Standard P: Understanding Teaching as a Profession
Teacher candidate positively impact student learning that is:
- P1 – Informed by professional responsibilities and policies. All students benefit from a collegial and professional school setting.
- P2 – Enhanced by a reflective, collaborative, professional, growth-centered practice. All students benefit from the professional growth of their teachers.
- P3 – Informed by legal and ethical responsibilities. All students benefit from a safe and respectful learning environment.
My understanding of Standard P
Professional responsibilities are paramount to the success of any school community. Without a framework for professional responsibilities, both legal and ethical, and a reflective collaboration of administration and staff, the academic foundation that is to be built for student achievement would crumble and fail. It is essential then, in any school forum, for our focus as teacher within a community to be part of the community development, reflections and implementation or professional practices. Standard P focuses on this construction of foundational professional responsibilities, policies and professional growth. The teacher is then not only responsible for professionalism and ethical practice within the context of her classroom, but also in the school as a whole and the community at large as well.
As a teacher, I see my duty as being one who is informed and actively involved by participating in constant growth and development of best practices. By understanding what part Standard P plays in a classroom is a key component to successful incorporation of legal, ethical, and reflective professional responsibilities. Standard P ensures not only the safety of both students and teaching staff but enables the development of a professional productive environment where quality learning/teaching are valued.
In my observations of a 4th grade classroom last spring I was amazed at the daily involvement the teacher in each tier of Standard P: Understanding Teaching as a Profession. Although, each tier in this standard offers precise language for defining the qualities necessary for professionalism, as it relates to teaching, no one tier could stand alone without detriment to the teaching profession as a whole. P1, P2, and P3 are tightly woven standards that impact the classroom, school, and community environment and if practiced with professional responsibility and respect the learning/teaching environment is effective. In the following artifact (Reflections of a Classroom) I will share evidence of each P1, P2, and P3 and how it is incorporated into the daily, weekly, and year-long life of a practicing professional teacher.
Evidence to support of my understanding of P1-all students benefit from a collegial and professional school setting, was found in the observations and experience I witnessed in the classroom. Because the main setting for elementary students is within the context of one classroom it is imperative that a teacher pay particular attention to development of that environment. I discussed the intentionally planned activities and preparation necessary for development of a classroom that honors respect and responsibility. A foundation to support student effort as they create, in a collaborative fashion, a cooperative environment where everyone feels safe and supported must be in place before the first day of class. A focus on a framework and continual guidance for the students help to unify them and develop a “team-like” support system. All students sign classroom contracts in the beginning of the year that follows four main goals: Be Safe, Be Respectful, Be Responsible, and Be Positive. Reference to this contract is often at the beginning of the year, and over time it becomes incorporated into the collegial setting that is beneficial to all. Personal standards are reviewed each day and specific collaborative team word are defined by the students at the beginning of each unit of study. The following artifact is evidence of a classroom that offers students a safe and supportive environment that they take ownership in creating through the development of team social standards t-graph.
(Below is the social t-graph word as developed by the students for the word “interdependence”)
Further evidence of my understanding of P1 is clearly evident in the following document, Professional Development Plan (PDP), as is relates to being informed by professional responsibilities and policies. This artifact offers a thorough description and concise depiction of my intentions and plans for my teaching career. By examining and evaluating effective teaching practices, professional development opportunities, and the prospects for contributing to the teaching profession, a deeper understanding of the enormity of educational expectation is clear. It is my goal to strive to ensure student learning by engaging students through multiple modalities, by differentiating instructional strategies, and understanding the importance of the individual student as well as the community of students. I see the value in pursuing continued educational opportunities for personal education and professional growth. I will welcome opportunities for evaluation by peers, colleagues, administrative personnel and district advisors, as well as self-evaluation in order to support a deeper understanding of best practices and continued professional growth. I understand the need to contribute professionally by keeping current in educational issues locally, state- and nation-wide. Participating in collaborative educational communities within the school environment is part of the teaching profession.
By observing multiple learning styles, different learning abilities and different learning situations that influence the class I have been afforded the opportunity to better understand P2- all students benefit from the professional growth of their teachers. Many situations I observed supported beneficial outcomes for students from professional growth. I observed collaborative reflection and professional curriculum development meetings both throughout the day and before and after school. The fourth grade team of teachers would meet to assess student understanding, reflect on successes and failures and plan future lessons accordingly.
