Tuesday, February 24, 2009

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.


Vanessa Marfin said...

I can relate to your fluctuating attitude throughout the school year. It is difficult for me to maintain consistent enthusiasm and rigor in my teaching practice. I seem to get fired up about an idea or a system, only to find implementation more difficult than I thought and fail to follow through. It seems there is never enough time to balance the myriad demands heft upon teachers, and so sometimes we shift into survival mode. I think the school structure can have an enormous influence on this emotional experience so common to teachers.

It sounds as though you have been subject to the ill-treatment of new teachers described in the Steffy text. No wonder you feel caught between phases. On the one hand, you have gained a lot of experience. On the other, your role has changed so much that it has been difficult for you to apply your experience in a satisfactory way.

I also really relate to your statement regarding the abstract nature of your growth plan. My plan looks great, yet when I try to visualize myself implementing the significant changes I have described while at the same time meeting my teaching obligations, it seems daunting to say the least.

I disagree with those who have told you that "you don't understand because you don't have kids." I have kids myself but don't necessarily find that that helps me as a teacher. In fact, I sometimes feel that I slip into less effective habits with my students because I have a parent-default mode.

I hope this certificate program meets both of our needs for support in our ambitious and well-conceived professional growth plans!


Katy Lungren said...

Hi Silvia,

Thank you for sharing your teaching experiences so openly. I can truly relate to your description of the "winter months" of our lives as teachers. When reading our Steffy text, I had a similar feeling of renewal that you have gained through seminars and workshops. I knew that other teachers felt overwhelmed and under-supported from time to time, but reading about the common progression made me feel much less alone.

I, too, chose assessment as one of my areas for professional growth. When reading over your goals for what your students will be able to do, I was struck by the similarities to my own plan. My students will also be identifying their strengths and areas for growth, and they will be monitoring their progress throughout the trimester. I appreciate your honesty in sharing that these abstract ideas are currently just that - abstract ideas. I would love to brainstorm and strategize with you (and any others who have more concrete plans!) for how to turn these ideas into action. I have a few thoughts, but I have no sense if my plans are even remotely realistic or if they will end up being truly meaningful to my students. I hope we get a chance to talk about some of this at our next session!

See you then,
Katy Lungren