Archive for April, 2011

Reflection on Course of Study, C & I Standards

My goals for continuing my educational experience at Seattle Pacific University are educational, professional and personal in nature.

Educationally, as I progress through each course requirement for obtaining my Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction, I intend to gain new information and further develop my teaching skills and effectiveness with students.

As a professional educator who has been teaching for nearly thirty years, I anticipate gaining fresh insights as I weave together past experiences with new challenges–enabling me to positively impact my classroom, school, district, and community–one person at a time.

On a personal level, I hope to grow both now and in the future–as I continue in my role as a graduate student, a life-long learner, and a veteran teacher seeking to gain new perspectives, skills, and opportunities.

Curriculum and Instruction: Program Standards

Standard 01. Instructional Planning

Designs and monitors long and short-term plans for students’ academic success.

Reflection: In my role as a special education teacher, my primary obligation is to ensure that both long and short-term goals are clearly articulated within each student’s Individual Education Plan (IEP) and addressed on a consistent basis. I must also ensure my high school students have a transition plan and course of study which addresses the student’s post-high school goals.

Standard 02. Learning Environment

Creates and maintains school-wide and classroom environments that are safe, stable, and empowering.

Reflection: In my role as the special education curriculum leader in an inclusion setting, I must ensure that a continuum of services is available for consideration by each student’s IEP Team. I must see to it that my students are provided services in the “least restrictive environment” and that they are given the opportunity to access free and appropriate public education.

Standard 03. Curriculum

Provides knowledge and skills that bring academic subjects to life and are aligned with state content standards.

Reflection: As a special education teacher, I must endeavor to provide instruction and skill development opportunities for students that will promote progress toward the reaching of the Washington State Standards. I must ensure that students have access to the general education curriculum to the greatest extent possible. Additionally, I must facilitate the delivery of specially designed instruction as well as any necessary accommodations or modifications.

Standard 04. Pedagogy

Engages students in learning experiences that are meaningful, stimulating, and empirically proven to promote intellectual growth.

Reflection: The learning experiences I provide for my students should be interesting, inspiring, and research-based. Instruction to promote thinking skills should be delivered in the student’s least restrictive environment. Additionally, I must keep up-to-date and aware of methods and techniques to actively involve my students in the learning process.

Standard 05. Assessment

Assesses students’ mastery of curriculum and modifies instruction to maximize learning.

Reflection: With regard to assessment, I must ensure that I am monitoring progress toward each student’s IEP goals and make any necessary adjustments required to keep them moving toward the general education curriculum–while also addressing the unique needs presented by their disability. Not only does this include measuring progress in the classroom, but also ensuring access to and administration of any alternative assessments to state testing. Examples include: High School Proficiency Exam—Basic (meeting standard at Level 2 versus Level 3), Developmentally Appropriate Proficiency Exam (DAPE), Locally Determined Assessments (such as the Woodcock-Johnson III). Currently, I am not directly responsible for preparation for and administration of the WAAS-Portfolio administration or Collection of Evidence (COE); however, will be in the near future.

Standards 06. Communication

Communicates regularly and effectively with colleagues, parents, and students through a variety of mediums.

Reflection: In my role as a special education teacher “Communication” (with a capital C) is as necessary as breathing. In my nearly thirty years of teaching, I would have to say that communication continues to be the number one requirement for my job—and I always strive to keep it my priority. I find that most often, extra attention devoted to maintaining regular and effective communication with students, parents and colleagues—whether in person, by phone, via email, US mail, etc.—is well worth the time and energy.

Standard 07. Collaboration

Cooperates with other professionals to bridge gaps between schools and community and between departments/disciplines within schools.

Reflection: Every IEP meeting is an example of the collaborative process at work. This process in designed to bring together the perspectives of the student, family, special educator, general educator(s) and the district–as well as any necessary outside agencies. In addition to the required annual IEP and triennial evaluation, I must facilitate any coordination and collaboration between any and all of the above noted members of the IEP Team—as needed. Beyond the specific realm of the IEP process, I am required to be an active participant of my special education team, professional learning community, POD team, and leadership team.

 

Standard 08. Exceptionality

Reflection

Addresses the unique learning and behavioral needs of all children, collaborating with other educators and professionals where necessary.

Reflection: The concept of addressing exceptionality is “where I live—day to day and moment by moment” as a special educator. Regardless of the unique needs presented by each of my students who qualify for special education services, I must ensure that they have access to the general education curriculum to the greatest extent possible. In the process, I must serve as an advocate for each student and coordinate the delivery of services required for offering free and appropriate public education on their behalf.

Standard 09. Cultural Sensitivity

Establishes a culturally inclusive learning climate that facilitates academic engagement and success for all students.

Reflection: Regardless of the range of differences in race, class, gender, religion, ethnicity and exceptionality represented by the students within my care, I must model respect for diversity and promote a learning environment that is free from bias. Specifically within my school setting, I must be especially mindful and responsive to the unique interests of students who belong to one of the two Native American tribal communities represented within our school district.

