E

E – Exemplify service to the teaching profession.

This is where all of the principles come into action. This is where teachers lead by example through their planning, instruction and actions to others. I do this by being professionally informed as I am dedicated to not only teaching, but also to constantly seeking opportunities to learn and grow. I understand the immense responsibility that I have been given and do not hold it lightly. It is my goal to make a positive impact on student’s lives by pursuing growth, learning from the wisdom of others through collaboration, and carefully planning my instruction around my professional responsibilities as a teacher.

E1 – Exemplify professionally-informed, growth-centered practice. 

How do I exemplify professionally-informed, growth-centered practice?

Growth is not something that just simply happens, it is something that is sought after through careful study, practice, action and then reflection upon those actions. Marzano (2010) says that teachers should devote time to deliberate practice, and in this point I believe that “practice” is the key word (p. 238). I had the opportunity to plan my own curriculum this year for my Junior High Visual Arts class. I laid the foundation of this class with my private school’s overall standards and then layered that with the state standards. My goal was for students to learn the basics of graphic design and video production while exploring their own unique perspectives and worldviews. Throughout this class I gave time and effort to careful research so that I was professionally informed as I planned lessons, instruction and assessments. After practicing new approaches, I always make sure to analyze the impact on student learning. I look for areas that went well and should be repeated, I look for holes where students slipped through the cracks, I look for failures that need to be redesigned; all with the intention to continue to grow. An example of this process is my following analysis of an assessment that I created as the first project in the Photoshop unit called A Play On Words, where students first got to practice their new found knowledge in graphic design.

In my research and planning for instruction, I wanted to make sure that this assignment not only assessed student understanding of the required tools, but it also forced them to think critically about language. I researched best practices, collaborated with the other art teacher and decided on this project because it required students to choose a compound word or phrase that could be divided into two separate images, which could then be creatively blended together. Students had to wrap their minds not only around creating a new entity, but also how to visually display language without using the actual written words.

The students jumped right into the project because they got to choose the subject and explore their creativity through the project. One of my strengths is my effort to create relationships with my students and know what they are interested in. After researching the positive effects that peer evaluation can have on students, I decided to end this assessment by showcasing the students’ work in front of the class and inviting them to have on open discussion about their art. The students were encouraged to provide positive feedback and constructive criticism to their classmates throughout the showcase. During the feedback portions, I was astonished by the students’ respect for one another’s work, as well as how practical and helpful their suggestions were for each other. The students who knew they had given as much effort as possible to the project were very excited to present their work to class. One student even asked me if we would be showcasing our work for the next project. Although some students, who did not devote themselves as much as they could have, were not as enthusiastic to showcase their assignments, I noticed a marked change in the amount of effort these students applied to our next project.

As I continued to assess the students’ work and the overall success of this project, I divided the students’ work into high, medium, and low performance categories. I was delighted to find that most of the students’ work was actually in the high and medium categories. The high category included the students who took this project beyond my expectations. Students knew that the overall completion of the project only required for them to blend two images together. However, most of the students went much farther and added more images to better complete their “Play On Words”. I was surprised that a large majority decided to go above and beyond what the project asked for by creating a background for their image. The main misunderstanding that students in the high category had was remembering to follow directions. Some students just took off with the project and forgot to continue to refer back to the requirements handout that I had posted online for them to view. Since these students were not referring back to these instructions, they missed small details that I had asked for and still had to grade them on.

The high performance student’s work sample  (shown below) shows that the student went above and beyond the project’s expectations. This is a good example because it reflects the actions of the other high performance students as they all chose to blend more than just two images. The student’s “house fly” displays well-placed details to make the picture come alive with the theme. The student also brought in complex placement of the image, as it is titled to create action on a background that was once again not required to have.

As I am analyzing this assessment, I see the need for providing more of a challenge for the high performance students while at the same time not leaving the other students behind. The high performance students did one of two things: finished early and had nothing to do or tried to learn new tools on their own.  There was of course a challenge for the students who finished early, but there was also a challenge with these students who wanted to jump ahead to new tools that I had not taught them yet. This means that they took some of my time to answer questions that I would eventually answer in later instruction. I enjoyed their eagerness to learn, but I wonder if I needed to use that time to help the low level students catch up. In the future, I think that a helpful solution would be to provide an extra credit assignment that the high performance students could work on if they finished early. This would continue the learning process rather than class becoming a study hall for the high performance students, and it would also give me time to get the other students up to speed.

