Saturday, February 21, 2009

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!


Darren Hunter said...

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Hello Megan,

You have chosen really great goals for your professional growth. By including your students in the assessment process you give them a personal investment into their work. This move for a student focused learning environment is part of my professional growth plan as well. Using pen pals, writing organizations and students from other schools is a really excellent idea. Getting feedback from your students on what worked and what needs work is really bold, but will empower your students. Giving your students the opportunity to become culturally caring students will definitely be a place to start in order to make the world more livable and honest. I believe you will have great success with your professional growth plan. Great job!


Rebecca Bland said...

Hi Megan,

Nice job! I really enjoyed reading your response - mainly becasue you and I have a lot of similar plans for our students in terms of assessment and family involvement. Our two differences are that you teach 4th grade and I teach 2nd grade and that you are focusing on literacy and I am focusing on math. You and I are both going to have our students set goals for their learning and encourage students to share their goals with their families. Have you thought of anyway to track the discussions students are having with their families about their learning goals? I thought about providing discussion questions however I am interested in your thoughts.

I also really like how you are going to post the learning objective for your students at the beginning of each lesson. What a great way to focus students' attention on the main goal. I think I will add that into my Teaching and Learning Plan. I wonder too, if we can refer back to the objective at the end of the lesson and discuss whether students met it or not? We can discuss what learning strategies worked and what students might want ot try in the future.

Megan, you have given me a great deal to think about, thank you!