One practice that has been exceptionally beneficial for me throughout my internship has been self-reflection. At the end of each lesson I take several minutes to reflect on what went well, what went wrong, and what I will do next time to improve. Sometimes it is as simple as changing the instructions that I give to the students, sometimes I have to realize that the ideas I found so wonderful in my head just did not materialize the way I had anticipated. Overall, teaching is one profession where no two days will be alike, and my performance not only affects myself, but hundreds of other people each and every day. I view my reflecting and desire for improvement as nothing short of an obligation to my students; they deserve a quality education and it is my job to do that and do it well.
I value student input in my teaching and planning. For that reason, I sometimes ask students how they felt a particular activity or assessment went for them. This gives me the opportunity to see how students view my teaching and planning. I also take into consideration student participation and interest when assessing myself. For example, one particular lesson stands out in my mind as one where students were extremely interested in the subject matter; much of the lesson was based off of their previously expressed desires to learn about gladiators during our unit on Ancient Rome. Both during and after class, students told me how interesting class was and, as reflected in their assessment afterwards, it seemed to be something that they remembered well. I planned this lesson based off of their reaction to previous lessons and their requests to learn more about a certain topic.
All of the self-reflection in the world could not fix some lessons; this shows the importance of community and communication among other teachers and administration throughout the school. This not only provides a fluency found in healthy communities, but it gives students the opportunity to know what is expected of them. Although some rules may vary from class to class, students have the right to know what is expected of them and their behavior. I strongly believe that a faculty and staff comprised of people who are passionate about their profession and are committed to their responsibilities will produce effective teachers and responsive learners.
A safe and respectful learning environment does not, unfortunately, seem to come naturally to high school students. For this reason, to say that we need consistency among teachers is not enough. The important thing is that we are all consistently modeling ethical behavior and that we are encouraging our students to do the same. Understanding the legal and ethical procedures in education is vital to the survival of an effective learning environment. Again, being in a private, Christian school for my internship has added an additional element to this idea in that not only am I forming my attitude and actions from ethical ideas, I am encouraged to share faith with students. This can be done in a number of ways, but most commonly I simply take the time to explain to students the reasons behind certain actions and consequences.
All students deserve access to a quality education, and much of that learning can take place only when the student feels like their environment is safe and secure for them. As a professional, a teacher, and a caring adult, it is my responsibility to make sure that I do whatever I can to ensure they have the tools they need to succeed.