Meta-Reflection: Standard P: UNDERSTANDING OF TEACHING AS A PROFESSION (P1-P3)
P1: Informed by professional responsibilities and policies – a collegial and professional school setting.
As lifetime learner I have experienced many different academic settings, but in the last few years my focus on pedagogy has intensified the aspects of procedure, guidelines, and overall responsibilities. I have to thank Dr. Scheuerman and Dr. Hudson for starting us in the right direction with his instruction and modeling, and it continued right up to our more recent classes working on the importance of reading, assessment, and Individualized Educational Programs (IEP). In the special education field much of what we pay close attention to are the responsibilities and policies that drive our field, and the failure to do so could have dramatic results with our students and with liability. We carry a responsibility to educate students that may be non-verbal, and many of the documents we create are legal papers.
Teaching Philosophy Statement and Goals
“The Triangle of Teaching”
When considering my philosophy toward education I reflect on several thoughts and strategies, but in the end I’ve come up with what I call the “Triangle of Teaching,” which consists of three main ideas; Teamwork, Communication, and Positive Reinforcement. I feel these three concepts overlap, and they relate to most ideas that I focus on, in and out of the classroom. I’ve come to these specific strategies by reflecting on my past experiences with teaching students, and as a student myself.
When considering educators who have modeled great instructional styles I immediately think of three teachers that I have had the pleasure of studying under. One was an art teacher in elementary school, one was a history professor in junior college, and the final one was a special education professor in graduate school. The common thread was that they all contained a tremendous amount of knowledge content pertaining to their field and to life in general. They all had individual strengths, which included foresight and compassion for their students. My art teacher had the ability to communicate and involve my parents in a way that affected me into adulthood. I feel that a teacher may have a tremendous amount of knowledge, but without a positive approach and proper communication skills there is a gap in conveying that knowledge into learning experiences. My history professor in junior college was one of the first instructors that showed me that passion for a subject was infectious, and his way of chronicling tales went well beyond just lecturing. Another of my most influential instructors has an ideological list concerning students with special needs that I also relate to my philosophy. They include items such as thinking of the student as a child first, focusing on what they can do rather than cannot, and looking at how students communicate. My experience is that with a positive approach, good communication and a team oriented approach I will accomplish these values.
This leads me to the influences upon my teaching philosophy from the students I have taught, their families, and the staff I have worked with. Once again I feel that a successful teacher and classroom must include a team oriented approach based on clear communication and positive supports. I feel that when I approach my classroom I consider communication with my students, but I also with their families and the school staff. This implements overall teamwork then we can work together to reach our common goal, which is the success of the student. In a similar way I need to include students into the equation when consideration my “team.” I realize I need to be a leader in the classroom, which sometimes means making tough decisions or being resolute, but I need the cooperation and communication of everyone to reach our goal. Students are always communicating with us, whether it is by external behaviors or by not speaking. I need to be aware of how others are communicating with me, and how I am relating with them. This brings me to using positive reinforcement, and how it influences all areas of our lives. I realize that an important part of collaborating with a team is using a constructive approach, so that when I need cooperation or support we have laid the foundation that we can rely on, which is essential when using a team oriented approach in special education. I realize that even the most calm and compassionate teacher gets frustrated, but it is how we react in these situations that define how we will be viewed by our team and whether we will grow from those experiences.
Teaching is one of the most important jobs, if not the most important job, that has ever existed. This is a primary reason I decided to become a teacher because I knew it was vital and essential. The importance of this vocation has instilled in me the passion and enthusiasm to enter into the pedagogical field, and this is even more evident in special education where there are so many opportunities to have a positive effect on children. This experience has demonstrated to me that learning is a lifelong goal whether you are in school or not, and I need to remember that when working with children. My father was one of the smartest and wisest people I ever knew, yet when he was a teenager it was necessary for him to quit high school to help support his family. One of his focal points for me was to attend school, even if I was uncertain what I wanted to do, but his point was to get the formal education he never received. This had a profound affect on how I perceived education, and it wasn’t a coincidence that I applied to a teaching program just after his passing. He also said, “I don’t care what you do, but just find something that you enjoy,” and this lends to my belief in teaching with an affirmative attitude because we have to believe in what we do and enjoy it. My father didn’t care how much money I made or what field I chose, but he knew after spending 30 years in a factory that there had to be conciliation between working to live and living to work. My family’s history has been a influence on my teaching style, and it has led me to focusing my the three philosophies in my teaching triangle because I need to be aware of where my students are coming from and what they and their families are dealing with on a daily basis. It will not always be easy in the classroom, but I believe that with compassion, belief in our team, and the proper strategies that I can make a difference. This is my philosophy and this is my hope.
What I learned: This is a reflection of my views on education as well as a historical view of the field.
Taking religion seriously across the curriculum: This is not only a review of the book Taking religion seriously across the curriculum and the facts behind religion in schools, but also my outlook and points of learning.
I started my studies in teaching with an already imbedded importance of the profession. My wife is a national certified teacher who has taught in the Highline School District for over a decade, and I have observed her classroom and the influence on the future of her students. My experience in school has only solidified the thought that I can be either a positive or negative influence on my students. One the most important lessons that I have learned is the effect of positive behavior support, especially with students who have a disabilities. Not only is a positive attitude and focus more beneficial for the students, but it is a better state of mind for the teacher.
P2: Enhanced by reflective, collaborative, professional growth-centered practice – benefiting students.
The practice of reflection, growth, and collaboration are integral parts to modern education, and are a focus of the classroom in our present day schools. I feel teachers need to be able to reflect on their own work and talk to team members to truly evolve as an educator. A school is a multilevel and diverse population, and there are plenty of opportunities to share and open ourselves to other educators. The challenges lie in whether we will be able to reflect upon our learning moments (positive and negative) or be too defensive to learn from them.
Student teaching reflection: This reflection noted some changes that I wasn’t prepared for and how I needed to change my approach.
What kind of teach will I be? : A reflective paper on what kind of teacher I hope to be, and how I will affect my students.
Search for meaning: A reflective paper pertaining to finding deeper meaning in the educational field.
P3: Informed by legal and ethical responsibilities – students benefit from a safe & respectful learning environment.
This is an especially important issue in our times, and when working with students who have disabilities, such as those who have emotional behavioral disorders (EBD) or lack certain social cues, it is our responsibility to not only keep them safe, but to treat them with consideration. I think our school has taken a positive step in implementing “Rachel’s Challenge,” which I mentioned in my L3 standard. We not only ask our students in special education to show respect, but we also challenge their peers to have some understanding in return.
One of the main concerns within the special education field is writing Individual Educational Programs (IEP) because of the ramifications concerning disputes, and the fact that IEP’s are legal documents. I sometimes feel that we are held under a microscope, and even though that can be stressful it emphasizes that we need to not only be ethically vigilant but legally attentive. Not only can we stagnate a students learning experience, but we can cause our school to be help fiscally responsible for our mistakes.
Moral intervention concerning children with autism?: My research into the popular view that people that are in the Autism spectrum do not have the capacity for empathy.
Teaching Children with ODD: This contains a PowerPoint presentation on the Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD) and strategies for teaching children with ODD.
Social, moral, and academic education: A paper on the legal and ethical responsibilities of teachers, and my reflections on the trend of self centered society.
Exploring Christian ethics: This is a review of the book Exploring Christian Ethics, and my view regarding the ethical consequences of an educator.
Student Teaching Reflection #9: This reflection addresses the safety of students and teachers when working with students exhibiting harmful and abusive behaviors.