Professional Development Plan (ECS 300)

After completing a self-assessment using the Internship Placement Profile (I.P.P.), I identified four major areas that require a lot of development before I can be the teacher I want to be.  The areas that I want to work on include:

(i)    Interaction with Learners – Encouraging Democratic Involvement in Learning

(ii)   Planning, Organizing, Assessment, and Evaluation – Provides Appropriate Assignment

(iii)  Planning, Organizing, Assessment, and Evaluation – Provides Assessment and Evaluation

(iv)   Professional Qualities – Responds Well to Stress, Conflict, and/or Controversy

There are forty areas in which interns are assessed and critiqued and I am still a fair way off from being “Outstanding” in many of those areas.  However, I feel confident that after further education at the University of Regina and more practice in the classroom I will be able to be an “Outstanding” teacher in the majority of the forty areas.  Of course, there are more than just four of the forty that I feel I am lacking in at this point of my development, but these four have caught my eye because I feel completely in the dark about them and question if my education later on at the university will cover and prepare me for these areas.  I want and need to grow in these areas and must take it upon myself to see that I do so.
______________________________________________________________________________

(i)    Interaction with Learners – Encouraging Democratic Involvement in Learning

As described in the IPP Evaluation Form, a teacher that encourages democratic involvement in learning recognizes the experiences and capacity of students to contribute to learning (e.g., providing opportunities for students to determine how and what they will learn; providing opportunities for students to affect the learning environment, providing “voice, choice and say” in learning).

 

To me, this sounds like Berlak’s “Child Controlled” classroom where students determine what happens at what speed and to what extent. While I agree that the classroom should be based around the students and should progress as fast as they can (or perhaps just a bit faster to push their abilities), I think there needs to be a level of teacher control as well – it is their classroom and they are responsible for getting students from point A to point B in a semester in the curriculum.  I need to practice finding this balance in the classroom.  The first resource that comes to mind is observing other teachers in their classrooms to see how they keep that balance or if they have any balance at all.  But what may work for one person may not work for all; what may work for others may not work for me.  My plan is to start my pre-internship by creating a teacher controlled classroom and slowly give them more and more say about the due dates, about the forms of evaluations, about the content, etc.  I figure that if I start on one end of the scale and slowly move to the other end I will eventually reach the happy middle.    I’ll know I’ll have reached that sweet spot (that spot that would help me be an outstanding teacher) when there is not a power struggle between myself and the students – when we can all compromise and still be proud of the decision that was reached.

____________________________________________

(ii)     Planning, Organizing, Assessment, and Evaluation – Provides Appropriate Assignments

A teacher who is outstanding in this area knows when students are ready.  The teacher meets individual and class needs, reinforce and extend learning, are constructive, and provide timely feedback.  They are clear in their expectations regarding format and due dates.

and (iii) Planning, Organizing, Assessment, and Evaluation – Provides Assessment and Evaluation

The evaluation form suggests that an outstanding teacher in this area creates assessments for learning that are congruent with outcomes and nature of instruction.  And there should be frequent formative and appropriate summative assessment.  Furthermore, an outstanding teacher should be helpful in feedback and remediation.

 

I’ve taken more than my fair share of exams throughout my academic career and I still do not know how teachers decide to test students for understanding. When is it appropriate to get students to do a presentation? When would it be best to get them to sit and write and exam (if ever)?  What are alternatives to projects, essays, and exams? And how can I create a rubric that allows my students to be diverse without being too vague and ambiguous?

I think this connects with my first area that I’m hoping to work on… I need to talk to my students and ask them what they think is a fair form of assessment based on the content covered.  Of course, I’ll have students who think that no assessment is fair and that small assignments are good enough.  And while assignments have their own merits, they cannot be solely relied upon because often individual work turns into group work and then it becomes questionable who did how much of what assignment.  But if we get to that healthy balance I talked about earlier then I think we could come up with some pretty creative ideas.  I never want to underestimate my students.  I know my fellow teachers, librarians, internet, books, etc, are great resources that will help me grow, but I also know my students will help me out, too.  I do not want to rely on them solely, but they are creative and ingenious.

When I am in my pre-internship, I want to develop this area of my teaching by working on my relationships with the students and creating an environment of mutual respect where we can all share and not feel judged for it.  Creativity has only ever been beneficial to the classroom.

____________________________________________

(iv)     Professional Qualities – Responds Well to Stress, Conflict, and/or Controversy

An outstanding teacher in this area is calm and composed under stress.  Seeks and foster satisfactory solutions to disagreements, or misunderstandings.  Handles emergency situations calmly and expeditiously.  Seeks assistance when appropriate.

In previous jobs I have had to deal with conflict and confrontation and I used to literally cry because I took it so personally and to heart.  Through practice and encouragement, I grew thicker skin and now feel very confident dealing with confrontation and know how to stand my ground against customers.  But I know that that will not be the same in the schools.  It is easy to detach myself from a situation with a customer because I do what I do because of policies and orders – and so when customers are angry they are angry at how the business that I work for runs their place, no me.  But students, parents, and coworkers will all be very angry with me based on the decisions I made in my classroom.  I am the one responsible and I will have to defend them.  Remaining calm is not the problem, it is maintaining my stress so that it does not affect my teaching ability and relaxed personality.  Students shouldn’t have to deal with what I am dealing with.

During my pre-internship, should conflict arise, I am going to focus on controlling my anxiety and frustrations so that they do not follow me into the classroom and into my conversations with the students.  I do not think my goal is to never feel anxious again, I think my goal is to control it and understand when it is appropriate to express said anxiety and when it is best to keep it under the rug.  That ability would come from intrinsic motivation and constant self-reminders.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s