improve upon strategies and methods that I have used in the past, I constantly ask myself the following question: how will this approach impact my students’ learning? This movement from apprentice teacher to professional educator can be directly perceived in my choice for the three professional growth goals.

The first professional growth goal that I will be pursuing is “using a variety of assessment strategies and data to monitor and improve instruction”. This goal is relevant to my development as a professional educator because it shows my concern for what my students are learning in the classroom, and it also shows how I can use what my students are learning to better improve my own instruction. In my classroom, there are a variety of assessment tools and scoring criteria. Students are given the scoring guides, rubrics, and checklists as a way to understand how they are assessed and what is required for each assignment, activity, and project. However, students rely on me to track and record their progress in my classroom. By the end of my professional growth experience my students will use a wide range of assessment tools, have a clear understanding of, and will be able to communicate with their parents and teachers how these assessments are used to measure their own learning targets. My students will regularly examine their work and their progress towards learning goals. For example, in science class I will use more performance-based assessments. This will give me a chance to work one-on-one with a student and to clearly see their level of understanding. The students will also have the opportunity to keep track of their progression through the learning targets and show me through their performance on a task their mastery of the concept. Another example would be in my language arts class. I will have the students use a 6+1 writing traits checklist for every daily writing assignment, rather than just for major essay assignments. This way, students can review their work before my assessment. It will also give them a clearer understanding of how they are assessed. As I stated earlier, I have been using rubrics and checklists throughout my teaching career. However, I think that by using them daily, students can take a greater ownership of their own learning, and they will be able to understand their own progression towards their learning goals. By using multiple assessments, I will have a larger assortment of data on each student. Therefore as a professional educator, I can enhance my instructional strategies to focus on how it is aiding each of my students.

My second professional growth goal is “designing and/or adapting challenging curriculum that is based on the diverse needs of each student”. As a budding professional teacher, I am regularly concerned with designing curriculum that meets the needs of each learner in my classroom. Whether they are a student who is struggling or one who needs an extra challenge, my curriculum should be adaptable for their particular learning style. The staff at my school is currently working on the Schools Attuned program founded on Dr. Mel Levine’s research on neurodevelopmental-based learning. At this time I am “attuning” a student in my classroom who has an expressive language weakness. As I am learning about her as an individual learner, I am adapting parts of my curriculum to support her. This in turn should help other students in my classroom who may also struggle with expressive language. As the teachers are learning more about neurodevelopmental diversity, we are also teaching the vocabulary to students so that they can gain an insight into their own metacognition. My students will reflect on the effectiveness of their thinking strategies and make adjustments when necessary. They will have a well developed awareness of the differences in learning styles and approaches. They will be able to verbalize their own approach and use those strategies to help them reach their learning targets. In the meantime, I plan to continue using my knowledge from the Schools Attuned program to assist me in meeting my professional growth goals on designing curriculum.

My third professional growth goal is “using appropriate classroom management principles, processes, and practices to foster a safe, positive, student-focused learning environment”. As I progress towards becoming a professional educator, my confidence in classroom management has increased. According to the book Life Cycle of the Career Teacher, “once they develop an effective classroom-management system, teachers have more freedom to concentrate on students’ needs, spending less time on managing inappropriate behavior” (Steffy, Wolfe, Pasch, and Enz, 2000, p. 65). I continually want to work towards having an efficient classroom management system so that I can best meet the needs of my students as learners. In my classroom the students will continue to design classroom beliefs, while I also have a set of classroom expectations that they are expected to follow. The students in my class will take a leadership position and feel a sense of ownership as they design expectations for the classroom and run class meetings. I will consistently follow-through on consequences in the classroom, and I will be sure to communicate with parents at home. My classroom will be a place where students feel comfortable taking risks and contributing to discussions. They will know that my classroom is a positive, safe, and supportive learning environment where everyone can feel respected. I will conduct lessons and activities to train the students in how to interact positively with one-another and cooperatively in a group. My classroom will be a place where students learn how to socially interact in a positive manner, as well as use conflict resolution skills to resolve disputes. Through these methods, I will accomplish my professional goal of sustaining a student-centered learning environment through successful classroom management.

As I work on becoming a professional educator, I look forward to reading and hearing the ideas of my colleagues in the professional certification program. As stated in Life Cycle of the Career Teacher, “building support networks is vital to continued growth” of the professional educator (Steffy, Wolfe, Pasch, and Enz, 2000, p. 64). I know that as I read and listen to the ideas of other professional teachers, I will continue to revise my own professional growth and teaching and learning plans. These interactions will surely support my transition from apprentice to professional educator, as well as the accomplishment of my professional goals.

