Through my firsthand experiences as well as my science of education coursework, I have learned that the teaching, by nature, is multifaceted including elements of science, art, pragmatism, codified standards, psychology, management, counseling, and coaching. Learning to be an effective teacher requires a balanced blending of the previously mentioned elements plus many more the listing of which is beyond the scope of this page. I have also learned that high quality teaching requires flexibility along with a solid structural support and reliable roadmap. Examples of guides that I use in my teaching practice are the The Interstate Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (InTASC) teaching standards, which can be read by clicking InTASC_Standards, as well as by Danielson’s Framework for Teaching (1) which organizes teaching practices into the following Four Domains of Teaching Responsibility:
The section below summarizes how I have put the Framework into action as a student teacher of 10th grade introductory biology. The Framework shaped my teaching goals and reflections. The Teaching Artifacts and Reflective Commentary pages demonstrate how I specifically implemented the framework in the classroom in the context of the introductory biology course.
Planning and Preparation
I designed and taught units and lessons in alignment with national, state, and district academic standards in science and technology. During the course of my student teaching experience, I learned the value of short, medium, and long-range planning. This was critical for maintaining instructional continuity and consistency. When practical and feasible, I made use of school resources including digital technology (e.g. videos, SmartBoard, online interactives) to enhance instruction and learning. Because of my background in life sciences, my solid knowledge and high level of comfort with the subject mater enabled me to devote a high percentage of preparation time on incorporating instructional strategies and assessments that were grade level appropriate and amenable to differentiation.
I firmly believe in the importance of creating a welcoming and safe classroom environment that fosters a culture of respect for individuals as well as for learning. I stressed to students that they were accountable for their actions and must be responsible stewards of their own education. I view the student teacher relationship as a partnership in which students have an active role in their growth and learning. I clearly communicated classroom rules and procedures governing academic work and student conduct. I made every effort to equitable enforce classroom rules and reinforce classroom procedures. Knowing each student as an individual can make classroom management easier by eliminating some of the guesswork when implementing rules and procedures.
Instruction and Assessment
Vital to being an effective teacher is make clear to the students the learning goals and big ideas of a unit. lesson, or assignment. Equally important is to model what students are expected to be able to do (in other words, “teach, don’t tell”). I have learned in the importance of being flexible as a teacher in order to minimize the impact of disruptions such as weather related delays or closings, fire drills, and technology glitches, on instruction and learning. I also have learned the value of making instruction as engaging as possible by involving students as active participants in cooperative learning exercises, hands on lab activities, age appropriate games (e.g. “Biology Jeopardy!”), and collaborative projects with classmates. I have learned that teaching across content areas, such as reading or watching science fiction stories, sparks student interest and can enhance learning.
Along with engaging instruction, I became mindful of the need to routinely check with students to determine who understood the concepts being taught or what they needed to be doing for an in class activity and who needed additional instruction or more detailed explanations. To maximize learning for all students, it is necessary to ask meaningful and specific questions as formative assessments of understanding and to provide students with constructive feedback and consistent follow-up.
As a student teacher, I participated in a variety of professional teaching activities both inside and outside the classroom. In the classroom, I had full responsibility for all routine tasks and procedures including attendance, absences, grade management, disciplinary issues, and discussing academic policies with students and caregivers in cases of academic deficiencies. Regarding lesson planning and classroom management, I sought the advice of teaching colleagues in addition to sharing my ideas and classroom materials. Outside the classroom, I attended both science department and general faculty meetings, participated in teacher workshops on classroom use of active reading strategies and learning how to navigate the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s Standards Aligned System website.
As a scientist partner in STEM education and professional educator, I am continuously working to strengthen my skills and knowledge via professional development activities including attending science education conferences, serving as an active member of science based professional organizations such as the National Science Teacher’s Association (NSTA) and the National Association of Biology Teachers (NABT), and volunteering as a manuscript and book reviewer of K-12 science education based publications and lessons.
1. Danielson, C. (2009). A Framework for Learning to Teach. Educational Leadership, 66. Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/summer09/vol66/num09/A-Framework-for-Learning-to-Teach.aspx