The student teacher establishes a routine that students understand and respect. Activities reflect careful thought, take into account student developmental levels, learning styles and diversity, and create situations in which students construct knowledge. The student teacher exhibits respect and consideration toward colleagues, particularly in team situations, supports colleagues’ work and contribute an equal share to team efforts. The student teacher encourages and elicits interaction with parents and community and makes him/herself available to those constituencies when and where appropriate. S/he clearly demonstrates leadership in the classroom, guiding and directing activities and interaction in ways that contribute to a positive and safe learning environment. The student teacher exhibits a clear sensitivity to issues of diversity, particularly regarding race, class, and gender, in his/her interactions with students, colleagues, and community. The standard is met if the student teacher consistently models appropriate decorum and exercises control without intimidation or domination, promoting a genuine democratically-based classroom.
Teacher Education Handbook, Secondary Education 2011-2012
After completing my teaching at Brown Summer High School and much reflection about myself as a teacher, I believe I am approaching Standard One: Roles and Relationship of Brown University Practice-Based Standards.
I put much care and thought into developing educational activities, and I try to take into account students’ developmental, cultural, and learning differences. I am respectful towards my colleagues and enjoy teaching in a team, and the feedback we received for our team efforts complimented our work together. I believe I am a clear and well-defined leader in the classroom, and I hope my students see me as a just and democratic teacher.
Besides the standards I believe I have approached, there are some that demand my attention. During the Open House for Brown Summer High School, I felt the success of my communication with students’ parents to be limited. Primarily, I could not speak effectively with families of ELL students, and whereas seeking a translator might have been more respectful and appropriate, I resorted to each individual student’s abilities and willingness to translate. Secondly, I felt like a very tongue-tied spokesperson for the program in general because at the time, I was not sure about its details. Consequently, I do not believe I did the BSHS program initial justice, which could certainly be viewed as a weakness in promoting the educational values for which it stands.
During the Friends and Family Night, however, I felt better prepared to answer questions about the program. I talked to my students' parents about the students' academic, personal, and social growth. I also had paid special attention to the families of my ELL students when I asked one of my bilingual colleagues to call them and invite them to the event.
Although at the beginning of BSHS, I frequently neglected to address my daily objectives (written every day on the board and in my lesson plans), I made it my explicit goal to talk about them. Together with my teammate, I assigned a time keeper and an objectives monitor before each class, and this process, becoming a routine, helped me to stay focused and created a student-teacher mutually dependent learning environment. I would like to keep working on explicitly defining and addressing my learning objectives in the future. Although I have made some progress, I would like to make objective-setting integral to my practice.
Finally, my professional and personal experiences with cultural, social, and gender diversity are rather limited. Sonia Nieto in her What Keeps Teachers Going makes an insightful observation when she says: “Coming as they do from diverse ethnic and cultural identities, and primarily from the White lower middle class, many teachers have been compelled to buy into the myth of the ‘melting pot,’ to see education as ‘the great equalizer,’ and to cherish the notion that being ‘colorblind’ is always a good and noble thing” (Nieto 25). My background and philosophy do not fit Nieto’s description of a standard teacher, yet I commit some of the mistakes she criticizes because I lack experience. Whereas I am sensitive to issues of diversity and I am passionate about creating awareness regarding its value, my lack of experience limits channels through which I can express this commitment. I encourage and praise intellectual diversity in my classroom, but I cannot always find appropriate ways to account for other types of diversity. For example, I address my students as “guys,” knowing that not all of them are male, and occasionally, to draw students into discussions, make sweeping generalizations. I am aware of my shortcomings, and I am working on overcoming them. I hope the reading I would like to do over the summer will help me as I learn.
In order to meet Standard One, these are some changes I need to make in my teaching practice:
1. I need to continue embracing my students’ personal, cultural, and social backgrounds to make sure they feel welcome, respected, and valued.
2. I need to continue making my daily objectives a priority. Their presence gives students structure and guidance and keeps me orderly on track, and their value is unquestionable.
3. I need to make awareness to diversity in its many manifestations one of my key professional goals.