TL Standard 8

TL Standard 8

SPU’s MEd program in Teacher Leadership has helped me grow not only in my building as an educator but a future leader as well. I had a hard time trying to decide what area I wanted to focus on. There were so many degrees that would benefit myself as an educator and further support my students in my classroom. Once I heard that SPU was offering a masters in Teacher Leadership, I knew I had found the correct program. I feel the learning that had the greatest impact for me was the work that required me to pick myself apart as an individual as well as an educator. You are not able to strengthen your practice and improve your craft if you are not self-aware. Aware of what you do well, biases you make have and areas in which you need improvement. Within the time we spent learning about what makes us tick, we had critical conversations around important issues surrounding schools. One of my biggest takeaways was how to have critical conversations with not only your coworkers, but parents and students too. Another piece of learning that I feel made a great impact on me was revolved around engaging families and communities within my building. “Rather than asking, Why are some families so hard to reach?” we should instead ask, “What am I doing that makes my school and/or classroom hard to reach?” This was a statement that I know my entire cohort took to heart and had a large discussion about. It truly changed the way I began to look at my building. It changed my entire perspective of what I had control over and how I could better our school and classroom environment to be more welcoming and reachable.

I am still very interested in learning more about leadership in any potential upcoming professional development opportunities at the district level or at SPU. I think my entire staff in my building could benefit from having a few of the speakers I was fortunate enough to listen to during a few Saturday workshops come and speak. Having an entire staff listen to such an impactful speaker really helps get everyone on the same page and using the same great language in a building to promote positive change! I also feel that it would be great to keep this cohort connected and collaborating over the next few years in regards to how we are implementing our new learning in our buildings. Starting a book club for those who are interested to further/continue our learning in one of the several components we found that was impactful would be a great way to continue professional learning too.

In the near future, I see myself being a teacher leader within my building. I know I want to continue implementing all of the things I learned for best practice with my students. I also want to continue to push myself in the areas that were harder for me to adapt and implement like technology. It is easy to fall back into what I see now as bad practice and honestly a disservice to my students. Continuing to learn about how technology can be used with such young children is definitely something I see myself continuing to look into to make sure I hold myself accountable to continue to implement and explore new options with my students! I also see myself continuing to lead some staff development classes and potentially taking on a few more roles within my building. I think it might also be fun to teach a professional development class that is offered for district employees. This program has helped prepare me to take more advanced leadership roles than I have experienced in the past. Possibly a few years from now, I hope to take my new learning and be able to help lead other new teachers in a positive direction within their first few years teaching as a mentor. I would love to be able to pass on the knowledge and skill sets that I gained from this program to teachers who are just starting their journey into the classroom!

The time that I spend in the classroom teaching, I would also like to do my best to reach out to other buildings and learning communities to expand our collaboration to a much larger region. Being able to see, share and collaborate with educators from other learning communities or even districts can expand your access to different resources, ideas and possibilities for your classroom! I would absolutely love to have the time to go observe other teachers in other buildings, learning communities, as well as districts at least once a year, to get fresh ideas and share resources to help improve teaching across the board! I look forward to use the past two years to help me grow as an educator, teacher leader and potentially a future new teacher mentor!

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EDU 6528 Accomplished Teaching: Individual Reflection

Individual Reflection

         Self-reflection is a key piece to being a successful educator. I was excited when our assignment for this paper was to pick an individual reflection practice to implement over a few week period 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 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. I chose to mesh these two forms of reflection because I liked the free flowing questioning of dialogue and I also feel that I am able to learn a lot about myself as an educator when I am able to have a free write form and not be worried about writing technically for another person. 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 the future I would like to continue to keep a journal to allow me to reflect and note pieces of my day. Honestly, I am not sure I will be able to maintain the consistency of writing at least 4 times a day for 10 minutes like I have been the past three weeks. However, 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.

Citations:

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