TL Standard 2

TL Standard 2

I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed all of the assigned online articles and readings from our required books Brain Matters, Jossey Bass and Brain Rules for this quarter. There are so many important pieces that go into teaching and education. Before this class, I feel that I was always focused on the curriculum as well as supplementing that curriculum to give my students the best education I possibly could. Now, I feel that my original focal point is shared with a new, additional component. I am not only focused on those aspects of the teaching field regarding curriculum, but now, I am focusing more on best practices. These best practices are based on solid research regarding how students learn and retain information.

Both Brain Matters and Jossey Bass do a wonderful job explaining the brain. These two texts covered a lot of similar information such as; the structure and functions of the human brain, the development of the brain, sensory input, information storage and how the brain learns best. As an educator, I was able to take away and apply many pieces of these books into my classroom immediately. However, there were a few topics of discussion during this quarter that I feel really grabbed my attention that I would like to discuss. I really connected with and would like to talk about the “buy in” at the start of each lesson and its importance. I would also like to discuss using the arts in my teaching. Another large take away was, teaching using concrete experiences. I will also touch on the benefits of exercise in the classroom, student’s memory, and the importance of using visuals in the classroom.

In a webinar Dr. Willis, an educational researcher, mentioned it is important to make your lessons enjoyable, you need to have what she called, the “buy-in” method. Making your lessons relevant for your students allows them to immediately connect and engage. They should understand what she called the “here-me-now” not only in reading, but in every subject area. At any age, students should be able to answer: what will this information or skill offer me, here, at this time. In Brain Matters Wolfe explains, “Occipital Lobes are the primary brain centers for processing visual stimuli (Wolfe 2010).” The visual stimulus connects with stored cognitive associations which make what is being seen, meaningful. So what does this mean in my classroom? Making sure my learning targets are always posted and up to date for my students to see. It also means making learning meaningful to my students, and giving them concrete experiences (which I will discuss later). I see the best learning and highest success in my students when I have provided a great buy in to my lesson and then continue with a highly interactive, hands on activities. Looking back into chapter 11, Wolfe states, “We learn some things by experiencing them concretely, others symbolically, and still others in abstract terms (Wolfe 166).” I was recently introduced to a program called BTiC: Bringing Theater into the Classroom. It is a program that teaches you ways to integrate drama into your entire curriculum. I was able to immediately implement my learning into my classroom. I played around using a type of acting called tableaus. I had my students use a tableau to demonstrate their understanding and comprehension of a story we had read that they were struggling with retelling. I was amazed at how well they did and the results showed they were able to retain and pull great content from our lesson using this exercise. Research proves that the arts allow students to explore, learn from peers and learn how to explore and express emotions. The arts provide students with skills which are not directly taught in content based classes, but which are required to have and use in content based classes.  For example: observation, spatial relationships, kinesthetic, symbolism, imagination, abstractions, cooperation (Sousa, 335-336). Using a buy in, music and theater in our classrooms more often could ultimately be the new “best teaching practice”.

Another big takeaway for me this quarter was the idea of getting my students out into the real world. That all not all of my assignments have to be pencil and paper based, like our curriculums seem to have them. “Young children learn best through concrete experience. It is important to provide hands-on learning to strengthen natural interactions in natural settings (Wolfe 6).” In chapter 11 of Brain Matters Wolfe mentions, “Many of our strongest neural networks are formed by actual experience (Wolfe 169).” Looking and researching further, it is beneficial and more interesting to find actual problems in our own school or community for students to problem solve and work together to find possibly solutions. Teaching kindergarten and having my students be so young I find other ways to help give them concrete experiences at home too. I have my students out in natural settings to gain experiences. They help parents write grocery lists, they cut out words from food labels, bags, magazines to add to our classroom word wall. They go on nature walks with their parents to connect to science curriculum. I look forward to incorporating real world problem solving strategies into my classroom!

A big interest of mine has always been the benefits for students and the research behind exercise within the classroom. In John Medina’s Brain Rules, he states that, “kids pay better attention to their subjects when they’ve been active. Kids are also less likely to be disruptive in terms of their classroom behavior when they’re active (Medina 18)”. Not only are they less disruptive but they “feel better about themselves, have higher self-esteem, less depression, less anxiety. All of those things can impair academic performance and attentiveness (Medina 14)”. So how can I take this into my classroom? Well, each morning in my class, we are now taking the time to do our Get Fit- Count to 100s song, stretching, doing breathing exercises, and having them do children’s yoga to help set my students up for a successful morning and day. It has been a great way to get the blood flowing and get more oxygen to their brain. I have really noticed a difference in their level of engagement after such activities. In the book Brain Matters, Wolfe talks about research that Harvard University did that shows that exercise plays a critical role in brain functioning (Wolfe 94). Having a lot of research backing up and supporting my choice of adding 20+ minutes of exercise each morning and again in small periods throughout my day lessens the stressful feeling that I am “wasting” teach time because I am, in actuality, helping their learning.

