Reflection & Practice
Constantly striving for ways to improve our teaching
"Remember that you don't need to do everything at once. It's not realistic to expect to go from wherever you are now to 'great' in a year or two. Because you're not trying to fix everything at once, you have to set priorities. Decide what is most important to work on, and focus on concrete, manageable steps to move you toward your goal" (Willingham, page 202).
Observing other teachers, reflecting after a class activity on its successes/failures, writing in a teaching journal, and working closely with another teacher (i.e. your mentor or another new teacher in your curriculum) has been some of the most helpful and beneficial ways of reflection for me. I truly value what others have to say to help me improve my practice! Keeping a written record is a great way to see the progress you have made, as well. I like to think/reflect to myself after class activities or lectures to see if they were truly effective or not, or if they just need some editing. After doing so, I put into practice new strategies and ideas I've learned or constructive criticism that I know will mold me into a wonderful teacher.
Practice, Practice, Practice!
There's no way to improve your teaching if you don't place new skills into practice! This is the same point we daily make efforts to get across to our students, so we must follow through with our own needs for practice as well. As Willingham points out in his last chapter called What About My Mind?, "...and practice means (1) consciously trying to improve, (2) seeking feedback on your teaching, and (3) undertaking activities for the sake of improvement, even if they don't directly contribute to your job" (Willingham, page 194). Practice brings on reflection, and reflection brings on practice again. For the best interest of our students,we must "keep swimming", and practice, practice, practice!
To sum up...
TED 669 has not only taught me to relax in my teaching and realize it will take more than just my first year to get it right, but to constantly and consistently practice and reflect, keep an open-mind in every circumstance; everyone is fighting some sort of battle whether it be a mental or physical disability or emotional, show your kids you have a HEART by showing compassion for them, find querky yet rememberable ways to teach tough concepts, and dare to teach "outside of the box" meaning, strive to teach skills that will carry students farther than the doors of North Davidson High School verses strictly to a Common Exam or EOC. Thanks to Jennifer Mangrum for helping make this second semester at UNCG and as a first-year teacher worthwhile!