Friday, April 30, 2010

Interview Portfolio: Philosophy of Teaching

• Student learning…
  • * matters above everything else. This is how I judge my success as a teacher.
  • * is best tracked by collecting data and evidence, either through small or large formative assessments or observational data from class. I need to know what my students have learned.
• Mathematics…
  • * is a set of connected ideas. Whenever possible, I link new concepts to students’ prior experiences in or out of school, and I keep familiar ideas fresh by using them in current work.
  • * requires creative thinking. I want my students to learn to see the math in the world around them, and use math concepts to find ways to solve problems.
  • * includes communication skills. Finding the answer is not enough; to be successful students must be able to explain what they have done and why.
  • * is an active pursuit, not a spectator sport. Students learn more and retain more when they develop their own strategies, justify their work, and practice their skills.
• Students…
  • * benefit from positive reinforcement. Identifying what students do right, giving them recognition for it, and communicating their successes with their families are great uses of my time.
  • * have different backgrounds, different experiences, and different learning strengths – but all students will learn math in my classroom. Differentiating instruction allows students at every level to be challenged and meet high expectations.
  • * need to know what is expected of them. I endorse a code of conduct that emphasizes respect and responsibility, as well as a set of routines and procedures that make class run smoothly. That creates a safe, productive environment for all students and keeps the focus on learning.
• Teachers…
  • * must constantly reflect on their own practice in order to improve. There are things to be learned from successes, failures, and everything in between.
  • * are stronger when they work together. Collaborating about students, content, and pedagogy allows teachers to improve and innovate faster.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Interview Portfolio

I have been thinking about starting a blog for awhile now. What has been stopping me? Mostly the intimidating prospect of writing an introductory post.

I'm trying to put together an interview portfolio for the teaching interviews I hope to have in the coming weeks or months, and it's daunting for the same reasons. It's hard to sum myself up in writing. But since the anonymous blog introduction seems less consequential than the interview introduction, I will start with this one.
  • * I am student teaching in middle school math in an urban public school this year. I hope to get a job doing the same in September.
  • * I used to have a very different kind of job. I was pretty good at that job but didn't find it satisfying.
  • * This year has been extremely difficult. I want to be an inspiring, fun, effective teacher, but it is not easy. I wanted a challenging career, and it remains to be seen whether I will be able to rise to that challenge.
  • * This year has also been a lot of fun. The kids are hilarious and earnest and sweet and exasperating, sometimes all at once.
  • * I have been really lucky to be placed with some amazing mentor teachers. If I am half the teacher these people are in a few years, I'll consider myself a success.
  • * I am both excited and terrified about having my own class in September.
This is my honest take on teaching right now. I think for an interview portfolio I need a little less angst, some more specifics about what I've accomplished this year, and copies of lesson plans and student work. Piece of cake, right?