Fostering an Inclusive Classroom

Program Standard 5

5. Learning Environment – The teacher fosters and manages a safe and inclusive learning environment that takes into account: physical, emotional, and intellectual well-being.

5.1 Element – Creating an Environment of Respect and Rapport

5.1 Example of Proficient – Teacher-student interactions are friendly and demonstrate general caring and respect. Such interactions are appropriate to the age and cultures of the students. Students exhibit respect for the teacher.

Inclusivity is a crucial element to consider when fostering a positive learning atmosphere. Students spend a great deal of time in school interacting with their peers and with their teacher and because of this fact it is important that their physical, emotional, and intellectual well-being are considered. Creating a classroom community requires teachers to take into account the unique experiences of each student. Kohn (2008) asserts that a classroom community is “a place in which students feel cared about and are encouraged to care about each other. They experience a sense of being valued and respected; the children matter to one another and to the teacher” (Chapter 7, Section 1, para. 2). During the first few weeks of my student teaching internship, I have taken note of the many ways in which my mentor teacher cultivates a respectful and inclusive environment. A foundational element of creating this type of classroom is respect. My mentor teacher nurtures a climate of caring between her students. This task is accomplished not only through meaningful interactions but also by exposing her students to the cultural heritage of their peers. She has discovered that reading books discussing differing experiences helps to make her students classroom-booksunderstand each other better and imbue them with a sense of community. The picture shows just a few of the books read aloud to students in this classroom which expose them to a reality outside their own. These books often deal with complex issues in a manner accessible to the kindergarteners that she teaches. During read aloud time, these books often serve as a springboard for discussions that open students’ minds to new ideas.

Throughout my coursework at Seattle Pacific University, I have learned the importance of assembling a classroom library that represents the diversity that exists in America. I knew that it would be important to curate this kind of classroom library and select books for read aloud time that expose students to experiences outside of their own. However, I did not anticipate how profound of an effect it would have on students or how impactful it would be in helping students bond with one another. My mentor teacher just finished reading The Year of the Rat by Grace Lin to her class at the suggestion of one of her student’s parents. This book provides insight into the unique experiences faced every day as an immigrant to America. It is told through the eyes of a young girl and details her triumphs and challenges as she navigates school. While this book was being read aloud, the student whose parent suggested it would often interject anecdotes of personal experiences. These narratives often started interesting conversations and allow the rest of the class to connect with this student. These types of interactions have a deep and meaningful impact on the classroom environment and serve to help students relate to one another. As a teacher, it will be important for me to institute this kind of practice into my routine. It will be essential to enable meaningful dialogue which will serve to strengthen the respect between classmates. Establishing a good relationship with students’ parents is an essential first step in accomplishing this goal. Getting to know my students’ parents will help me to understand their unique experiences and how they can be incorporated into the classroom community.

Reference
Kohn, A. (2008). Beyond Discipline: From Compliance to Community. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. [Kindle DX version]. Retrieved from Amazon.com
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Creating A Classroom Community With Families

Program Standard 5

5. Learning Environment – The teacher fosters and manages a safe and inclusive learning environment that takes into account: physical, emotional, and intellectual well-being.

5.1 Element – Creating an Environment of Respect and Rapport

5.1 Example of Proficient – Teacher-student interactions are friendly and demonstrate general caring and respect. Such interactions are appropriate to the age and cultures of the students. Students exhibit respect for the teacher.

Part 1 of 3 (Click to Enlarge)

During the completion of my coursework for EDU 6942, I learned the depth and intricacy of how teachers can foster and manage a safe and inclusive learning environment for all students. For students to feel comfortable and fully included in any classroom setting, teachers must create an atmosphere of caring that establishes strong relationships with students and with their families. Teachers must take into account the physical, emotional, and intellectual well-being of each and every student and that cannot happen without the support of those children’s families. The basis of this practice is establishing a good rapport with families through constant outreach. Students are much more likely to have their academic needs met when their physical and emotional needs are addressed first. Students need to know that they have a network of caring adults in their lives and that their teachers and families are working in tandem to provide that to them. Epstein (2010) asserted, “With frequent interactions between schools, families, and communities, more students are more likely to receive common messages from various people about the importance of school, of working hard, of thinking creatively, of helping one another, and of staying in school” (p. 82).  Although these connections are essential to student success, developing strong relationships with families will take effort.

