“To be reflective means choosing with intention ways of thinking, being, and doing. To be reflective means choosing enrichment around our day’s activities. It means committing oneself to continuous growth as a person and as a professional.” (Barr et al. p 65). When I review this definition from our course text and think about myself individually, I feel good. Looking at how things went in the class (both successes and failures) and how I can improve them is a constant part of my practice. This includes reflective-based action from redesigning a unit to add subtle improvements for the next year, to coming in the day after a lesson and sharing with the class, “Well, yesterday’s science lesson didn’t quite go as I had planned. There are some important learning targets that I want to make sure you are clear on, so we are going to take another crack at it, but in a little different way….”. Stepping back and looking at yourself and your teaching with a constructively critical eye is essential and something I enjoy doing very much.
Taking this reflective practice to a team level is a challenge in my environment because the school I teach in has only one teacher for each multi-age grade level (one 1-2, one 2-3, and one 4-5 (me)). We discuss all of our students together constantly and we treat every students as “all of our students”. This leads to productive team reflective practice regarding classroom management and finding a way to successfully engage or empower students who are struggling with behavior issues. It is much more difficult with curricular issues since we are almost never teaching the same thing (the exception is all-school, multi-age projects, which we do a couple of times per year). I am know all three of us in my small teaching team will be better teachers if we can identify more opportunities to be collaboratively reflective with regards to our “curricular teaching”.
One area I feel very good about is my teaching practice related to writing, and at the same time this is an area I would like to improve. Let me explain: I have been using P.O.W.E.R.S. process as developed by Anita Archer successfully with my students since I began teaching. Over the years, I have developed genre-specific POWERS docs to help the students follow the process no matter what type of writing they are doing. This has been effective because we are always coming back to the same touchstone no matter what we write. I am getting closer, but I would really like to make sure that I have top notch materials to use with the students for the three genres we teach in our district; informational, opinion, and narrative. I want to ensure that my materials have consistent language and that their common-core alignment is solid. As I said, they are close, but these materials are not yet to the “gold standard” I would like them to be. This is a goal I would like to pursue.
All of our goals can be filtered through the Danielson Framework. Since our district makes direct use of the Danielson Framework for self-assessments, observation reviews, annual goal setting, and our final performance review (completed by our administrator), this framework is a very familiar tool to me. I feel like I have a solid understanding of the four major domains, and the 22 components under those domains that can be use to evaluate and reflect on effective teaching practice.
York-Barr, J., Sommers, W. A., Ghere, G. S., & Montie, J. (2006). Reflective Practice to Improve Schools: An Action Guide For Teachers (Second ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
The Framework. (2013). In The Danielson Group. Retrieved from http://www.danielsongroup.org/framework/