What do you want to accomplish as a teacher?
The essential three:
Students who enjoy coming to school.
Students who like learning.
Students who feel empowered to pursue their own interests.
Also on my list of things to accomplish:
Learn from pre-assessments, in order to meet the individual needs of each child, so that they may feel successful and cared for. Cultivate a community of learners, who exercise self-control and compassion. Encourage meaningful action through service learning projects. Inspire passionate learners, critical thinkers and creative problem solvers through problem-based learning experiences.
How do you use assessment results to understand and improve student learning?
Preliminary assessments teach me where to begin my instruction, highlighting individual needs. I use formative assessments to guide my instruction, learning when and where further or alternative instruction is needed. I examine summative assessments, using rubrics, to analyze multiple aspects of student learning, which I then compare to preliminary and formative assessments to determine each child’s progress.
In what ways do your teaching practices support student centered learning?
I vary my instruction methods (eg. direct instruction, cooperative learning, reflection exercises) as well as output options (eg. writing, dance, posters) to meet the needs of diverse learning styles. I honor and lift up student voice through class meetings and student initiated projects. I guide students through hands-on / experiential lessons so they can come to their own conclusions. In my class we explore themes, encouraging students to pursue their own interests and celebrating the interconnected nature of their findings.
How do you integrate technology into your teaching?
I have used a document camera to model skills and support cognitive apprenticeship. I supplement my lessons with online educational games in math, science, literacy and history. My classroom websites have been an effective way to communicate with families, as well as a place to showcase student work. My 6th graders used the Journey North website while studying monarch butterflies, which is one of many ways to connect with learning communities around the globe. I have also created PowerPoint and iMovie presentations to engage visual learners.
How do you ensure that diverse learners all have the opportunity to learn challenging content and achieve at high levels?
I have high expectations of all my students, but I differentiate my instruction in order to challenge students according to their abilities. I encourage higher order thinking by having students analyze, synthesize and evaluate. I teach to multiple learning styles, providing opportunities for all learners to succeed. I use cooperative learning and small groups to meet the needs of students who learn best with their peers. I engage students of all backgrounds by recognizing and honoring our diversity while celebrating our commonalities.
What do you think will (does) provide you the greatest pleasure in teaching?
Kids. They surprise me, teach me, challenge me, make me laugh and inspire me. I enjoy the relationships, the community, I experience with my students, their families and my colleagues. I appreciate being a scholar among scholars and participating in a community of learners (young and old). I like creative problem solving, hearing the wacky ideas kids come up with and then experiencing the joy of success when we collectively find a solution. I cherish the company of educators, individuals committed to the success of all children.
Please give an example of your philosophy about how children learn best and how you implement this philosophy in your classroom.
Students should feel safe, and in class meetings I teach skills that facilitate trust and compassion. I differentiate instruction to accommodate the unique needs of individual students. Engaged students learn more and retain information better, and relevant lessons are more likely to keep kids interested and invested. When my sixth graders joined me on a service-learning project to improve the recycling program at Lynnwood Elementary, they wanted to learn whatever might help them make an impact on their community.
Please give an example of your experience with curriculum design and instructional strategies.
When designing a lesson in writing for my students, I first wrote a learning target. I wanted students to “be able to incorporate descriptive and grammatically correct dialogue into a story.” I created a summative assessment and wrote a rubric. After a preliminary assessment, I developed my instruction. Lessons included direct instruction and modeling. Students worked with peers for guided practice as well as worked independently. Formative assessments guided my instruction. At the end, we celebrated our successes and hard work.
Please give an example of your classroom management style.
Relationships are key. Class meetings and clear expectations cultivate a safe, respectful and fun classroom. Routines (eg. afternoon reading) keep the class focused and cooperative. Engaging instruction (eg. service-learning) promotes productivity. Supportive measures, such as eye contact, positive reinforcement and physical proximity, remind students to exercise self-control. I see corrective measures as learning opportunities and utilize behavioral contracts and logical consequences.