The medium performance students did well on this assignment and most of these students met every requirement that I gave them for this project. I would say that these students were split into the following two categories: Students who were giving a 100% effort but found that the details in technology can be challenging, and students who met the project’s requirements quickly so that they could be done early. I only had a few students who decided to do the latter. The student example that I chose for the medium performance (shown below) was one of these situations where the student rushed through the work so that he or she could be finished early. I tried to encourage this student to follow in the footsteps of the high performance and go above and beyond the project’s expectations through suggestions for the student to explore. However, these efforts did not create the desired outcome with this content student. The student used the first images that he found and did not look for creative placement of where to blend the worm with the book but instead just put it right in the middle with the need for more blending. I found a number of students who also fell into this category, and in the future, I think that it would be helpful address this issue in class. Students who finish early could automatically be assigned an extra credit assignment, which might motivate them to take more time on the project at hand.

I found it interesting that the low performance students had difficulty creating a good design rather than the challenge coming from misunderstanding Photoshop’s tools. After practice, these students absolutely understood how to use the Magnetic Lasso, the Quick Selection Tool, the Move Tool, The Blur Tool, and The Eraser Tool. However, they were lazy designers. These students did not give attention to detail, which produced a “messy” outcome in their work. The low performance student example  (shown below) of “eye balls” shows messy lines with pieces of the image left behind. The student missed important details that made the product look unfinished and contained mistakes like pieces of his soccer balls being erased. I think that effective next steps would be to show students examples of what “clean” versus “messy” graphic design looks like. When we started this section, I verbally explained these ideas but I think that visual examples would have given the students something to better comprehend. In the project’s instructions, I might also change the wording of “clear, clean lines” to a more detailed explanation of what I’m looking for.

To conclude this analysis of student learning in the assessment project “A Play On Words”, I found that this project as a whole effectively achieved the project’s objectives. In this analysis, I have described the different levels of student performance, discussed challenges, and explored next step solutions to these challenges. This Junior High Visual Arts class is filled with different learning styles and levels of technical proficiency. My goal is to meet each student where they are and have them ask themselves, “What does my 100% effort look like?” Hopefully, this approach will lead to better all-around learners. Throughout this internship, I have learned to be intentional in seeking growth through practice and careful evaluation that is professionally informed. I have learned to use my resources in technology and literature to inform my planning and instruction. The importance of using other colleagues as resources also plays a major role in my success as a teacher and continued growth. I plan to continue to find joy in the process of growth rather than finding failure. I will continue to find opportunities to learn, grow, improve my performance as a practiced teacher and diligent learner.

High Performance Student:

Medium Performance Student:

Low Performance Student:

Marzano, R. (2010). Developing Expert Teachers. In R. Marzano (Ed.), On Excellence in Teaching (pp 213 – 245). Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.

E2 – Exemplify collaboration within the school.

How do I exemplify collaboration within my school?

It is of utmost importance for teachers to come together and collaborate because we have so much to learn from each other. I make an effort in my school to collaborate with other teachers, the administration and families by building relationships. These relationships exist because I have dedicated time and effort into communication through face to face meetings, phone calls, and emails. My school has also put teachers in collaboration teams that we call PLC (Professional Learning Community) groups where we consistently meet to sharpen each other and grow together as educators. I think that the “Community” aspect of this group is extra important because these relationships also create an open environment for teachers to bring collaboration into the classrooms.

Our last meeting made a big impact on me because we dedicated most of the time to really learn from each other’s experiences, knowledge and unique perspectives. During this meeting, we focused on thinking about what our “Best Practices” are and then shared them with the group.

On the first page of this PLC’s Minutes, the collaboration begins by reviewing the overall goals of our PLC and then the specific goals that we hope to reach in this meeting. I think that this is a very important practice because we place so much weight on having goals for our students to reach while we as teachers also need objectives to follow. Our team then used the majority of the time to discuss our best teaching practices. I quickly noticed how diverse these practices were, which reminded me of how we can use these differences to grow. This group has a wide range of educators who teach art, photography, choir, band, video production, and special learning. Everyone has different styles and practices, and I found that many of these approaches would also work well in my classes. I specifically took to heart what Teacher B said about seeing through the student’s perspectives. I have taken this statement to practice by focusing on what a junior high or high school student goes through on a daily basis to become educated. Teacher B was saying that she specifically looks into the student’s social interactions and the emotional roller coaster that students are going through and tries to incorporate that into the learning process. She made an excellent point by explaining that most teenagers are much more concerned with how their peers in the classroom view them than the work itself. If teachers can better understand the high and lows of teenage emotion, then we can better encourage, instruct, and guide students towards learning.

