EDS 111

Final Thoughts on EDS 111

ejournal 10 / final requirement

Prompt: Go back to the questions for the Introductory Forum in Module 0. Disregarding your prior answers to these questions, respond to these again. After which, compare your current answers to your former responses. Were there any difference? What could be the reasons for the changes (or lack thereof) in your responses?

  • What denotes effective teaching for you?  Provide justification/s for your answer.
  • What do you think are the characteristics and skills that teachers should possess in order to become effective teachers?  Why?
  • What is the role of teachers for you?

Effective teaching is the optimization of classroom atmosphere, strategies, relationships, and approach to create the best possible opportunities to learn, in terms of both quantity and quality. Effective teaching comes from the evolution classroom skills, strategies, and approaches driven by experience and active reflection. Participating in professional development, collaborative learning communities, and ongoing education can be powerful sources for gaining experiential wisdom and relevant new skills. Reflection is a necessary process for assessing strengths, weaknesses, missed opportunities, and successful approaches that will help teachers better prepare for meeting learning goals, and overcome shortcomings in the future.  Necessary knowledge for effective teaching includes content/subject area, pedagogical techniques, and relevant technology. Effective teaching must be founded on sound instructional skills, but also requires skills of classroom management, motivation, working with diverse learners, and interpersonal skills.

An effective teacher must be able to develop learning outcomes, structure and plan suitable lessons and activities, monitor pacing, design appropriate assessments, and reflect upon and modify weak course areas. However, these instructional skills are not enough to denote effective teaching. The ability to relate to and connect with students is a powerful force in effective teaching. Students who elect to engage and want to succeed (whether to please a teacher, satisfy intrinsic motivation, or feel included in the group dynamic) will be better learners. Effective teachers demonstrate reliability and interest in student wellbeing through open discussions with students, approachability, humor, and appropriate challenging of beliefs and ideas. The teacher-student relationship must be cultivated so that both parties feel responsible to one another.

A teacher’s first role is develop a plan for instruction and prepare appropriate materials and learning experiences. A teacher must have a clear idea of the educational journey she expects to guide her students through. A teacher’s next duty is to create a safe space (mentally and physically) for learners to engage with new ideas and knowledge earnestly and authentically. Students who are fearful of making mistakes, expect ridicule from peers or teachers, or do not feel capable of succeeding will not be able to overcome these barriers without support and encouragement from their teacher.

My original response to the above questions:

Effective teaching involves engaging students in a way that appeals to their innate curiosity and addresses and challenges their preconceived thoughts. Effective teaching requires one to be completely present and absorbed in the practice of evoking responses from and interaction with students. Delivery of instructional material is certainly a part of teaching, but to be truly effective, a teacher must inspire students to reach and surpass their potential.

An effective teacher should play to the ability of her students and encourage authentic exploration and discovery of new meaning. For example, a teacher conducting the exact same lesson taught to two different classes would perform and interact with the each group differently because each group of students has unique needs, ideas, and questions.

A teacher’s role is to stimulate the mind and guide students through the discovery process, not just in the academic sense, but holistically – in terms of morality, self-awareness and identity, and the interconnectedness of nature, society, and self. I think teachers play an important role in shaping young community members and have a responsibility to mentor children emotionally, socially, academically, and spiritually.

I think my first response to the Introductory Forum questions were appropriate but focused too heavily on the philosophical role of teachers. I originally emphasized a teacher’s role as a role model and motivator, but I didn’t address the more concrete principles necessary for effective teaching. In both responses, I noted that teaching is more than ‘delivery of instructional material’ and includes an ability to connect with learners on a more personal, human level. Overall, I think this course allowed my to better understand that effective teaching draws from technical skills as well as interpersonal skills relating to how to engage and inspire students.

My first response also failed to acknowledge the ‘collaborative’ component of teaching and the importance of ongoing learning and reflection for improving one’s work year after year. But I can now realize and relate new terminology to my original response. For example, in January I stated that Effective teaching requires one to be completely present and absorbed in the practice of evoking responses from and interaction with students.’ I now recognize this as a description of ‘flow.’

While my original response had some valid points about the importance of appealing to student interest and curiosity, I think my final response was more cohesive and complete. I can refer to this reflection in the future to help keep me focused on creating impactful instruction, a motivating and positive atmosphere, and engaging in meaningful reflection and learning experiences to keep my work sharp, relevant, and effective.

Prompt: Do the same thing (refer to #1) for the TPI.

