My understanding of legal and ethical responsibilities, including those outlined in the Washington State Code of Professional Conduct help inform my teaching because I know that I have a professional responsibility to create a safe environment for all my students. I know that the zero violence policy at my school means that there is absolutely no tolerance for any threatening talk or behavior. Understanding this helps me create very clear boundaries in my classroom. Students know that I have a legal procedure I have to follow if anything is ever reported to me. This makes it much easier to handle situations because I simply tell students “It is against the law for me not to report this—I could get in big, big trouble. To be a good teacher it is part of my job to talk to the counselor about this”. Making my professional role known to students takes a lot of the emotion about of sensitive issues. If students are aware that, to do a good job and create a safe classroom, I have certain procedures I must follow it helps them feel secure and that all students are treated consistently. Because I tell students that I am a mandatory reporter (this is something we have discussed in several class meetings—it is very explicit that students need to tell a teacher if something is not right) and it is part of my job to keep students safe they are much more likely to come to me if they need help. This has a positive impact on student learning. I demonstrate competency in this standard through my practice of mandatory reporting and discussion with students about my role.
Personal Technology Goal:
I am a self-professed technology hater—one of those people who routinely offers baked goods to friends in exchange for fixing my email, phone, itunes, computer or any other technological device I’ve broken. A prime example of my disability came during my internship when I could not for the life of me get the document camera to work. I tried everything, checked all the cords, jiggled all the outlets, nothing worked. I finally admitted defeat and asked the first staff member I could find, an elderly substitute in his late 70s, if he could look at it. He peered at it for a few moments and then triumphantly flipped the on switch—it started working immediately. Obviously, I need technology goals.
I have two areas within the realm of technology that I would like to improve. One directly benefits the students and the other is more staff related. The first goal would be to enroll in some type of training about how to utilize the document camera more effectively. I know that there are ways I can use it that are more engaging for the students, but I need someone to explicitly show me. Taking a course on the document camera would make me more confident when using it. The ability to incorporate things like movies or music (or maybe even skype) cohesively into lessons would give my students an education that is more technologically well-rounded. I found some websites that have suggestions about how to use the document camera in the classroom: http://www.edtechnetwork.com/document_cameras.html
My second goal is to utilize the staff wiki better. I think this is such a beneficial tool for all the teachers to collaborate with one another. Making sure that I update my portion of the wiki regularly will make it easier for all of the teachers to be on the same page and aware of what is happening in other classrooms. To reach this goal I will make a commitment to update the wiki weekly with the class schedule and also the lesson plans so that everyone can be on the same page.
After being at my school for as long as I have, almost nine months, it’s funny to look at how my impressions of the school have changed. I think particularly because I have had several friends visit the school and seeing their reactions lets me look at the school with fresh eyes. I remember all the things that seemed different, which are now part of my everyday. I think the biggest impact the school had on me the first week was the open concept. I had never seen a school without classrooms before—it honestly took me awhile to adjust and get used to it. After spending more time working in my classroom I know how to function in an open concept school but it took time to readjust my mentality and conception of what a school looks like. Because I was so overwhelmed with the open concept aspect of the school, I don’t remember any other aesthetic of the building or classroom having an impact. Despite the nontraditional nature of the building, I think the teachers and the staff do a good job making the place feel welcoming and open to students.