Super Teacher's Job is Never Done!

Super Teacher's Job is Never Done!
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Teaching is the profession that teaches all the other professions. ~ Author Unknown

My goal is to reveal one teacher's humble journey of self-reflection, critical analysis, and endless questioning about my craft of teaching and learning alongside my middle school students.

"The dream begins with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called 'truth'." ~ Dan Rather

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Becoming More Reflective in the Classroom

It is far too easy to succumb to a regular, easy routine in the classroom, where you almost feel like you are on "autopilot" and that you could teach your lessons in your sleep. Just ask some of my colleagues who have been teaching for almost 40 years. It is, though, a much more different experience to constantly push, challenge, and reinvent what you are doing to help all of your students succeed and achieve, day after day, year after year. How reflective and critical you are of your teaching practice makes good teachers great, great teachers superb, and superb teachers masters of their craft.

The journey to self-reflection and critical analysis of one's teaching is no easy path and often takes years to honing specific skills, complex techniques, and realistic, manageable strategies. Now in my sixth year of teaching, I am certainly comfortable in the classroom but find that I still learn from my students and failed lessons every day. The English lesson I teach Period 1 is often very different from that same lesson in Period 6. Identifying what works, what needs to improve, and how to best engage -- and involve -- my students are constant personal priorities. 

While I did formerly speak quite negatively of the school improvement meeting we had earlier this week,  difficult meetings like that force me to be innerly critical and reflective to move forward in the most productive and effective way possible for my students.

As I continue to develop a professional development plan and course of action to be the best teacher possible, I need to regularly ask myself the following questions:

Co-planning : 
  • Have I incorporated a plan for all subgroups/learning styles? Do I write down as part of my plan what I do to use the best practices for African American, Hispanic, special education, and ESOL students?
  • Do I regularly incorporate critical and advanced thinking skills in every lesson? Is there explicit planning for checking for understanding? Do I indicate in my daily plans my strategy for checking for understanding? Do I plan ahead for places to stop and check, or write specific questions I need to ask during the lesson?
  • How many times a week do I use an exit card or some other form of daily assessment?
Data to Drive Instruction:
  • How do I use data to drive instruction?
  • Do I understand that data will inform and increase my knowledge and cause actions leading to results?

For example, with fellow grade-level colleagues, I shared how we use MAP-R (reading assessment) scores with our students so that they are aware of their own lexiles and their strengths and weakness and help students make their own independent reading selections. This allows us to differentiate, identify, and plan for instruction for those students who are not strong readers. Additionally, I shared how we continue to identify /reteach problematic indicators.
  • Am I building relationships with my students?
  • Do I have high expectations for all of my students?
  • Am I building my own cultural competence? (This involves learning how school can bridge the gap from home to education for all students.)
These are only some questions to ponder on a daily basis. Let my journey to self-reflection continue! Woo!!


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