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Ed 490 - Reflection Paper on Professionalism

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Albert Orme

April 24, 2011

ED 490

ED 490 Reflection Paper

The experiences and opportunities I have had during my student teaching experience have been priceless. I have learned so much about students, teaching, planning, and so much more that will help me in my future career as a secondary education teacher. There were many meaningful experiences in both of my placements that are worth reflecting on (I will do most of that in my reflection of candidate competencies).

Each day I learned something new in my student teaching experience and I was constantly making adjustments to my daily lesson plans. As time progressed through my first period class, I would jot down what I needed to do differently in my next class. Sometimes that would simply be writing directions on the board. Other times while lecturing I found that I would have to stop and explain a concept that I thought that the students would surely be familiar with but were not. Some days, in the beginning, it was taking a more firm approach with the classes to get them to see me as a true authority figure.

I was also excited and frustrated to see the progress, or lack thereof, of students. Several times I used a pre-test to see the ideas students were familiar and not familiar with on the topic we were about to study. After going through those and deciding which areas to emphasize according to what the students already knew or did not know, I would make lesson plans accordingly. While teaching the information I would informally assess student learning through oral questioning and pop quizzes to make sure students were learning the content. When I got to the formal test at the end, some students did very well while others did quite poorly. While I felt that I had done all that I could, I also felt that I had failed my students in some way. After talking with Mr. Raines, I realized that part of the problem was that I did not call on individual students to answer questions and asked questions to the class in general. Because of this, when I used oral questioning as an informal assessment, it was not an accurate assessment.

During this experience I feel that my philosophy of education has not changed that much. As I was reading back through what I had written two years ago, I was amazed at how many of my opinions are still true today after completing my student teaching. My philosophy was broken down into three different topics. The first topic is to establish a positive learning environment where students feel comfortable to be themselves and learn in their own way. The second topic is certain understandings and values that I want my students to leave my classroom with at the end of the year that allows them to appreciate history, see history's relevance to today, and respect their teachers and classmates. I now realize that my goal of having all of my students have some kind of respect for their teachers and classmates may be more difficult to achieve than I had originally hoped. The final topic is on assessment and using the state and national standards to guide lesson plans. I still feel strongly about these things that are discussed in more detail in my teaching rationale, but unfortunately I feel less optimistic today that when I wrote that paper. Reading through it I thought how naïve it sounded. It would be wonderful if I could make it come true. No matter how difficult it may seem to obtain, the ideas I set forth in my rationale will be a part of my goal of becoming a successful teacher.

As a teacher candidate, I have had the opportunity to teach many lessons and interact with teachers, parents, students, and co-workers and reflect on these events. By reflecting on my student teaching experiences I have been able to identify both strong and

weak areas in the eight UAH competencies. I found it somewhat difficult to identify two of my strongest and weakest areas because there were several competencies in which I have both strengths and weaknesses. However, I feel that my strongest competencies are reflective practitioner and student enabler while my two weakest competencies are content expert (as far as how I present the information) and leader and professional (as far as involvement). While I feel a sense of accomplishment when reflecting on my strong points, I also feel this same sense while looking back on my weak points because I was able to recognize my weak points and improve on them.

A reflective practitioner is a person who reflects on lessons, theories, and practices to find the best fit for themselves and their classroom and uses feedback from their cooperating teacher, university supervisor, and principals. As a reflective practitioner, I was able to do these things to aid in making my time at both the middle school and high school as productive and positive as I possibly could for my students, my cooperating teacher, and me. There were numerous times during my student teaching where I was able to reflect on a lesson, event, or action I had taken and immediately make adjustments in order to improve.

While the ninth graders were studying the causes of the French Revolution, I broke the students into groups and each group was assigned a different class or group of people at the time. They were then asked to write a brief speech to explain the views of their group and present it to the class to help them better understand the different ideas that led to the revolutionary mood at the time. The students did a wonderful job with their speeches but I lost control of the class by not giving more specific expectations to the class. After realizing something needed to change and listening to what Mr. Raines had to say, the rest of the day went much more smoothly. After that class I told everyone else that I expected them to respect their classmates while they were talking and there would be no yelling, hooting, etc. as occurred in the first class. These were all things that students knew already, but they simply needed a firm reminder and explicit instructions to complete the assignment and get the most out of it.

I was also able to obtain valuable information form a project I did with my students at the middle school that will be helpful in the future. My eighth grade student were responsible for creating a project that demonstrated the particular topic they were assigned. Each group was given a different topic such as "What they Ate" to research and present to the class to help them learn about the Middle Ages. The students were also responsible for a brief paper and a visual aid. I was able to learn several things from this project. Once again, I needed to more clearly

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