E3: Exemplify an understanding of professional responsibilities and policies. Teaching is a profession that includes many responsibilities, since we are often a major influence on the lives of many children. While some of these responsibilities are easy to handle, such as watching over the wellbeing of our students when they are in our classroom, there are other responsibilities that may be emotionally painful to fulfill. The one I think I might struggle with most is my role as a mandated reporter for suspicion of child abuse or neglect. For our Professional Issues course (EDU 6134), we read Washington State’s Guide for Recognizing and Reporting Child Abuse and Neglect, shown in Figure 1.
Even when simply reading the text, I was overcome with emotion and fear of having to report abuse in the students with whom I will build relationships. I never want to see abuse in my family, my circle of friends, or my classroom, but unfortunately it is something that could happen, and I have to be prepared for it. Not only will I report suspected abuse because it is the law, I will do it because I care about the people around me and don’t want to see them harmed. If any intervention from the state takes place in the household of one of my students, I will try to continue to maintain the classroom as a safe place to come and be a “normal” child, even while their life may shift around them. It is my hope that I will be surrounded by friends and family that will offer emotional support if I ever have to report suspected abuse. Being able to come home and behave as if nothing had happened is unlikely, but support might help me deal with the emotions that accompany evils such as realizing the presence abuse.
Washington State Department of Social & Health Services: Children’s Administration. (2010). Protecting the abused & neglected child: a guide for recognizing & reporting child abuse & neglect. (DSHS 22-163).
Prior to my Classroom Management course (EDU 6130), I had heard many things about students with special needs in the classroom. Given the lack of funding but wealth of legislation, the statistics say it is inevitable that I will soon have a student that requires something different from the rest of my students. While only a fraction of teachers are trained to deal with the special needs of these exceptional children, every teacher can be called upon to do so. I am glad to have read papers on the legislation and techniques relating to differences in learning. These papers, that I found so helpful, were from The Province British Columbia’s (2011) and Laprairie, Johnson, Rice, Adams, and Higgins (2010). It made me much more confident in my ability to Honor Student Diversity and Development (HOPE Standard H1). Before, I had thought that my whole classroom would have to be turned upside-down by the incorporation of a student with different needs. Edith, a classmate, said in discussion that all students have different backgrounds and are unique, therefore they all have different needs from one another. That gave me a whole new perspective on the situation. While more time and effort will need to go into planning for their strengths, I should be planning for a variety of different learning styles and abilities already. When we wrote a lesson plan in class, our group had already addressed so many types of learning, even before we had placed special emphasis on students with special needs. Though it may be a challenge finding out what works, I believe a strong relationship with parents and other teachers the student might have had in the past can go a long way in developing a curriculum that will allow the student to flourish.
Knowing more about specific learning disabilities, as well as specific types of legislation, were also benefits of the readings this week. The Province of British Columbia (BC) article was especially helpful in laying out the different ways a certain disability might present itself. Even after dating someone with dyscalculia, what he called “number dyslexia,” for three years, I had no idea how it would present itself in the classroom – or even what it was technically called. The BC article also laid out suggestions for adaptations that can be made – something I will be referring back to when I get my list of different abilities in my classroom. The Laprairie, Johnson, Rice, Adams, and Higgins article was useful in defining and describing legislation that affects teaching students with different abilities. There are so many acronyms and so much special jargon thrown around, especially in our classes that include the special education ARC students, and now I feel better prepared to understand most of what to which they are referring. These two documents will be in my resource kit for years to come.
Province of British Columbia. (2011). Supporting students with learning disabilities: A guide for teachers. [PDF]. Retrieved from http://www.bced.gov.bc.ca/specialed/docs/learning_disabilities_guide.pdf
Laprairie, K., Johnson, D. D., Rice, M., Adams, P., & Higgins, B. (2010). The top ten things new high school teacher needs to know about servicing students with special needs. American secondary education, 38(2), 23-31.
O1 – Offer an organized curriculum aligned to standards and outcomes. To me, this standard means to plan based on goals as opposed to plan based on activities. Throughout the coursework, we have been told about the importance of communicating goals to students. A learning goal is “a statement of what students will know or be able to do” (Marzano, 2007, Location 205). We sometimes refer to these as learning targets, which is more specific to an individual lesson. The activity in which the importance of having and communicating these goals was solidified was in creating a lesson plan. In Introduction to Teaching (EDU 6918), as well as in other classes, we were asked to create a lesson plan starting with the standards and learning targets, as shown in Figure 1.
While this strategy was initially difficult, it became evident that having a clear goal was critical to having an organized curriculum, and that identifying the target can benefit students as well. As Jim Knight said, “When students understand what they are supposed to learn, the chances are much higher that they will actually learn it” (2012, Location 914). In order to make sure I give a clear target at which the students are supposed to aim, I plan on continuing to focus on what I want the students to learn before I focus on how they will learn it.
Knight, J. (2012). High impact instruction. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.
Marzano, R. J. (2007). The art and science of teaching. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.