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There are several dispositions that I felt were challenging and that I could improve on, but the two I want to focus on in order to improve my teaching, impact all students, and grow professionally are collaboration and inventiveness. The two dispositions are from two different categories, but I believe that they go hand in hand, as I improve on one, collaboration, the other, inventiveness, will also improve.
I teach two very different types of students, At-Risk students in a credit recovery program and Anatomy and Physiology student in an elective upper level course.
My struggle lies in that Cal-Wheat is a small school. There are other science teachers, but I am not a part of PLC and collaboration for science. I am part of a PLC/strategy team for the At-Risk students. With the At-Risk population I am involved in planning, problem solving, and weekly meetings where we implement plans and talk about the progress of students. With Anatomy and Physiology, I feel like I am an island.
The instructor that taught the class last year is still at the school, but he has six preps of his own. That instructor is also my mentor. Every time I have asked him questions, he has been very helpful. He has not done anything to to make me feel this way, but I feel like a bother and I am a little intimidated by him. During first semester, I reached out to the instructional coach a couple of times and a teacher from another district, but my collaboration on content information for Anatomy and Physiology has been minimal.
As I kept reading through the dispositions, another challenging area that caught my attention was inventiveness. Being a physical therapist for many years, I have some life experiences to draw upon to engage students but I lack in the “visualizes and implements novel ideas and practices.” As a new teacher I struggle with coming up with learning activities that support the standard and engage the students. I also lack the knowledge of what activities will produce the best results. I believe that as I improve in the area of collaboration with seasoned teachers that inventiveness and novel ideas will also improve. My goal is to have more student centered, engaging, interactive lessons that increase rigor and tap into the higher levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy.
In order to accomplish this goal, my plan is to take advantage of a few old and new found resources. As well as to push back against the fear of being intimidated by keeping the perspective that as I improve in the area of collaboration and inventiveness my students will reap the benefits and I will also grow as an individual and teacher.
There are several practical steps I can implement in order to grow in these challenge areas. One is to schedule a meeting time with my mentor. My mentor is great at answering questions, but does not offer a lot of information. Therefore, in order to make the most of our time, I will have some prepared questions about issues, concerns, or engaging activities that have worked in the past. He has a very hands on approach to teaching and is a wealth of knowledge. I know there are things I can learn from him. Also during our time together, I will talk to him about the possibility of meeting regularly.
Another step I can take to improve in collaboration and inventiveness is to reach out to our instructional coach and/or media resource teacher. Our media resource teacher will, on occasion, send out website links that offer creative learning activities and simulations that will increase inventiveness. She is also very knowledgeable of the school resources and what is available for me to be more creative and engaging in the classroom.
In addition, my action plan is to become more involved with outside school resources. A step I can take is to meet via a forum from the NSTA website, facetime/email other Anatomy and Physiology instructors, or utilize AEA resources a couple times a month. One particular question that I want to discuss is in an elective class, how do you determine the “need to know” versus the “nice to know.” I also want to discuss engaging activities that will increase my inventiveness. My Rapil evaluator recently challenged me to use more simulations and labs in the classroom. So my action step is to spend a preparation period per a week (or time equivalent) researching simulations and labs that will bring “novel” ideas to the classroom. Through these simple, but concrete steps, I believe that I can make significant changes in the areas of collaboration and inventiveness that will cause me to grow professionally and become a better teacher by providing more equity for my students.
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