The Teacher I Hope To Become

I hope to become a teacher that has ongoing relationships with my students. A teacher that truly knows his or her students can have a powerful impact on their lives. I want to make sure that I know my students well enough to assess their learning. Teachers can easily fall into the habit of teaching to their own personal style instead of meeting the student’s individual learning needs. I want to purposefully avoid the habit by always turning my focus onto the students. This type of focus comes from a well-developed relationship between teacher and student.

To become an effective teacher, I also want to make sure that I am an effective learner. Since I will be teaching technology classes, I want to make sure that I am always looking for opportunities to learn. It can be very frustrating to try to keep up with a world of constantly changing technology. However, I want to see that as a positive resource rather than another thing to put on my list of things to do.

I hope to be a teacher that is able to collaborate and learn from my community. This type of teacher is always being sharpened by the wisdom of others. I never want to be so stuck in a pattern where I am unwilling to change, and I believe that collaboration with others also creates accountability. As a teacher, I hope to surround myself with mentors who will keep me accountable to the high expectations that I am working to hold myself to.

As a developing teacher, I want to effectively apply the idea of “scaffolding” that we have learned in class at SPU. My hope is that students can truly understand and digest what they are learning. I believe that incorporating the well thought out layers of scaffolding into my teaching will influence the impact it can have on the student’s learning. The teacher that I hope to become puts the students first and foremost, and I am constantly checking my focus to make that happen.

Identifying and Instructing Visual Arts Academic Language

                 In the article, “Cognitive Content Engagement In Content-Based Language Teaching”, Kong and Hoare (2011) compare classrooms in China that incorporated academic language successfully and unsuccessfully. The studies showed students were able to process information on a deeper level when academic language was applied. However, this outcome was incumbent upon the teaching of academic language. When students engaged in academic discussions, teachers saw that there was greater cognitive understanding that made, “…learning truly meaningful to them” (Kong & Hoare, 2011, p. 311). This shows that teachers must focus on teaching academic language as well as the inherent knowledge of communication. Kong and Hoare (2011) write, “They then need to develop content objectives that entail the understanding of concepts and relationships between concepts, and related language objectives, to support students’ language development” (p. 323).

                 Galguera (2011) argues that academia needs to stop categorizing English Language Learners (ELL’s) into one homogenous group. Instead, teachers should consider how best to teach academic language to promote learning. He suggests that “Participant Structures” allow teachers to empathize with their students. Galguera (2011) writes, “I propose that we concentrate our efforts in preparing teachers to consider the functions language plays in an academic setting” (p.86). By employing students’ personal vernacular and social communication, teachers form a bridge toward teaching academic language. Galgera (2011) writes that the goal of academic language is to “…describe complexity, higher-order thinking, abstractions, as well as using figurative expressions…” (p. 90). Here, we find a complex definition of academic language as a deeper level of cognition.

                 In the article, “Transmediation in the Language Arts Classroom”, McCormick (2011) discusses how “transmediation” can help students engage in analytical understanding, creating pathways to academic language. McCormick (2011) writes, “Through questions and direct comments, teachers encourage abstract association and logical reasoning” (p. 580). By involving students in transmediation activities, teachers present the opportunity to produce new meaning in a student’s vocabulary. The article placed emphasis on art education expanding student cognition through transmediation. McCormick (2011) argues that the arts can be used as a powerful tool to understand academic language.

                 Similarly, Mary Ann Saurino’s (2004) article, “We could do that! Improving Literacy Skills Through Arts-Based Interdisciplinary Teaching”, discusses the impact that art education has on the literacy of ELL’s. This idea was put into action by developing lessons organized around the question, “What is art?” (Saurino, 2004, p. 35). Through these hands-on classroom activities, she found that students developed a deeper understanding of language by expressing it through art. Saurino (2004) writes, “The students wrote and re-wrote descriptions of their antics, using both English and their native languages to negotiate, clarify, and extend their work as both artists and writers” (p. 36). This example of art being used to develop language literacy shows that interactive art activities can be used to bridge the gap between students and their understanding of academic language.

