Creating a Community of Learning

        In both my first and fourth grade classrooms, it was important to create a safe and conducive learning environment. At each grade level, I conducted different versions of a Morning Meeting in order to help students feel welcome and heard. Positive behavior was reinforced as frequently as possible and students received recognition as they displayed character traits such as responsibility and kindness. In lieu of a token economy, I worked with a colleague to create a "TADAA" positive behavior system, an acronym that stands for Thanks for Always Doing Awesome Actions. In addition, I spent time modeling and reviewing procedures for effective student dialogue and collaboration. Students were encouraged to be leaders and role models. As a classroom teacher, I also worked to invite the students' family members to share in our learning celebrations often.

Student-Centered Learning Opportunities

        Whenever I begin planning a lesson, I feel that it is necessary to start with the end in mind. By having a solid understanding of the Common Core Standards and PA Core Standards, an effective educator can set learning goals for each student. Once goals are established, I aim to provide clear and direct instruction before allowing students to apply knowledge in authentic, student-centered learning activities. During lesson planning, I also look for ways to give students the chanceto practice using critical thinking skills, to demonstrate creativity, to collaborate with peers, and to communicate their ideas and wonderings. 

Data Driven Instruction

       By using data to drive instruction, an educator can be confident that he or she is providing each student with the appropriate instruction. Through data analysis, teachers can determine which students need reteaching and which students are ready for a challenge. Data should be collected from a variety of formative and summative assessments, both formal and informal. Data points then create a complete picture of student learning that can be used to illustrate student growth over time.

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