In face-to-face debriefings, journal writing, and formal self-analysis, the student teacher demonstrates the positive acceptance of feedback and makes a thoughtful response to it. Classroom planning and implementation demonstrates that the student teacher has internalized and is making use of feedback. Beyond the classroom, the student teacher avails him/herself of professional publications, conferences, and workshops to improve his/her practice and to develop the habits necessary for continued professional growth.
Teacher Education Handbook, Secondary Education 2011-2012
After the Brown Summer High School program and daily meetings with our mentor, Jill Gray, I believe I am meeting Brown University Practice-Based Standard Six: Professional Knowledge and Growth.
Daniel Weisberg et al. critique traditional teaching peer evaluations in The Widget Effect: “In districts that use binary evaluation ratings (generally ‘satisfactory’ or ‘unsatisfactory’), more than 99 percent of teachers receive the satisfactory rating.” (Weisberg 4) Stephanie McCrummen echoes the impact of the “widget effect” in her article, entitled Evaluation of D.C. Teachers Is a Delicate Conversation, which appeared in The Washington Post: “‘There is this ‘Bless your heart’ problem in the teaching profession,’ said Jason Kamras, the key architect of IMPACT. ‘It’s, ‘This is so hard, so bless your heart for trying.’ That’s not how you become a real professional. We need to be honest about this conversation.’” (McCummen 2) Both of these comments left a deep impression on me, and I am very grateful that my time at Brown Summer High School was free of either the appalling generalizations critiqued in the former or the meaningless platitude described by the latter.
The comments I received from our mentor were practical, helpful, and specific, and I took them very seriously and tried to implement them the moment I could. I reflected on every single suggestion, I wrote down various ideas on how I can improve my teaching, and I consciously paid attention to my work to make sure it reflected my learning and progressed toward the ultimate goal I aspire to reach: becoming the best teacher I can. I found the video recording of my teaching very helpful, as well. Looking at myself through the lens of the camera was an uncomfortable experience, but I learned much about my classroom management, pacing, delivery of information, clarity and complexity of speech, and little irrelevant mannerisms when I replayed my lesson at home. The formal observation by the Social Studies Program Director, Maureen Sigler, was also instrumental in my learning process. The suggestions I received were astute and reasonable. As I heard about my strengths and weaknesses, I became aware of where to place the focus of my learning efforts, and this knowledge really helped me define and myself as a teacher and improve as the program continued.
The only element missing from my current performance is the one that promotes continued professional growth. I have not published anything, nor have I been to any conferences or workshop outside the requirements of the program. I do plan to attend conferences in the future and I do not intend to stay intellectually idle either when I begin my student-teaching or after I receive my degree. The incredible experiences I have had in the program so far have reminded me that I know that I do not know, and that I would really like to learn more.