Developing as an Educator

1st CSTP Element Focus: Standard 1: Creating and maintaining effective environments for student learning

5th CSTP Element Focus: Standard 4 Planning Instruction and Designing Learning Experiences for All Students


Overall Goal: To create a positive social and emotional learning environment in my classroom so that students can reach their fullest potential.

Compare and contrast your Initial CSTP and your Final CSTP.

1. What are your areas of strength? I believe my areas of strength are maintaining a positive learning environment. Throughout the entire school year, I had no need to excuse students from my class because of their behavior. The class and I at the beginning of the year discussed what made a classroom successful and together we created our own classroom constitutions with expectations that we expected one another to follow. Because of this, students changed their mindset about what a classroom looks, sees, and sounds like. Secondly, I believe another area of strength is knowing how to assess the common core skills daily in my classroom. Whether it is in a graphic organizer, an assessment, a writing piece, or a discussion piece. I always make my lessons aligned with what is expected of my students grade level.


2. Where are your opportunities for growth? I believe I can still continue to develop my own curriculum. After each unit, I always think about what I could do different the following period or the following year. Or, I'll visit a fellow colleague and ask what they did for similar units, adding into my repetoire of assessments or assignments for a unit. As always, I can always add more rigor or design lessons to be more specific for my class.


3. In what ways have I surprised myself? I've surprised myself in that I actually made what I wanted my classroom like into a reality. It was a reality I so desperately wanted last year, but couldn't see to put one and two together to make it. This year, I created the classrooms that I wanted. And if I saw something I didn't like or it wasn't apart of my dream classroom, I did what I could to change it. Part of the reason why I feel like I created the best classroom I could this year was because of my transparency with my students. I always let them know what we were doing ahead of time so that they could time manage or work at their own pace. But really just being myself instead of what others wanted me to be is what really made me the best teacher that I could be this year.



Describe a professional goal you have for yourself beyond induction

A goal that I have for myself beyond induction is to continue developing my curriculum with students in mind.


1. Why have you identified this as an interest or need? Students, unlike the walls of the classrooms we teach in, are constantly changing and learning in different ways every year. When I went to school, it was normal for a teacher to assign reading at home. However, I found that my students appreciated reading in the classroom more than at home (for all types of reasons). This may not be the case for future generations. And so as years go by, I need to adjust and develop my curriculum as the generations change.


2. What actions will you take? The best way to figure out how students learn best is to ASK THEM. Though not all students learn the same way, as a teacher, we have to find a middle ground. I'd like to find out the best way they learn through questions and seeing them work as a group or individually.


3. How will you assess goal attainment? This goal can be maintained through formal assessments such as check-ins or exit slips. Unit wise, this goal can be checked through final unit assessments or final performance assessments. If a unit isn't working, I need to change how I approach it or how my students learn it.



What actions can you take to remain a connected educator throughout your career?

One good way to use check-in slips with my students to see how they are truthfully learning in the classroom. Other ways include collaboration with other members in my department, either through department meetings or one-on-one discussions after school or in the break room. There is always some kind mentor teacher on campus, either a designated one or my department chair, that I can always go to for resources or help.



What can you do personally and professionally, to sustain the energy it takes to be passionate about students, teaching, and learning?

The good old question: how do we reduce burnout in new teachers? One thing my mentor teacher taught me this year is that it's okay not to take grading home over the weekend. Sometimes we as teachers think too much about what we have to do for work and not about what we have to do for ourselves. We get burned out from teaching just as much as our students get burned out from school. The only difference is we can't secretly sleep through a period. I think the best way to sustain the energy in order to teach is to take a weekend to yourself; go do something that you love and brings you joy (besides teaching of course). As well, sometimes watching our peers teach to see what they do that creates a positive reaction from their students gives us the boost to try new things. Lastly, you don't have to teach 100% of the time. Students enjoy independent work time just as much as group work time. Assigning a PBL where the students take hold of their own learning is a great way to give yourself a break from continuous instruction.



Words from Observers:

"Students are actively engaged."-Niki Hinds, Mentor Teacher


"The class has a feeling that real, authentic work is being created, and that students are building a communþ of trust and understanding with themselves and with Ms. Finch."- Matt de Cesare, Assistant Principal, Westmont HS


"More than any of this, my teacher demonstrates a profound care for her students almost alien to the apathetic realm of high school. Her genuine care for her students motivates those in her class to push beyond their normal limits and conquer an awaiting mountain of knowledge." Kyle Davies, Westmont HS Student



What advice do you have for new teachers entering the profession?

1. Every day is a new learning experience.

2. Listen to your kids.

3. Try new activities and strategies.

4. ALWAYS have some kind of routine or structure within your classroom.

5. It's okay to assign homework.

6. Not all your kids are GENUINELY interested in your subject like you are.

7. ALWAYS plan more in a lesson than you actually will do.

8. It's okay not to take all the grading home.

9. Lunch time is for you, not you AND your students.

10. When you need help, ASK for it.