Collaborating with Members of the School Community

Throughout my field experience, I've had the opportunity to collaborate with another student teacher at New Kent High School. Together, we have taught two lessons and written a unit regarding the structure and function of cells. From my experiences working with this student teacher, I have found that collaboration can vastly improve my lesson plans. After all, two minds are better than one! I have also collaborated a good deal with my cooperating teacher and other teachers within the biology department. I have sought advice regarding instructional activities, and I have even provided instructional materials for future use by my cooperating teacher and other teachers in the building. For one, I have shared my pasta dichotomous key activity with another teacher, and it has been used effectively in that teacher's classroom.

Personally, I feel that the collaborative relationship between two teachers should be one of reciprocity. As in any professional relationship, the work should not be all one-sided. Both parties must contribute to ensure the success of the collaborative relationship.

Reflecting Actively and Continuously Upon my Professional Practice

I believe that active reflection is an integral component to becoming a more effective teacher. During my second practicum experience, I taught a lesson about Mendelian genetics with the other student teacher placed at my high school. After the lesson, we took some time to reflect upon our strengths and weaknesses within the lesson, and we made changes to our original plan before teaching it again.

Before teaching a lesson, I always try to create a brief summary of goals for my students and myself. After the lesson, I reflect upon which goals were met and what changes I will need to make to reach goals that have not yet been met. This helps me to better focus my reflection and gain something meaningful from the process.

About halfway through my student teaching semester, I asked my students to fill out a student feedback survey and designed my next instructional unit based on their comments. In the future, I hope to continue this practice, as I feel that the students' comments help to guide my own reflections.

Positively Influencing Others in the School Community

This spring, I have had the opportunity to coach the boys and girl's track team. It has been a wonderful experience for me and has given me the chance to build meaningful relationships with students and fellow coaches alike. I have found a mentor/friend in several of my fellow coaches, and look forward to building many of these same relationships in my future school.

Additionally, I have participated actively in all professional development opportunities, and even presented the instructional plans from my designated group of teachers at a professional in-service focused on differentiation. I have communicated frequently with guidance counselors and special educators, and I recently attended a meeting with a student's parent to discuss home-bound instruction options. I consistently communicate with parents regarding their child's performance in the class, and make a point to call regarding exemplary performances and not just areas of concern. One day, a student even approached me and thanked me for making such positive comments to her parents. At the beginning of my student teaching experience, I led back to school night for my cooperating teacher and sent a letter home to make parents aware of my goals and expectations for the semester.