Capstone–“Standard 12 Meta-Reflection: Professional citizenship”

“Standard 12 Meta-Reflection: Professional citizenship”—Capstone

Willingly engages in dialogue that transcends the individual classroom, taking informed, coherent positions on important matters of educational policy and practice. (SPU, 2012)

Initial reflection during C & I Orientation:

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.

Meta-reflection following completion of EDU 6120Foundations–Issues & Ideas in American Education:

Upon the completion of my first course requirement toward the earning of my Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction, I must begin by saying that I am overwhelmed with gratitude.  The experience of returning to Seattle Pacific University after three decades of teaching in the public school system has been awe-inspiring. Although I will continue to teach full-time throughout the process of earning my degree, this quarter has shown me that it will not only be possible to work in “both worlds”—but that each experience will dramatically enrich the other.

Within the context of the Foundations course readings, lectures, electronic discussions, writings, and individual as well as group assignments, I have fully participated and gained tremendous insights. Not only have I read about and discussed a wide variety of historical, cultural, philosophical and legal issues with my colleagues and professor and discovered motivating connections to my educational setting, but I have also made astonishing connections within myself.

Module 1 Reflection addressed Professor Arthur Ellis’ lecture, “Four Broadly Accepted Goals of Education” outlined as:

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)”

Module 2 Reflection, centered on responding to “The Emergence of Eastern Educational Thought” lecture by Dr. Ellis. During this module, I became more readily able to recognize elements in our American education system that are similar to that of Eastern thinking and increased personal appreciation for ideas represented in Eastern thought. Dr. Ellis explained that 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.

Module 3 Reflection noted that 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.

Module 4 Reflection, referred to my work in which each student’s Individual Education Plan, clearly has the child at the center—surrounded by a team. Perhaps this is a derivative of one of the effects on education of the Romantic Movement–that of “the American progressive movement and the child-centered movement”? As I consider the European ideas of “tracking”—vocational, middle and upper—with regard to a student’s course of study—I wonder why there is a current focus to push every student to become “college ready”?

As referenced within Module 5 Reflection, the lecture and readings on the history of education in America provided a wonderful overview of information I had learned as an undergraduate as well as the same “broad brush strokes” picture of the more recent decades that I have experienced as an educator.

Within my Module 6 Reflection I express my observation of the decline in moral expectations/standards among many students, and their families, and the increasing sense of helplessness as I am “swimming upstream”. I find that I am becoming conditioned to the “overlooking” by staff members of lowered standards. I am saddened to realize that I am actually surprised when a student is corrected by a staff member.  My personal hope is that I never lose sight of the importance of being a positive role model as I influence individual students.

My Module 7 Reflection, written in response to the lecture concerning both the Essentialist and Progressivist movements—particularly in the context of Dewey’s beliefs noted in his Pedagogic Creed—spoke to the conflict I often experience within myself, as a teacher. I began to view this internal conflict as a clash between Essentialist and Progressivist thinking. Encouraging, however, is the statement, “….there is a curious marriage of Essentialism and Progressivism seen in the current standards movements….when one looks more deeply at the methods…one sees many elements of Progressivism (Ellis).

In response to Dr. Ellis’ lecture, “What Knowledge is of Most Worth”, I wrote Module 8 Reflection in which I highlight his reminder: “We have the dawning in Dewey’s time of the Progressive era which is an interesting mix of Romanticism, pragmatism and the scientific method (Ellis, p.9).

In my Module 9 Reflection, I identified key ideas gleaned from Dr. Ellis’ lecture, “The Courts and Education”.. A highlight was the 1967 case of Pickering vs. The Board of Education of Township High, “The court ruled that teachers have the rights of a citizen….”. Ellis went on to state that, “…in terms of teacher’s  assignments and teacher’s freedom of expression, the courts are ruling in fact that teachers are themselves citizens with all full first amendment rights” (Ellis, slide 23).

Within the context of this course, I became part of a team we creatively named The Four Ladies. As a truly delightful requirement we collectively wrote two papers which I have attached as artifacts for this course: “Why Teach? What Are the Qualities of a Good Teacher?” , as well as Meaningful Student Learning In Reflective Classrooms.

As learner I have grown to appreciate my strengths and am challenged to work through my weaknesses—something I have always asked of each of my students.  As a teacher, I am reminded of a quote I took with me to my very first teaching assignment in 1981, “To teach is to learn a second time” (Joseph Joubert).

In his book entitled, Teaching, Learning, and Assessment Together, Professor Arthur Ellis introduces the procedure for the Key Idea Identification assessment strategy by asking the reader to consider the following:

“What do you remember from a particular class? If the teacher was successful with the subject matter and the experience in general, you will remember two things: the feelings and the ideas. The feelings should be positive, and the ideas should be few, but powerful (Ellis, p. 102, 2001).

I feel thankful, inspired, and deeply blessed. Although I do not yet have words to adequately summarize the positive impact of this course on my life, I do know that I have learned that my reflective personality—a quality that I have often viewed as a hindrance, is a gift from God that He will use, if I allow Him to.

“Reflective assessment is for everyone, students and teachers alike” (Ellis, xv).


Ellis, A. K. (2001).  Teaching, learning & assessment together: The reflective classroom.  Larchmont, NY: Eye on Education.

Ellis, A. K (2011). “Four Broadly Accepted Goals of Education”, Seattle Pacific University.

Ellis, A. K (2011). “The Emergence of Eastern Educational Thought”, Seattle Pacific University.

Ellis, A. K (2011). “What Knowledge is of Most Worth”, Seattle Pacific University.

Ellis, A. K (2011). “The Courts and Education”, Seattle Pacific University.

Ellis, A.K. (2007). “European Educational Ideas: The Beginnings of the Modern Era”, Seattle Pacific University


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