As I help my students reflect on their year of learning, I remind them that everyone still has things on which they need to work – even teachers. As I reflect on my year of learning and teaching, it is critical to identify the areas of weakness and how I will work to better myself in those areas in the future. The Professional Growth Plan (PGP, see Image 1) has helped me reflect on my teaching in a meaningful way and exemplify professionally-informed, growth-centered practice (HOPE principle E1). While this is required for my program, I felt it truly helped me lay out measurable plans for my future in teaching, as well as a baseline from which I can grow in my own classroom next year.
In going through the Washington State rubrics, I found a few areas in which I would like to grow in my next few years of teaching. While they had not been my focus as I was gaining footing in the classroom, it will be important that I implement these into my teaching in order to be a more effective teacher for all of my students’ needs. As opposed to other reflections I have done, the PGP requires the teacher to plan action steps that will begin progress toward the new goals set. For example, in order to better teach academic vocabulary (Criteria 2.7), my goal is to identify key vocabulary while planning the lesson, creating a word bank, and assessing students on key academic vocabulary. My action step that will set me in motion to reach this goal will be to specifically identify they key vocabulary in my plan book. In addition to writing the learning target in my plan book and on the board, I will leave space for vocabulary in both of those spaces as well. While the plans for the rest of this school year have been written and it would be difficult to begin a new activity with students so late in the year, I can begin the next school year with these goals in mind in order to make vocabulary a central focus in my classroom.
H2 – Honor student access to content material. Most general-education classrooms are designed to cater to the majority of learners. These classrooms often need to make specific modifications in order for different types of learners to do their best. For example, in our classroom, we have an English language learner who is not receiving specialized English instruction. She is starting from nearly zero and, in order to make any progress whatsoever, she will need to earn the English language, building her vocabulary and learning how to read. In order for the student to have proper access to the class content, we have been taking her aside to build vocabulary.
Figure 1 shows vocabulary sheets my mentor teacher developed using Richard Scary books from the library. After copying the pages, we whited out the labels. We then laminated these sheets so we can use dry-erase markers on them and reuse them. I realized that, even though we don’t have an ELL specialist in our school, we can still develop resources in order to help our students that need accommodations. It also showed me that, given the right resources, even the students who struggle most can make great strides. Using this method, our student can already identify many classroom items and actions. This allows her to better follow instruction during class and participate when she can. When this participation occurs, she is able to show how much she truly understands. This has been evident in math where, once she understood the numbers and what it meant to take out a pencil or add numbers, she was able to show us that she was up to standard on her math skills.