“To manage a system effectively, you might focus on the interactions of the parts rather than their behavior taken separately.”-Russell Ackoff

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At the William and Mary Educational Job Fair
I have tried to demonstrate professionalism throughout my student teaching experience. One of the most important ways to do this is to maintain an open, communicative, and collaborative relationship with my cooperating teacher, university supervisor, and the parents of my students. Before I began student teaching, I had practice creating a letter home introducing myself and explaining what units I would be teaching. I also designed a parent newsletter with the intent of making parents more aware of what is going on in their child's classroom and how they can become involved in the school's community.

Fostering relationships with a variety of members of the school community is very important to me. I have built a collaborative, professional relationship with both of my cooperating teachers and have "team lunches" with the rest of the fourth grade team. I attend fourth grade team meetings every morning at 8:30 am before school starts, and have attended school events such as Back to School Night, Fine Arts Night, and the our fourth grade Science Fair Night. I also have attended field trips with the rest of the fourth grade to Colonial Williamsburg and Jamestown, where we took a historic tour of the island and went kayaking.

Part of my professional develop was exhibited this past semester when I have the opportunity to attend a variety of events and meetings outside of the classroom setting. In November 2012, I attended William and Mary Math Day at the School of Education, which hosted several workshops on how to teach specific content and create hands-on activities for students in the classroom. During this meeting, I worked in groups with professionals outside of William and Mary. I also had the opportunity to be a part of an SOL format meeting, where all teachers at Matoaka received instruction on how the SOL had changed from the previous year. I also had the opportunity to both observe and lead parent-teacher conferences, which was wonderful practice with professional dispositions and interpersonal skills when speaking with parents. I also had the opportunity of observing an IEP meeting for one of my students and was able to speak with the parent's student about the student's progress in my class.

I also had the unique opportunity of representing the School of Education when I was a guest speaker at the Active Citizens Conference. I was chosen to represent the William and Mary School of Education as one of three panelists, which included a teacher with ten years of experience and a professor at the college. We spoke to undergraduate students, answering questions about education with our viewpoints from our experience. Our session was entitled "What is at Stake: An Assessment of Stakeholders in the Education System." Key points of discussion included the achievement gap, No Child Left Behind, and differentiated instruction.

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I exhibited professional demeanor when I was chosen to be on a panel at the Active Citizen's Conference as a representation of the Graduate School of Education
I have done my best to meet professional expectations by being responsible, meeting (and attempting to exceed expectations.) I arrive at my school at 8:30 every morning, which gives my cooperating teacher and I at least forty minutes to touch base in the morning, schedule meetings, or plan future lessons. Any tasks that I can help my teacher with in the morning (making copies, logging field trip money, grading papers) I try to do everything I can. I also have tried to help other teachers in school building. During centers time, when the music teacher needed to work with an individual student, I helped students with their sight-reading classwork. I have also helped the art teacher with materials and always go out for recess duty when it is my cooperating teacher's day to go out. I feel that I have been a good collaborator and my cooperating teacher said that one of my greatest strengths is how flexible and adaptable I am.

I also collaborated with members of the school community by co-teaching lesson plans. I taught a total of four lessons with three student teachers, and the art teacher at Matoaka. During my co-teaching lesson with the art teacher, I taught a Science SOL focusing on rain forests and ecosystems, and she showed students pictures of jungles by the artist Rousseau to educate students on art history and provide them examples of artistic skill and license. This was a wonderful professional experience collaborate with a teacher from a different subject and melding our experience into one lesson that taught the same content through two different lenses. I also co-taught a Science Circus with different learning stations. I co-taught a science activity with "Gak" in a second grade classroom, and I co-taught an Electoral College lesson plan with two other student teachers at Waller-Mill Elementary.

I collaborated with other student teachers on a hall project where we created a giant anaconda and whale, laminating them, writing their measurements, and mounting them on the wall to decorate the school with something educational. This collaborative effort bonded the us as student teachers in this community and also sent the message to teachers, administrators, parents, and students that we care about the school and learning.

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Issues of discussion on the panel that I was a part of at the Active Citizen's Conference on February 16, 2013.

Another part of my professional development was being critiqued by my University Supervisor while I taught lessons. While this was initially nerve-wracking, it was extremely valuable to interact with my University Supervisor and receive her feedback. Reading her reflections on of my lessons was extremely helpful, and it was wonderful receiving another opinion on what worked well, what I should continue to teach in future lessons, and what I can improve. University Supervisor Reflection.jpg

Part of professionalism is reflecting after a lesson plan, which is something that I always do naturally. I was given the unique opportunity to teach the same lesson to two different fourth grade classes. After the morning lesson, I would always reflect on what went well as well as what needed to be improved. I think it is very good to self-monitor and use formative assessment to gauge how a class is responding to instruction. If I need to deviate from my original lesson plan sometimes, I find that adapting to the needs of the individual classes justifies doing that. For example, my morning class has more behavior issues and students who are hyperactive, ADHD or ADD. I noticed that movement in the classroom and more hands on activities are effective with them, whereas the afternoon class can handle sitting in their seats for a longer period of time and still remain engaged.

While many of my "reflections" were mental thought processes, I also have several written reflections. Click here to see a personal reflection on my Alliteration Lesson Plan.

Many of my reflections occurred at the end of my practicum experience before the beginning of student teaching. These were extremely valuable because they reminded me of my preparation in the program, of valuable resources that I had been exposed to and could use during teaching, and what my educational goals were. I think part of professionalism is having a missions, goals, and objectives. Here is an example of a Reflective Narrative that I wrote reflecting on my practicum experience with Social Studies, the importance of the Arts, and my goals for incorporating these subjects into my future teaching. As part of my final for my Curriculum and Instruction Reading and Language Arts class, I had to write about my practicum experience in the subject, and reflect on why I would be a successful Reading and Language Arts teacher and what my future classroom goals were. Writing reflections such as these reminded me of my passion for teaching and how I hoped to inspire my students.

The final component of professionalism is developing a positive rapport with the students. I believe that one of the most important parts of teaching stems from being able to effectively manage a classroom so that it can function efficiently, but also relay the sentiment to students that you as a teacher love each and every one of them for who they are as an individual. I want to engage students in their own learning in whatever way the content makes sense to them. However, a large part of professional dispositions with students occur outside the classroom. Whether it is during homeroom time, class meeting, instructional time, a field trip, or outside of school, I want students to know that I am part of their support system. One of the most rewarding parts of my experience has been the knowledge that students know that I love them, and the mutual respect that we have built with one another.