Meta-Reflection: What Have I Learned?

I came into the Survey of Instructional Strategies course with past knowledge of popular teaching strategies but I did not realize how extensive these strategies could be. This course helped me to not only understand these approaches, but to be able to implement them in my classroom. The examples that we were provided with throughout this course gave me clearer vision on the best ways to use these tools with my students, meeting the standards of “E1-Exemplify professionally informed, growth-centered practice”. In our first module, we were asked to think about how to design instruction to meet the needs of all students. In the article, “Closing Opportunity Gaps in Washington’s Public Education System”, the authors write, “All students can succeed, but they need highly effective teachers, exemplary curriculum and materials, and appropriate academic and social support” (2010). These thoughts have stayed with me throughout this class because I feel that every piece of this quote is necessary to help students succeed.

In the beginning of the class we read through “Classroom Instruction that Works” and this gave me a chance to think about some of the strategies that were new to me as I considered how I could utilize them in the future. This was also a chance for me to look at strategies that I was already using and evaluate what changes could be made that would make them more effective. An example would be this LESSON PLAN Artifact where I implemented the strategy of “Non-linguistic Representations” and “Assigning Homework and Providing Practice”. In this lesson, the strategies were productive but as I reflect on what I now know I realize that I could have used these approaches to take the students deeper into their learning. The strategies are not meant to simply convey knowledge, they are rather a means to get students to evaluate, question and discover the content material in a manner that will stick with them. Concerning Nonlinguistic Representations, Dean et al (2012) states, “Imagery is expressed as mental pictures or physical sensations, such as smell, taste, touch, kinesthetic association, and sound” (p. 63).  In the future, I plan on using this short video about TROUBLESHOOTING TECHNOLOGY that I made as a Non-linguistic Representation to introduce students to problem solving with technological materials.

As we continued through each module in this course, we were given the opportunity to role-play the strategies that we were learning about. In MY VIDEO PROJECT, I learned a great deal about Cooperative Learning and discovered new ways to implement this strategy in future Video Production classes. Dell’Olio and Donk (2007) state, “Cooperative learning is an approach to instruction that provides both the opportunity and the organization for balanced, successful, and satisfying group learning experiences” (p. 246). This is a fantastic approach that puts students in the driver’s seat rather than me with a white board. Bruner’s approach to teaching points the students to self-discovery of the content material. The author (1966) writes, “Discovery teaching involves not so much the process of leading students to discover what is ‘out there,’ but, rather, their discovering what is in their own heads” (p. 1). This is where I learned that teaching is not all up front; it is instead walking beside students and helping them discover the world around them.

I enjoyed the hands-on based approaches throughout this course because they work so well in my technology classes where students are constantly working with cameras, computers and software programs. Strategies such as Cooperative Learning, Concept Attainment, Advance Organizers and Role Playing all allow significant visual components to their implementation. An example of the Role Playing approach can be viewed in artifact 1 and 2 (see below) from a graphic design class that I taught. In this class, I had students create a personal business complete with a purpose, vision statement, and an extensive brand identity by using Office Word and Adobe Photoshop. Through the strategy of Role Playing, students were completely invested into the project because they got to play the role of a marketer in the business world.

As I reflect on my progress throughout this course, I realize that my approach to teaching has grown. I am not simply thinking about making a curriculum to meet the end goal of delivering knowledge to my students. Instead, I am delicately crafting a curriculum that utilizes an array of instructional strategies to meet the needs of a diverse room of learners. Dell’Olio and Donk (2007) bring up this example of my paradigm shift through the use of the Inductive Model by stating, “…the teacher is to continue asking students questions to facilitate their thinking, as opposed to providing praise for the ‘right’ answers” (p.160). As a result of my learning throughout this course, I will be not only a better teacher but also a better learner. I discovered that there are a multitude of instructional strategies and I need to continue to test these approaches in my classroom, evaluate the outcomes, make any necessary changes and then continue to implement.

References

Artifact 1:

Publisher

Artifact 2:

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Past vs. Present

How do I know that I am making a difference in my student’s lives? This was a question that was a reply post on my bPortfolio and made me start to try and answer it. Some days I know that I am making a difference from the interactions that I have with my students, simply through the students exclaiming, “Oh, I get it!” Since teaching is an up and down battle, some days make me feel quite the opposite from my previous statement. However, the knowledge of a teacher’s positive effect in the classroom does not simply ride on daily interactions. We are coming up on the first quarter of school being finished and I can already see a big difference between my classes on the first day of school and where we stand today. The students have grown not only in their knowledge about technology, but also in critical thinking and social interaction with each other. There is a large amount of my students taking the technology projects and really putting their hearts into it. I not only see a change in many of my student’s attitudes, but also in the quality of their work. This comparison from the past to the present is very rewarding.

In both of my technology classes we started off the semester with students raising their hands every five seconds saying that they didn’t understand something that we were doing on the computer. Do I still have students who get lost sometimes? Yes, but I now have something that I did not have in the beginning: students who can problem solve for themselves and find the answer without giving up. This skill is crucial when using technology because there are honestly a lot of things that can go wrong. I have earnestly tried to teach my students this skill through instruction, practice and helpful reminders. It is truly exciting to see a student say that they have a technical problem, and by the time I get to answer their question the student replies, “I don’t have a problem anymore because I figured it out on my own.”

My First Week Of School…

I learned a lot in my first week of teaching. I learned that no matter how beautiful and well thought through my plans are, they will still change in the moment. This first semester, I am teaching a Junior High Technology class and a High School Technology/Information Literacy class. My plans for both of the classes had moment-by-moment instructions of what I planned on happening in each class. The problem was that nothing usually goes to plan. This truth has changed the way that I am now approaching my classes this year. My plans now have space for change to occur and the freedom for me to alter the path of learning to better fit the learner.

During the first week of class, I also learned the importance of flexibility. There was a miscommunication between the administration and myself about one of the classes that I was set to teach. In that miscommunication, I created a syllabus for a Video Production class that I thought I was teaching. On the first day of school I learned from a student of mine that I was actually teaching Technology/Information Literacy. I quickly had a meeting with my principal to correctly understand the vision of the class; I then altered my plans, and spent my afternoon creating a new syllabus. I am learning to think on my feet, which has proven to be an exciting journey so far.