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Section Five: Teacher Candidate Reflection Guidelines

Introduction

‘‘At first, they’ll ask why you’re doing it. Later, they’ll ask how you did it.’’

- Unknown

As I prepare to write this final section of my portfolio project, I am flooded with many

emotions. It is hard to believe that 10 months have passed since I started this journey; it is even

harder to believe that I am almost done (the in-class component). As I have mentioned, my path

to teaching was neither straight nor obvious. I made a decision to uproot my career and become a

student, once again. Similar to the quote above, many people questioned my decision. Others

were confused. Some probably didn’t think I would follow through with it. Except, I did. Not

only did I follow through with my decision but I excelled at it. People still ask me, ‘‘How do you

do it?’’, and I never know how to answer them. The truth is, I just do it! That is who I am and

who I will always be – a goal crusher! I can’t wait to take my reputable work ethic on my new

adventure. At least now, every ounce of me that I pour into my work will benefit a child rather

than a bottom line. That is the type of work I want to spend the rest of my life doing.

In this section, I will be reflecting on my experiences acquired while developing this

portfolio, and how they enhanced my preparedness and capabilities to be a successful teacher. I

will consider the overall process of this project, the collection of materials, and the organization

of the content. I will also recount my educational experiences during the M.S.Ed. program at

Medaille College, including the courses I feel contributed the most to my future success in the

classroom. Lastly, I will present the many reasons why I believe I am well-prepared to become a

professional teacher. Throughout all this, I will demonstrate how I have met the Department of
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Education (DOE) claims and the Council for Accreditation for Educator Preparation (CAEP)

standards during this program.

Portfolio Project/Teacher Education Learning Experiences

Creating this portfolio was a very worthwhile and rewarding experience. Not only does it

showcase my skills as a teacher and my preparedness to successfully lead a classroom, but it also

made me realize how much I have learned in this program and gave me a real sense of pride for

what I have accomplished in my life, professionally and personally. It wasn’t always easy to put

my thoughts into words or to apply theory to practice or even to remember what projects best

reflect my high-quality work, but the process of collecting and reviewing all the information

contained in this document reinforced (and re-taught) several concepts and theories I already

learned but may not have mastered. It also required me to do some additional research, for which

I am better off.

In Section Two, I was required to reflect on my educational and work experiences for the

purpose of connecting them to my future in education (DOE Claim 2: Pedagogy and best

teaching practices). This was an eye-opening exercise because, on the surface, my lack of

experience in the classroom seems to put me at a disadvantage to many of my classmates;

however, when you break-down the skills and expertise I acquired from over a decade of

planning and executing corporate training events as well as managing senior executives, it is

clear I am just as prepared and qualified to be a teacher.

What I found interesting about the process of choosing artifacts for Section Three, was

how difficult it was. At first, I wasn’t even sure I had eight ‘good ones’ to submit; however, once

I started sorting through my assignments and seeing the work I had produced, the list of what to

include continued to grow. In the end, I narrowed it down to nine artifacts that best demonstrate
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my pedagogical proficiencies, best teaching practices, subject matter knowledge, and ability to

be a caring, supportive, and effective teacher (DOE Claim 1: Subject matter; Claim 2: Pedagogy

and best teaching practices; Claim 3: Caring educator). The process of aligning my artifacts to

curriculum and professional standards, in Section Four, validates my knowledge and

understanding of them, as well as my ability to apply such guidelines to my daily work (DOE

Claim 1: Subject matter; Claim 2: Pedagogy and best teaching practices; Claim 3: Caring

educator).

The opportunity to volunteer in several classrooms over the last three semesters has been

a worthwhile experience. The ability to work with students in different grades and at various

academic levels was so valuable and something that could not be taught in class. Also,

witnessing first-hand the different approaches teachers take to teach their lesson, relate to their

students, and differentiate their instruction, was wonderful (DOE Claim 2: Pedagogy and best

teaching practices; Claim 3: Caring educator). It reinforced a number of theories and concepts I

have learned throughout this program and also validated the types of techniques I would use

within my own classroom (DOE Claim 1: Subject matter)

Creating my philosophy of education was a great exercise to get me thinking about such a

thing. At first, I felt at a disadvantage not having a background in education; however, it enabled

me to create something unique that I truly believed in, without any outside influences. And,

although my ideal school may never come to fruition, the process of designing it opened my eyes

to all the ways I would like to run my classroom as well as the type of environment in which I

would like to work (DOE Claim 2: Pedagogy and best teaching practices; Claim 3: Caring

educator).
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I enjoyed all the courses in the M.S.Ed. program at Medaille College; however, there are

a few that stand out in terms of preparing me for this journey. First and foremost, the Technology

class (EDU 571) was one of my favorites. I really feel this course exposes you to relevant

classroom skills and builds an incredible tech-savvy foundation from which a teacher can better

engage their class (DOE Claim 2: Pedagogy and best teaching practices). I look forward to

incorporating the SMART Board software into my lessons!