A large chunk of our time this quarter was researching and completing readings about our memory, long-term, short-term memory and the inner workings of each. During our Brain Rules presentations we learned that most memories we make are lost within minutes (Medina 147). Hearing that students are likely to lose a large percentage of the information taught each day is a scary and concerning thing for any teacher to hear. So what is the solution? How do we make sure our lessons and hours upon hours teaching each day are not wasted? Our memory experts Wolfe and Medina suggest if teachers “want something to stick in students’ long-term memory, then teachers must build elaborative rehearsal strategies into their instruction.  Building elaborative rehearsal strategies allows students’ time to process the information.  This increases the strength of students’ learning because the strategies allow consolidation to take place (Wolfe, 157.) It was brought up in class discussion after a Brain Rules presentation that it is best for teachers to plan lessons where content is incorporated gradually and then repeated in intervals. At the beginning of each year, teachers spend time looking at their specialist schedules hoping and trying to work their days where they can have large chunks of teach time during ideal parts of the day. I feel that I have always had an inconsistent specialist time and I never really have more than a small block of time for teaching a lesson before recess or a specialist interrupts it. Well, research has shown that leaving a lesson and revisiting that material is actually doing your students a service. The best way to retain information in your memory is to rehearse and revisit as much as possible. I am now using my choppy daily schedule to my advantage to really reiterate my main teach points.

The last piece of information that I found extremely valuable, that I would like to discuss is the importance of visuals and active engagement used in your daily lessons and in the classroom which connects to my presentation on Whole Brain Teaching. We learned through class discussions and our readings that images help us learn and remember more than just written words. This immediately made me think back to my own classroom and what I could change in my lessons to fit this model that is more visual based. Medina says, “Vision trumps all other senses…We learn and remember best through pictures, not through written or spoken words.” (Medina, 223) In a sense, less is more. Teaching kindergarten my classroom is filled with pictures and word labels for my ELL students and non-readers. For my kiddo’s on IEP’s I have several picture schedules that allows consistency for them. I have always been aware at how beneficial images are for ELL students and students on IEP’s but I had never understood how important images were for increasing understanding for the whole class. Wolfe discusses in chapter 12, “Not only are visuals powerful retention aids, but they also serve to increase understanding,” (Wolfe, 184). This will be a constant challenge for me in my teaching career. To look at my lessons each day and find ways to scale down the amount of text and increase the visuals.

I am happy to say that I feel like I have been able to make many changes so far this year in my room to better the learning for my students. Although making a change or trying something new that I do not not feel 100% comfortable with, like theater and drama, can be intimidating it is proving to be effective and really helping my student learning. I was able to use my presentation on Brain Rules: Chapter 8- Stress to help me manage and eliminate stress not only for myself but also within my classroom for my students. What is most important in my eyes as an educator, is to remain open minded and open to suggestions that could best benefit your students. Always be willing to take risks, and better yourself as an educator, because we have to remember, it is all about the students! I look forward to using Medina’s Brain Rules in the future as a teacher leader and possible future administrator.

Resources:

Bringing theater into the classroom. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.seattlerep.org/Programs/Education/BTIC/Default

Medina, J. (2008). Brain rules: 12 principles for surviving and thriving at work, home, and school (pp. 14-147). Seattle, WA: Pear Press.

Sousa, David A. (2008). The jossey-bass reader on the brain and learning. (1st ed., pp. 95-336). San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Willis, J. (n.d.). ASCD Webinars – Judy Willis, Brain-Based Learning Strategies. Membership, policy, and professional development for educators – ASCD. Retrieved October 6, 2013, from http://www.ascd.org/professional-development/webinars/judy-willis-brain-and-learning-webinars.aspx

Wolfe, P. (2010). Brain Matters. (2nd ed.,pp.16-223). Arlington, VA: ASCD

Wolfe, P. (2013). Early Brain Development. (pp.1-10) A position paper for the 9th Bridge Early Childhood Program in Las Vegas.

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TL Standard 9

TL Standard 9

EDU6524 Curriculum Design’s purpose is to help educators get a more sound understanding behind curricular goals and objectives. It allows teachers to take a close look at the relationships between theoretical and practical models and how to assess curriculum and common practice. It also takes it one step further and helps lay the groundwork on how to design and implement a carefully planned unit of study. This class does an amazing job at covering the standard: evaluate and use effective curriculum design. The two texts that we read for this course was Curriculum 21: Essential Education for a Changing World by Heidi Hayes Jacobs, and Understanding by Design by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe. The challenging part of this course was to learn how to rewire my thinking when it came to unit planning. Both texts pushed me to not only learn how to take a backwards approach, but also required me to step outside of my comfort zone and discuss and implement components that students in our classrooms with need in order to be successful in the fast pace, technology driven world that we live in. A lot needs to change in our education system.

In order to look back and reflect on our educational system, we need to debunk the pros and cons. What has worked, what needs to be changed? The first few chapters of Curriculum 21 by Heidi Hayes Jacobs, really forced me to look at and reflect on not only my own teaching practice but the last several decades of the education as a whole. Within the first few pages on the book, it discusses how we often get stuck in our ways of doing things. Jacobs states, “In fact, schools were not designed for children. Rather, they reflected the factory model of organization resulting from the ascension of industry and economic expansion between 1897 and 1921, which ultimately was applied to education as well as business (Feldman, 1999). With roughly 180 instructional days based on an agrarian calendar and a six hour day with eight subjects, the standardization took hold. It still holds children, teachers, and communities in a fierce grip.” (Jacobs, 9). Before taking this class for the most part, I just followed the curriculum that was required for me to teach and stuck close to the curricular map. When lessons were added in to supplement, I don’t feel that my team and I always designed lessons with the end goals in mind. We knew what standard we wanted to hit, but we didn’t plan or really establish all of the necessary pieces in order for the lesson or unit to be best effective. Through the readings in this class, I will go back to my team more knowledgeable about the importance of backwards design. In chapter 2 of Curriculum 21, it discusses how to upgrade the curriculum and Jacobs breaks it down into five steps of how to do so. What I loved the most about this chapter was how it perfectly connected to other texts that we read for our Standard-Based Assessments class. Jacobs states, “My experience is that starting with assessment types is a strong and provocative move because it forces educators to confront the very work assignments that are required of our learners” (Jacobs, 20). Doing this while redesigning and supplementing curriculum, we are taking the steps to essentially upgrade curriculum by trying a different approach than what we are used to doing.