Part 2 of 3 (Click to Enlarge)

While reading articles on the importance of integrating students’ home lives into their school lives, I learned of all the different elements that need to be present to create effective and open communication. Outlined in the three artifacts attached is my synthesis and analysis of the reading on this topic which was posted to a discussion board with my peers. In this unit of study, I learned that the most crucial element in developing communication is respect. This does not just mean respecting the opinions of students’ family members but also recognizing and appreciating all the different ways that they contribute to their child’s education. Henderson and Mapp (2002) stated, “When school staff engage in caring and trusting relationships with parents that recognize parents as partners in the educational development of children, these relationships enhance parents’ desire to be involved and influence how they participate in their children’s educational development” (p. 45). These authors pointed out that sometimes parents and teachers perceive differing levels of family involvement in a child’s education because there is a breakdown in communication (p. 49). If teachers do not directly see families participating in their child’s education, they can mistakenly assume that the involvement is low. However, many families contribute to their child’s education in a variety of ways that should be recognized and celebrated. Once teachers open up productive communication, the relationship between students’ home and school lives can strengthen.

Part 3 of 3 (Click to Enlarge)

Establishing a strong connection with families is fundamental for a teacher’s success. During my classroom observation, I witnessed the importance of developing open communication with parents. There was one student in this classroom that was going through significant turmoil at home and it was impacting his ability to focus on academics. Ellerbrock, Abbas, Dicicco, Denmon, Sabella, and Hart (2015) stressed, “When students face challenges outside of school that interfere with their ability to focus on academics, a caring classroom community can provide emotional support and help students focus in the classroom” (p. 49). This student was experiencing high levels of stress which was impacting his physical, emotional, and intellectual well-being. The teacher I volunteered with, explained to me that she was working with this student’s parents to help him succeed and deal with his stress. She was only able to collaborate with these parents because of the rapport that was established early on in the school year. She frequently called home throughout the year not only to report on difficult situations but also to inform his parents of everyday achievements. This teacher informed me that it is essential for teachers to take the time to celebrate students’ accomplishments, no matter how small, with their parents or family members. Without this level of dedication and cooperation, this student would not have received the same level of multilayered, coordinated support in both his home and school life.

Witnessing this intersection of school and home and the impact it had on this student demonstrated to me the importance of developing strong relationships with families. The articles that I read during my coursework provided me with strategies going forward but ultimately I will have to learn through experiences with actual families. This practice will take hard work and determination but will always start from a place of respect and recognition. I will strive to open up communication with families so that I will be able to understand all of the diverse and unique ways in which they support their child’s education. Once a good rapport is established, I can constantly work to cooperate with families to ensure their child’s success and well-being.

References
Ellerbrock, C. R., Abbas, B., Dicicco, M., Denmon, J. M., Sabella, L., & Hart, J. (2015). Relationships: The fundamental R in education. Phi Delta Kappan96(8), 48-51. doi:10.1177/0031721715583963
Epstein, J. L. (2010). School/Family/Community Partnerships: Caring for The Children We Share. Kappan, 92(3), 65-96. doi: 10.1177/003172171009200326
Henderson, A. T., & Mapp, K. L. (2002). A New Wave of Evidence: The Impact of School, Family, and Community Connections on Student Achievement. National Center for Family & Community Connections with Schools. Retrieved from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED536946.pdf

Participation In An Online Educational Community

International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Standard 5

5. Engage in professional growth and leadership – Teachers continuously improve their professional practice, model lifelong learning, and exhibit leadership in their school and professional community by promoting and demonstrating the effective use of digital tools and resources.

a. Participate in local and global learning communities to explore creative applications of technology to improve student learning.

