Continuing my Growth as a Whole-Life Educator

Above is a professional growth plan created for the 2017 spring quarter.  This is a document that has been shared with my mentor and my peer-observer as a way to organize and reflect on what I would like to improve upon as a teacher.  In order to write this professional growth plan, I had to set clear goals for myself.  For instance, I have that I would like to integrate more project-based learning with lessons and activities that scaffold one another.  Additionally, I am working on best practices teaching tools such as “Checking for Understanding” and assessments within my lessons.  In order to achieve both of these goals I have chosen to focus on becoming a more organized and dependable instructor.

I’ve practiced being a whole-life educator by creating these professional growth plan and using peer-to-peer observations as an assessment tool for my growth. Each week is an opportunity to see and be seen by either my mentor or in the case of this quarter, a peer. While this was a daunting at first, it’s become an expected and welcomed part of my teaching practice.  Observations have been a valuable way for me to reflect upon my instructional strategies. What are my strengths? Likewise, what are the areas that I’d like to improve in my teaching? To set my intentions for professional growth, I have updated my professional growth plan this quarter.  As someone who makes an effort to set goals in other areas of my life, I will continue to update this professional growth plan beyond IslandWood.

 

What else have I learned from my peer-to-peer observations?  Follow this link to find out more: http://wp.me/p7RAVF-5W

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Taking a look at my first week teaching…

Each week we are given written feedback from our mentor as well as a short video clip of us teaching.  It’s often difficult to watch myself teaching— the inner critic comes out to tell me what my weaknesses are or what I could be doing better.  I’ve been working on shining a light into this discomfort, as a way to grow and learn as a whole-life educator.  Here is short write-up about what it was like looking back at my very first video of me teaching.

It’s nearing the end of the IslandWood 10-month program, and therefore time to do some reflection on my very first teaching observation.  While watching myself roll out my very first “Each One Teach One Ethnobotany” lesson a few things jumped out at me.  I did well to set the tone by asking them what they thought of when they thought of an expert, and said that they would have the chance to be one themselves. To make my instructions concise I related the E1T1 lesson to a solo walk experience and used sticks and stones to model the movement of how they would be walking down the trail.  I didn’t spend much time digging into the core of what makes ethnobotany important (that was saved for the debrief), but instead focused on how the activity would unfold.

Throughout my introduction of the E1T1 activity I made an effort to check for understanding.  The style of my check-ins were very much in the style of self-reporting (i.e. gathering some kind of consensus that everyone was following, got it?), which made the introduction feel slightly rushed.  I did some targeted questions towards the end that led me to believe that they were quick to understand how to move down the trail during the activity.  There was a quick release of information during this lesson, but overall it was thorough and if I remember correctly resulted in an insightful debrief at the end.  I have been increasingly more aware of how important scaffolding lessons with prior lessons is (i.e. doing an activity on ethnobotany or a leaf in a bag lesson).  By introducing students to the concept of ethnobotany earlier in the day, it would’ve allowed me to engage with them on the subject more during the onset of the lesson as opposed to the debrief only.