Being a teacher has always been my dream. Being a teacher who makes a difference, I believe, is my goal. That is precisely the reason why I pursue studies in becoming an effective teacher.
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Professionally, I am aware that teachers need much training for all the tasks expected of them when they begin work. Being an effective teacher encompasses a wide spectrum of responsibilities – from designing an environment conducive to learning, to planning appropriate lessons for students and implementing them with effective educational strategies to being able to manage the class well and instilling discipline in the students, to involving parents and coordinating with others regarding the provision of quality education for the students.
What are your goals in the next five years? In the next 10 or more years?
Within the next year and a half, I see myself with a degree and ready to face the challenges of becoming hired as a teacher. I do not seek a position in a highly prestigious school. In fact, I have set my sights on working for a low-income school. That way, I fulfill my dream of helping children who are more in need of my services.
I would like to teach first grade students. Children at that age are still very impressionable. I find it a challenge to be able to reach out to them and touch their lives in an age where the foundations of learning are being established.
Gaining teaching experience for two years or so, I will keep myself alert in observing the learning needs of children of this generation and how I can better help them. Globalization may bring a great progress in many areas, however, it may likewise cause a lot of conflicts such as multi-cultural conflicts in education as well as the widening gap between the rich and poor. I find it in my mission to contribute something good to lessen, if not close the gaps in terms of discrimination in the provision of quality education for all.
With this burning mission at heart, I shall set out to pursue my master’s degree in Education, specializing in Educational Leadership. This degree will arm me with the knowledge and skills I would be needing in the coming years as I work towards a career in Educational Advocacy. I see myself in that field of Education in ten years.
Eventually, having earned credence as a professional educator and advocate, I shall be ripe for a leadership position in a school in ten years or so. By then, I would have mentored many young teachers and maybe influenced them with my philosophy of helping less privileged children. If I am to become a school principal, my agenda would be to take action as a school entity to provide high quality education to an adoptive school for less privileged children.
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What steps are necessary to get you to your goals? What obstacles can you foresee and how will you overcome them?
I may have lofty ideals, but I know I can reach my dreams if I sustain my zeal to reach them. Currently, I am working hard for a degree that provides me with the stepping stones to the fulfillment of my dreams. In the mean time, I shall build a network with other people active in the educational field.
I am sure I will gain much knowledge from them, and these network contacts may be instrumental in helping me in my future projects on education for less privileged children. One of society’s concern in education is reaching out to all students regardless of race, socio-economic status, ability, faith, etc. It is a fact that various backgrounds of students may keep them from getting the kind of education they deserve.
Joining professional organizations will also help me do that as well as provide me with training seminars and workshops to hone my teaching skills.
Possible obstacles to this journey may be family concerns, as I know myself to be an individual who would place family first. However, some family concerns may be causal factors in hindering me from pursuing a degree, taking on an employment position as a teacher, or completing a masteral degree.
What is one principle from the INTASC Principles Web site that you feel you need to improve the most in order to be effective in the education profession? What existing professional development program(s) could you pursue to address the need to improve in this area?
Looking at the list of INTASC Principles, I am humbled to say I need to hone my skills in all. I have so much to learn as a new teacher and it is not as easy as I thought. The principle that struck me most as needing the most improvement for me is principle number 3 which is Learning styles and diversity. I know children learn in various ways, not just through visual and auditory means, as most people think. To be a more dynamic teacher, I know I have to acknowledge, respect and adjust to various learning styles.
That would entail adjusting my teaching styles to a diverse set of learners. Although teachers are expected to know what to teach children in general, they also need to be able to adjust to individual needs of their students, as not all students learn the same way at the same pace.
Trafton suggests that individualization must include “acceptance of each child as an individual worthy of adult respect,” and that to this should be added “an acceptance of the child’s ideas, a provision of opportunities for pupil input in developing and selecting learning experiences, a concern for the quality of the child’s intellectual development, and a willingness to take time to know the child as an individual” (1975, p. 39).
Attending seminars and workshops on Different Learning Styles (ex. By Dunn and Dunn) and Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence Theories will surely help me gain adequate knowledge and skills in this area of weakness of mine.
What professional development programs can you enroll in to help you prepare to meet the diverse needs of today’s learners?
