Tag Archives: reflective practitioner

PLNs Please

Reflection is a part of teaching. As summer begins every year, I find myself rethinking, reworking, and reorganizing for my students. In response to Margaret Regan’s Edutopia posting Six Steps to Master Teaching: Becoming a Reflective Practitioner, I am dedicating the next several blog entries to these six steps.

Professional Learning Communities have been all the rage in the last few years. These PLCs can be defined by one’s common planning time/conference period, the entire core subject department, the grade level of the department and/or team teaching, but they do not have to be limited to these groups.

Regan suggests in her blog posting on Master Teaching that “teachers need time with their colleagues outside the classroom, . . .” and many teachers and administrators would agree, for how can one mentor another if they do not spend time together outside of the classroom? Too often we hear the quick response, “There’s not enough time!” Here is the clincher; we must make time to mentor new teachers. Moreover, we as veteran teachers  must make time to rejuvenate our teaching practices. It is important to stay relevant and have the ability to connect to our audience.

Collectively, all teachers need to asses their instruction to create better teaching. This is where teaching becomes a craft. Any great craftsman hones his craft, which makes him a better craftsman in his specific field. As teachers we have many options in professional development; however, what is better than analyzing and developing our own craft of teaching? Reflection, discussion and analysis can be great avenues in improving our teaching skills and assessment strategies. Collaborating with our peers and colleagues can allow for success all around – for new teachers, veteran teachers and students!

It is an ideal situation to be able to use our conference period(s) and/or common planning time(s) to meet with our colleagues in a physical PLC. What do you do about developing your PLC, if the ideal situation is not realistic on your campus? For example, what does a teacher do in this instance if her planning time is not the same as her mentor teacher’s planning time (imagine the endless possibilities of variables in public schools that create challenging schedules to accommodate our students, much less our teachers!)?

Professional Learning Networks not only can be far larger than one’s department, but also can be more accessible, more informed and resourceful and very positive. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest are just a few networks which allow teachers access to the entire world. I enjoy connecting with other teachers and administrators from other subjects, grades, districts, states and countries around the world via Twitter. There are numerous positive elements of using social media networks for professional learning and networking.

How do you create more effective instruction and assessment in your classroom? In your department?

Mentors and veteran teachers, what suggestions would you share with new teachers about perfecting his/her instruction and/or assessment?

Do you use an effective format for your PLC on your campus? Tell us how it works for you.

If you use Twitter (or any other social media network for your PLC) and you are willing to connect and network with other teachers, please feel free to comment and share your contact information and other resources.

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Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

Reflection is a part of teaching. As the new calendar year begins, I find myself rethinking, reworking, and reorganizing for my students. In response to Margaret Regan’s Edutopia posting Six Steps to Master Teaching: Becoming a Reflective Practitioner, I am dedicating the next several blog entries to these six steps.

Step #1 Understand Your Reasons for Teaching

Regan mentions that many teachers are inspired at a young age as students by some of their own teachers. However, my reason for teaching is much more intricate than solely the influence of a another teacher. I have had a calling to teach, to educate, to lead since I was in the first grade. Neither of my parents were involved in education, nor were my grandparents. Teaching has always been the forefront of my existence. It is not just what I do, teaching is who I am.

There are a few teachers who inspired me during my years as a student. Mostly, I was influenced by teachers who were excited and passionate about teaching. The most influential teacher was my sophomore English teacher. She taught me how to think independently, and that skill made a world of difference in my life.

English language arts and reading were obvious choices for me as subject areas because I enjoyed literature in school. My best grades were in English. Ironically, I was not a good reader, but I loved books; therefore, I wanted to know why I had problems reading, which led to my minor at Stephen F. Austin State University. The confidence in good grades and the passion for literature led to my avenue for teaching English/language arts. However, I take greater pride in teaching students than teaching my subject area.

I challenge each teacher to reflect to the early years and name that teacher who inspired and/or influenced the teacher in the mirror. What are the qualities that this teacher portrayed that made all the difference?

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Filed under Master Teaching, Reflection