Program Standard 8

8. Professional Practice – The teacher participates collaboratively in the educational community to improve instruction, advance the knowledge and practice of teaching as a profession, and ultimately impact student learning.

8.1 Element – Participating in a Professional Community

8.1 Example of Proficient – Relationships with colleagues are characterized by mutual support and cooperation.

Constant development is an essential part of effective teaching practice and the best way for educators to maintain that kind of consistent growth is by connecting with their peers. However, that can be difficult for teachers to do because of the nature of their job. Donnelly and Boniface (2013) argued, “One of the most salient issues for practicing teachers is isolation” (p. 9). Instead of regularly being surrounded by their colleagues like most workers, they are separated from them for most of their workday. As such, it is important for them to find other ways to connect with like-minded individuals and discuss their trade. Online communities are a great way to do that. They not only allow teachers to connect with each other to share ideas, gain insights, and learn from one another but they also allow them to feel more connected to their craft. Being a part of such a demanding job makes it crucial for teachers to have a support system.

In my teaching practice, online communities will be an important part of my routine allowing me to stay current on instructional strategies. One website that has fostered a dynamic educational community is Edutopia. It offers a wide range of subjects to explore, as well as, a vast collection of articles and message boards for individuals to read and participate in. It brings together educational professionals from all kinds of backgrounds and allows them to share their knowledge gained from years of experience. Recently, I decided to sign up for an account so that I can participate in discussions. Today I read a well-researched and informative article on project-based learning and how that method benefits students. I was so inspired by this article that I decided to become a part of the conversation and post a comment so that I could share my opinions and observations. This was the first step towards becoming a fully contributing member of this community. I plan on continuing my participation on Edutopia by posting questions and offering information. This website will be just the first of many that I will explore to elevate my teaching practice.

Edutopia Screen Shot
References
Donnelly, D.F. & Boniface, S. (2013). Consuming and creating: Early-adopting science teachers’ perceptions and use of a wiki to support professional development. Computers & Education, 68, 9-20. doi: 10.1016/j.compedu.2013.04.023
Holland, Beth. (2015). Design Thinking and PBL. Edutopia. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/design-thinking-and-pbl-beth-holland?page=1#comment-240556

Teaching Students Digital Citizenship

International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Standard 4

4. Promote and model digital citizenship and responsibility – Teachers understand local and global societal issues and responsibilities in an evolving digital culture and exhibit legal and ethical behavior in their professional practices.

a. Advocate, model, and teach safe, legal, and ethical use of digital information and technology, including respect for copyright, intellectual property, and the appropriate documentation of sources.

Program Standard 1

1. Expectations – The teacher communicates high expectations for student learning.

1.2 Element – Communicating with Students

1.2 Example of Proficient – Teacher’s explanation of content is appropriate and connects with students’ knowledge and experience.

Digital Citizenship

Click On Image To See Full Infographic

The internet has become an integral part of education as it enables more dynamic classroom learning. However, it also poses risks to young students and the laws and codes of acceptable conduct can be confusing. It is important for teachers to help children understand the importance of safe, responsible use of online resources. On the International Society for Technology in Education website, Mike Ribble describes essential elements to consider when navigating the web. These fundamentals are meant to provide teachers with a way to approach the subject with students and ensure that they are covering all of the pertinent information. Ribble (2014) suggests that there are nine basic components to digital citizenship:

Respect

1.Digital access: Advocating for equal digital rights and access is where digital citizenship starts.

2.Digital etiquette: Rules and policies aren’t enough — we need to teach everyone about appropriate conduct online.

3.Digital law: It’s critical that users understand it’s a crime to steal or damage another’s digital work, identity or property.

Educate

4.Digital communication: With so many communication options available, users need to learn how to make appropriate decisions.

5.Digital literacy: We need to teach students how to learn in a digital society.

6.Digital commerce: As users make more purchases online, they must understand how to be effective consumers in a digital economy.

Protect

7.Digital rights and responsibilities: We must inform people of their basic digital rights to privacy, freedom of speech, etc.