In my past 4 years of teaching I have been very hesitant when it came to using technology in my classroom with my students. I feel as though I am getting “stuck in my ways” even though I am only in my first 5 years of teaching. It is hard to admit your weaknesses or when you are uncomfortable teaching particular subject areas. For me, my weakness is technology. I plan to implement a lot more technology in my classroom in the years to come. I will be trying out and exploring using technology to help present my lessons as well as having my students access and use different types of technology. I feel the proper use of technology in my classroom could really help capture those select few students that always seem to be dazing off. Jacobs stated, “Teachers who are comfortable with and trained in media literacy will find students who are more engaged. Additionally, students who are media literate are better able to resist messages deemed biased, harmful or inappropriate” (Jacobs, 145). I am hoping that by furthering and strengthening my comfort levels with technology, I will become more capable at obtaining my students full attention for a longer duration of time. I look forward to taking more professional development courses around technology that will help educate me further in ways to incorporate it with my students.

Another big takeaway for me came from Understanding by Design by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe in regards to my curriculum and unit planning. This text does a wonderful job breaking down and investigating the purpose of the design within out units and lessons. The backwards design model is “beginning with the end in mind” (Wiggins and McTighe, 18) What I think my team and school could do better at is truly analyzing curriculum and taking a closer looking at where we need to supplement to meet the needs of our students. During this course I was able to do just that. In my Curriculum Analysis, I discussed a new literacy curriculum that my district adopted. Teachers all over the district are concerned that it is not sufficient.

After learning how to effectively analyze a curriculum, and through my research and readings I felt I was better able to understand the importance and effectiveness of the backwards design model to help write a Unit Plan. Wiggins and McTighe discuss the three stages the backwards design model as identifying desired results, determining acceptable evidence and plan learning experiences and instruction. By beginning with the end in mind we have a clear picture of where we want our students to get. From there, we are able to determine what types of instructional strategies will help our students meet the learning target(s) within the unit. It is important to focus on what standards we will be assessing and what we want our students to create. Throughout this course it was made very clear how important it is for students to not just be able to state what the learning targets are, but to understand them. How will you as a teacher know your students have learned, understood and met their learning target? “Understanding is revealed in performance. “Understanding is revealed as transferability of core ideas, knowledge, and skill, on challenging tasks in a variety of contexts. Thus, assessment for understanding must be grounded in authentic performance-based tasks” (Wiggins and McTighe, 153) One way I will monitor my student’s understanding is through self-assessments and reflection during mini conferences during writer’s workshop. Their self-assessments and tracking sheet are directly connected to the daily learning targets. Students will be writing the daily target and how they feel they did in meeting that target and what they did to show they understand. The mini-conferences that my students will have with me allows me to assess lesson plan pacing as well as student progress in meeting the desired target.

As I finished this course, I knew that I was walking away with a great deal of new knowledge regarding best practices in curriculum design. I look forward to being able to apply my new learning in the upcoming school years. I also look forward to bringing a lot more knowledge to the table with my teammates during our PLC work time in how we can better improve our curriculum and help supplement and fulfil the needs for our students.

References:

Jacobs, Heidi Hayes. Curriculum 21: Essential Education for a Changing World. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2010. Print.

O’Connor, K. (2009). How to grade for learning, K-12 (Revised/Expanded ed.). Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Corwin.

Owens, R. G., & Valesky, T. C. (2007). Organizational behavior in education: Adaptive Leadership and school reform (9th ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

Stiggins, R., Chappuis, J., Chappius, S., & Arter, J. (2007). Classroom Assessment for Student Learning: Doing it Right — using it well (Revised/Expanded ed.). Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson Education

The Danielson Group. (2013). The Framework. Retrieved November 13, 2014, from The Danielson Group: Promoting Effective Teaching and Professional Learning: http://danielsongroup.org/framework/

Wiggins, G. & McTighe, J. (2005) Understanding by Design. Pearson. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

TL Standard 11

In the beginning of my teaching career I felt pretty comfortable in my knowledge of assessments. I also had experience teaching with a standards-based instruction during all of my practicum work and student teaching experiences. When I began the SPU course, EDU 6613 on assessment I felt confident in my background knowledge and skills on the subject area. In the very beginning of the course I was asked to make note of everything I could regarding what I knew about assessments. I was able to write down that there are two types of assessment, formative and summative. I also was able to note that formative assessments are assessments for learning whereas summative assessments are assessments of learning. I also knew formative assessments help the teacher know what students understand before a lesson begins and also helps a teacher track student progress during a lesson as well. There are several different ways a teacher can use formative assessments such as; exit slips, observations, student work, one-on-one conferencing during workshops, conversations and student self-assessment. You are able to use such information to dictate your lesson plan. When should you stop to reteach, enrich etc. Formative assessments are, in a way, like the road map of your journey on the way to your final destination. Summative assessments are used as a more formal way of testing. Summative assessments work hand in hand with a rubric (which hopefully the students are aware of, or helped create). These assessments are aligned (or should be aligned) with state standards that will help measure student’s progression towards that standard. After beginning course EDU 6613 Standard-Based Assessment, I quickly realized that my understanding of assessment was only scratching the surface of its true meaning. One of the first quotes that really made me realize I had lots to learn was in Stiggins, Arter, Chappuis and Steve C’s Classroom Assessment for Student Learning when it stated, “All of the pieces contributing to sound classroom assessment instruments and practices are built on a foundation of the following five keys to quality: 1. They are designed to serve the specific information needs of intended user(s). 2. They are based on clearly articulated and appropriate achievement targets. 3. They accurately measure student achievement. 4. They yield results that are effectively communicated to their intended users. 5. They involve students in self-assessment, goal setting, tracking, reflecting on, and sharing their learning” (Stiggins, Arter, Chappuis pg 3). This quote opened my eyes because it helped me realize I was only following a few of those five essential components of sound classroom assessments.