Standard 10. Technology

Integrates current technology into instruction and professional communication/collaboration activities where appropriate.

Reflection: I am responsible for utilizing technological means to ensure that my students have access to materials and resources available to all general education students. Not only does this involve receiving presented information, but students must also be provided instruction and opportunity to use assistive technology to express and effectively convey thoughts and information to others. As a teacher, I must keep up with communication methods used to interact with my parents and colleagues. (Online IEP programs, Skyward Information system, email, etc.)

Standard 11. Inquiry/Research

Competently consumes and produces where necessary empirical data to guide educational practice.

Reflection: It is my responsibility to effectively use data at every level in my job including; selecting research-based curriculum, researching best practices for delivering services to address IEP goals, and collecting data on student performance. Equally important is to research district records and track information to ensure that classroom goals are based on current IEPS which are in turn based on current evaluations.

 

Standard 12. Professional citizenship

Willingly engages in dialogue that transcends the individual classroom, taking informed, coherent positions on important matters of educational policy and practice.

Reflection: I believe that on a continual basis I endeavor to develop my professional citizenship by serving as my school’s special education curriculum leader as well as a member of the building leadership team. Additionally, I am part of a professional learning community (PLC) group which meets weekly and I regularly participate in faculty and district meetings.

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EDU 6120: Module 2

“Key Idea Identification” Reflection on the EDU 6120 Module 2 Lecture given by Arthur K. Ellis

“The Emergence of Eastern Educational Thought”

While reflecting on this week’s lecture, I realized that am more readily able to recognize elements in our American education system that are similar to that of Eastern thinking.  Another pleasant surprise is my increased personal appreciation for ideas represented in Eastern thought.

Eastern thought places a strong emphasis on the idea of harmony and peace—within each person, between persons, between generations, and strives for a deep sense of order. With regard to education, Eastern thinking highly values and respects the teacher /student relationship—focusing on aspects of learning and wisdom.  Individuals who most profoundly influenced Eastern thinking include; Confucius, Lao-tzu, and Gandhi.

In an article entitled: Confucian thinking in traditional moral education: key ideas and fundamental features”, author, Fengyan states, “Its methods of moral education are diverse, with an emphasis on learning from exemplars, environmental conditions and practice, as well as the cultivation of moral responsibility and social commitment.” (Fengyen, 2004).

“By way of contrast with Confucius’ emphasis on external obligation, and outward behaviors….Lao-tzu stressed the development of the inner life.” (Ellis, 2001). Lao-tzu represents what is known as Taoist thought which is more free flowing, mystical, spontaneous and reflective.

In American education, we see derivations of both Confucian and Taoist thinking in the form of two differing systems referred to as Essentialist and Progressive, respectively. “The essentialist movement, which is a very subject-centered and formal education with testing, textbooks, exams, grades…,”reflects Confucian thought whereas Taoism is seen as more Progressive.

During the early to mid-1900’s, Mohandas Gandhi , whose leadership against colonialism, racism, and violence led to him becoming a leader of both the Indian Education movement and the Indian Independence movement, also contributed significantly to Progressive educational ideas in America. According to the lecture by Ellis, the five basic ideas within the Progressive include; 1) integration of students with the environment, 2) a strong student/teacher relationship, 3) appreciation {of one’s } identity, 4) spiritual development, and 5) learning in the native tongue.

Perhaps an example of Progressivism can be seen in my school district today, which includes two Native American reservations with very strong education centers for each respective tribe.  Together with tribal leaders, our district staff members (at every level) strive to develop partnerships with tribal community members in order to provide support to native students within the various schools, as well as acknowledge and honor resources in the native communities.

Within myself, I often find that my ability to see things from opposing viewpoints often leads to sense of internal conflict–which I have attributed to having strengths in two opposing learning styles such as concrete-sequential and abstract-random. Particularly in the classroom, I can approach problem solving from a very structured, clear-cut “rule” perspective—while other times I take a more intuitive, creative, non-structured approach. This reflection on my own personality causes me to understand Eastern thought in a new way—with more familiarity.

Bibliography

Aoki, K. (2008). Confucius vs. Socrates: The Impact of Educational Traditions of East and West in a Global Age. International Journal of Learning, 14(11), 35-40. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Ellis, Arthur K. Teaching, Learning, and Assessment Together: The Reflective Classroom. Eye on Education. 2001.