8.Digital safety and security: Digital citizens need to know how to protect their information from outside forces that might cause harm.

9.Digital health and wellness: From physical issues, such as repetitive stress syndrome, to psychological issues, such as internet addiction, users should understand the health risks of technology. (Ribble, 2014)

The complex nature of these standards makes it necessary for educators to explicitly instruct students on how to responsibly use the internet so that they can become engaged and active members of online communities. Like in any community, there are standard behaviors expected of conscientious online participants. It can feel like the internet is not a part of real life so students are not always on their best behavior or participating in productive activities. Online bullying is a major issue that educators need to tackle directly in their classroom. Teachers need to stress to students that anything said or done online is just as real as when they are interacting with one of their classroom peers.

In classrooms, online activity is not just used for connecting students with one another or collaborating with classroom communities around the world. The main thing it is used for is research. The reason the internet is such a great resource for finding material is because it is constantly updated and added to. However, that amount of information can be overwhelming. Students often feel that anything found online is reputable so it is critical for teachers to instruct them on how to distinguish good sources from bad ones. Educators play a huge role in how students learn to conduct research and those skills are important to life-long success. 

It is also important to help students understand that not everything found on the internet is free to use and adapt. Copyright laws and creative commons licensing can be a difficult topic so it is imperative that teachers take the time to go over the intricacies of it with their students. Many young children believe that laws and acceptable behavior are not relevant online because it feels disconnected from reality. It is crucial to teach them that their actions always matter and that there will be consequences if they break the law online. Once students have learned all of the aspects of proper digital conduct, they will be empowered to elevate their learning using the vast array of material the internet has to offer.

Reference
Ribble, M. (2014) Essential elements of digital citizenship. International Society for Technology in Education. Retrieved from https://www.iste.org/explore/articledetail?articleid=101

Using Collaborative Communities To Improve Professional Teaching Development

International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Standard 5

5. Engage in professional growth and leadership – Teachers continuously improve their professional practice, model lifelong learning, and exhibit leadership in their school and professional community by promoting and demonstrating the effective use of digital tools and resources.

a. Participate in local and global learning communities to explore creative applications of technology to improve student learning.

Program Standard 8

8. Professional Practice – The teacher participates collaboratively in the educational community to improve instruction, advance the knowledge and practice of teaching as a profession, and ultimately impact student learning.

8.1 Element – Participating in a Professional Community

8.1 Example of Proficient – Relationships with colleagues are characterized by mutual support and cooperation.

Teachers are by nature communicators. They spend most of each day conveying ideas to their students. They are inherently a part of a community within their own classroom, yet, many teachers find themselves secluded. The educational system is set up so that teachers are separated from their peers for most of the day only interacting with their students. Donnelly and Boniface (2013) argued, “One of the most salient issues for practicing teachers is isolation” (p. 9). They continued to elaborate that this reality is caused by the fact that teachers do not have many chances during the day to work with their colleagues. However, an integral part of professional development for educators is collaboration with others in the field. Technology has created ways for teachers to virtually connect with each other whether they are from within the same school or located across the globe. For EDTC 6433 (Teaching with Technology) I explored how to use online communities and tools to help improve my professional practice and model lifelong learning skills that will aid my students in becoming proactive learners.

The act of teaching can be transformed through joint effort and strong teacher cooperation whether it is found within schools or through online communities. Another student in EDTC 6433 shared an article extolling the benefits of peer partnerships for educators and how collaboration helped to create more dynamic lesson plans for their students. The administrators in this article took great care to foster a culture of community within their school. Although these teachers were located in the same school, they still found it difficult to find time to physically meet up so they made use of technology to communicate. They enhanced their communication by using Google Drive to create and share files (Edutopia, 2015). These teachers made excellent use of technology to collaborate more easily and effectively with peers within their school.