In this class I was exposed to several authors who helped break down the importance of sound classroom assessment; How to Grade for Learning K-12, Formative Assessment & Standards-Based Grading, and Classroom Assessment for Student Learning: Doing it Right- Using it Well. All of these books stressed several of the same key factors for successful assessments. One of these key items is having clearly defined learning targets for your students. Once the learning targets are defined, teachers then have the ability to co-design (with their students) an assessment that aligns with those targets and standards. This was a harder component for me to grasp. Teaching very young primary grades, the thought of having students co-design an assessment they would be taking was intimidating and honestly felt impossible. During this class, we created a Unit Exam following all of the necessary steps that we learned about from our readings. I first started by Design a Unit Exam that I wanted to create and set learning targets. The reading from O’Connor’s, How to Grade for Learning, he teaches the reading how to appropriately use rubrics and make students knowledgeable too. In Module 1a and Module 1b I mapped out how my assessment aligned with the state standards. As seen in module 1b as well as throughout my final product, I use my new learning on creating rubrics to organize a rubric that aligned with my nonfiction/informative writing unit exam. My final product shows how I incorporated all of the necessary components from the readings for a comprehensive unit exam. I found it to be most beneficial for my students to keep a project portfolio to show their competence in their new learning. The shown artifacts in the project portfolio are just a few items that student included in their portfolio.

As I wrapped up the unit I felt very proud knowing how well the unit aligned to my learning targets and the state standards for writing. Overall, I feel that I showed my competence in utilizing formative and summative assessment in a standards-based environment through my readings and my final product for this class. In the future, I plan to continue using what I know is good practice when it comes to assessments. The five key components to sound classroom assessment and practice take a lot of frequent practice to feel at mastery. Each year holds a different group where you may need to modify how you work with those students to assist in rubric and assessment making. I can’t let my student’s age keep me from allowing them to take part in this process. I am so please to have challenged myself and stepped out of my comfort zone in these areas regarding assessment I feel as a professional I took several steps in the right direction to improving my practice. In the future I would like and plan to help a few of my kindergarten teammates who I know struggle with the same mentality I did with allowing students to partake in this component. Providing my teammates access to the same texts I read as well as a sample of how it could be done could really easy the intimidation factor.

Citations:

Andrade, H. (2010). Handbook of formative assessment. New York: Routledge.

Marzano, Robert. (2010). Formative Assessment & Standards-Based Grading. Bloomington, IN.: Marzano Research Laboratory.

O’Connor, Ken. (2009). How to Grade for Learning K-12 (3rd Ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA.: Corwin, A Sage Company.

Stiggins, R., Arter, J., Chappuis, J., and Steve C. (2012). Classroom Assessment for Student Learning: Doing it Right – Using it Well (2nd Ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ.: Pearson Education, Inc.

Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction’s website for Washington state: http://www.k12.wa.us/CoreStandards/elastandards/pubdocs/CCSSI_ELA_Standards.pdf#3

Quinlan, A. (2006). A complete guide to rubrics: Assessment made easy for teachers, K-college. Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield Education.

TL Standard 7

TL Standard 7

Having only 5 years of teaching under my belt, I still classify myself as somewhat of a new teacher. The word leadership holds a lot of meaning and can honestly be quite intimidating. I got my first taste of a leadership role when I was only in my second year of teaching. I was asked to be the core leader for my grade level team in a school wide project called CEL: Center for Educational Leadership. This program was brought into our school to help restructure and rewrite units of study for our writing curriculum at each grade level. I spent the whole year working with 8 core member in our school, alongside my principal and our CEL Leader from University of Washington that helped lead this process. We spent the year designing, writing and scripting units and individualized lesson plans for an entire year. It was our job as core members to go back and train our grade level team this process and debrief our learnings. Our grade level team members would do learning walks and observe lessons we would teach. This was a great leadership learning experience for me. It taught me several critical skills needed in order to be successful at leading a team. This past year I had another opportunity to practice my leadership skills. This time however, I was asked by my principal to be our building leader for the new teacher evaluation system, known as the Professional Growth and Evaluation (PGE) system. It required several trainings and to quickly become familiar with the Danielson Framework that our district uses for evaluations. As the PGE building leader it required me to attend district trainings, professional development classes as well as reporting back to my building and training the staff on the new system during LEAP days and staff meetings. This really allowed me to hone in on my strengths as well as where I had room for improvement in regards to leadership skills.

