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Veenstra 1 Emily Veenstra EDUC 102-A Teacher ID II Thursday, March 1, 2012 Be a Light In the same way, let your

light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16 All over the world, light has served to symbolize knowledge. Darkness is ignorance, and an absence of light. Metaphorically speaking, this symbol can also be transcribed to represent teaching. Light shines into the darkness of the unknown, just as a teacher might illuminate a new or confusing topic. As a teacher, I not only desire to be a source of light, revealing topics or concepts that were once foreign and dark to my students, I also desire, whether I am in a private or public school, to be a reflection of the most radiant Light, that truly has the power to dispel darkness. Education in general, and the purposes of it in the United States have evolved greatly over the course of history. These changes in purpose are a result of a shift in the dominant groups that dictate how it is changing. When common schools were first established in the United States, their purpose was to secure democracy. This eventually evolved to preserving the American culture, supporting the national workplace and economy, ensure national security, solve social problems, and most recently, boost international competitiveness (Oakes & Landon, 2007). Without this understanding of the past, and where American Culture has come from it would be hard for me to fully grasp why the U.S. Education system is the way it is. I believe that

Veenstra 2 the purpose of education should not be based on compared test results with other nations, but based on how far each student is coming in their learning. This purpose will impact teachers, for it may be more time consuming then the efforts they put forth now. Really investing time into each student so every individual is given the opportunity to enhance their learning should be one of the purposes of education. Education should prepare these students to be active participants in the Kingdom of God, whether they be in a public or a Christian school. Through this class, many preconceptions I had about what defined a good teacher have been exposed as myths. I always thought that a good teacher should always be fun and happy, always ready with the right answer, and always loving learning. Lets face it though, we are all human. The chances of us always being bubbly and happy in a classroom throughout our entire teaching career is slim. After reflecting on the teachers that were most influential to me, I came to a different realization about how I want to be as a teacher. In my experiences, the best teachers were the ones who cared about the students and really wanted the students to thrive academically, socially, and spiritually. Because they cared, they would challenge the students to go above and beyond what anyone thought they could. Teachers dont always have to make learning entertaining, but learning can be engaging, engrossing, amazing, disorienting, involving, and often deeply pleasurable (Ayers, 1993, p. 13). As a teacher, I dont want the spotlight to shine on me. Rather I want to reflect that spotlight onto my students, so that they are center stage. As a teacher, it is important for me to understand the learning process that occurs. Understanding how students learn will assist me in knowing what teaching strategies might better enhance the students understanding of a certain topic or concept. In the How People

Veenstra 3 Learn article, the author discussed three key facts that are crucial in understanding how people learn (National Research Council, 1999). It was very easy for me to relate my past learning experiences to this article. On the first day of school, students bring far more with them then the pencils, backpacks, notebooks, and other supplies that we so often picture. They also bring with them a preexisting understanding. This school supply effects every aspect of the classroom. It will be important for me to know where each of the students is at from an intellectual standpoint, so that compensations or facilitations can be made. I remember, when I first moved to Des Moines, Iowa, my second grade year, the school I went to gave me a placement test to see where I was at academically before placing me in a certain classroom. They wanted to see what preexisting knowledge of the basic skills I had. In my SCES 121 class one of the first areas that we covered was the way our memory works. We learned that, when we clump together certain ideas or concepts they are much easier to remember. As a teacher, it is important to look for ways that these connections can be made. The National Research Council would agree with this statement, for they too highlighted the importance of students seeing the dots from one topic to the next then connecting them (1999). Building a conceptual framework, a web of learning, will prepare the student for inquiry based thought and a better recall of past material, because the connections are already made. The metacognitive learning process, is the third and final learning process that allows students to take control of their learning by setting goals for themselves, and helps the student realize how much of the concept they actually understand. As a teacher I think it will be important to draw on all three of these learning processes in my lessons.