Fengyan, W. (2004). Confucian thinking in traditional moral education: key ideas and fundamental features. Journal of Moral Education, 33(4), 429-447. doi:10.1080/0305724042000327984

EDU 6120: Module 1

What I Learned” –Reflection on Professor Arthur Ellis’ lecture entitled,

“Four Broadly Accepted Goals of Education”

The education system as practiced in America today, whether it be public, private, or in the home–reveals common themes, purposes, and intentions which guide the interactions between teachers and students. Regardless of various educational settings found in communities and cities across our United States, we see the cornerstone goals of; Academic Knowledge, Citizenship, Self-Realization, and Employment. (Ellis)

Academic Knowledge: “idea of knowledge as an end unto itself”

Citizenship: “Building citizens, participating, enlightened”

Self-Realization: Individual goals “the person becoming what they want to become”

Employment:  “A career (ready for work)”

The process for achieving the goals involves fostering a delicate balance in the student/teacher relationship.  On the one end of the continuum is the “Passive Learner—where learners receive information, knowledge passed down from authorities.” The other end–the “Active learner—actively engaged in the learning process—creating and constructing learning by doing. Knowledge being discovered, created—reflective thinking.”  With regard to the role of the teacher, we must consider which will be most effective—the “teacher as the instructor” or “teacher as the facilitator of knowledge”, or a combination of the two.

In the public high school setting where I teach students with a variety of special needs, I often find myself placing a heavier emphasis on “facilitating” vs. “instructing”– , but of course, as noted by Ellis, “Balance is the key”.  As I work with each student to address the components within their Individual Education Plan (IEP), I am charged with facilitating and keeping at the forefront–progress toward transition goals. The transition plan, in effect, begins with utilizing the student’s strengths—while considering any needs for specially designed instruction/supports—in order to assist them through a course of study and “facilitating” their active involvement in the process of creating realistic goals for their future.

My work with high school students includes teamwork with parents, as well as various agencies and employers in the surrounding community/society. Ellis’ description of the additional role of society toward the educational process known by the Greek term, Paideia—actually sheds new light for me on the practice of home schooling. I have always taught in the public school setting and my children have attended the same, however, a number of my friends have homeschooled their children. Although I respect their decision to do so, I must admit that I have always perceived this practice as being a bit too protective. I can see now, however, how homeschooling in many ways could be considered as a modern day expression of the Paideia—“learning from the society….the marketplace, the art museums, the libraries, the neighborhoods, even the shops and stores and factories… “ .  I am thankful for this fresh perspective.

As I am just now at the beginning of taking coursework for earning my master’s degree in curriculum and instruction–after three decades as a special education teacher—my primary question is: How can I more effectively provide specially designed instruction to high school students in an inclusion setting?

EDU 6120: Module 3

“Search for Meaning” Reflection on the EDU 6120 Module 3

“The Emergence of Western Educational Thought” Lecture given by Arthur K. Ellis

“Historical Perspectives: Education in the Old World” reading

As I reflect on this week’s lecture and readings regarding the emergence of education in the Western world, and consider what is meaningful to me personally, I must begin my noting that I am astonished by the relevancy of these ancient Greek and Roman ideas to the needs of today’s students.

According to Ellis, the common and primary purpose of education is, “…to make people good and to develop a good society….Education should be viewed as a way of thinking about life in general.”

The ideas of the “great thinkers”—Socrates, Plato, Aristotle and Quintilian are among the most notable and familiar.

Socrates’ emphasis on good citizenship continues to be a major purpose of education today, although more in a general sense, as opposed to supporting one of his specific ideas and teachings of “…a belief in one god and that it is our duty to serve him through virtuous living.”

Plato’s idea of levels of academic achievement which he distinguished as “Gold” (formal education), “Silver” (warrior class) and “Bronze” (workers/vocational) are of particular interest to me as I think about the school district in which I teach and the changes I’ve observed over the decades. My school’s present website contains the following comment within its statement of purpose:  “Whether planning to enter college or workforce training programs, high school students need to be educated to a comparable level of readiness…,” I believe that in the past we (society) placed a greater emphasis on validating offerings through our career and technical education programs, however, I personally see more of an emphasis on “pushing” students into the college bound “track”.  Our mission statement, in fact, says, “Kingston High School students will graduate college ready. They will be prepared to act as informed citizens in a global society and empowered to care for their community.” (2007) Unfortunately, I do not see enough strong evidence of students being what Ellis refers to as, “properly educated to suit their needs and interests”—at least not to the degree that I believe Plato would have emphasized.

Another Greek philosopher, Aristotle, is known to have a primary and significant impact on our modern-day educational thinking by way of promoting the state’s responsibility on providing education and a “common core of knowledge for all…” In today’s schools we find statewide graduation credit requirements as well as the setting of state standards, although I believe the one-credit requirement in the fine arts would not have been viewed as sufficient by Aristotle.

The first century Roman orator, Quintilian, emphasized a number of ideas including; moral attributes such as integrity and self-control, a course of study, public speaking, fulfillment, learner-centered approach. Today, we see a leaning toward these ideas with graduation requirements that  include the completion of a course of study and the public presentation of a portfolio centered on a student’s personal goals and self-reflection on their accomplishments.

As a special education teacher who focuses every day on the special needs and individual differences among my students, I am particularly drawn to some of the Greco-Roman traditions that seemed to highlight the matching of abilities with areas of study.

Ellis, Arthur K. Teaching, Learning, and Assessment Together: The Reflective Classroom. Eye on Education. 2001.

Kingston High School website:  http://www.nkschools.org/ (2007)