02 January 2011

proposition 3- being responsible for managing and monitoring

In my series of reflections on the 5 core propositions of Nationally Board Certified Teachers, I bring you the third! This proposition is one of my favorite since it deals specifically with assessment. I love the benefits of assessment, I am just not a huge fan of actually doing it. I could talk for pages and pages about how to assess and about one of my favorite tools used for this purpose, GoogleDocs, but that will have to wait for another post.

Proposition 3 - Teachers are responsible for managing and monitoring Student Learning.

Duh. Of course we are. That pretty much sums up our entire job. Honestly, I'm not sure why colleges of education nationwide are not teaching the 5 propositions as a part of all teacher education. Whether teachers try for National Board certification, extensive thought on the propositions would impact practice no matter the experience level, subject, or motivation for teaching.

This propsition takes everything I learned in teacher ed. and synthesizes it into a few sentences. The folks who wrote this proposition really knew their Bloom's Taxonomy (synthesis!). As in previous posts, I'll take this one bullet point at a time.

NBCTs deliver effective instruction. They move fluently through a range of instructional techniques, keeping students motivated, engaged and focused.

Effective instruction. That's super difficult to measure. I mean, how do we define "effective"? I do have some indicators that help define it for me, but it feels a bit ambiguous. Of course this is opinion, but I do wish that one could be refined a bit to be more concrete.

Using a wide range of instructional techniques is probably the area in which I have grown the most over the last 4 years. My personality does not lend itself well to doing more than one thing at a time and this certainly includes using more than one instructional technique! However, when I find something that works, I recognize it and am willing to allow myself to be bent towards strategies that will benefit students. After all, that is what my ultimate goal is!

Student motivation and engagement (and focus) are areas that are near and dear to my heart. I have a few soapboxes and this is one of the tallest! (or would it be widest? biggest?) I would have to say that relevancy is the key here. How can we make what we teach in the classroom relevant to student's lives outside of the classroom? Part of this has to do with the way in which we teach. If teachers refuse to adopt the technology that students use outside the classroom, how can we expect them to make the connection? One thing I try to do in class is to think carefully about what is MY motivation to learn the subject, apart from the fact that I teach it? Why was I interested in the topic in the first place and how can I use my motivation to the advantage of my students? I am thinking about secondary teachers here; I am not sure how elementary teachers ever convince students their subjects are relevant. (Bless those elementary teacher's souls!)

They know how to engage students to ensure a disciplined learning environment, and how to organize instruction to meet instructional goals.

This point reminds me of basic teacher education classes in which we learned about scope and sequence. I would have to say the National Board is saying that teachers know how to teach. What exactly are you going to teach and what do you need to know before you learn it?

NBCTs know how to assess the progress of individual students as well as the class as a whole.

Hmmm. Formative assessment? Summative assessment? The purpose of each one? Yes. If I know the answers to those questions I have this part of the proposition covered. I would have to say that Dr. John Scroggins taught us well on the methods and purpose of assessment.

They use multiple methods for measuring student growth and understanding, and they can clearly explain student performance to parents.

Again, if I have an in-depth understanding of assessment methods and the data I can glean from those assessments, I can be successful. I think the most important part of this point is the part about parents. I blogged about it some of the concerns of parents of my students already. My biggest fear is that parents feel intimidated by me when they come to my classroom. I hope that when I talk to parents I do not give off an air of condescension. I hope that I can talk to them in such a way that they understand what I am saying about the performance of their student. It seems like this is like a basic writing class: "consider your audience when deciding what to say"

I would have to say that these propositions are similar to a 5 course meal. You start with the appetizer and by the middle you are getting into the middle the real meat of the meal. The more times I think about these things the better my digestion gets!