Veenstra 4 To define the instructional process of teaching would, in my opinion, be close impossible, since each individual teacher has a slightly different style and understanding of this process. There are so many different combinations of teaching strategies that can be utilized: inquiry based learning, cooperative learning, the learning cycle, differentiated instruction, and project based learning. I know in the past my teachers have used a good majority of these learning strategies in different areas of the classroom and for different times. Being exposed to all these strategies of learning caused me to grow and be challenged as a student. When I am in a classroom, I want to take advantage of these different strategies to challenge my students in different ways as well. We discussed in class how all of these approaches tended to fall on the participatory end of the instructional continuum. Participatory instruction allows the students to define the direction of the activity while the teacher is responsible to know the content. Direct instruction on the other end is teacher led, designed, and driven. Indirect teaching falls somewhere in between the two. As a teacher, I believe my style will also fall into more of a constructivist approach, where I utilize the different instructional processes to build on and construct the activities and lessons based on what the students know. In teaching one of the crucial aspects to consider is curriculum and assessment of the students understanding of the concepts the curriculum contains. I recall teachers in my past who based their assessment of the students understanding of the curriculum just on tests or quizzes. In several of my high school classes, we only read from the book, did some of the questions in the book, prepared for the test, took the test then moved on. This cycle was a summative type of assessment that falls under the assessment of learning category (Earl, 2003, p. 22). There are

Veenstra 5 standards set up by the state, and though it is important to incorporate these into your classroom, curriculum should not just be focussed on this curriculum, or on preparing for the standardized tests. Assessment should also be made for and as learning. While looking at curriculum, it will be important for me to note that no curriculum is going to be neutral (Van Brummelen, 2002, p. 3). I consider this to be an encouraging fact, as I consider teaching in a public school. I know that I will not be able to explicitly state my beliefs in the classroom, but I also know that there is no way I will be able to stop every single drop of the Spirits water from leaking out into the classroom. I believe, even if the curriculum that is chosen by my school leaves no room for personal beliefs to be addressed, I can lead my classroom by Christ-like example, with the help of the Holy Spirit. One of the areas that I am most concerned about with teaching is the diversity, equity, and differences aspect of teaching. I personally have never had to attend a school where I was in the minority ethnically, socially, financially, or academically. Because I am entering the teaching field with one of my minors in English as a Second Language, I will be encountering students that are in more of a minority than I ever was. I truly feel, however, that God is calling me to this area for a reason. Through His guiding light, I will be able to better understand how I, in each unique and challenging encounter or situation, should respond to the diversity and equity differences I am surrounded with. Contextual factors play such a huge role in the schooling of each child. Formal factors (factors that do not change based on the individual like school board, location of school, curriculum, etc.) play an effect on the students learning ability (Genzink, 2012). Their informal factors (factors that vary depending on the individual such as their home life, health, economic

Veenstra 6 status, etc.) also cannot be overlooked by the teacher. To me, these contextual factors entwine themselves with diversity and equity differences. Knowing where and when I need to step out of my own comfort zone to address an issue that arrises because of certain contextual factors will be a challenge for me. It is another one of my concerns, but as a teacher, I hope to be one that is supportive and accepting of each and every individual no matter their background. Contextual factors played a large role in the classroom I visited at Godfrey Lee Early Childhood Center this semester. In my interview with the teacher I observed, it became clear to me that this aspect could be the most challenging aspect of my future teaching career, for this was one of her greatest challenges (M. ODonnell, personal communication, February 29, 2012). Teaching has always been one of my career choices in life. However now, I see it as more than just a career. I see teaching in the elementary setting as my vocation. I personally feel called to teach in the public school. From my kindergarden through my seventh grade year I attended a private school. Through my experience there I did gain a greater understanding of what it means to have a Christian worldview. I believe, as a teacher in the public schools I will be able to incorporate this Christian worldview into my teaching in a way that will not overstep boundaries set by state, but will be clearly evident to any witness. My high school career at a public school gave me the opportunity to experience life as a Christian in a secular setting. I feel my faith was challenged and through that has become stronger. As I incorporate the aspects of school purpose, learning theories, instruction, assessment, curriculum, diversity and equity, and context into my teacher identity, I cant help but realize that I am created for a purpose such as this: to shine the light of truth into the confusion of this world, and to shine the light of Christ into the darkness of our culture.

Veenstra 7 Resources Ayers, W. (1993). To teach: The journey of a teacher. New York: Teachers College Earl, L. (2003) Assessment as learning: using classroom assessment to maximize student learning. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Genzink, Jane (2012). Governance & context [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved from http:// moodle.calvin.edu/course/view.php?id=12344 National Research Council. (1999). How people learn: Bridging research and practice. Washington DC: The National Academies Press Oakes, J., & Lipton, M. (2007). History and culture: Wrestling with the traditions of American education. In Teaching to change the world (3rd ed.) (pp. 35-50). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill. Van Brummelen, H. (2002). Steppingstones to curriculum: A biblical path (2nd ed.) (pp. 1-17). Colorado Springs, CO: Purposeful Design Publications.