Constant support and collaboration with professional staff and administrative community is another component for continued professional development. Staff trainings are often administered during staff meetings and attendance is beneficial. With ever changing regulations and expectations for teachers and testing, staff meetings offer a common venue for shared development or implementation strategizing sessions. Collaborative planning sessions help build and support skills necessary for successful execution of the many changes throughout each school year.
(Pilot program proctoring for online test taking)
The following photographs provide evidence of my participation in weekly staff meetings. One such meeting focused on the development of Teacher Principal Evaluation Project (TPEP), based on Marzano’s Teaching Evaluation Model, which reflects Washington State criteria. This project is set to be piloted, in this district and surrounding districts next year. This project is a way to ensure, through a comprehensive assessment process conducted by principal, that teachers are meeting the requirements of the profession; understands content, fosters safe and caring environment, and assesses student progress accurately and effectively.
Furthermore, staff meeting can offer a time to revise and review schedules. Various events that are shared during this time are important dates, upcoming events, Measurement of Student Progress (M.S.P.) testing, schedule conflicts, staff education/training /support for testing, principal observations. Often representatives from committees with information to share have the opportunity to do so during staff meetings. Although these meetings take up valuable time, the vital pieces of information are crucial to an open and continuous flow of information between staff and administration.
Additionally, I would like to offer this bportfolio as substantive evidence of the value of professional reflection. Not only does it catalog personal reflections from courses taken and concepts attained but it is a measurable progressive document of my personal growth and development into the profession of teaching. Furthermore, after any lesson a pivotal component for improving future lessons comes from the act of self-reflection. The following artifact (Science Lesson Reflections) supports P2 by reflecting on a scientific lesson presented to other teaching professional only in part.
The evidence of P3-all students benefit from a safe and respectful learning environment became apparent as I questioned the professional legal responsibilities for reporting suspicion of child abuse. All districts in the state have clear and specific policy for reporting legal issues. As a teacher I must be informed by my legal and ethical responsibilities according to the state and district in which I work. A copy of the legal and ethical responsibilities can be found in the office at any school and should be understood and followed to the letter. Additionally, I understand P3 to be a personal responsibility to moral and ethical behavior in my future classroom. This is evident in the artifact, (Moral Responsibilities) presented here as I reflect on my own interpretation of moral obligations to students and professional responsibilities.
The school that I am currently student-teaching in has adopted four pillars of excellence that all students are held accountable for practicing: Respect, Responsibility, Rights and Relationships. As you enter the school, excellence banners are hung with pride in the halls and they present a clear message to students, staff and community members about the values of the school.
The school curriculum offers student twice weekly meetings with a school counselor. Here students are able to practice the skills necessary to help students navigate through often difficult social situations.
Emotional intelligence for all students is supported from ongoing campaigns and recognition boards that are updated often reflecting student social achievements. By focusing on positive behaviors and supporting student actions with a caring, appropriately trained and professionally responsible staff, students continue to grow in both social and emotional intelligence.
(Student designed anti-bullying signs)
Within my individual classroom, each day and several times throughout the day, I review the three “personal standards” with the students. These standards are made up of three simple yet vital statements that are effective for redirecting student behavior: show respect, make good decisions, and solve problems. Students have processed what these three standards look like and sound like from the beginning of the year. For example, according to the students, showing respect as it relates to someone talking looks like, “eyes on the speaker, not talking or fidgeting when they are talking, sitting quietly not raising hand when someone is talking, etc.” Showing respect when someone is talking sounds like, “people taking turns talking, letting everyone have a chance to talk, quietly listening or added comments when appropriate when someone else is speaking etc.” The following artifact shows evidence of how these three personal standards are reviewed often at the beginning of a lesson to remind student of their importance.
These standards ensure a safe and cooperative learning environment. Students understand expectations for maintaining the three standards. When a student loses focus or is off track they can often be redirected with a simple verbal reminder, i.e., “solve that problem”. This professional responsibility to the students is one that I will continue to foster. Not only are these important standards to learn and practice in the elementary years but should be practiced throughout life.
Overall, I see the professional responsibilities for teachers as one of the most important aspects of the job. Without these standards a safe environment cannot be created and a supportive learning and teaching environment is unattainable. With these professional standards in place and adhered to, however, the opportunities to develop better learning and growth of collaborative and reflective environments for both student and professional educators is infinite.