ED6528 – End of Course Reflection
When I entered the Accomplished Teaching course I was not sure what to expect. As it turns out, much of the core content of the course was not of significant benefit to me. Rather, the activities/projects that we did (outside of the discussion board) were where I found the most benefit. The main benefits I received from this course in terms of growth were from 1) my partner reflection activity and 2) the research paper I wrote on Socratic discussions. The truth is that I am very fortunate, and work in a small team/school where collaborative reflective practice is a constant companion. In fact, it’s one of the reasons I enjoy my position so much. In addition, most of the concepts this course introduced were already very familiar to me through my (now completed) efforts obtain my professional certificate and, frankly, my coursework from almost a decade ago at the University of Washington when I obtained my teaching credentials.
For example, the very type of partner reflection that we completed as part of this course is something I already have the privilege of doing with my teaching team. The distinguished rating for Danielson component 4a states “Teacher makes a thoughtful and accurate assessment of a lesson’s effectiveness and the extent to which it achieved its instructional out- comes, citing many specific examples from the lesson and weighing the relative strengths of each” (“Frameworks and Rubrics”, 2014). My team recently reviewed our efforts to teach our students how to identify main ideas and details in non-fiction texts. We looked at our assessment results, our teaching methods, reviewed our selected text sources for the lesson, and figured out many meaningful improvements. The best part of these efforts are that they take place in a highly trusting environment. As stated by York-Barr, Ghere, and Montie (2006) “One of the first requirements of dialogue is to suspend judgment” (p. 207).
Even though I already benefit from a collaborative and reflective workplace, I was still able to achieve benefit from the collaborative reflection that I completed as part of this course. I focused on a math lesson related to basic algebra concepts. I was attempting to add more student partner discussion into the lesson (Danielson 3b). Here you can see two students working together on a white board during the lesson, a collaborative piece that had not been present previously.
The ideas that I was able to realize when reviewing the partner work from the lesson with my reflective practice partner will improve the lesson even more. For example, we realized that the student pairs did not have an opportunity to select from a broad enough range of difficulty when they were picking a problem to work on together. This meant to lesson unnecessarily truncated the range of possible learning the student pairs could experience.
As mentioned earlier, the research paper I completed on Socratic discussions represented significant new learning for me. In addition, I found the process very motivating. I do not typically research specific methods or ideas that I am interested in with so much effort because there is always “something else to do” when you are busy with your day-to-day teaching responsibilities. Being forced to write paper allowed me to benefit from deeper learning on the topic. I found ideas about Socratic discussions in Chesters (2012) to be especially instructive and inspirational. For example, “Socratic pedagogy is a process of reflective education through dialogue as a way to construct knowledge and create meaningfulness. The process is not an individual one, but a communal one in which the ability to think for oneself can be said to be one of its educational aims and practices” (p. 38). Constructing knowledge and creating meaningfulness through dialogue, student-led dialogue, is where I plan to focus my future efforts. I am currently already working on the action plan that I detailed in my paper on Socratic discussions, and look forward to holding the first such discussion in my class in the next couple of months.
Chesters, S. D. (Ed.). (2012). Socratic Classroom : Reflective Thinking Through Collaborative Inquiry. Rotterdam, DEU: Sense Publishers. Retrieved from http://www.ebrary.com
“Frameworks and Rubrics.” Washington State TPEP. Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, 14 Aug. 2014. Web. <http://tpep-wa.org/themodel/framework-and-rubrics/>.
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.