Week 1

This is my first assignment.

I’m not a blogger. As you may notice, my page is quite spartan. Abraham Lincoln was quoted as saying, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the ax.” I have spent the better part of the week trying to figure out how to blog from information found on the NCU Community Forum. However, as time goes by, I will attempt to make this a more entertaining and pleasant place to visit. I wish that this could have been done in the Commons.

I am not a trained educator. I was a substitute teacher for six months, and for the past four years, I have taught small business development classes for entrepreneurs at my community center. The latter venture is the reason for obtaining my master’s in education. I want to be better at what I do, and I need to have the tools to achieve this. My goal is to teach business courses at a community college to reach a bigger audience. The courses in this program have been enlightening and challenging. I have three teachers in my family, and I finally understand some of their terms.

The first assignment is titled “Asking the hard questions.”  Having completed the Larrivee survey, I found that I do not have too many hard questions. Since I lack the experience and classroom training, this course will serve as a benchmark and provide a set of goals for me to achieve. Larrivee created an assessment tool for preservice and working teachers to determine their level of reflective teaching.  Reflective teaching is the practice of being responsible for providing each student the opportunity to be an active participant in their learning experience. Each student interaction is seen as a chance to assess how and if students are learning. Teaching strategies and methods are based on research and align with best practices.

Larrivee’s Survey of Reflective Practice is divided into pre-reflection, surface reflection, pedagogical reflection, and critical reflection. Pre-reflection is defined as the “knee-jerk” response to teaching. The teacher has not collected the appropriate experience or teaching strategies to connect theory with practice.

Surface reflection is the decision to be a better practitioner. Teaching strategies are more selectively engaged, and there is a shift towards being responsible for what is taught. Surface reflection comes from making mistakes and learning from them. It also comes from attempting new things to be more inclusive. Larrivee’s definition of surface reflection connotes a focus on methods and goals.

Pedagogical reflection is a progression of the practice of including the learner’s perspectives and ideas in instruction. It includes applying theory and research to teaching methods. Pedagogical reflection appears to be the Nirvana of Larrivee’s construct. At this level, teachers are more inclusive and sensitive to the various learning methods of their students. Goal setting is long-term and has social and ethical attachments.

I have chosen these three indicators to improve during this course: it operates on survival mode, supports beliefs only with evidence of experience, and observes self in the process of thinking. The tally of answers for each level was important in my choice of indicators. In level 1, Pre-reflection, a majority (8) of the responses were in the “sometimes” column. Operates in survival mode and enforces preset standards were the only “frequent” indicators. My answers on Larrivee’s survey are reflective of my teaching experience. Having no formal training in teaching, I contend that I practice at the pre-reflection level. Before taking this class, my only teaching strategy was survival. Making sure that the students were given the appropriate information was my primary goal. Reviewing my past performance as an instructor, most of my students were adults, and I felt they had an invested interest in learning about the subject.

Majority (9) of the answers in level 2, Surface Reflection, was “frequently.” I chose the indicator regarding supporting beliefs only with experience because I feel that it can hinder going forward. Before enrolling in this program, I was not aware of teaching theories or strategies. Having been enrolled in this program over the past few months, I see how vital learning theory is and how it affects curriculum, assessment, and instruction.

In level 3, Pedagogical reflection, indicators were almost evenly divided between frequently (6) and sometimes (7). I believe that my most recent time in front of a class was successful. I worked as a substitute teacher for a year, both in middle and high school, and I prefer teaching adult students. They appear to be more focused; classroom management was not an issue, and the students provided immediate feedback throughout the course.

The majority (9) of the indicators in level 4, Critical reflection, were in the “infrequent” column. Critical reflection is when the teacher uses what was learned in the past to set goals and actions for future instruction. I would argue that the reason for my answers is because of my lack of professional teacher training.  The process requires collecting data to improve teaching. Student assessments are an essential indicator of learning and how effective the teacher presented the information. The courses that I taught did not have formal grades. Students attended if they wanted, and in class, feedback was the only assessment we used. If a student had difficulty grasping a concept, we worked it out as a group, ensuring everyone understood the same thing. I chose the indicator “observe self in the process of thinking” because I believe that I have not done this well concerning teaching. My understanding of this indicator involves thinking about motives and outcomes related to the subject to be taught.

As this course progresses, I desire to learn more about the four reflective teaching levels and grow accordingly. And I hope to learn more about blogging as well. Larrivee’s survey serves as a starting point to improve teaching skills. My plan to work on the three indicators that I chose is as follows:

Level 1. Operates in survival mode, reacting automatically without consideration of alternative responses. (Frequently).  I believe that survival mode is the default, especially if one is not trained. As this course progresses, I will learn better how to not act in survival mode and search out alternative responses. I like reading and communicating with students on the Commons because they provide me with insight about teaching that I don’t have. Part of my goal is to expand the number of people I communicate with within the course.

Level 2. Supports beliefs only with evidence from experience. (Frequently). Personal beliefs are essential, but it’s more important to have input from other sources. Listening to different points of view can challenge and change long-held beliefs. I plan to listen more and consider other sources of input.

Level 4. Observes self in the process of thinking. (Sometimes).  I’m not sure where to start. This will be a process of learning as I go.

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