While the Internet is a wonderful tool to connect busy teachers within schools or districts it can also be used to connect educators across the globe. Scragg (2013) compiled a list of websites used to host educational communities. Web sites like Twitter have been used to create teacher communities where educators can talk about current issues and follow one another as well as host virtual “meet ups.” Other websites like We Are Teachers, Teachers Teaching Teachers, Share My Lesson, and Classroom 2.0 were all specifically designed to allow teachers from across the country and around the globe to connect and share resources (Scragg, 2013). These communities allow individuals to develop their practice by posing questions or providing advice to fellow educators. These online groups allow teachers to share open educational resources with one another and enrich their own experiences by exposing themselves to ideas they might not have otherwise discovered. This type of open sharing allows teachers access to innovative material which will benefit their professional practice. When teachers are able to constantly better themselves their students will model that proactive behavior and benefit as well. Online resources like these will play a large role in my teaching practice and I will use technology to make sure that I remain connected to my colleagues.

References
Donnelly, D.F. & Boniface, S. (2013). Consuming and creating: Early-adopting science teachers’ perceptions and use of a wiki to support professional development. Computers & Education, 68, 9-20. doi: 10.1016/j.compedu.2013.04.023
Edutopia. (2015). Teacher Collaboration: Matching Complementary Strengths. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/practice/teacher-collaboration-matching-complementary-strengths
Scragg, S. (2013) Online teacher communities. United Federation of Teachers. Retrieved from http://www.uft.org/linking-learning/online-teacher-communities

Using Technology To Create A Classroom Community And Effectively Communicate With Parents

International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Standard 3

3. Model digital age work and learning – Teachers exhibit knowledge, skills, and work processes representative of an innovative professional in a global and digital society.

c. Communicate relevant information and ideas effectively to students, parents, and peers using a variety of digital age media and formats.

Program Standard 7

7. Families and Community – The teacher communicates and collaborates with students, families and all educational stakeholders in an ethical and professional manner to promote student learning.

7.1 Element – Communicating with Families

7.1 Example of Proficient – Teacher communicates with families about students’ progress on a regular basis, respecting cultural norms, and is available as needed to respond to family concerns.

Engendering a sense of community in classrooms is such an important part of student success and technology can be a great way to help busy parents become more connected with their child’s learning. The International Society for Technology in Education recognizes communication as an important part of teaching and in their third standard encourages educators to find meaningful ways to use technology in this endeavor. For EDTC 6433 (Teaching with Technology) I researched how to use technology to communicate relevant information and ideas to students, parents, and peers to engender a sense of community in the classroom and to seamlessly connect adults with their child’s learning environment. This will be an important aspect of my future teaching because I believe that home life greatly affects academic success and that bringing the two together can improve how students approach learning. Many parents would like to be more involved in their child’s education but simply do not have the time to physically participate in the classroom. Technology is a way to bridge the gap between a student’s school and home life in a meaningful way.

Graphic found on the Pearson Website.

Schools are starting to use web portals, social media platforms, blogs, and apps to keep parents constantly updated on their child’s learning. In fact, these kinds of web 2.0 tools have become so prevalent that they are becoming the standard in many schools. “They have become commonplace technologies that support social networking with peers, teachers, families, and friends” (McPherson & Blue, 2012, p. 2373). Teachers now have more resources like edmodo.com, edublogs.org, and kidblog.org which are specifically designed for use in the classroom. They can now set up websites and classroom blogs on platforms expressly intended as a safe space where students can create and post content. Parents can easily access classroom calendars, upcoming events, and student projects all in real time. This kind of networking has the potential to make parents more involved in their child’s education. While websites and blogs are a great way for parents to see what is happening in the classroom, apps can be a great way for them to receive individual notifications about their child. This can be especially helpful for parents who need to be able to quickly reference information on the go. Another student in EDTC 6433 shared an article describing several free apps that help teachers communicate with parents. All of the apps described in that article allow parents to receive updates from teachers directly to their mobile devices. Two of most interesting apps discussed are called BuzzMob and Collaborize Classroom because they integrate full classroom websites with a convenient companion app that can be accessed by teachers and parents on their phones or tablets (McCrea, 2013). All of these resources have the potential to connect parents to their child’s school and classroom in ways never previously conceivable.

