In reflecting on the Evaluate Module in the Open Teacher Training Course, I am drawn to reflecting on my experience as a virtual school instructor the past few years. It is interesting to note my growth, but also areas in which I can improve. Much like face to face teaching, you find areas in teaching where you can establish good habits that become like second nature. In doing so, these habits open up other areas for you to dive deeper into. For me as a face to face instructor I have been able to move away from the content, as I once was concerned as a first year teacher, and now I am able to provide more personalized learning experiences through my inclusion of blended instruction and technology. In my virtual setting I can utilize the ease I now have of navigating my course can give me more time to provide more personalized feedback.
One area of reflection from the Evaluate Module, and other modules, is the emphasis on data. This is also true in the face to face school. What I have gained from virtual instruction has benefited me in my face to face instruction as well. Data, while not the most thrilling aspect of our work, is beneficial to student growth and beneficial to driving instruction. Not just through charts and graphs can data be important, but also through the use of surveys. From my standards based surveys to understand student background knowledge and knowledge gain to student end of course surveys, these can be (and are) vital to me as an instructor.
Standard D: The online teacher promotes student success through clear expectations, prompt responses, and regular feedback.
The above is a great example of clear expectations within my virtual classroom. While this assignment is noted on the course syllabus and schedule. I intentionally make an effort to warn students about the length of this assignment so there are no excuses or complaints about last minute work. Here you also see my ability to work with individual student needs as I have provided a modification should the student need a different perspective.
Standard G: The online teacher demonstrates competencies in creating and implementing assessments in online learning environments in ways that ensure validity and reliability of the instruments and procedures.
I have chosen to include this screenshot in regards to Standard G as I feel it correlates to validity and reliability in my creation of an assignment which promotes an equitable nature to all students. It provides a basis for the assignment, but also I way to compare and contrast learning among students.
Standard H: The online teacher develops and delivers assessments, projects, and assignments that meet standards-based learning goals and assesses learning progress by measuring student achievement of the learning goals.
Whether virtual or face to face, these standards surveys help me to insure that the standards are covered for my lessons and course. With the implementation of Canvas at my face to face school, I am able to go paperless with these surveys. Also, Canvas, as well as other LMS products, over standards integration to assignments and thus a way to easily assess student knowledge gain and teacher provided access to standards topics.
Standard I: The online teacher demonstrates competency in using data from assessments and other data sources to modify content and to guide student learning.
Finally, I have the use of ZipGrade integrated analytics. This information was useful in my face to face classroom for looking at weaknesses within my final exam. This particular exam was difficult to produce as it is a “film” class. As such, there was a tremendous decrease in the lecture and note taking model as opposed to the academic course which is based on the same standards. Using this data, and others, I am able to adjust my teaching methods for the following semester.
As a teacher today, we are inundated with more requirements, more training, more certification, more paperwork and generally more work that takes away from teaching. When speaking with colleagues recently in regards to our new stressors, I quoted President Theodore Roosevelt when he stated, “Do the best you can, with what you have, where you are.” I use this quote as I have adapted it towards my teaching philosophy. Today when I have a mentee teacher under my wing or a new teacher in my building, my nod to Teddy’s quote is simply, “Do what’s right. Do the best you can. Do what is in the best interest of your students.” Requirements will change, training will come and go, certification processes will adapt and readapt, the paperwork may remain and hardwork will always be a part of teaching, however my philosophy is to apply my hardest work towards my student’s best interest. I tell my student’s at the beginning of ever school year, “If you fail my course but become a better person because of me or my course, then I will be happy. If you pass my course but do not improve yourself as a person, then I will have failed you.” Ultimately, students today have many places to turn for information and for advice. Hopefully, I am a teacher for which they turn for both. Hopefully, they are listening.