Earlier in the year, I set goals for myself based on the Florida Educator Accomplished Practices (FEAPs). I set these goals for myself on September 19th, 2013 when I spoke with my collaborating teacher about the FEAPs. I also had a goal setting meeting with my Collaborating Teacher (CT) and my Partnership Resource Teacher (PRT) about my chosen FEAPs as well in which I discussed how I would meet my goals. I described this process in my blog post for the week of 9/23/13 – 9/27/13.
I decided to set a goal for myself under the second subheading entitled “The Learning Environment. To maintain a student-centered learning environment that is safe, organized, equitable, flexible, inclusive, and collaborative.” I decided to focus on “model[ing] clear, accurate oral and written communication skills.” I decided that in order to complete this goal, I would participate in read alouds, model a writing assignment for my students, and communicate clear directions.
In order to meet this goal, I read aloud on multiple occasions. For my first read aloud, I read The Ghost of Sifty Sifty Sam by Angela Shelf Medearis and illustrated by Jacqueline Rogers. (The information for meeting this goal through this read aloud can be found in the blog post from 10/14/13 – 1018/13 ). For this read aloud, I used good reading practices such as tracking my thinking, monitoring my comprehension, looking for when my meaning broke down and using fix-up strategies to fix up my comprehension. This read aloud; however, was more of a writing assignment; however I was still able to communicate good oral communication by describing my thoughts as I read.
For my second read aloud, I read my own writing entitled “Last Night I Turned into a … Skeleton.” (The information for meeting this goal through this read aloud can be found in the blog post from 10/14/13 – 1018/13). I modeled good writing by showing the students all of my writing craft and explaining my revisions. I read the paper out loud to my students to model clear oral communication skills. My collaborating teacher and I discussed my writing with the class. We talked about the good punctuation, spelling, and capitalization in my paper, as well as my use of writing craft such as vivid verbs and dialogue, which allowed me to model clear and accurate oral and written communication skills.
For my third read aloud, I read Number the Stars by Lois Lowry to my reading group. While reading to them, I made a slight mistake when I read “mag—“ and spoke “magic” before my eyes read the second part of the word “—azine” to make the word “magazine.” However, I corrected myself and did not dwell on the moment. I wanted to show my students that a small mistake would not stop me from continuing to model good oral communication skills. I wanted my students to understand that small mistakes can happen, but that they can still be successful and communicate clearly even if they make a mistake.
When I spoke with my collaborating teacher, she agreed that I modeled clear and accurate oral and written communication skills through my read alouds. She said that I also met my goal by helping students choose books that are “just right” for them using the five finger test. For this test, students choose a page of a book and read 100 words in a book out loud; students hold up a finger each time they make a mistake. When they finish, they decide what type of book it is: 0-1 fingers means too easy, 2-3 means just right, 4 means challenging, and 5 means frustration. I communicated these directions to the students each time that I did a just right test with them.
Another method for meeting my goal that my collaborating teacher brought to my attention was my creation and presentation of the directions for the reading challenge. The blog post that discusses this information is from 11/18/13 to 11/22/13. For this challenge, my collaborating teacher wanted the students to read books and take AR tests on them. The students made a goal to pass the AR tests with an 80% or higher for as many books as possible. I created the directions for the book challenge and then I modeled following these directions multiple times. My collaborating teacher and I had a discussion with the class in which we asked them questions to make sure they understood the directions. For example, my collaborating teacher had the students repeat the steps back to her in order to show comprehension.
I set another goal for myself that correlates to the fifth subheading of the FEAPs: “Continuous Professional Improvement.” For this FEAP, my goal was to “use a variety of data, independently, and in collaboration with colleagues, to evaluate learning outcomes, adjust planning and continuously improve the effectiveness of the lesson.” I decided that I would meet this goal by attending Professional Learning Committee (PLC) meetings throughout the semester.