  • What do your results on the TPI say about your perspectives on teaching?
  • What are their implications on your beliefs, intentions, and actions on teaching?

My TPI results indicate that my dominant perspective is Nurturing, followed closely by Apprenticeship and Developmental. I agree with Pratt that over time and with more experience, my understanding of myself as a teacher will be greater and my dominant perspective will be more readily observable. Pratt commented that experienced teachers know what they are and what they want to be, as well as what they aren’t and don’t want to be. Over the years and with greater reflection and experience, I imagine my beliefs about teaching and my choices in the classroom will be more clearly defined.

My result of a dominant Nurturing perspective stems from my belief that each learner can succeed academically with effort, motivation, and emotional support. I would like to note, however, that my action score was highest in Apprenticeship. This perspective is probably manifested in my use of zones of development. By modifying my instruction and guidance based on learner competence and development, I encourage greater independence as learners grow.

My original response to the above questions:

My results from the TPI show that nurturing is my dominant teaching view, followed closely by apprenticeship.  I feel well represented by these two perspectives and can think of classroom examples in which I demonstrated the values associated with each. 

As a kindergarten teacher, it is difficult to be anything but nurturing. I must provide a of balance academic and emotional support for students in order to make them feel comfortable in the classroom and to trust me as their teacher.  Much of my day-to-day work centers on this nurturing perspective and promoting self-esteem, motivating from a place of unconditional acceptance and support, and valuing sincere effort and personal development.  I’m interested in how each student is progressing individually in terms of confidence, self-assuredness, and effort, as well as how his/her achievement compares to other students and my own expectations.  At the beginning of the school year, I must first develop personal relationships with the students through listening, bonding activities, and a caring demeanor.  Once students begin to feel safe and more expressive in the classroom, they can be directed to more academic goals.  A child who feels threatened, harassed, or stressed (whether from school or home) cannot learn.  A nurturing perspective can be an exhausting physical and emotional commitment for the teacher, but students are given the opportunity to explore the limits of their own ability and effort without fear of failure. (Pratt)

Apprenticeship is another perspective that plays significantly into my teaching.  Even at the kindergarten level, I approach the learning objectives as expressed expectations for the group.  For example, the whole class understands that phonics and basic reading and writing ability are the ultimate academic goals.  I teach to the group as a whole then ask students to practice simple tasks, such as identifying sounds.  Scaffolding is essential, and I think it ties back into building confidence.  Some students need more teacher guidance to practice complex skills before they gain the competence to work independently.  Each student works at a different pace, but they are all working on similar tasks toward the same goal. The students express a feeling of accomplishment and a sense of identity as they learn crucial skills and gain knowledge.  They clearly identify the academic work they do with their own kindergarten class and motivate each other to emulate the skills and work ethic of the community. 

The first time I took the TPI, I think I struggled a bit to focus on one content area and one group of learners. I hemmed and hawed over what response to give because I appreciated the significance of the ideas represented in each statement. Even though I may find validity in many of the statements, they don’t all manifest in my own classroom actions and values. I felt more confident in my answers taking the inventory the second time around. Still, my results were the same and I feel my response was well justified in the first forum discussion.

Prompt: Reflect deeply on how this course has:

  • changed/enhanced/influenced the way you think about the teaching process and the profession of teaching in general; and
  • impacted you as a teacher/pre-service teacher.

This course has influenced the way I think about and define a professional teacher. The fundamental question is who is qualified to be a teacher and what skills and knowledge must they employ to be considered effective? There are many different kinds of teachers, educators, instructors, and tutors, but not all are professional or effective. Considering the knowledge base, principles, skill sets, and values attributed to effective teachers helps me reflect on whether I am meeting the same standards and how I can improve my professional status.  The role of a teacher is complex and multifaceted.  Effective teaching is a craft that takes active reflection, deliberate actions, and open discourse to perfect.

I think this course has helped me be more reflective and intentional in my own teaching. It has also inspired me to pursue further professional development and learning opportunities. Before I had always kind of thought I would be ‘done’ with formal schooling after completing the PTC program. I know realize that seeking out ways to further my professional development and strengthen my skills and strategies as a teacher is an exciting prospect. There is no shame in admitting there is more to learn, and my teaching will be more effective as a result of expanding my knowledge base and learning about emerging issues and techniques.  Professional development, collaboration with peers and mentors, and lifelong learning are signs of strength, not weakness.


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