Aside from taking elective Education subjects outside my programme, I may also take some special education courses to understand the needs of children with special needs. I may also cross-enroll in subjects that deal with multicultural differences to understand how various cultures conduct themselves – their ideals, their beliefs and behaviors as shaped by their cultures. In doing so, I may be able to understand and possibly address their educational needs.
How will you evaluate your progress? What will help keep you motivated toward achieving those goals?
Working with a teacher-mentor would indeed help me in the assessment of my progress as there is another eye that keeps me in check. Regular observations both of me and of my mentor at work and regular meetings on my performance and progress will keep me aware of my demeanor as a teacher. Of course, self-reflection is necessary.
According to Osterman (1990), “reflection is the essential part of the learning process because it results in making sense of or extracting meaning from the experience”. People often go through their day doing their work as second nature, sometimes without thinking critically if what they are doing is truly meaningful and relevant. Schon (1983) offers the concept of knowing-in-practice to describe such mindless, functional task.
An individual needs to reflect, as it can surface and criticize old, reliable ways of doing things. “Practitioners do reflect on their knowing-in-practice. But they may also reflect on practice while they are in the midst of it. Here they reflect-in action.” (62) This may be difficult to do when one is busy at work, but working as if there is always watching one’s every move keeps the individual aware of good and bad practices, and tend to keep the good practices.
What professional organizations will you join? Why? What do you expect to gain from membership in these organizations?
Joining professional organizations such as the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), the Association for Childhood Education International (ACEI) and the International Reading Association (IRA) truly uplifts teachers to be more professional in their craft
. They provide seminar-workshops conducted by experts in the field who deliver research-based talks to update their participants. Professional journals also go with memberships in these organizations which provide articles and readings on the latest developments in the field. However, the best advantage in joining such organizations is networking with co-professionals in the field, as much learning ensues in exchanging notes about each one’s current practices.
One can also validate his or her current practice in networking with other professionals. Also, as member, one feels a certain sense of pride and dignity of being a teacher, as consistently communicated to them by these prestigious organizations.
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Teachers are considered lifelong learners, and are expected to model such quality to inspire their students. Judith Little (1982) recommends teachers to collaborate with each other to come up with more effective instruction
. They should engage in frequent, continuous and increasing concrete and precise conferences on their teaching practice and be able to reflect if these practices are working to encourage success in their students. They should be open to feedback and allow frequent observation of their teaching performance. Together, they should plan, design, research, evaluate and prepare teaching materials. They should also support and coach each other on other practices of teaching.
What techniques will you use to help you develop leadership skills?
Aside from reflection, I can also equip myself with knowledge and skills from readings and self-education. Attending seminars and workshops on leadership will also go a long way. The most important thing for me is to engage the contributions of the members of the group. In a research reported by French, Simpson and Harvey (2001), a good leader is also equipped with ‘negative capability’. “The underpinning image of leadership is based on knowing and is manifested through activity, work and achievement.
There is, however, a quite other dimension of leadership, based on not knowing, on not doing, on being-done-to, and on being no longer in control of one’s own situation.” (French, Simpson & Harvey, 2001). I interpret such a construct as being humble enough to admit when one doesn’t really know instead of putting up a façade of being all-knowing.
Tolerating enough ambiguity to keep the creative juices flowing in the organization is balanced with seeking coherence in the chaos. Fullan states, “All of this complexity keeps people at the edge of chaos. It is important to be at that edge because that is where creativity resides, but anarchy lurks there too” (Fullan, 2004, p.5).
This peculiarly human capacity to live with and tolerate ambiguity, of being content with half knowledge is quite a refreshing concept. “It implies the capacity to engage in a non-defensive way with change, without being overwhelmed by the ever-present pressure merely to react. It also indicates empathy and even a certain flexibility of character, the ability ‘to tolerate a loss of self and a loss of rationality by trusting in the capacity to recreate oneself in another character or another environment’ (Hutter, 1982, p.305).
This leads us to the next statement, “A good leader is always open to learning something new, and not haughty enough to claim that he is already “made”.” Being human and fallible is one trait that all members of the group share, and what better quality to relate to than that? Group members will even feel important enough to share the burden of thinking up solutions to problems with their leader. I am humble enough to admit when I do not know what to do, and I believe this humility will endear me to my followers to help me be a better leader….. and a better teacher.