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My teaching career has just begun. I do not have my own classroom yet and have only obtained one year of experience, last school year, as an elementary aide for a kindergarten and first-grade classroom. After several years in another field of work, I quickly realized my initial calling of being a teacher had to be answered. I earned my bachelor’s degree in Finance and worked in financial institutions, then quickly realizing my passion for children, teaching, and making a difference in a child’s life is what I was meant to do. I am on the road to achieving the education that I need to do just those things.
Being committed to students and their learning is the first step I took to beginning my teaching career, and one that I believe every aspiring teacher takes. You must be devoted and passionate for what you are doing in these young children’s’ lives. During my experience as an elementary aide, I became quickly committed to the students in my classrooms. I was not their primary teacher; however, they looked to me as a helpful resource when needed and just saw themselves as having two teachers. I eagerly stepped in and participated in every single part of the instruction that went on in the classes. These students knew they could call on me to assist them with anything they needed. There were times I gave money to those who were having a bad morning and parents forgot to send snack money. I had days I gave snacks out of my lunchbox to students who did not have one thing to eat for a snack. These students often received snacks from their teachers due to family situations. There was no fuss or scene made. I simply would just hand out the snack or place on the student’s desk, and most often the rest of the class never even noticed what was going on. These students began to entrust in me and feel a sense of security from our relationship. They knew I would do whatever I could, within feasible realms, to be there for them. This trust goes a long way in a student-teacher relationship and can make for a great impact on the learning-teaching going on in the classroom.
Most people think if a teacher is teaching a subject then they should be a mere expert in the content. However, I know that once I am assigned my grade level and subjects, I will definitely have to use other resources to brush up my knowledge on the content I am going to teach. Not having my own classroom right now or ever limits the content knowledge I have for specific areas of teaching. I feel confident in the basic elementary content knowledge required to teach early childhood education. When I begin teaching the way I plan to get students to fully understand the content will be based on my lesson structure, grouping strategies, and technology I use in the classroom. I plan to use a mixture of teacher-led and student-led instruction, small group settings, such as those needed for remediation, and partner talks. I hope to have a smart board and internet access in my future classroom to be able to really tap into technology that will be needed to drive some of the curricula.
One classroom management practice that we used in my kindergarten class was a golden ticket system. It is more of a “catch me being good” system, including a more positive disciplinary plan. Students who are caught doing something “extraordinary” and not something that is a standard procedure or rule of the classroom, will be called on to get a golden ticket out of the cup. We had a pocket chart with each child’s name on a pocket and this is where they keep their golden tickets. There is a reward system for certain benchmarks of golden tickets they receive, such as 5 they can get a sucker, 10 goes to the prize box, etc. They do not have to cash their tickets in at each benchmark. They are allowed to save them up to receive one of the bigger prizes. This also teaches them about the values of saving up or anticipating something.
I plan to use progress monitoring as a major academic assessment strategy in my classroom. In the kindergarten classroom that I aided in we did pre-assessments on phonemic awareness and a reading assessment test to determine a reading level. These assessments helped us to group students initially based upon their abilities coming into the school year. We began tracking their progress with things such as a sight word rainbow. Each color in the rainbow contained different sight words and they could begin reciting each color strip to us after the first few weeks of school. This allowed them to work at their own pace, but allowed us to see where each student stood regarding the success of knowing and reciting their words. We could then group our reading groups accordingly. Some students took all year to be able to sight the seven color strips of the rainbow, while others were finished by the third semester of school. Although I do not have my own classroom to implement my own assessment strategies, one strategy that I know I will use is formative assessments. I have studied about these in several classes I have had and have seen them implemented in some classrooms I completed observation hours in. One way this was used was during small group remediation, having exit tickets. This requires the students to have skill mastery before moving on to the next thing.
Having routines in place, clear directions, and classroom rules that are visually placed in the classroom are very important in running a systematic classroom. Being very organized and OCD I will have a set of classroom rules placed in the front of my classroom. On the first day of school, this will be a critical topic we cover in the classroom. Dependent upon the grade level I teach, we may review these rules over a course of the first week or two until they are absorbed into the little ones’ brains, mainly early childhood age. Allowing the children to know the expectations of themselves and the classroom, makes for smoother transitions and better flow of daily activities. I have not experienced creating or teaching my own lessons yet, but I do know that I will be using reflection time generously in my future teaching career. I feel this is the only way to better my teaching planning, instruction, and assessing. Noting and reflecting each lesson I teach will be my way of evaluating myself and knowing how to remediate before the next lesson or the next school year when I teach the content again.
Not having my own classroom responsibilities or full-time teaching position has limited my experience as a member of a learning community or me having extra duties outside of teaching each day. I did, however, attend the students I was an aide for extracurricular activities, like their baseball games. The excitement they had once they saw that one of their teachers was coming to watch them was so heartwarming. I loved to see the students in a different setting other than school.
Although I am not a practicing teacher yet, I learned so much during the one school year I served as an aide. Each day inspired me to complete my education requirements so that I could soon be serving in a classroom somewhere. Being a teacher is a fulfilling experience and the challenges you face and the accomplishments of these challenges make each and every day worth going to work for. It is truly not a job but something that I love and enjoy and knowing each day that I could have a positive impact or make a difference in just one child’s life makes it all worthwhile.
National Board Teaching Practices Rubric
3-5 typed pages (5 ½ max)
Evidence of the following:
One: Teachers are committed to students and their learning.
Two: Teachers know the subjects they teach and how to teach those subjects to students.
Three: Teachers are responsible for managing and monitoring student learning.
Four: Teachers think systematically about their practice and learn from experience.
Five: Teachers are members of learning communities.
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