In EDAD 6580: Leadership in Education course really allowed me the opportunities to look even deeper into these areas of not only building leadership skills but also my strengths and weaknesses in my own classroom practices as well. During this course I completed a Professional Growth Plan, which required me to analyze the Association of Washington Principal Standards (WPS) as well as complete and analyze my results from six self-inventory assessments during the course which allowed me to look at current practice, and help me plan on how to better these practices as a teacher leader and possibly a future administrator. These assessments were, The Managerial Grid, Leadership Survey, The Ross-Barger Philosophy Index, X-Y Questionnaire, Jung Typology Test, and Thomas-Kilman Conflict Mode Instrument. During this same course, I also completed a Visionary Leadership Analysis- VLA. The VLA required you to really delve into the dynamics of your school. These skills are important to have as a building administrator or any leadership role within your building. Completing the VLA helped me understand who makes up my school and it helps answer the why for a lot of questions that might come up in a school year.

WSP Standard One: Visionary Leadership

In order to advance a school’s achievement or program, a school must have a shared vision for learning. This vision is essential to help keep a school and its stakeholders on the same page regarding high standards of academic achievement and working towards the same goal [Disposition #17]. WSPs Standard One states, “a school or program administration is an educational leader who has the knowledge, skills, and cultural competence to improve learning and achievement to ensure the success of each student by leading the development, articulation, implementation, and stewardship of a vision of learning that is shared and supported by school/program and community stakeholders.” It is not only critical to collaboratively create a vision, share it and have it be known to the members within the school as well as the community, it is also just as important to put this vision into operation. Implementing a shared vision allows for continuous school improvement [Disposition # 18]. As a school leader, you are required to have done your research and have analyzed how different systems within your school would be affected by this shared vision. The leaders within the building need to know how the school vision serve the students, staff and community alike which ensures the educability of all students [Disposition #16].

According to Humanmetrics Jung’s Typology test, I am ESFJ (Extravert, Sensing, Feeling, Judging). As a future leader within a building, these skills would be put to use in helping lead my staff to collaboratively rework or create a shared vision for the building. The above personality traits would cater to all staff needs in making sure that everyone was heard and all needs were met. This helps staff ensure students’ success [Disposition #20] within our school walls.

A piece that I feel I could work on is to continuously examine my own assumptions, beliefs and practices [Disposition #21]. Continuously being the key word. I feel that looking at and reviewing such concepts at the beginning of every year (or maybe even more frequently) is very important. Different events or circumstances can occur during a year to change or slightly alter your views or beliefs. It is so easy to get stuck in your set ways and beliefs to a point where you couldn’t necessarily even explain the reason why you do what you do. There are times where I have fell into this broken record routine. With an ever so quickly changing education system, it is critical to stay on top of your thoughts, beliefs and practices. One way I can improve these skills as a future leader is to schedule during staff meetings to my staff members revisit, analyze and evaluate their beliefs and practices and note any modifications or adjustments they feel need to happen. Finding a few professional development books to implement an optional book study that provide teachers with strategies could be beneficial too.

WSP Standard Two: Instructional Improvement

Promoting student learning within a school takes many forms. It requires teachers and staff understanding diverse cultures and customs of their students. It also requires you to be knowledgeable of the needs of your students and being able to advocate and provide a nurturing culture. In the times of need, it also may entail implementing an improvement plan that allows for continuous learning. This continuous learning is for not only students but teachers as well. Working with your grade level team to align curriculum, being knowledgeable on your teacher evaluation system and taking the necessary steps to be prepared and perform well. It also includes exposing yourself to types of professional development to strengthen teaching practices.

As a teacher leader, it is critical to understand that members of the staff have a different management preferences. This preference in leadership could dictate their success as a collaborative team member. I feel the best way to positively impact a school’s environment starts with understanding the range of management styles. According to McGregor who developed The ‘X-Y Theory’ my self-assessment revealed that fall in Theory Y management style. The results state Theory Y management styles enjoy work and accept responsibility. It also states Theory Y management styles are ambitious and enjoy being creative.  My results also showed that I strongly prefer the Y Theory Management style. I resonated with my results because I feel that a strength I have is instilling trust in my teammates and our collaboration. I feel that I do a great job at providing a nurturing culture for my students and also a safe environment for my teammates to feel comfortable with coming to me with any concerns as well.  The Managerial Grid self-assessment showed that I have a high concern for both people and production. I value and utilize feedback and criticism and learn from experiences. “Mutual trust and respect where people are not afraid to take risks which allows me to test the limits of creativity” is vital for me.

I feel I have room to improve with this standard by learning how these management styles directly connect with the different learners in my classroom. Being culturally responsive and modifying teaching styles based upon the needs and culture of my students is important. I would be interested in providing my students with a similar type of Theory X and Theory Y test with my students to better understand how they prefer to be taught. I feel that furthering this research which ultimately improve student achievement in my classroom. Flexibility is one of the most important qualities a teacher and leader can possess. This is something that I feel I do well with regarding scheduling and reading my students during a lesson. However, I feel that I could improve me flexibility with students who need a different style of teaching or management. Not every size fits all.

WSP Standard Three: Effective Management

Standard three in the Washington Principals Standards revolves around effective management. It is comprised of four strands that focuses on (a) using continuous cycles of analysis to ensure efficient and effective systems- this strand looks are the effectiveness of school programs, systems and issues. Using data collection to outline options for actions taken. (b) Ensuring efficient and effective management of the organization. This strand looks at how theories are created and used to support structures that promote school safety, behavior management and other onsite issues. (c) Ensuring efficient and effective management of the operations, which looks at effective building-wide operations that involves awareness of legal and ethical issues, problem solving and decision making models. (d) Ensuring management of the resources for a safe, efficient, and effective learning environment. This strand looks at demonstrating that a teacher can manage and maintain a safe and orderly learning environment.

