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Co-taught camp through Drama Kids International

Educators should constantly reflect upon their pedagogical knowledge, methodologies, ideologies, and assessment. Teachers should take note of things going well and things not going so well in their classroom to better improve the classroom environment and structure. Students can change and bring in new information at any time, teachers need to keep this in mind and respond appropriately. Whether a student is improving and moving above the necessary skill level needing new challenges or if a student is falling behind and needs additional support, a teacher should reflect upon what might need adjusting. Whether a teacher needs to take a step back, forward, or continually use something, teachers should consider decisions with as many components of the instruction as well as management as possible.

Throughout my Master's program I watched videos of my teaching, heard feedback from other colleagues, my supervisor, and my cooperating teacher, as well as reflected upon lessons within units myself. The William and Mary School of Education teaches you to be a good reflector and I have kept a mini journal with ideas, things I have liked, things that did not go well, in hopes to read it later after my teaching and keep those points in mind for my future classrooms. I plan to keep a reflection journal in the future years to come in order to keep notes on my students for parent conferences or portfolios, notes on classroom management or lessons to inform my instructional decisions, and notes on the pedagogy to reflect upon as an educator to grow further in my teaching skills and self knowledge. I strongly believe in the Greek Theatre mantra "Know thyself" to better know how to deal with others which is critically important for teaching. The more you can reflect upon things and think critically about your decision making, the more you can improve. Having an outside eye observing occasionally is also a good opportunity for seeing a different perspective of your own teaching.

As an educator thus far, I have reflected in various ways throughout my teaching experiences. I have participated in a lesson study, working with a group to change a lesson and make it appropriate for different grades and classes of students. The group co-developed the lesson, half the group taught while the other observed then the group discussed strengths and weaknesses. During the second teaching we created a second draft, changed roles, reflected once again, and developed a final draft. This was a great exercise to improve upon curriculum, instruction, and assessment with other colleagues as well as reflect upon my own teachings. This a great collaboration project to work upon. I also taught a science lesson with a Problem-Based Learning component in a team of cohorts. We taught the lesson together and filmed it which gave us a multi-layered perspective about how the lesson went. We received feedback from each other, our professor, the class cooperating teacher, we fed off of the students, and self-reflected. Co-teaching a lesson also promoted a healthy dependency upon one another to help keep the classroom maintained and in control while another member of our teaching team was speaking.

I also worked with the cohort of first graders in my placement on an annual mystery unit that the entire grade completes together. The is a multidisciplinary unit where students use their scientific senses and collect evidence with the help of police officers to solve a school-appropriate mystery. I was new to teaching this unit and was subbing by myself for my cooperating teacher for the last two days of this unit. I was able to ask questions and talk to the leading organizer of the unit to get supplies as well as teaching tips. We set up the crime labs together during planning periods. Additionally we talked about our class conversations throughout to update each other about what the students thought was happening to them inform how we revealed the next piece of the puzzle for the students. The school environment I worked in for my student teaching was very welcoming and there were lots of opportunities to work with other educators in formal as well as informal ways throughout the process. From chatting with the head secretary to asking how the injured janitor's day was going, to catching up with centers teachers about my placement class behaviors and many other ways, I was able to absorb a lot of help, advice, and experience from diverse professionals in the field.

I try to meet new educators when the opportunity is presented. Whether we are in line at staff meetings for refreshments, staying late after school to make copies in the copy room, or attending child study meetings, I feel out the situation and participate appropriately with the other educational professionals. I make sure to find the balance of learning from others, still knowing my role as the student teacher, but also initiate conversations between different parties of people. There is a delicacy in the hierarchy in the school system, however, everyone at the elementary school where I work has been very open, welcoming, and happy to talk with me. Most ask me about my future plans and I ask about what advice they have for me in the future, both rich and educational conversations. With some paraprofessionals and educators, we have created a rapport of bouncing ideas off of each other and also giving constructive feedback to each other's lessons or student relationships. I loved bouncing ideas and questions off of my cooperating teacher. With each conversation we became more and more of a synonymous team to best work together for the benefit of the students. My morning routine consisted of walking into the front office, saying hello to the secretaries and asking how their day looks, then walking through the halls smiling at the other educators I saw, checking in with the first grade reading specialist, greeting the other first grade teachers who I ran into in the hallway, then organize and reset the classroom for the day while I caught up with my cooperating teacher. I hope I can have this rapport with all of my future fellow educators in my future schools.

I have attended professional development opportunities such as staff meetings and Child Study meetings within my placement elementary school. I also attended conference and field trip opportunities such as Project Capitol and William and Mary's Math Day. I continue to look for other development opportunities and share them with my cohort of student teachers and will continue to do so here afterwards. After taking the technology class, I have become very active on Twitter and also network with people as well as organizations in the field such as @AnimationChefs or @edutopia and individuals such as Jerry Blumengarten who is an #edtech monitor and author of which shares educational technology tools with other professionals.
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Project Capitol image with other fellow educators