Professional Dispositions

Collaborate with Members of the School Community

During my student teaching and practicum experiences, I have had numerous opportunities to collaborate with all members of the school community. I have formed a very close bond with my cooperating teacher and her support has been invaluable. We sit down and plan regularly as well as reflect on how things are going on a daily basis. She constantly provides me with feedback which is very beneficial, as it allows me to improve upon my teaching skills. Every week there is also a grade level meeting which I attend. During this meeting, all three of the first grade teachers are able to plan for the upcoming week and bounce ideas off of one another. I have also helped the first grade team in implementing the Words Their Way word study program. This program individualizes word study for students to meet his/her individual ability level while still challenging him/her. For my Social Studies methods course, I also had an opportunity to observe in K-6 grade levels. This provided me with an opportunity to interact with teachers at all grade levels both in my school and other schools. For my Science methods course, I team-taught a lesson on insects to a third grade class. My team and I met with the teacher in the class to plan and implement the lesson effectively. During my three semesters at Waller Mill Elementary School, I have also worked with the librarian and technology facilitator to arrange laptop lessons and activities for the students in my class. Topics we have covered using the laptops include plant life cycles, graphing, phonics instruction, and mapping. Finally, I have formed a positive relationship with the principal and assistant principal at Waller Mill. The principal came in to read a special Thanksgiving story to the students, which was a great opportunity to have her in the classroom interacting with the class.

Reflecting on Personal Practice

Reflection is vital in any profession so that one can improve and progress in a positive manner. I have found it to be especially rewarding as a teacher in many ways. For all of my methods courses: math, science, social studies, and reading and language arts, I have had the opportunity to reflect on specific lessons I taught. These reflections included discussing the lesson with my professor, cooperating teacher, or even watching myself on a video tape. Through these reflections I have been able to improve the individual lessons and re-teach them with these changes. Also, for the science methods course, I reflected bi-weekly on how things were going in the classroom. This regular reflection was a great way for me to reflect and evaluate things more generally than just individual lessons, which is also important. For the social studies methods course, after each observation of a grade level, I completed a write-up on the activities performed during the lesson, improvements I would make to the lesson, and notes on what went really well during the lesson. By evaluating all aspects of the lesson, I have found that it can improve the lesson in the future but also help it run more smoothly. Noting the highlights of a lesson are just as important as noting the aspects that could use improvement. I find these reflections to be very rewarding and beneficial and hope to continue utilizing them in my own classroom. The following is an example of a reflection from a lesson I videotaped of myself teaching a science lesson. There is also a video presentation compiled after a science circus was completed during the fall of 2008 to reflect on how the lessons went.

Meeting Professional Expectations

Upon entering Waller Mill Elementary School in Fall 2008, I realized what it truly meant to be a professional. My experience as a teacher in the classroom has helped me grow in this endeavor. Although I had worked in many capacities in schools prior to completing my practicum and student teaching experiences, these are what have helped mold me into a true professional. I strive to have positive interactions daily with the administrators in my school, the other teachers, para educators, reading specialists, cafeteria workers, resource teachers, and office personnel. Everything, even a smile and a 'Hey,' can make a difference in the day to day bustle in an elementary school. I have also had the opportunity to interact professionally this semester with the parents of my students. I attended the open house before school started which was a great opportunity to meet and greet the parents and students. I also attended Back to School night and provided the letter below to parents to formally introduce myself. Finally, when my first grade class went on a field trip, I was able to interact with the parents who came as chaperones.