                 In my visual arts classes, I will use art as a communicative connection to academic language as well as ensuring student comprehension. I agree with the McCormick (2011) and Saurino (2004) approaches of using art as a means of making connections to understand academic language introduced in the classroom. For example, in my media classes I will teach students perspective by allowing them to see how different camera angles changes their point of view. For students to further understand the elements of “perspective” I can ask them to look at a painting right side up and then upside down while answering the question, “How does this change your interpretation of the painting?” Through this exercise, students will be able to develop an understanding of the different contexts of “perspective” and be able to practice having their own perspective.

                 In addition, I will use specific strategies involving visual arts language. In “Teach Like A Champion”, Doug Lemov (2010) explains a strategy I will employ: the technique of  “compare, combine, and contrast” (p. 274). This will allow students to see the difference and similarities between words to understand the vocabulary itself. I plan on teaching students how to ask rigorous questions, utilizing “text-to text, text-to-world and text-to-self” (Lemov, 2010, p. 296). Through these activities, students will be able to compare visual arts language with their current vocabulary. To create a deeper understanding of the visual arts language, I will “make connections” with student’s worldviews and personal lives (Lemov, 2010, p 303).  In conclusion, the resources reviewed have given me a clearer perspective on the importance and methodology of effectively teaching the appropriate academic language in my Visual Arts classroom.


Galguera, T. (2011). Participant structures as professional learning tasks and the                  development of pedagogical language knowledge among preservice                         teachers. Teacher Education Quarterly. 85-106.

Kong, S. & Hoare, P. (2011). Cognitive content engagement in content-based                       language teaching. Language Teaching Research. 15(3), 307-324.

Lemov, D. (2010). Teach Like a Champion: 49 Techniques that put students on the               path to college. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

McCormick, J. (2011). Transmediation in the language arts classroom: creating                     contexts for analysis and ambiguity. Journal of Adolescent and Adult                         Literacy. 54(8), 579-587.

Saurino, M. (2004). We could do that! Improving literacy skills through arts-based                 interdisciplinary teaching. Voices From the Middle. 11(4), 33-36.

The Marshmallow Challenge

                I thoroughly enjoyed taking part in “The Marshmallow Challenge” because it forced us to think, try, and learn. First off, this exercise is a hands-on approach to learning. It forces students to get out of their comfortable seats and actually engage in the lesson. It shows students that they can think for themselves. I have seen so many classroom scenarios where the students do not learn to work through problem solving because they know that the teacher will eventually give them the answer. It is important for students to learn how to evaluate a problem, come up with a solution, try it out, and conclude with reexamining the process. The Marshmallow Challenge gives students the opportunity to learn from their mistakes.

                I think that an important part of this lesson that I want to incorporate in my classroom would be to have students assess and reflect on their experience. What worked? What did not work? What changes would you make to your “Marshmallow Plan” for better results? This challenge also shows students that there is not simply one answer. In education, students fall into a bad textbook habit of rushing through assignments in search of the right answers to complete the assignment as quick as possible. However, this does not teach students how to think critically, ask good questions, and learn that real life is not black and white. The Marshmallow Challenge gives students experience in working with the “grey areas” of problem solving.

The Marshmallow Challenge also gives teachers the opportunity to learn about their students through a “fish bowl” perspective. While students are working through the task, teachers get to watch student interactions with each other. As students communicate with each other, the teacher can see the leaders, the followers, the peacemakers, the class clowns, and the perfectionists. The teachers collect valuable information for future lessons such as who works well together in group projects or what types of learners exist in the classroom. The Marshmallow Challenge has many valuable learning benefits, for both students and teachers alike. To view the experience, go to

Ways To Maximize Student Learning

              I can maximize academic learning time in my classroom by having clear procedures for each student to follow. These expectations have to be taught on the first day of class and practiced by the students until it becomes second nature. I really liked the classroom entry procedures that we went over in class today and want to modify them to fit my style. I like teaching students to enter the classroom respectfully to make a clear difference that our learning space is sacred. The classroom is different from other locations that they will find themselves in throughout the school day. The students need to learn that this difference exists, and that a separate set of actions and behaviors are demanded by the classroom setting.