My ability to use feedback and analyze the good and bad in a classroom or system as shown in the Blake and Moutan Managerial Grid questionnaire, is a big component to applying and demonstrating this standard in my classroom. I continuously collaborate with my peers about the systems within the school to determine if they are best meeting the needs of our students. My ability to trust my coworkers and grade level teammates allows me to ensure the best procedures are put into place to promote school safety. As a future leader, it is also important to possess high expectations of your staff. Shown in my results from the Managerial Grid it states that I take a paternalistic approach with others around me but I still maintain a high standard of performance. I do a good job at maintaining a safe and orderly learning environment in my classroom. Much of the beginning of the school year is spent with my students getting to know each other and learning how to be respectful of not only each other but each other’s thoughts too. They need to feel safe to take risks in the classroom and know they will not be judged [Dispositions # 27].

However, a weakness that I know I possess is directly connected to the Jung Personality trait assessment. As an ESFJ, feelings and emotions are often brought into play. I have a hard time standing ground in regards to my point of view with fellow colleagues that may have a sense of seniority. I often would rather everyone be heard and keep the peace than be demanding at times. There are a few professional books I would be interested in reading up on regarding this issue. Another component I would like to pay more attention to with this standard is analyzing the system, as educators we are often handed materials and curriculum to teach. Often times, we find that the curriculum or program that was given in fact is not what best meets students’ needs. I would like to continue working with my grade level team and have the conversations that at times, could be difficult in looking at and working through these issues. Adapting or modifying processes that might not be working for our students will ultimately enhance student achievement [Disposition #20].

WSP Standard Four: Inclusive Practice

This standard is based around collaborating with families and community members. It looks at inclusive practice that responds to a diverse community and their interests and needs. It requires understanding the challenges of family partnerships and being able to break barriers to help overcome challenges and lead to success and academic performance.

Each school year, working so closely with all of your families you are bound to run into conflict at one point or another. In the Conflict Style Questionnaire, my highest score was in compromising (sharing-Fox) and in second was, collaborating (problem solving-Owl). I feel I excel in situations where I need to sit down with families and discuss issues, concerns or conflict. I value other’s opinions and often appreciate the feedback from not only parents but grade level teammates and my principal as well.

One area of improvement in this standard is my ability to mobilize community resources. I feel that overall I need to find ways to better incorporate and implement resources like technology in my classroom for student use. I would like to find ways to bring in the surrounding community members to share resources. This could be in a professional development class that is offered or even a technology class that could be offered by the district. Our school district is very technology driven. I all too often feel that because I teach kindergarten that my options are limited. I know however that by digging a little deeper there are always ways to modify unique ways to use technology in the classroom with my students [Dispositions # 19, 21].

WSP Standard Five: Ethical Leadership

Standard five covers teachers and administration acting with integrity, fairness, and making ethical decisions. As a teacher and future leader, it is important to have an understanding of and to also demonstrate these qualities not only professionally but personally as well. It is critical to understand the expectations to withhold the frameworks of being a leader. This includes legal and ethical aspects. Treating people equally is mandatory at every level of leadership. Teachers and future leaders need to understand each of the standards and the expectations they are being held to. Principals and teacher leaders must lead their staff to success my modeling self-analysis and reflection. They must model and identify areas where growth is needed and be knowledgeable of how to create and implement a growth plan democratically with their staff.

In the Leadership Survey I scored in Quadrant 2, meaning I value and demonstrate high task and high relationships. I am concise, organized and very productive but I see the value and take time to build relationships with those that I work with. I treat others around me equally and with the upmost respect allowing me to make ethical decisions that are unbiased [Dispositions #23, 24]. I assume responsibilities and take pride in always demonstrating putting forth my best efforts. I accept consequences for decisions I make as a teacher and also as a future leader. I value using my resources and collaborating with peers to reflect and always find ways to improve my practice and ensure a quality education for all students [Dispositions # 22, 25].

One downfall, however being an ESFJ, I know sometimes I make decisions based off of feelings rather than facts. My strong sense of feeling is directly connected to the Jung Typology assessment. In a leadership position, I will be faced with several difficult situations that I will not be allowed to let my feelings on the subject overrule an ethical decision that should be made. This is a skill that I will need to work on before taking on a major leadership role. I am able to start working on this skill in my classroom with the students and parents in my classroom that I currently have. Speaking with my current administrator to get insight on how she many handle particular situations I feel would also be a very beneficial. This would help me learn how to constructively and productively influence the service of all students and their families [Disposition #26].

WSP Standard Six: Socio-Political Context

In order to be an effective teacher leader or administrator, you need to understand how the educational system works and know how to respond to several different context surrounding the system. Leaders need to be able to professional discuss and influence legal, cultural, political and social context within their building and in their school district. Leaders must know how to advocate for the students within in their buildings and their staff members too.

I am very hands-on and feel that students learn best by doing, trial and error, which according to the Ross Barger Philosophy Survey classifies me as Pragmatism/Progressivism. I also feel that schools should be truthful and non-manipulative which classifies me as following the Existentialism philosophy as well. Encouraging exploration and projects that are inquiry based allows students to learn how to problem solve and ask critical questions. I feel that I do a really good job at advocating for my students in my classroom to allow a more age appropriate style for learning. Our district mandates several pencil and paper tests. Often, the curriculum given does not demonstrate what good teaching practice looks like. I feel a strength I have is understanding the cultural and social contexts and several required pieces that the district pushes and I find a more appropriate and engaging method for my students to represent their knowledge on the topic.