I also found the Foundations of Special Education (ESP 600) online course very useful

and informative. The insight into working with students with disabilities, using response to

intervention, and creating a least restrictive environment will be beneficial in today’s inclusive

classroom, and will help me be a more caring and culturally responsive teacher (DOE Claim

2: Pedagogy and best teaching practices; Claim 3: Caring educator).

Both Literacy classes (EDL 550, EDL 650) ranked high on my list of favorites. This

likely has a lot to do with my love for communications; however, I found both classes so

informative and applicable to real life. There were a number of hands-on activities that forced us

to be creative in our approach, and I really enjoyed it—as a student and as a teacher candidate. I

look forward to teaching ELA classes because I have experienced first-hand how learning can be

fun! (DOE Claim 1: Subject matter; Claim 2: Pedagogy and best teaching practices; Claim 3:

Caring educator).

If I had to choose the most important lesson I learned over the last year, it would be the

importance of considering the needs of all your students when planning, instructing, and

assessing. Before this program, I wasn’t aware of all the different classroom dynamics that exist

nor was I aware of how to deal with or work around all these dynamics. I believe that

understanding how to differentiate instruction and accommodate students with diverse needs is
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the difference between a good teacher and a great one. The old adage, ‘know your audience’

couldn’t be more true when it comes to teaching. If you haven’t done your own homework about

your students and identified their strengths and weaknesses, then you are setting yourself up for

failure. And, when you are responsible for shaping the lives of little people, failure is not an

option. (DOE Claim 2: Pedagogy and best teaching practices; Claim 3: Caring educator).

The second most important lesson I learned throughout this program is how much

planning is required to be a good teacher – from following curriculum standards to incorporating

professional standards to creating an effective and enjoyable lesson. I had never put much

thought into the amount of preparation needed to teach a lesson or unit, but now I recognize that

it takes a lot of time and a lot of planning.. This will help me manage my time accordingly,

especially at the beginning of my career when everything is new. (DOE Claim 2: Pedagogy and

best teaching practices).

Readiness to Become a Teacher

In my opinion, a successful teacher is one who identifies their students’ needs, strengths

and weaknesses, and then creates engaging and culturally responsive lesson plans that address

those differences. I believe, through my education at Medaille College as well as my diverse

background, I am well-prepared to do this successfully as an elementary teacher. I have

demonstrated throughout this portfolio my pedagogical proficiencies, subject matter knowledge,

ability to plan, instruct and assess, and my capacity to be a caring, supportive, and effective

teacher. My key strengths that support this include: my planning skills (I am well organized and

detail oriented); my ability to incorporate relevant content and important themes into my lessons

(I am a creative thinker who will be culturally responsive to all my students); my technology

expertise (my savvy presentation and SMART Board skills will engage my students and make
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work feel like fun); my classroom management skills (from accommodating and differentiating

my instruction to providing group and individual incentives for work well done); and, my

reflection skills (I always look back and consider how things can be improved for the future, and

I never assume I will always get things right the first time) (DOE Claim 1: Subject matter; Claim

2: Pedagogy and best teaching practices; Claim 3: Caring educator).

Although I may not bring to the table years of experience in the classroom, I do bring a

well-rounded and diverse educational background and work history that has prepared me for this

next chapter in my life. As evidenced by my return to school and venture into a new career, I am

a strong believer in life-long learning. Although I feel fully prepared to teach in a classroom, I

don’t expect my educational path to end here. As I learn from experience and develop my

teaching skills, I will continue to expand my mind and skillset through professional development

and additional qualification courses (DOE Claim 1: Subject matter; Claim 2: Pedagogy and best

teaching practices). After all, the more I know, the better teacher I become. The better teacher I

am, the more successful my students will be (DOE Claim 3: Caring educator).

Conclusion

I believe I have presented all the supporting evidence of my abilities and preparedness to

become an effective and successful teacher. As such, I would like to end on a more personal note

by stating how thankful I am I decided to pursue this new career and enroll in the M.S.Ed.

program at Medaille College. I have learned a tremendous amount in such a short period of time,

and I have had the pleasure of being taught by some amazing teachers. More importantly, I have

met, worked with, learned from, and been inspired by 20 incredible people; most of whom I will

remain in contact with beyond graduation, some of whom will be lifelong friends. I feel

confident that as we all embark on this new journey, we will be there to support each other and
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offer help or advice when needed. Next to being able to shape the young minds of our future, this

is a pretty remarkable outcome of this program. And now, when people ask me, “How do you do

it?”, I will simply respond, “I did it!”

In the next, and final section, I will be sharing a mock interview that showcases my work,

technology skills, and preparedness to become a teacher, as well as my ability to make relevant

connections to respond to job-related questions. The video is created and edited by me, using

Screencast-o-matic, and features my Weebly website to highlight some of my work.