However, it is important to remember that sole reliance on this kind of communication can alienate some families. Teachers must be mindful of that fact that some families do not have access to technology or the internet in their homes. So if technology becomes the dominant way that teachers communicate with parents it may create an even greater divide between home and school for some students. Technology should be used to help teachers offer parents a vast array of contact options and each family’s personal needs and preferences should be taken into account. Some school districts are trying to help parents by creating technology centers and by offering technology training to them. With the ever-increasing demand for technology skills to be taught in schools it can only benefit students if their parents have a level of fluency in the subject matter as well. Other school districts are not only training parents on how to use computers but also checking out laptops or tablets to families. These schools understand that along with the technology families also need to be able to access the internet and are helping them apply for it at reduced rates. One administrator is even trying to get free internet access for all of the community members in the district (Fleming, 2012). Nevertheless, many districts cannot afford to help provide families with these kinds of resources so it is important to take individual situations into account and use these resources as supplementary to more standard forms of communication. With the use of technology teachers can reach out to and connect more parents to their child’s education in a meaningful and interactive way.

References
McPherson, S. & Blue, E. (2012) Using Web 2.0 Tools to Develop New Literacies in Teacher Education. Proceedings of Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference 2012, pp. 2369-2382. Retrieved from http://www.editlib.org/p/39937
Fleming, N. (2012) Schools Are Using Social Networking to Involve Parents. Education Week, Vol. 32, Issue 11, pp. 16-17. Retrieved from http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2012/11/07/11digitalparent_ep.h32.html
McCrea, B. (2013). 7 Free Apps for Keeping Parents and Teachers Connected. The Journal: Transforming Education Through Technology. Retrieved from http://thejournal.com/articles/2013/06/11/7-free-apps-for-keeping-parents-and-teachers-connected.aspx
Media
Image found on a Pearson website and the statistic is from a State of Parenting Poll found on the Parent Toolkit website.

Collaborative vs. Cooperative Learning And Their Place In Democratic Education

Program Standard 2

2. Instruction – The teacher uses research-based instructional practices to meet the needs of all students.

2.2 Element – Engaging Students in Learning

2.2 Example of Proficient – Most activities and assignments are appropriate to students, and almost all students are cognitively engaged in exploring content.

collaborative-vs-cooperative-copy

Democratic education can have a profound affect on students in terms of how they approach their peers and their learning. This educational method “aim[s] to develop ideal citizens who could live in and enhance society, who could fulfill themselves in and through it, and who would even be able to help and revise it” (Joyce, Weil, & Calhoun, 2015, p. 248). Thus it is important for students to be able to work collectively towards common goals in the classroom. This style of teaching can help students develop many skills pertinent to life after school and will allow them to explore topics through divergent perspectives. When done effectively, democratic education has the potential to create more thoughtful, engaged, and tolerant students capable of considering viewpoints outside of their own. Joyce, Weil, and Calhoun (2015) asserted, “It appears likely to nurture interpersonal warmth and trust, respect for negotiated rules and policies, independence in learning, and respect for the dignity of others” (p. 255). The positive effects of democratic education are apparent so the question is not whether to implement it in classrooms but how to.

Both collaborative and cooperative learning are engaging ways to get students thinking democratically and collectively. These terms are often used interchangeably but are in fact two distinct teaching approaches that teachers can employ during group work. Collaborative learning is the process of students working together to gain new insights and direct their own learning. Students have more individual efficacy which drives them to teach their peers new information by presenting their unique perspectives on a topic. Students generate their own goals and do their own research to find resources pertinent to their self-determined learning target. Often times multiple perspectives and outcomes are present at the end of the learning process (Roberts, 2004, p. 205). This collaboration allows students to set aside their own ideals and to see issues from perspectives outside their own. Contrarily, cooperative learning is recognized as group work directed by the teacher and not the students. The teacher provides students with resources and a learning target and students work together to come to a single consensus and produce one outcome (Roberts, 2004, p. 205). While this type of learning does not afford the same level of student efficacy as collaborative learning, it does provide students with vital cooperation skills that will help them succeed in life after school. Both of these styles of teaching have individual merit but they can also be used in conjunction in classrooms to help student learn a wide range of cooperative and collaborative skills.

