Reflection – Teacher, Know Thyself

The ancient Greek aphorism “know thyself”, is one of the Delphic maxims, inscribed in the Temple of Apollo at Delphi (Pausanias).

There is always much ado about teacher evaluation, with topics running the gamut from linking teacher evaluation to student achievement to focusing less on measuring teachers and more on developing teachers (Center for Public Education 2013; Marzano 2012). And yet, I wonder, how often are we teachers asked to evaluate ourselves? How often are we given the time and guidance needed for deep reflection about our practice?

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Know Thyself. This work is in the public domain in its country of origin and other countries and areas where the copyright term is the author’s life plus 100 years or less. This work was published before 1923 and is public domain in the US.

I began this quarter curious about how my teaching practice would stack up against the ISTE Standards for Teachers. As the quarter progressed, I was pleased to be able to find evidence of at least one element of each of the five standards for teachers in my current practice. That said, as in previous quarters, I was once again impressed by the level of professional growth I achieved through careful examination and reflection on my teaching practice. Much as people who would like to undertake meditation as a personal wellness practice often need to be coached in order to achieve the proper technique, teachers—who are better versed in evaluating their students rather than themselves—need coaching in order to be successful in structured reflection as a professional wellness practice. Through the coaching I received during each of the modules for SPU DEL EDTC 6103, I was able to hone my skills in structured reflective practice, both measuring and developing myself according to each of the ISTE Standards for Teachers.

I also found myself challenged in an area that I had allowed to remain a shallow part of my practice: the Global Collaborative Project (GCP). Although each year in October and November my students and I participated in the Global Read Aloud project, we did not engage in any other GCPs. The GCP requirement for SPU DEL EDTC 6103 spurred me to remedy this situation. I designed three GCP experiences, one for each of my grade level classes (6th, 7th & 8th grade Language Arts), two of which were successfully completed. You can read about our experiences here.

ISTE Coaching Standard 2 provides eight benchmarks for “assist[ing] teachers in using technology effectively for assessing student learning, differentiating instruction, and providing rigorous, relevant, and engaging learning experiences for all students” (ISTE 2016).

This quarter, we began to examine the ISTE Standards for Coaches, linking Coaching Standard 2 to relevant teaching standards. ISTE Coaching Standard 2 provides eight benchmarks for “assist[ing] teachers in using technology effectively for assessing student learning, differentiating instruction, and providing rigorous, relevant, and engaging learning experiences for all students” (ISTE 2016). One of the benchmarks specifically focuses on coaching and modeling “engagement of students in local and global interdisciplinary units in which technology helps students to achieve professional roles, research real-world problems, collaborate with others, and produce products that are meaningful and useful to a wide audience” (ISTE 2016). The GCPs I engaged in with my students allowed me to do just that. As an endcap to our Holocaust unit, which focuses on “light in the darkness” and being an upstander, my 8th grade students used technology to connect with Syrian refugee youth, while also using low and no-technology methods to raise awareness and funds. During a Mystery Skype session, my 6th grade students flexed their geography and project management skills while engaging with a class of same-grade students at a school in New Zealand (we are in USA). The excitement that both of these projects generated resulted in my colleagues asking me how they could engage in a global collaborative project with our students. Modeling: check; coaching: coming soon!

When I began the Seattle Pacific University Digital Education Leadership Program, my goal in empowering my colleagues was not focused on improving their reflective practice, but rather on infusing them with the technology skills they needed in order to create a more dynamic learning environment for our students. Simply put, I was more concerned with producing student outcomes rather than developing teachers through reflective practice. As I grow in my role as a Digital Education Leader, I will be sure to encourage and, if I am able, facilitate structured reflective practice using the ISTE Standards for Teachers. In helping teachers to know themselves, we can help them to be confident in where they are in their professional journey, so that they can continue to develop in the ways that will positively impact their practice and therefore how they contribute to the learning environment we provide for our students.

Works Cited

  1. Center for Public Education. (2013, October). Trends in Teacher Evaluation. Retrieved June, 5, from http://www.centerforpubliceducation.org/teacherevalreview
  2. Marzano, R. J. (2012, November). The Two Purposes of Teacher Evaluation. Educational Leadership, 70(3), 14-19. Retrieved June 5, 2016, from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/nov12/vol70/num03/The-Two-Purposes-of-Teacher-Evaluation.aspx
  3. P., Jones, W. H., Ormerod, H. A., & Wycherley, R. E. (1918). 24. In Pausanias Description of Greece. London: W. Heinemann. doi:http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Paus.+10.24&fromdoc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0160

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