Listening to our inner voice that whispers thoughts of recurring, professional self-reflection helps us to accept the need to re-examine our motivations that critically:
- assess [our] growth as a teacher over time;
- reflect on instructional successes and dilemmas to move [our] practice forward; and
- formulate professional development plans that are based on reflection and analysis.
To assist in this highly-complex, metacognitive skill, the following questions have been proposed (based on the six Professional Teaching Standards), to simplify and/or organize this thoughtful, learning process:
Standard 1: Engaging Students in Learning
How would I differentiate my instruction to meet the diverse needs of my student population?
In what ways could I provide opportunities for my students to engage in independent and collaborative learning?
Standard 2: Effective Environment
How might I physically create a classroom conducive to my learning goals?
How would I begin to establish and consistently maintain standards for positive student behavior?
Standard 3: Organizing Subject Matter
In what ways can I integrate technology into my curriculum planning to support students’ understanding of the content being learned?
In organizing my curriculum, how can I ensure that my students’ cognitive and linguistic development will be enhanced?
Standard 4: Planning Instruction
If I find that a particular lesson is not going well, what steps can I take immediately, and in my future planning, to modify my instructional goals?
In planning a lesson or unit in a particular subject area, do I take into account my students’ prior knowledge, life experiences and cultural background?
Standard 5: Assessing Learning
What multiple sources of information could I consider in determining how to assess my students’ progress?
How would I use the results of my assessment data to guide my instruction?
Standard 6: Developing as a Professional
What kind of opportunities should I pursue in order to grow professionally in my teaching practice?
How can I encourage parents to take a more active role in contributing to their child’s academic success?
How can I better balance my professional responsibilities and daily personal needs? What can I do to alleviate this challenge?
It should also be noted that it is becoming more prevalent among administrators to find alternative means to assess their staff, resisting rigid, traditional methods of observation. Using the Professional Teaching Standards, as a paradigm for revisiting our practice may be the most intelligent choice.
As we attempt to demonstratively answer these recurring questions, a boost of optimism can easily be provided by reading and enjoying Stephen R. Covey’s The 8th Habit. Adding a spiritual journey to our self-revelations will remind us that we have chosen this profession not only to be of great service to others but to ourselves.
The Professional Teaching Standards. New Teacher Center at The University of California, Santa Cruz, 2004.
Stephen R. Covey, The 8th Habit, From Effectiveness to Greatness. Running Press, 2006.
Do you have a comment, question, or suggestion about this article? E-mail Sharon.