As a 2012 Inspired Teaching Fellow in the Center for Inspired Teaching’s Teacher Certification Program, I have been attending intensive pedagogy and teacher courses since the summer of 2012 and throughout this school year. Below is a summary of the classes I have taken so far, as well as an unofficial copy of my transcript.
*Official copy of my transcript available upon request.
Inspired Teaching Coursework
How Children Learn
This class was interspersed with the 2012 Summer Institute, which was a three week training intensive in which all teaching fellows took part prior to entering the classroom. We researched and discussed current issues in education. We each picked a book about childhood development and shared our findings from these texts with each other. The course placed an intensive focus on the theories of famed educators and learning theorists. Through hands on activities we explored the experience of being a student and used this empathetic exploration to drive our discussions about what makes a good teacher and an engaging classroom. The course involved research, reading, discussion, and reflection, which all lay groundwork for building our personal teaching philosophies as we entered the classroom as new teachers.
The Art of Teaching Mathematics to Young Children
In this class, we learned the basics of instructing young children on mathematics. We placed a heavy emphasis on number sense and on basic arithmetic. We explored ways to support learning in geometry and measurement. Through hands-on activities, we learned effective tools and strategies for helping make sense of math to young children. We also learned a variety of ways to differentiate math instruction to all different types of learners. The course involved learning to write effective rubrics, and a heavy focus on the backwards design planning model. Course assignments included the planning and implementation of, and reflection on three mathematics activities, as well as the planning and implementation of, and reflection on an entire mathematics unit.
The Art of Teaching Reading and Writing to Young Children
In this class, we learned strategies and tools for developing children’s fine motor skill sand writing skills. We studied Words Their Way as a way of tracking and planning for students’ literacy development. Through hands-on activities, we learned how to set up a classroom and how to run centers that foster and build student’s literacy skills. We practiced different methods of planning responsive read-alouds. We learned how to differentiate activities to suit the needs of different learners. Course assignments included making a profile on one student’s literacy development, as well as the planning, implementation of, and reflection on a Literacy unit that centered on quality children’s books.
The Art of Engaging Children’s Cooperation
In this class, we explored and discussed various conflict resolution skills and classroom management tactics. We (anonymously) discussed real problems in our own rooms and strategized about the best ways to address them. Through role-playing and hands-on activities, we learned effective ways to communicate with families and the best layout for a classroom that fosters independence, good behavior, and supports learning. Course assignments included a weekly journal in which we reflected on the implementation and impact of various classroom management tactics. The class culminated with the creation of our own design for an effective classroom, including making considerations for room layout, family engagement, behavior management, and differentiation.
Teaching Exceptional Learners
This class focused on teaching children from different backgrounds and on working with their families. We were trained in cultural responsiveness, and interviewed families in our own classes in order to practice reaching out to families and incorporating the culture of or students into the classroom. The course outlined effective strategies for supporting English Language Learners, and we designed lessons that included differentiation for these students. The larger part of the course focused on working with students with special needs. In class, we learned about strategies, tools, and resources for supporting a number of different learning and developmental delays. Through hands-on exploration, we tested different options for assistive technologies and were challenged to develop some of our own. We studied the cycle of emotional outbursts and how best to handle such situations. Finally, we studied challenging behaviors and how best to address and correct them by working with the students’ needs. Coursework included tracking the behavior of one student and writing a Functional Behavior Analysis. The final project for this course entailed researching one challenging behavior of young children and creating PowerPoint presentations for families and other teachers on how best to address these issues.
Teaching the Whole Child
This course focused on designing the classroom and curriculum around supporting all facets of children’s development. We explored ways to encourage and support artistic exploration. We studied issues of children’s health and researched ways to teach children healthy practices and to assist them in leading healthy lifestyles. We experimented with different types of technologies and brainstormed ways to include these in an Early Childhood Classroom. Finally, we explored a number of different local field trip options and looked at the different ways in which such trips could support learning in our classrooms.
Supervised Practice Teaching
This class entailed planning for and teaching a six week summer school course for students ages 3-5. We spent one week planning the curriculum and met daily after school to design and edit plans based on assessments.
Role of the Teacher in School and Society I and II
This two part course encouraged research and invited dialogue on the role that the teacher can play as a changemaker on an individual student basis, as well as on the grander scales of in the classroom, in the school community, and in society at large. We read scholarly articles, opinion pieces, and blogs on teaching and explored pop culture’s view of teaching. We took observations about and made reflections on our work in our own classrooms and used this research to inform discussions in the classroom.
Accelerating and Assessing
This course focused on methods for assessment and on using those assessments to inform instruction. Classroom work focused on discussion about developmentally appropriate practices as well as dialogue about the utility and application of standardized testing. Coursework involved tracking student progress over the course of the year and making thoughtful reflections on student need and instructional design.
The Art of Instructional Design and Implementation
This course is designed to support new teachers in developing planning skills. We explore effective methods of differentiation. We experiment with different types of assessment and reflect on them. We use our assessments to drive our instruction moving forward. The majority of the coursework is monthly journals in which we reflect on our successes and shortcomings in these different areas. The course will culminate with readings and discussions during the Summer of 2013.
See an example of my Journal Reflection from this course from February, 2013:
As a resident, I am paired with a mentor who supports my learning as a new teacher. She observes me weekly. After these observations, we meet to discuss my successes and strategize on my challenges. She assigns me reflection journals about my lessons, which I periodically submit to her. She has also supported me in my goal setting as the full responsibilities of the classroom have been gradually released to me over the course of this year. This relationship and class will continue through the 2013-2014 school year.