Throughout this collaboration time, I also took away some specific practices that I hope to incorporate in my classroom. Teachers D and F explained how important storytelling is in their junior high and high school classrooms. I found this to be an interesting best practice because I would have expected it in an elementary setting rather than in high school classes. On the contrary, these teachers said that storytelling was one of their main best practices because it causes students to let their guards down and engage with the material. People love hearing stories and students will tune in to listen without realizing that they are also learning at the same time.

Teacher G reminded me of how important it is to make sure that students are actively engaging with the subject matter. This teacher said that he does this by constantly being on his feet and circling the classroom; always creating movement and checking in with students. I have actually sat in this teacher’s classroom and can attest that he does this the entire time and it does have a positive effect on the students. I think that I have grown in this multitasking skill over this year, but I think that there is still more room to grow.

In this collaboration group, we are dedicated to encouraging each other to become better teachers. I choose to make the most from this valuable opportunity and have given this group a fresh perspective on how we can grow together. I have expanded this collaboration beyond this group and into the classroom so that it can even further benefit student learning. It is so important for teachers to use each other as resources because as seen from this PLC, we all bring something different to the table.

E3 – Exemplify an understanding of professional responsibilities and policies.

How do I exemplify an understanding of professional responsibilities and policies?

My understanding of the professional responsibilities and policies that I am held to as an educator are seen in my everyday actions with students, families, teachers, and the administration of my school. This knowledge helps me to seek growth and collaboration with others. It is very important for me to understand the expectations that my private Christian school holds me to, especially in my internship because I was asked to create curriculum for many of the classes that I was teaching. This curriculum had to support students at various learning levels and also align with the overall state standards.

An example of meeting the professional responsibilities that my school holds me to is how I have supported my special needs students throughout the year. Since I have a number of special needs students in my classes, I decided to collaborate with the special education teachers at my school in order to establish a better learning environment in my class. My school has dedicated much effort to creating a stable system for students with 504 plans or IEP’s. In this system, we have these students interlaced throughout our classes, while they have specialists that they work with alongside our classes. After my first meeting with the SAS department at my school, I soon realized that the success of these specific students would not only be an outcome of my effort in the classroom but also the relationship that I had with the special education teachers. In this newfound collaboration, the teachers believed that the first order of action should be for me to see through my student’s point of view. These teachers had me observe their one-on-one learning sessions with my students to better understand the challenges that these students face. The situations that shocked me the most were the students who could not understand social interaction and could not attach meaning to communication. As I was able to see from my student’s perspectives, I soon realized where some of my blind spots were. To fill in the gap, I have started an open communication line with the SAS instructors of my students. I am constantly updating them on what is going on in class, so that they can then work one-on-one with the students to ensure understanding. These instructors are in return giving me feedback of what is working, what is not and what should be reevaluated in my classroom. In this instance, my professional responsibilities took me outside of the classroom as I was asked to give extra time and effort into seeing through my students’ perspectives.

I display my understanding of my professional responsibilities as a teacher not only in every day actions, but also in the careful planning and preparation that I take for each class period. I have taken extra time to meet with my Principal and mentors to make sure that I fully understand the expectations that my private school has for me as a visual arts teacher. These responsibilities also align with state standards, but the foundation is based on the Christian faith that my school’s mission was founded on. To bring these expectations into my teaching, I created my Classroom Management Plan and based it on what I believe as an educator. The first paragraph on page one shows that my philosophy of management stems from my understanding of the overall professional responsibilities that my private school has given me.

I have based my Classroom Rules on respect and give students high expectations because I believe in them to reach these goals (pg. 2). My Discipline and Consequences also align with my school’s standards by taking the students’ misbehavior and immediately finding a solution of growth (pg. 4). My Conclusion on the final page of my “Classroom Management Plan” does acknowledge that it is based on the professional responsibilities that my school holds me to as a teacher. I put a great amount of time and effort into also making sure that these plans also aligned with the overall state standards. I will continue to stay current with state standards and policies to base my classroom planning and instruction on this foundation. Since every teacher brings different perspectives and personalities to the educational field, it is important to make sure that I am combining my unique approach with my professional responsibilities to positively affect student learning.

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