Steffy, B. E., Wolfe, M. P., Pasch, S. H., & Enz, B. J., (Eds.). (2000). Life Cycle of the Career

Teacher. Thousand Oaks: Corwin Press, Inc.

Online Assignment # 1 Darren Hunter

“Reflection must be purposeful, wherein teachers construct meaning and knowledge for themselves” (Steffy, Wolfe, Pasch, and Enz, 2000, p. 11). This quote stands out to me as I begin the process of reviewing my past years as a teacher. While in my Novice Phase I remember the anxiety and frustration as I attempted to implement “instructional strategies that make the learning meaningful and show positive impact on student learning.” This was easier said than done and I relied heavily on my Mentor Teacher for advice and strategies, especially on how and when to use “appropriate classroom management principles, processes, and practices to foster a safe, positive, student focused learning environment.” While building on these two practices, I continued into my Apprentice Stage. Here, I found myself overwhelmed by the workload of my classroom and fitting into a new school environment. I worked and relied upon my Special Education Team in “designing and/or adapting challenging curriculum that is based upon the diverse needs of each student.” As I take the next step in my developing my career, I will continue to work towards a mastery of these skills as well as discover new areas of professional growth.

Currently, I am beginning the Professional Teacher Phase. I now have a greater awareness of the diverse and specialized needs of my students. My three Professional Growth Goals include: 1) focusing upon student-centered classroom management, 2) integrating technology into my instruction, and 3) collaborating with family and community members. I plan to incorporate a “student-focused learning environment” in my classroom. My students will be able to manage and self regulate their own behaviors appropriately. After successfully “integrating technology into instruction and assessment” my students will be able to enhance their own learning and self-expression. Finally, when I am “informing, and collaborating with families and community members” my students will have basic communication skills and outside support to successfully meet their IEP Goals and Objectives. By developing a strong rapport with family and community resources, I will foster a collaborative school-to-home system. I have chosen these Professional Growth Goals because of the positive impact they will have upon my students and their specialized needs.

Incorporating these goals into my classroom will have a great impact upon me but more importantly on my students’ learning. I want my students to positively respond to peers, become more actively engaged in productive learning, as well as contribute to a supportive and caring classroom environment. Working with children with Autism poses many challenges and issues unique to this population. However, I would like to see these students take a more active role in their school and home lives. I would like my students to use the many different forms of technology available to them and pursue age appropriate interests, communicate with peers and family members, as well as increase self-expression. Working in conjunction with parents, guardians, and community members my students will be able to set goals for both home and school which are personalized and important to them. This will make their learning valid and important. Lastly, I want my students to become aware of their strengths and weaknesses in both their academic and personal lives. As a result, I will see my students taking a bigger interest in their own lives while learning to become their own advocate.

This shift from teacher-focused to student-focused teaching will deeply impact my approaches to daily instruction and delivery. “Professional teachers devote great time and energy to modifying these approaches to fit their students’ individual learning goals” (Steffy, p. 63). I will need to modify my classroom rules and behavior plans in order to foster a student-governed classroom. I will need to integrate technology in order to vary my instruction and allow students to research personal interests and express themselves to friends and family. Traditionally I have sent home emails, IEP progress reports, and made phone calls to families in order to report progress, problems, or issues at school. I will need to invite parents into the classroom, call or email when positive things occur, and use daily journals to report daily events. Because, I have a small student- teacher ratio I am able to update the parents on a daily basis. However, I need to respond in a more personalized manner and share the success of the day not just the difficulties. I will need to promote parents to become “home teachers” and rely on their invaluable information when setting up new goals, following up on concerns, or introducing a new topic to their child. I will also use The Source, a school-based website, which allows students and parents to see grades, homework assignments, late arrivals, as well as school and classroom announcements. I am looking forward to this Professional Growth Process and the challenges it will bring to me personally and professionally.

As a result, I will be using a new assortment of classroom management techniques centered on my students’ voices in setting up appropriate classroom rules, standards, and self-governing capabilities. I will be using more technology in order to deliver teaching and lesson plans. I want my students to see and use a wide variety of tools to speak, write, and express themselves. I want my students to develop the ability to become more comfortable in new situations and settings with the help of family and community members.

Steffy, B. E., Wolfe, M. P., Pasch, S. H., & Enz, B., J. (2000). Life Cycle of the Career Teacher. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press, Inc.