I feel my area of weakness lies in the politic aspects of the education system. I have only received courses on school laws in my undergrad degree. This course was brief and didn’t go very in-depth in many components. The areas I feel that would be the most critical to learn first would be laws in regards to students on IEPs and laws surrounding students in special education. More often than not, issues from parents in a building are often set around these types of issues. I feel that these laws also directly connect to ensuring educability of all students [Disposition #16]. I have a book in my professional library from my undergrad covering school laws that I could read to brush up on my knowledge of the political contexts.

Overall these assignments have really opened my eyes to several strengths as a teacher and future leader that I did not know I had. It has also helped expose the areas in which I need more work in developing. Strengthening the skills mentioned above in each standard will help me become a better leader for my future staff and also a better teacher for my current group of students. I would like to use my strengths in the use of collaboration, building trusting relationships and utilizing my resources to help assist me in developing my practice as a better leader. Using the Visionary Leadership Analysis- VLA would be critical as a future administrator to help made big decision within a building. An administrator and any building leadership role requires you to have knowledge and a solid foundation of what the school represents and its mission statement. Mission statements for a school represents not only the students that make up the school but also the staff that works within those walls. I feel the PGP and the VLA assignments have helped prepare me for the future, as I begin to take on more leadership roles and potentially take on an administrator’s position.

Citations:

Alsbury, T. (Professor) (2014, October 23). Mainstream of Organizational Thought, Chapter 3.

EDAD6580. Lecture conducted from Seattle Pacific University, Redmond, WA.

Association of Washington School Principals. (2014, 7 22). AWSP Leadership Framework. Retrieved 11/12, 2014, from https://bbweb-prod.spu.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-998466-dt-content-rid-1925813_1/courses/EDAD6580_10247201451/AWSP%20Framework.pdf

Barger, R. (1999). The Ross Barger Philosophy-Inventory. Retrieved from http://www3.nd.edu/~rbarger/ross-barger

Blake, R. & Mouton, J. Blake-Mouton Managerial Grid. Retrieved from http://www.bumc.bu.edu/facdev-medicine/files/2010/10/Leadership-Matrix-Self-Assessment-Questionnaire.pdf

Home – Rosa Parks Elementary. (n.d.). Retrieved November 10, 2014, from http://www.lwsd.org/school/rosaparks/Pages/default.aspx

Jung, C. Humanmetrics Jung Typology Test. Retrieved from http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/jtypes2.asp

Kilmann, J. & Thomas, K. (2010, March 2). Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument. Retreived from https://www.skillsone.com/Pdfs/smp248248.pdf

Owens, R. G., & Valesky, T. C. (2007). Organizational behavior in education: Adaptive Leadership and school reform (9th ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

Washington State Report Card. (n.d.). Retrieved November 10, 2014, from http://reportcard.ospi.k12.wa.us/summary.aspx?groupLevel=District&schoolId=5324&reportLevel=School&orgLinkId=5324&yrs=&year=2006-07

TL Standard 4

“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten.” (Barr, Sommers, Ghere, Montie, 12). How can we grow as educators if we are not open to changing our practice or trying something new?

Self-reflection is a key piece to being a successful educator. I was excited when I was able to pick an individual reflection practice to implement over a few week period as an assignment because from my past experiences, this has truly allowed to me see not only works really well with my instruction but it has also helped me see patterns and some kinks where I have room to improve. When I first began this assignment I took a look at what I thought my strengths and weakness were as a teacher in a Strength and Intentions Paper, I took the suggestion to target my reflection around a piece of the Danielson Framework criteria. However, through the process of reflection my approach seemed to transform into something I did not expect. I kind of meshed journaling and dialogue together as my individual reflection practice to implement. As stated in chapter three, “Don’t evaluate or judge thoughts as they pour out. Just let them flow (York-Barr, Sommers, Ghere, Montie, 2006).” I have used journaling as a form of reflection before and reading back over my entries after a few weeks, I found that I was able to notice patterns that helped me identify areas that I needed growth. Initially, I was hoping to connect this assignment to 1a: Demonstrating Knowledge of Content and Pedagogy in the Danielson Framework because this is a section that I would like to see myself improve in. I began the implementation of this practice by getting a spiral journal and keeping it accessible as much as possible throughout my day. I did my best each day to write in the journal before school sharing my vision for the day and what my plan was for the day with my students. I would also designate a few minutes to journal while students were in specialist, at recess or lunch. Once the students left for the day, I would designate 10 minutes to a free write/open dialogue in my journal recapping the day. I shared everything from successes to lessons that I feel didn’t go well at all. I also noted my thoughts and feelings on the day as a whole. I would then use the journal at night for writing that fit more of the dialogue practice. I would spend evenings rereading the questions in the text and letting my answers flow onto paper.