Often teachers utilize a blend of the two styles to their benefit. They can provide students with the opportunity to explore in groups and pick their own learning outcome within a range of topics controlled by the teacher. Teachers can also direct learning by picking the subject matter for student to explore but still allow them freedom to research it independently. When teachers learn to seamlessly integrate both collaborative and cooperative learning, or elements from the two, the benefit to student achievement and engagement will be noticeable. Dean, Hubbell, Pitler, and Stone (2015) stressed, “By intentionally incorporating the elements of positive interdependence and individual accountability, teachers set the stage for students to be responsible for their own learning, the learning of those in their group, and the ability to demonstrate what they know, understand, and are able to do” (Chapter 3, para. 14). These methods of teaching can require more flexibility and planning from teachers but the benefit to students is well worth the effort.

References
Dean, C. B., Hubbell, E. R., Pitler, H., & Stone, B. (2012). Classroom Instruction That Works: Research-Based Strategies for Increasing Student Achievement (2nd ed.) Denver, CO: McRel [Kindle DX version]. Retrieved from Amazon.com
Joyce, B.R., Weil, M., & Calhoun, E. (2015) Models of Teaching (9th ed.). New York, NY: Pearson. [Kindle DX version]. Retrieved from Amazon.com
Roberts, T.S. (2004) Online Collaborative Learning: Theory and Practice. Hershey, PA: Information Science Publishing. [Kindle DX version] Retrieved from Amazon.com

Comprehension and Development of Program Standard 8

Program Standard 8

8. Professional Practice Criteria– The teacher participates collaboratively in the educational community to improve instruction, advance the knowledge and practice of teaching as a profession, and ultimately impact student learning.

8.1 Element Participating in a Professional Community

8.1 Example of Proficient Relationships with colleagues are characterized by mutual support and cooperation.

Figure 1
Figure 1 (click to enlarge)

During the completion of my coursework for EDU 6918 (Introduction to Teaching), I explored and expanded my knowledge of what it means to effectively work together with my peers and administrators as a future educator and how that will positively influence my students. This quarter I explored the complexity of the standard listed above and determined that collaborative educators have a natural tendency towards personal development. That propensity drives them to reach out to peers to share their newly acquired knowledge, provide their fellow educators with support, and also look to those same individuals for guidance in their quest for improvement. Figure 1 is an example of the coursework that led me to critically think about and further my understanding of what it means to contribute to a professional teaching community. It provides a concrete example of how a teacher might contribute to his or her school and demonstrates the impact of being a part of a cooperative environment. Competent teachers both contribute to and benefit from this kind of symbiotic relationship with peers and administrators and the resulting individual growth of teachers greatly benefits the students in their charge. When educators are able to go to their colleagues and discuss and dissect lesson plans, classroom management techniques, the latest information on culturally responsive teaching, or the newest technology innovation for teaching it is more likely that those things will be improved or newly implemented in their classrooms. Collaboration between teachers can allow them to brainstorm how new techniques and software can be actually realized in their class. Furthermore, it provides teachers a way to assess their teaching practice on a more routine level. While it is critical for new teachers to develop relationships in their educational communities it is also important for them to remember to sustain that same level of commitment as they become more experienced. Part of building and maintaining a cohesive support network of teachers within a school is equal participation. During my student teaching and into my first years as a teacher I will offer support and encouragement to my peers and look to them for guidance. As I gain more experience, I will continue that tradition of community by providing as well as eliciting feedback from other teaching professionals.

Reference
Hunzicker, J. (2013). Attitude has a lot to do with it: dispositions of emerging teacher   leadership. Teacher Development, 17:4, 538-561. doi: 10.1080/13664530.2013.849614