Hope Reflection: E1–Goal Setting

E1 – Exemplify professionally-informed, growth-centered practice. In order to ensure that my teaching practice is both professionally-informed and growth centered means engaging in constant self-assessment and reflection. But more importantly than reflecting on the effectiveness of my instructional strategies or classroom management techniques, pursuing professionally-informed growth means setting goals and making specific plans for improvement. It is so easy to be consumed by the many daily and weekly tasks of planning, grading and teaching, but throughout this program and my internship, I have learned the absolute necessity of taking time for personal reflection as a means to setting attainable, measurable goals and benchmarks to signpost my personal and professional growth and development.
A specific example of reflection and goal setting is the draft I made of my Professional Growth Plan for Residency Teacher Certification:

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By assessing myself according to different rubrics in different areas: effective communication of expectations, differentiating instruction, using multiple data elements to plan and adjust instruction, and collaboration with families and community members concerning student learning, I was able to assign a numeric value to my skill level and performance before identifying goal, specific goals or skills needed to meet my goals, specific actions steps I could take toward the accomplishment of my goal, as well as what types of evidence I could use to demonstrate improvement. Goal setting not only directs attention and behavior, but demands action because one must rely first on the knowledge or skills he or she already has, in order to then identify and pursue the new knowledge or skills required to achieve the goal (Locke & Latham, 2002). Goal setting fosters patience and persistence, a “stick-to-it-ness,” acknowledging that growth and change is a process, an accomplishment that requires seeking. I recognize that especially as a teacher, I must always be seeking, pursuing ways in which to improve my thinking, my organization, my communication, my strategies, my classroom management, my instruction. Moving forward, I will continue to set both personal and professional goals, both independently and in conjunction with my peers and administration in order to be a relevant, dynamic and effective educator.

Locke, E. A., & Latham, G. P. (2002). Building a practically useful theory of goal setting and task motivation: A 35–year odyssey. American Psychologist, 57, 705–717.

Professionally-Informed, Growth-Centered Practices

E1: Exemplify professionally-informed, growth-centered practice. Seeking to continually improve and grow has been a key practice for me as a student teacher these last four months. It is easy to become so consumed with the many daily and weekly tasks of planning, grading, teaching that often I would get to the end of a week and realize that I had not taken time to really reflect on why or why not certain aspects of my lessons did or did not go well. In asking for feedback from my mentor teacher, I often was given a short list of teaching-related things to consider adjusting for improvement. Along with personal reflection, I used this constructive criticism to set attainable daily goals for myself which not only allowed me to have small benchmarks to mark my own growth and development, but also created opportunities for me to have small professional successes such as improving my classroom management which contributed to the overall success of my students.

A specific example of feedback and goal setting emerged toward the end of my internship when my mentor teachers gave me feedback by way of a disposition assessment. Because effective teachers should exhibit dispositions that produce positive, constructive interaction with others, this assessment provides teacher candidates the opportunity to reflect and receive input regarding personality, temperament and outlook all of which contribute to actions and patterns of conduct. After receiving feedback from my mentor teachers, I was then able to set some professional goals for myself. With these newly set goals, I have the opportunity to monitor my personal progress, growth and development in these specific areas, moving forward.

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Willingness to seek-out and gracefully receive constructive criticism from colleagues is the mark of a teacher who is always seeking self-improvement and professional development. Moving forward, setting personal and professional goals and taking the time to self-reflect on my progress toward those goals will prevent me from becoming stagnant, too comfortable or unobservant of what does and does not work in the classroom.

Consistency in Grading and Educational Philosophies

E1—Exemplify professionally informed, growth-centered practice. To me, E1 means having a grading philosophy that is consistent and reflective of my educational philosophy so that my rationale and approach to grading reflects the learning priorities of my classroom. Throughout this quarter in EDU 6160, I have continued to revisit and develop my own educational philosophy based on mastery learning. Mastery learning is a method of teaching that involves the student reaching a predetermined level of mastery on units of instruction before progressing to the next. The philosophy is rooted in the idea that although students taught according to the mastery method may require more time, remediation, additional practice, support and multiple attempts to reach proficiency in the beginning of a course or unit, they will likely need less time to master increasingly advanced material because they have developed such a strong foundation.

The text we used throughout this course, Classroom Assessment—supporting teaching and learning in real classrooms, contains many useful examples of how to design and implement different strategies and assessments. Figure 1, below, is evidence of an aspect of grading policy reflective of a mastery approach to learning.

Figure 1 (pg. 386):

Ms. Henry’s gives more weight to the work her students do later in the unit or quarter rather than their first attempts because she values the improvement of skills and learning growth over time. In addition to weighting grades based on the skills and knowledge at the end of a grading period, aspects of a grading philosophy that I will employ as a proponent of mastery learning include providing detailed feedback on student work, structuring my curriculum to allow for multiple attempts and student growth over time including allowing students opportunities to revise and resubmit their work (pg. 402).

The philosophy of mastery learning is a very new understanding I will try to model my teaching practices after, in part because it starkly contrasts my private school learning experience where grades were based on initial success or failure and multiple opportunities to revisit material and revise assignments were not common practices. A mastery approach to learning appeals to me because it honors student diversity and rewards achievement.

I believe that every student is capable of achievement and proficiency if he or she is properly supported. The mastery learning approach honors the fact that students are capable, but that they do not necessarily learn at the same pace. I’ve come to understand that grading and educational philosophies should not punish students for not learning as if in an assembly line, but rather should provide the necessary structure, tools and support to ensure success—especially because success encourages confidence and motivates effort and achievement. Inviting student feedback and suggestions gives students a stake in their achievement and is an important next step in ensuring that practices remain effective in addressing student needs.

Reference: Taylor, C. S., & Nolen, S. B. (2008). Classroom assessment: supporting teaching and learning in real classrooms (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson/Merrill/Prentice Hall.