             I really like the concept of bell work, or “board work” in my case since my school does not have a bell. This maximizes academic learning time because it forces students to start to think in a different mindset the moment they walk into my classroom. By having a task at the beginning of class this also gives me the opportunity to take roll in peace. In my past experience, I have easily wasted valuable learning time by calling out roll at the start of class. In Wong’s video on effective teaching, he highlights the example of a student being absent. In this situation, the entire class erupts in a protest because the student is physically on campus. This has happened to me many times, and I should have learned my lesson early on. The students say, “But Jimmy’s here!” and I say “But he is not in this classroom and in his seat”. We then go back and forth, wasting class time. The board work will not only maximize student learning by getting them to think right away, it will also minimize classroom interruptions that distract from learning.

Learning vs. Teaching

I think an important part in distinguishing learning from teaching is the focus on understanding. In looking solely at teaching, there are no questions that ask if the students are getting it. However, learning demands that there is open communication between student and teacher. This is the opportunity for the teacher to constantly be checking in with the students, and being aware of the different rates of progress in their learning. All students learn in different ways and at different speeds. With this in mind, the focus in education should first and foremost be on the student’s learning, so that teaching is then constructed around learning.

I see that teaching can easily occur without learning becoming the outcome. Learning engages students in classroom activities that have been specifically designed with those students in mind. This type of teacher is continuously assessing student learning while adapting lesson plans to fit the student’s needs. In the video that we watched today, I saw the students actively learning and not simply being “taught”. The learning was distinguished by the students showing understanding of the subject matter and being able to apply it on their own. Phillip implemented the concept of scaffolding well by giving them questions that caused them to think critically about the subject. He actively involved the students by arranging the classroom in a way that would support the depth of discussion that he was hoping for. Throughout the discussion process, Phillip was there the entire time helping students along the way. To move the students along in the right direction he said, “I want to have you talking to each other. I want to hear noise.” Phillip was giving students step-by-step instructions, but enough space to move around in their own thinking. He also gave students consistent encouragement and feedback. He would regulate the discussion and recognize student achievement throughout this process. These students were learning because Phillip was not only teaching, he was leading.



The Inner Game of Teaching

This chapter focuses on a teacher’s “inner and outer world” and this impacts the teacher’s behavior as well as student-teacher relationships (Marzano & Marzano 2010, p. 345).  The authors seem to focus on control of emotion and thoughts, because it is that emotion that drives behavior. I agree with Marzano and Marzano (2010) when they propose that the “basic operating principals” will greatly influence a teachers approach to their position (p. 348). If a teacher believes that students are inherently prone to misbehavior, then this will become evident in their relationship with the students. From my experience, students quickly see this type of teacher as a disciplinarian rather than someone who wants to help them. On the other hand, when a teacher approaches students believing that they can reach high standards and expectations then this once again becomes clear in their positive relationship.

Marzano and Marzano’s (2010) breakdown of interpreting a “presenting event” seemed at first obvious, and I assumed that this should be second nature. However, the more that I sat with the passage, the more that I realized that these questions are not always the first thing that comes to my mind. In my first year of teaching when I found interruptions in the classroom, I at times asked myself other questions. What would the other teachers do? What does the student need? What would the student’s parents want my reaction to be? Although these are all good questions, most of them are based in the opinions of others. These opinions could be subjective or situational and not always the best query for what I needed. Marzano and Marzano (2010) suggest asking the following questions: “1. What is it? 2. Is it positive or negative? 3. How important is it? 4 How do I feel about it?” (p. 350).  The questions are simply yet powerful. This was a light bulb moment for me, as a remembered countless times where I had to sift through a long list of questions in my mind and quickly come up with a good reaction to student behavior. I can now have this short list that I consistently refer back to until it becomes second nature.

For a teacher to succeed in the inner game of teaching, Marzano and Marzano (2010) focus on the teacher being perceptive of their goals and interpretation of classroom events. Teachers need to constantly be thinking ahead of possible outcomes and looking for avenues to reach their goals. This practice comes from a teacher’s ability to think on their feet and a readiness for whatever might come their way. After reading through the elements of introspection, it is clear that this running commentary of important questions takes practice. I know that many people already have this gift of simultaneously perceiving, thinking and decision-making. At the same time, I wonder is this skill something that can also be developed?