Online Assignment #1 ~ Katy Lungren

In reading through our course text, I was struck by how it true it was in outlining my personal progression as a teacher. During my Novice Teacher phase as an intern, the primary areas of my professional growth centered on “using instructional strategies that make the learning meaningful and show positive impact on student learning” and “using appropriate classroom management principles, processes, and practices to foster a safe, positive, student-focused learning environment.” I continued to grow in these two areas during my Apprentice Teacher phase, but I also found myself focus on seeking out guidance to better “design and/or adapt challenging curriculum that is based on the diverse needs of each student.” I would not be so bold as to consider myself fully at standard in any of these criteria yet, but I have seen a substantial amount of growth and change in these areas over the past five years.

I am currently working through the Professional Teacher phase. Recognizing the shift in my own mentality, I do focus now much more on student growth and the learner’s behavior rather than largely focusing on my teaching methods and my own behavior. The three professional growth goals I have chosen for my Professional Growth Plans reflect this “paradigm shift,” as termed by Lasley (Steffy, Wolfe, Pasch, & Enz, 2000, p. 65). Rather than focusing on my behavior and my methods, the professional growth goals centered on assessment, family involvement, and the integration of instructional technology relate much more to student behavior and learning. As I begin to more consistently use “a variety of assessment strategies and data to monitor and improve instruction,” my students will become more informed about their own learning progress, and they will become actively involved in setting and developing their own goals. By “integrating technology into instruction and assessment,” my students will have more options when showing evidence of their learning, and they will become more adept global citizens. As I mature in “informing, involving, and collaborating with families and community members as partners in each student’s educational process,” my students will have a stronger support system at home and a more individualized plan in place to meet each of their learning needs at school. These three professional growth goals directly relate to student learning and behavior and will help me evolve from the Professional Teacher into the Expert Teacher.

I have high expectations for how my students will grow and change during my own professional growth. Primarily, I desire for them to become active participants in and managers of their own learning. I often feel that many of the students in my school only do what they are told; they sit and listen to a lesson, put forth the minimum effort required to complete an assignment, and move on complacently to the next activity. They are not intrinsically motivated to learn and think critically but rather do so because they are told. I want my students to feel in charge of their learning. I want my students to feel that they are well-informed about their own academic strengths as well as areas of difficulty. With this deeper knowledge of self, my students will set goals and make step-by-step plans to reach their own learning targets, will choose appropriate ways to show evidence of academic progress through traditional means and also through newer technology-based methods, and will regularly communicate with their families the ways in which they need more help or support and joy when they see themselves growing and developing as thinkers.

Working through these three goals will have a strong impact on my teaching and on the daily life in my classroom. I will be incorporating a wider range of assessment tools and strategies, and the students will become much more involved in keeping records of their progress. The scoring criteria or rubric for each major assignment and assessment will be shared with the students in advance to bring a deliberate focus on academic expectations rather than allow the students to believe that their grades are determined by my personal preferences or bias. My students will be setting goals and will reflect on their progress toward these goals weekly and monthly. After each time of reflection, the students will write a letter to their family and share the progress they have made and the areas where they need greater support. I will also be communicating regularly with the students’ families. To develop strong family partnerships, I will be communicating with every student’s family at least once a month, either by phone, in writing, by e-mail, or in person. To help myself stay organized and to ensure that I am in contact with every family each month, I will divide the class into four groups and concentrate on communication with one group per week each month. When speaking with families, I will always be sure to share some successes that I’ve seen in their child’s academics and one area where I would like to brainstorm together how best to help their child advance. In addition to increased communication with their families, the students will be spending more time exploring and learning how to use the technology available at our school. They will be given choices, when appropriate, of ways to demonstrate their learning progress through technology and will be encouraged to express themselves creatively. This will prepare my students to enter the high-tech workforce and the wired world. I am excited to see the developments in my students’ learning as we go through this growing process together.

Steffy, B. E., Wolfe, M. P., Pasch, S. H., & Enz, B., J. (2000). Life cycle of the career teacher. Thousand Oaks,
CA: Corwin Press, Inc.

First Online Assignment


Your first online assignment prompt is:

Share the relevancy of your 3 professional growth goals and their relationship to your stage of professional development (Steffy). Share what you hope your students will be able to do after your professional growth that they are not now able to do. Discuss the relationship of your professional growth goals on your Professional Growth Plans to your Teaching and Learning Plan. Revise your Professional Growth Plans and your Teaching and Learning Plan based on new knowledge, information or shared resources from your online experience.

You will have 2 weeks to complete this assignment by 1) posting your statement and 2) responding to statements from 2 other class members. Be sure to “reply all” so everyone can read your posting and responses. The deadline for this assignment is February 24.

Thank you,

Welcome to the Professional Certification Cohort Blog!

Hello all!  With all of our online assignments that need posting and responding - wow!  It is difficult to keep track in our SU email inbox!

Blogging could help our cohort keep track and be able to comment directly to a post!

Can it work?  We will see... :D