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The School of Education prepares educators proficient in each of the following areas: content expert, reflective practitioner, effective collaborator, and educational leader. Through developing competencies in each of these domains of the School of Education Conceptual FrameworkI feel confident in proclaiming that I am an effective educator, well equipped to enter the realm of teaching with my very own classroom of students. The methods coursework in the core subject areas (Math, Science, Reading, and Social Studies), practicum experiences accompanying each of these methods classes, courses in classroom management, assessment, collaboration, and special education, and student teaching internship of the Masters of Elementary Education Program have each played an important role in my development as an effective educator.

It is with great confidence that I proclaim I am a content expert in the subject areas of Math, Reading, Science, Social Studies, Health, and Art (see Foundational Understandings). My schooling from Kindergarten through High School, college coursework, and the courses in the teacher preparation program provided me with a wealth of knowledge and instilled within me a dream to become a lifelong learner and seek out opportunities to grow and learn whenever possible. More importantly, the methods courses and practicum experiences of the program have given me the skill-set needed to effectively convey this knowledge to my students in a manner best suited to their individual learning styles and developmental needs.

I have also grown to become a very capable reflective practitioner with the capacity to examine and improve upon my teaching (see Professional Dispositions). The development was essentially effortless given the fact that I am naturally inclined to over-analyze and examine my actions and surroundings. In and outside of the classroom, I am constantly reflecting upon my teaching, before beginning a lesson, during the actual teaching, and after the material is conveyed to students. There isn’t a moment in the day that goes by without me thinking to myself “How could I improve?” “What could I have done better?” I truly understand the power I hold in my ability to look back at my teaching and impact the lives of the students before me. If students are lethargic during a lesson I examine my teaching, asking “Was the lesson engaging?”, instead of jumping to the conclusion that the students are to blame. Though students may introduce unforeseen variables to the implementation of a lesson, it is the teacher who wields the greatest control. My constant reflection plays a role in lesson planning, lesson implementation, and assessment creation and implementation. In fact, reflection is prevalent to every aspect of teaching and the ability to reflect and examine is an essential facet of the personality of any effective educator.

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Working with a student at Stonehouse Carnival

In addition, I am confident to say that I am an effective collaborator (see Professional Dispositions), however my collaboration skills did not materialize in my teaching experiences. Rather, these skills evolved throughout my high school and college years, vastly through my leadership positions in extracurricular activities. I have always aspired to take on positions of leadership, whether it be as Drum Major, director of the pep band, tour director of the Wind Symphony, or resident assistant, and along with leadership these positions demanded great collaboration with individuals of the organizations. Many a time I have had to run officers’ meetings, collaborate with other individuals, and communicate effectively. The practicum experiences and course on collaboration merely tailored these collaboration skills I have long possessed, making them effective in the elementary school setting. As a student teacher, I have collaborated with my cooperating teacher and 3rd Grade team colleagues, sharing lessons and materials with the rest of the team. I have collaborated with school psychologists, administration, and other teachers through participation in child study and IEP meetings. I have also worked to create positive relationships through collaboration with parents and families of the students in my classroom, attending back to school night, Family SOL night, the Stonehouse Carnival, conferences, and creating newsletters.

To complete my mastery of all four domains of the Conceptual Framework I am an educational leader in my field of Elementary Education. A teacher leader shares materials and lessons to benefit others, acts as a role model and mentor for other educators, and performs educational research to ensure that he or she is using the most effective research based practices. Beginning with the introduction course in the teacher preparation program, I commenced to create lesson plans, share them with colleagues, and make them accessible to other teachers on the internet. I developed a resource unit on Colonial America during this introductory course. In my social studies methods course, several other pre-service teachers and I developed a teaching unit on Ancient Mali. In my school I have shared materials and powerpoint presentations, even teaching fellow teachers how to use a technology through blabberize.com. Throughout the course of the year, I have assisted my cooperating teacher in creating powerpoints to help her incorporate technology into the classroom. I have also utilized research based practices and interventions and shared these with others in my school. For instance, I assisted a child study team create a behavioral plan for a student by providing a survey to assess the types of rewards the student desired most. In my teaching career I plan to continue to share my ideas and learn from others, while researching the latest and most effective research based practices. As I develop to become a seasoned teacher I hope to become a mentor to new teachers because I believe that we as teachers not only have the power to influence our students but to also influence our colleagues. In order to best achieve the end goal of student success and learning, teachers must work together and support one another. It is my hope to motivate and encourage others on my team to effectively meet that goal.

Looking back at the first day of class in this teacher preparation program, I remember feeling a bit overwhelmed when glancing over the many competencies in the Conceptual Framework. Now looking back over the past year I am proud to say that I have met all competencies and feel well prepared to enter the field of education. All of the experiences, both in the teacher preparation program and outside, have helped me move one step closer to becoming an effective educator. However, my growth as an educator is far from complete, and I plan to continue to perfect my skills and learn from others over my entire career. I am a strong believer in the fact that a teacher is a lifelong learner, always eager to learn something new about themselves, others, or the world around them.