Developing as a Professional Educator

Considering your Initial and Final CSTP Self-Assessment analysis….Revisit the overarching, long-term goal you set for yourself in your Initial CSTP Self-Assessment. Describe your progress towards achieving this goal. Compare and contrast your Initial CSTP and your Final CSTP.  What are your areas of strength? Where are your opportunities for continuous improvement? In what ways have you surprised yourself?

One of the long-term goals I set for myself was to incorporate student strengths into group projects, which was a major focus of mine throughout the course. I feel much more confident when assigning group work and structuring my groups, knowing that I am able to allow each student to engage in the material while also working with their own strengths. Allowing students to have freedom in the process of their own learning has become one of my strengths, and I have learned how to set clear expectations for student achievement while also allowing students room to explore different ways of showing their strengths. I would still like to improve in balancing time working with students on their projects, essays, socratic discussions, and exploring background/context research about the current material we're working with. I have had a lot of success moving toward project based units, but I find myself feeling like we sometimes spend too much time working on projects instead of working deeper into our texts. I would like to find a balance with this while also avoiding overloading students with homework. One way I have surprised myself is through the success of my project based approach. As I progressed throughout the year, I expanded my guidelines more and more, allowing for more student creativity and input. By the end of the year, I ended up giving my students five or six different options for projects. This resulted in many different projects occuring at the same time, but by using peer feedback, clear models, and in-class project checks, my students were able to produce projects that exceeded my expectations.  

Describe a professional goal you have for yourself beyond induction. Why have you identified this as a need or interest? What actions will you take? How will you assess goal attainment?

One of my personal goals beyond induction is to continue my growth in providing students immediate feedback through peer-review, oral feedback, and scheduling assignments so that I can quickly provide feedback for each class without work piling up. I feel that this is one of my most important goals to develop because of how useful it is to my students. English teachers often fall prey to stacks of essay piling up and returning those papers weeks later; when students do finally get feedback, they aren't as invested in their improvements as they are in the grade itself. By shortening the time between students turning in their assignments and getting feedback, I can maintain their engagement and increase their investment in their own learning. 

Scheduling different due dates for different classes will be one way that I work toward this goal. Another way I can work toward this goal is to continue spending time with a smaller number of students each class period. Instead of feeling like I need to check in with every student every class period, I will choose specific students that I want to work with on certain days so that by the end of the week I will have spent a valuable amount of time with each students instead of spending small, superficial amounts of time more frequently. I'll be able to assess this goal by keeping track of how long it takes me to give student feedback and return their work. In this way, it will be easier to track my goal attainment because it will depend entirely upon my time management.

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

A few of the actions I can take to remain a connected educator is by keeping up with educational standards and courses. I regularly receive invitations from colleges about educational conferences that are available, and I attempt to attend those as much as possible. Developed programs like IB and AP consistently send out information about the way those programs change, and employers are typically supportive about allowing me to attend those courses. Some of the most important methods I've used to keep connected is attending conferences; in California, we have the California Teacher's of English conference every year, and as a debate teacher there is a National Speech & Debate Association conference every year. This helps me remain connected by connecting me with other teachers and by introducing me to important keynote speakers who I might not have heard about otherwise. 

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

​​​​​​​One of my personal strategies to sustain the energy it takes to remain passionate for my students, teaching, and learning is maintaining my hobbies. I try to make sure that I am pursuing my personal interests outside of teaching every day, whether it be going to the gym, working in the garden, or something as taking the time to cook a nice meal for myself. Although there are sometimes lapses, having at least one thing every day that I do for myself helps me make sure I am maintaining a work-life balance that prevents me from burning out. Professionally, the most important things I do are make sure that I am using my prep periods wisely so that I am not staying after work too long to grade, making sure that I grade at work instead of taking my work home, and being clear with my colleagues and myself about what I can realistically expect of myself. As a teacher, I want to always say yes and do anything I can to help my students, but I have to keep in mind that I cannot help students start every club, go to every game, or be at every event. Being able to say no helps me remain present and enthusiastic about the events that I do participate in. 

Include one quote from your reflective coach or administrator about your talents or strengths.

​​​​​​​One of the pieces of feedback that stuck out to me was when my reflective coach said my lesson was "dynamic and incorporates so many different strategies that engage students and assess what they truly learned." Engaging students is one of my highest priorities, as that is what will lead to students motivating themselves about learning. Hearing from another educator that my strategies are indeed engaging was very encouraging to hear. 

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

One of the most important ideas that new teachers need to keep in mind is that they can't do everything. Teachers get into the profession because they love their subject matter and they want to help students; a lot of teachers are perfectionists, and will try to make sure every lesson plan, assignment, unit, and student experience is perfect. This means that new teachers will end up sacrificing sleep, weekends, and endless personal hours to ensure that their lessons work out exactly the way they want them to; inevitably, there is always a snag, especially during the first few years of teaching, since there are so many different factors involved in how the classroom functions. Helping new teachers prioritize and acknowledge that they have time to learn and improve from year to year is one of the most important ideas experienced teachers can pass on to new teachers.