Personal Responsibility Reflection
As with any profession, teaching requires a certain professionalism and ethical practice. Part of the responsibility of a teacher is to ensure that he or she is knowledgeable of best practices. Schools, and school districts, spend heavily on professional development (PD) programs so that teachers may be exposed to those practices. At ConneXions School for the Arts, the Instructional Committee, of which I am a member, aims to develop and deliver professional development for all teachers in the building. Part of our PD focus centers upon the teacher themselves: who they are, what experiences they bring to the table, and their biases. As a school that aims to serve a student body that is 99% African American, our school participated in a PD known as “Courageous Conversations” (9a, e, i). This program helped teachers deal with the biases they have when it comes to teaching students of color or low socio-economic status. It was a powerful PD that forced me to confront my own biases about students of color, even though I consider myself a person of color.
In terms of helping teachers (including myself) with instruction, I helped develop a professional learning cycle about creating instructional tasks and the implication of the end of course goal on assessment and daily tasks (Tasks PD Cycle Overview, 9b, d; 10b, c, f, i, k, r). For that six-week cycle, I structured the PDs and created the majority of materials used in the PDs (Tasks Cycle PowerPoint, 10i, j, k, p, r, s, t). In additional to in-school PD, I also attended PD provided by the school district. For one Saturday a month, I sat in a classroom at Baltimore Polytechnic High School for “Chemistry Works” session, and during that time, I collaborated with various teachers across the district to develop lesson plans for concepts we as a collective found our students had difficulty with (Chemistry Works Outline, 9b, d). At a daily lesson planning level, I collaborate with the middle school science teacher, who is also teaching some chemistry in her course (10e, n).
Aside from instruction, teachers must also serve the school community as an education professional. By teaching in a public school, there are rules and responsibilities that all teachers much stand by. We live in a litigious society and knowledge of law regarding schooling is essential. As part of my coursework at Johns Hopkins, I took a class called “School Law,” taught by a prominent lawyer of various school districts in the state of Maryland. Our professor has challenged us to look at various scenarios and discern how the law should be interpreted and what consequences should come out of that lawsuit (School Law Reflection Paper, 9f, j, n, o). I also took a class at Johns Hopkins called “School Reform in the Urban Environment.” This class addressed the complexities of school reform and asked us to consider to think about our school as part of a larger system. Sometimes we get stuck in the rut of daily classroom survival that we fail to realize this has to work as part of a larger, functioning body. Knowledge of how that larger body works is critical to this job. As part of my course, I wrote a paper on charter school reform. Working in a charter school in Baltimore City has given me some insights into how these schools operate and whether they are beneficial, harmful or neutral in their relationship with the rest of the public school system (Charter School Position Paper, 10l, m).
Throughout my experience, I have matured as a leader. These experiences have led me to challenge who I am and what I believe in. Being alert of what is happening in the education world is important. Throughout my experience, I have used technology such as Twitter to stay abreast of issues and advancements in education (10e, g, n, r, t). I subscribe to EdSurge (I highly recommend all teachers to do this) to keep up-to-date with the latest developments in education technology. These different technology tools allow me to be purposeful with what information I keep track of and it has helped me be a better teacher.
If the end goal is to help students achieve, we teachers must be willing to stick to our principles and develop our craft. That requires a commitment to professional development and a commitment to develop as a leader, of both the classroom and in the general school community.