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.


Kathryn Kristian said...

Dear Christina,

Congratulations on your move toward an expert teacher!

I enjoyed reading your post and impressed by your motivation to end your "nesting" period and move onto the next phase in your career. It helped me realize that as teachers, reflection is so important and necessary. It keeps us moving and improving, away from withdrawal, and helps us avoid getting stuck the same way year after year.

As we share in two of the professional growth goals (technology and assessment), I look forward to learning from your experience, especially in assessment. I also wonder if you have ideas on how to best share student assessment data with parents in a frequent and systematic way...beyond report cards and parent teacher conferences.

I look forward to learning from you.

Thank you,

Natalie Bowers said...

Dear Christina,
I loved how you worded your time in the professional phase as nesting. Not only did it make me smile, but the truth in your word choice resonated with me; once we get past the struggles and exhaustion of the first two phases, it feels good to be comfortable. It is easy to relax, put our proverbial feet up and take it easy. Unfortunately, we, like our students, only really grow and learn when we sit on the edge of comfortable and work towards our next big leap. I commend you for recognizing your nesting and for taking the first steps toward dangling your feet over the edge.

I think my favorite line in your response was, "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." This seems to be the golden ring for our students. We have to teach them to be independent of us; we need to be sure that our students possess within them the independent ability to continue lines of inquiry long after directed instruction has ended. The most valuable gift we can give students is independence; greater than their need for subject area content, is their need for a repertoire of strategies to help them navigate their learning.