After just one week of writing in the journal I started reading back over a few of the entries, by combining the two reflection practices, I was able to critically analyze areas for growth, I quickly noticed patterns in my journaling, I also noticed something missing, something that I feel, is extremely critical for a successful educator, the principle of intention. For our other class, Leadership in Education, we are currently reading a book called, Spirituality in Educational Leadership. This book is framed around eight spiritual dimensions of leadership. The first principle discussed is the Principle of Intention and it states, “Before you can have a plan, you’ve got to have an intention (Houston, Sokolow, 2008).” In my journaling each day before school, during school and directly after school I often found myself mentioning visions I had for performance in my students, but nowhere in my journaling did I note or mention my intention behind those visions and plans. I discovered that while answering a lot of the dialogue questions mentioned from the text at night like, “How do you want to contribute to the lives of children? What do you want students to learn from you and with you? (York-Barr, Sommers, Ghere, Montie, 2006).” it truly required me as an educator to think about my intentions. It forced me to answer the why behind a lot of what was missing in the journaling from during the day. By combining the two forms of reflection I was able to cue into a huge piece of what I feel was missing in helping me become more intentional in my practice.

One last piece that I noticed after looking back onto my journaling from each day in the classroom was that my journal because a great “dumping ground” if you will. It was a safe place for me to share my frustrations from the day. These frustrations varied from, lessons that went astray, to students who I felt I couldn’t reach for that day, to frustrations that were out of my control that were professional/ curriculum based. By using the journal as an outlet for dumping my those negative feelings, it allowed for a more positive interaction with my closest teammates during passing time when we would typically spend a few, but much needed, minutes to vent. After analyzing the outcome of this reflection experience, I feel it has had a very positive impact for not only myself, but my colleagues and my students as well. I am now able to spend my time with my colleagues focusing on positive improvements with the students and being a good role model professionally, but I am also starting each day looking at my overall intentions for the day.

In terms of collaborative practices, I was able to take on a leadership role during a partner reflection/coaching session. When done properly, partner reflection and cognitive coaching can be very beneficial to strengthening your craft of teaching in several ways. In Coaching: Approaches and Perspectives, Knight, Ellison and Hayes define cognitive coaching as “focusing on impact by assisting in identifying the results one is striving for and clarifying the success indicators and strategies for doing so” (Knight, Ellison and Hayes p.73). I was fortunate enough to be able to practice these skills when a grade level teammate asked me during our team meeting if I would sit down and go over how I am currently teaching my writer’s workshop non-fiction/informational unit because her students were struggling to understand some of the key components of this genre of writing. To help myself prepare for this partner reflection/cognitive coaching opportunity I gathered all of my materials for my informational writing unit. This included my unit plan, a breakdown of individual lessons, mentor texts, anchor charts, classroom charts-student created, my binder filled with different types of writing paper pertaining to informational writing, and a few different student writing folders to show student samples.

Before ever getting started, a skill that I know I need to improve on during reflecting or team meetings is my ability to listen without wanting to jump in with my own thoughts and comments. This is something I made sure to be very vigilant about while reflecting with my teammate. Listening allows you to be able to reframe your way of thinking about events and circumstances. “If we cannot listen well, the potential for learning and support will not be realized for ourselves or others” (York-Barr, Sommers, Ghere, Montie p. 115). Going into this meeting, I was aware that I needed to improve in my listening abilities while my teammate was sharing her concerns regarding her writing lessons. Because of this, I feel that I was much more cautious which ultimately allowed me to hear what her true concerns and struggles were, and continue the reflective process by asking her in-depth questions on where she could use my assistance. Later in my partner Partner Reflection-Cognitive Coaching, it discusses my reflection on how I could strengthen my skills as a peer coach for future opportunities.

In addition to cognitive peer coaching, I have worked closely with my grade level team to look at and analyze student data each month. We have spent the year focusing on writing content for informative, opinion and narrative writing. As seen in my Instructional Plan, I laid out the data from baseline data with my team and found students to put into a focused group to track and analyze. We looked collaboratively as a team at their Writing Samples each month and analyzed next steps and ways to enrich those who have already grasped the concepts. Each month this is tracked in our PGE logs (Professional Growth and Evaluation logs). This has helped me broaden my understanding and abilities to reach all of my student’s needs in the classroom. The phrase, work smarter, not harder fits well with collaboration within your team!

In the future I would like to continue to keep a journal to allow me to reflect and note pieces of my day. I feel that keeping record of my days and what worked well and what failed is a great thing to track over time. I am confident that even more ah-ha’s would surface from my teaching habits. In the mornings I will continue to not just look at my plan for the day, but what are my goals and intentions. A true look at why these are my goals and what I want to see come from these goals. I also plan on continuing to engage in my collaborative practices with my team. I would like to try in the next year to broaden that collaborative team to something school wide or even district wide! I now feel confident in my collaboration skills to challenge myself in a higher role! I would love to transition into a coaching position within my district. “…coaching that focuses on helping teachers implement new practices leads to implementation of new strategies” (Knight, 22). I would love to be able to help guide and coach peers into broadening their teaching practices!

Citations:

Garmston, R., Linder, C., & Whitaker, J. (1993). Reflections on Cognitive Coaching. Educational Leadership, 51(2), 57-61. Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/oct93/vol51/num02/Reflections-on-Cognitive-Coaching.aspx

Houston, P., & Sokolow, S. (2008). Spirituality in educational leadership. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Knight, J. (2009). Coaching. National Staff Development Council, 30(1), 18-22

Knight, J., Ellison, J., & Hayes, C. (2009). Chapter 4: Cognitive Coaching. In Coaching: Approaches and perspectives (pp. 70-90). Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Corwin Press.

York-Barr, J., A. Sommers, W., S. Ghere, G., & Montie, J. (2006). Individual Reflective Practice. In Reflective Practice to Improve Schools: An Action Guide for Educators (Second ed.). Thousand Oaks: Corwin Press.