|A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops. - Henry Adams||
|Welcome Resume Standard I: Plans Instruction Standard II: Creates Learning Climates Standard III: Manages Instruction Standard IV: Assesses Results Standard V: Reflects on Teaching Standard VI: Collaborates with Others Standard VII: Professional Development Standard VIII: Demonstrates Content Knowledge Standard IX: Implements Technology||
Standard V: Reflects on/Evaluates Specific Learning and Teaching Situations
If you ignore history, you are doomed to repeat it. In this statement lies the spirit of Standard V. Looking back on what went well and what didn't is the best way to learn. Reflection is a continuous process, but formal reflection is something that often gets pushed aside in favor of things that are perceived as more meaningful activities. Within this standard, hopefully you will see that I have made strides to make sure to formally reflect.
As evidence of my willingness to reflect, I present three months worth of daily reflections, neatly summarized by date. Beyond this, you will find the material from Module II, where I reflected heavily on my questioning pattern in the classroom. Finally, you will see the first mention of the Program Assessment Box, an extensive project that involved reflecting on almost every aspect of my department.
The Office Technology Program Assessment was a very reflective process. (Mr. Joe Mayabb and I constitute the Office Technology department.) The Assessment is based on 21 standards, each with two or more sub-standards. To complete the Assessment, materials and information must be gathered from an entire year. Our approach was to put anything we thought we could use for the box in a central location. About three months before it was due, we went back through the mass of materials and chose what we felt best represented what we do every day.
Throughout the course of completing the box, we re-examined the sequence that we felt students should follow in order to complete our program (a sample sequence follows this document). We also looked back at the Skill Standards Assessment results from the previous year, which is a good indicator if the direction our program is headed is successful. With all this looking back, we formally recognized what was working and what wasn’t. One of the many tweaks we made was to not offer Electronic Office, a more advanced course, more than once every three years in lieu of several other basic courses that more students need in order to finish our program sequence. We also provided the high school with a great deal of information which we found they were unaware of. If we hadn’t taken the time to look back at our program, we wouldn’t have been able to make these important changes.
Reflection is so important. I don't feel I did enough of it during this first year, especially early on. I think I neglected to do it early because I felt like a horrible teacher. Nothing ever seemed to go smoothly and I felt like I was trying to wrangle a herd instead of teach. One day, while I was lamenting the problems I had just had with a lesson to my mentor teacher, he asked me a very simple question: "Did they [the students] learn anything from all of that?" After I thought about it for a second, I realized they had. It occurred to me that nothing I had tried to do was ever a total wash. Some of it was very ineffective and inefficient, but instead of beating myself up over my failures, I should instead build more on the positives. A few bad lessons were not going to permanently scar the students forever. As long as I was trying, there shouldn't be too much to panic about.
Meta-reflection is a funny thing. When you start looking back on exactly how much you look back, it really is amazing at how much dialog you have with yourself about the things that just happened. My biggest fault is not writing down all of these conversations I have with myself. As a result, I think this standard probably has the least amount of proof that I have made strides toward mastery. With this standard, I can't say I have achieved mastery level, but I do now understand why reflection is so important. An important point is that I actually take action based on my reflections. Since I don't like change, making all these changes is a big deal for me. I know it is necessary because you can't improve if you keep doing something that isn't working over and over again.
I look forward to being able to reflect upon an individual student's progress between years. With my freshman especially, I have been able to see big changes in how they act and think in a span of just four months. I can't wait to have some of them again when they are seniors and see if anything I have tried to impart to them has stuck. I'm sure I'll have a lot of opportunities to see many of them again since nearly 70% of my classes this year were full of freshmen!