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Jennifer Owen

12/4/2014 EDUC 450


Dr. Frederiksen
Semester Reflection and Critique

What did teaching this lesson teach you? What are you discovering about your style in front of
students? Your choice of instructional methodology for this lesson? Your instructional planning
and delivery? Your style with different types of learners?

Over the course of the semester I have learned a great deal about teaching, my personal style, and an
effective way to go about planning. While working in Ms. Osiers 11th grade class, I have had the
opportunity to work one-on-one with students as well as address the whole class in an instructional
manner. I have found that at some point during the semester I had developed the mindset of a teacher.
I became the teacher and began envisioning the students as my own. Becoming comfortable in the class
and in front of the students was challenging. Because classroom routines and expectations had already
been established, coming in as an authority figure was difficult. I had to put myself in the mindset of a
teacher rather than a simple observer. Watching other teachers, I discovered where I would do things
differently and which tools will be most helpful in my own classroom. While I am not opposed to
traditional lecture, I discovered that my method of instruction tends to vary greatly from what I have
observed. I want my classroom to be interactive and allow students to explore their learning from
multiple angles. Rather than doing worksheets, reading out loud as a class, students in my class will take
part in large and small group discussions, read independently, and complete homework. My classroom
will be more student-centered, where students are driving their learning. I have had the opportunity to
work with students individually and have utilized that time to develop my inquiry skills. By asking the
right questions, students have been able to work out their learning on their own, rather than me simply
providing them the answer. I have really enjoyed working closely with students, especially with such a
large class. I have learned to adapt and modify lessons for various learning styles, which was something I
think I struggled with recognizing before. I discovered how important it is to circulate around the room
and ensure students comprehend instructions, but one of the most valuable tools I have learned to
utilize is modeling. With a large class full of different types of learners, modeling my expectations and
tasks is essential to their independent success.
During the planning process, the biggest adjustment I had to make was my modifications. I have also
developed a more thorough approach to assessment. Utilizing extensive planning in my Methods class
this semester aided me in the fluidity of my planning. While the task seemed daunting and extensive, I
am so thankful to have had the experience. Knowing that I probably will not use such detailed planning
tools, having the experience in doing so has allowed me to better understand my though processes. I
see now, how using these devices allows you to account for instruction time, transition from one thing
to another, and understand the purpose and goals of instruction. All of these elements are essential in
the early planning stages. With more practice, I think most teachers can use the shorthanded versions of
planning and know the goals and objectives without writing them all out. For the time being, I am going
to continue using the full lesson plan template layout so that I can have a clear and determined focus. I
need to, however, also make notes as well. It is difficult to follow such a detailed lesson plan. I need
notes or something smaller that I can glance at quickly to determine where Im going next.

What have you learned about yourself over this semester? Include thoughts about your
philosophy, your personal and professional goals, and your evolving belief about students,
classroom management, planning and assessment.

At the beginning of the year, I wrote my teaching philosophy statement in my Methods class to submit
along with my Student Teaching Application. I worked really hard on it, and found that over the course
of the semester, I am more solidified in my teaching beliefs than ever before. Students arent being
challenged, nor are they accountable for their learning and understandings of material. This has taught
me several things: students need to be held to higher expectations, teachers need to set and enforce
different expectations or class guidelines, students need to be included in discussions about texts to
read, and there needs to be a significant increase in collaboration. Learning should be funsomething
to be desired, not a chore.
I was rather surprised at the students willingness and eagerness for me to teach them. It was a change
of pace and they really worked with me to help me find my groove. The comfort level took a while, but
engaging with students frequently in and out of the classroom really helped me feel at home in their
classroom. Once I am in a classroom of my own, I feel significantly more confident about my ability to do
right by my students. About midway through the semester, I realized that I am ready. I was still really
nervous about student teaching full time come January, but after completing my yearlong plan and
teaching this semester, I know Im ready and I realized how much I have actually learned throughout my
CSU program. Classroom management is one element that I have learned a great deal about. Knowing
how important this element is to a successful classroom, I have learned things that I think will work in
my classroom, as well as things that are not effective. Clear and enforced expectations are critical.
My philosophy is stronger than ever. My personal and professional goals are still changing. I still go back
and forth between high school and middle school. I feel after more experience I will be better able to
make this determination. Due to things I have seen recently, I am inclined to stay at the middle school
level because I feel there needs to be an earlier intervention to prevent some common practices I see at
the high school level. My goal is to work in a positive and supportive environment. Without the support
of administration and colleagues, teachers become overwhelmed with situations that are difficult to
escape. Because all of the teachers use worksheets, the single teacher who tries to do something
different get rejected. It becomes, all they want to do is worksheets because that is all they are
accustomed to doing. The entire school atmosphere and environment needs to be changed and
students need to be held accountable for higher expectations. Students are smart and they want to be
challenged. The way we assess students, should also change. My classroom has a wide range of
alternative, performance assessments, rather than more traditional exam or simple essay assessments.
While these can have value if done meaningfully, I feel as though there are better, more engaging ways
to assess student understanding. I want students to interact with the concepts they are learning.
Overall, I have had a wonderful semester. The learning opportunities and teachable moments I have
encountered have allowed me to feel prepared for Student Teaching. Im ready to get in front of
students full time and take charge in the classroom. There are many things I have left to learn, but as an
educator, I will never stop learning. Each day will be unique, and each class will give me new insights
into education. Now, its time for me to take all that I have learned and apply tools and strategies that I
feel will make a difference. Thank you, Heidi, for a great semester and your wisdom.