8. Professional Practice Criteria – The teacher participates collaboratively in the educational community to improve instruction, advance the knowledge and practice of teaching as a profession, and ultimately impact student learning.
8.1 Element – Participating in a Professional Community
8.1 Example of Proficient – Relationships with colleagues are characterized by mutual support and cooperation.
This standard is all about the importance of collaboration with your team – whether that team consists of colleagues, peers, or students. The standard speaks to the need for work within a professional community, and the progress and support that can be gained from such work. I feel that I stretched my learning around this standard quite a lot through this course in that I, who normally prefers to work alone and has a hard time accepting feedback, was asked multiple times to collaborate in many different environments. From online community blog postings, to group wiki creation to in-person small group discussions, much more of the work of this course was done together than apart. And I can genuinely say that I can already feel my teaching practice improve as a result.
One activity which stood out for me as evidence of this improvement was an in-class task involving multicultural pedagogy and equity vocabulary.
As a class, we were given a chart containing various words and phrases taken straight from texts we read concerning equity pedagogy (Figure 1).
In small groups, we were assigned to create 3 credos, or belief statements, using the provided language. This proved more difficult for me than I first expected because all three of our group members had to believe in our statements; we could not simply each contribute our own. In fact, I went into the activity thinking I knew a lot about multicultural education and exactly where my beliefs stood, and I ended up shifting my statements slightly as a result of my team members’ excellent contributions. Figure 2 shows our resulting credos:
As I previously stated, this course was replete with opportunities for collaboration. The feedback I got from others on my blog entries certainly validated my opinions, and made me eager to continue posting. Questions I received helped me to stop and consider whether I had been clear in my thinking, or whether I needed to reevaluate my own learning. Working on the group wiki rubric helped me to hear others’ ideas for practical application of specific standards in the classroom. Honestly, there is very little work that was done this quarter that I can imagine having completed entirely on my own. I am grateful to this course for this focus on professional community because it gave a strong introduction into what the practice looks like in a school, and it’s importance in the learning environment. Additionally, since this was the beginning of a two year journey with a small cohort of peers, it was a great opportunity to get to know each other and the backgrounds we all bring to the work we will be doing together over the next 24 months.