In order to meet this goal, I attended many PLC meetings throughout the semester, which I discussed throughout my blog posts. I actually attended more PLC meetings than what I had discussed in my blog posts; I did keep track of all of the information we discussed in my personal notes. I tried to contribute to the conversation on a variety of occasions. For example, I asked the teachers in the PLC meeting if they taught the students the finger method for multiplying by nines. (This is discussed in my blog post for 10/7/13 – 10/11/13). Basically, for this method, the students have a problem in which they multiply a number by nine. For example, 4*9. The students hold up all ten fingers and count four fingers from the left and then place this finger down (so the student would now have three fingers up on the left, a finger down, and then six fingers on the right). The three fingers on the left are “multiplied” by ten to get 30 and the six fingers on the right are “multiplied” by one to get 6. These numbers are then added together to get 36, which is the answer to 4*9. I thought this would be a great hands on strategy that the students could use to learn multiplying by nines but the teachers were already teaching the students using this method.
Another way that I met my goal involved my Literature Circle/Reading Group. My reading group read Number the Stars by Lois Lowry. Before we began reading the book, my collaborating teacher and I performed Running Records on each of the students. (I had gone to a training with my collaborating teacher in which I learned about giving Running Records the week before I gave Running Records with my collaborating teacher). My collaborating teacher and I took down the results and we discussed what we found. I learned that the students read faster than I expected. I caught some mistakes that my collaborating teacher did not notice and she found some mistakes that I did not notice. We determined that Number the Stars was a good instructional read for these students, which means that they would be successful in reading this book with support from myself. (I discuss using Running Records in my blog post from 9/23/13 – 9/27/13.)
I was a bit nervous about reading this book with my students because it is above their grade level. I was working with the enrichment group but I wanted to make sure that my students understood what they had read in the book and feeling comfortable with it so I decided to give my students an informal survey about the book. I stressed that the survey would not affect their grades and that it was not an assignment but a tool to help me understand how they felt about the book. Based on the information that I collected, the students found the book to be a bit difficult but they enjoyed reading it and everyone wanted to finish the book.
I discussed the survey information that I had collected with my collaborating teacher. She appreciated that I did the survey and she analyzed that data with me. She agreed that this was still a good book for the students because I would provide them with the support they need in order to understand.
I talked with my collaborating teacher a few weeks later and I decided to give these students a quiz based on their reading and our discussions to assess what they learned. I created the test by myself and had my collaborating teacher look over the questions. She wanted me to add a few questions that were similar to the lesson she was teaching them in reading, which was based on inferring the meaning of words and inferring information about characters based on a passage of information. None of the students received a 100% on my test; however, none of the students failed. I showed the tests to my collaborating teacher and I discussed with her that this information would allow me to see what support I needed to give my students in order to help them succeed. (I discussed this quiz in my blog post from 11/12/13 – 11/15/13).
The final goal that I set for myself based on the FEAPs was under subheading 6: “Professional Responsibility and Ethical Conduct.” In our original meeting, my collaborating teacher and I discussed the importance of acting professional inside and outside the school. We also discussed the importance of being a role model to the students.
I met this goal by continuously showing up on time to my classroom and staying after when needed. I made sure to wear appropriate clothing that was respectable. If I ever questioned an outfit based on the neckline, I wore a scarf so that I would not compromise myself. I also wore shorts underneath all of the dresses that I wore so I would not compromise myself. When I would work with students, I did not bend over them; instead I knelt down so as to avoid compromising myself.
I also met this goal by removing any personal information about my students when I discussed them on my blog. I also removed their faces and names when I used pictures of my students or of their work. Virtually every one of my blog posts contains a disclaimer about how I protected the rights and privacy of my students and collaborating teacher. One of the most common phrases that I used was: “Please note that in order to protect the privacy of my collaborating teacher (CT) and my students, I will not mention the name of the school, students or the teacher. I will also avoid mentioning the grade level of my classroom. This is done to protect the rights and privacy of everyone that I work with.”
I did this because it is my ethical and professional responsibility to protect the privacy and rights of my students. I did not mention my students by name, instead I used pseudonyms. I also protected the rights of my collaborating teacher because I did not mention the grade level of the students that I worked with, nor did I mention the school name of my collaborating teacher’s name. Instead, I referred to her by the pseudonym “Ms. Smith” because this is a general name that does not give away any personal information.