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Prior to my student teaching experience this semester and my short time in Cedar Shoals High School during Practicum

last fall, I had little to no experience as an educator in a formal classroom setting. My only relevant teaching experience, if it can be called that, was several years ago when I served as a section leader and the captain of the brass section in my high schools marching band. I was tasked with assisting the band directors in teaching my fellow baritone players show music, marching drill, proper posture and technique, and leading all brass instruments in breathing exercises and musical warm-ups. These roles gave me valuable experience as an instructor, teaching me the value of communication, preparation, patience, and mutual respect between students and instructors. I also received a lot of joy and satisfaction from seeing my fellow band members improve and develop, which definitely attributed to my decision to become an educator. But much of the way I conceptualize education and teaching has been developed over the past year. Through my Methods, Curriculum, and Practicum courses I was introduced to new ideas, developed new skills, and began to formulate my teaching philosophy. I attribute much of this to the professional literature I was exposed to and the excellent instruction I received during my teacher education experience. Dr. Janis, Dr. Schmeichel, and Dr. Garrett introduced me to numerous teaching techniques that I would later adopt during my time in the classroom. Techniques including Socratic seminars, fish-bowl discussions, chalk talks, lines of contention, arts based reactions, speed-dating activities, visual thinking strategies, and station teaching among others. I was able to experience these teaching techniques in a student role during my Methods course and develop an appreciation for their effectiveness.

Previously, I largely conceived of learning as a passive experience in which the instructor disseminated knowledge to students. However through my experience with these teaching techniques and supporting literature that stressed the importance of student engagement, I was shown the value of active learning in the classroom. By allowing student discovery and construction of knowledge in a learning community we foster engagement, which is vital to true understanding. I also learned how to construct lesson plans based on performance standards through modeling by the instructor and assignments, which required me to formulate original lesson plans while presenting my rationale behind my various decisions and approaches. Contrastly, with the emphasis on active learning in my teacher education courses I began to think that lecture was a misguided teaching practice. Jason Staceys The Guide on Stage showed me that lecturing doesnt have to be a passive experience for students and that interactive lectures are as viable a form of teaching as any other! As a result, I developed the belief that teaching can be a balanced practice, which employs numerous techniques all working towards the goal of student engagement and development.

Several pieces of professional literature heavily influenced my approach to teaching. Ronald Takakis A Different Mirror presented a multicultural approach to U.S. history and helped open my eyes to my responsibility as a social studies educator to present my students with multiple perspectives rather than following any singular historical narrative. Margaret Wheatleys Willing to Be Disturbed impacted me greatly, stressing the importance of having our beliefs and ideas challenged by what others think and arguing that this is the only way that we will achieve true growth. William Ayers work To Teach helped me

understand the importance of being a student of my students. It made so much sense to me that in order to teach effectively educators must create relationships with their students. By knowing our students we can construct our practice around them, as it should always be. In our student teaching seminar we discussed difficult encounters, or encountering knowledge that can leave us uncomfortable or confused. Roger Simons A Shock to Thought helped make me aware that educators must structure lessons and instruction around difficult knowledge carefully, making sure that we are not simply using this material for shock value, but using it to spark genuine thought and reflection. Kenneth Zeichners Reflective Teaching, which I encountered in my Ethics in Education course, fostered and appreciation for constantly examining my own beliefs, opinions, perspectives, assumptions, and biases as a teacher and continually meditating on my decisions and experiences in the classroom. This appreciation for continual reflection was strengthened by assignments such as Teaching and Learning Logs and lesson plan analysis during Practicum. As teachers we must continue to learn, improve, adapt, evolve, and grow in order to be the best that we can be and provide the education our students deserve. Throughout my Methods, Curriculum, and Practicum courses and student teaching experience I have been fortunate enough to be surrounded by an exceptional group of teaches and peers. Through my interactions with them I have learned the value of having a strong teacher community. Teaching can be an extremely challenging job and having people who can empathize with your experiences is vital. A community of teachers who can share ideas, successes, failures, and coordinate action and support helps make us all better educators! Everything from connecting on social networking services such as Facebook to discussing universal teaching problems, concerns, questions with fellow

teachers in our student teaching seminars helped me grow as a teacher. I can only hope that I will continue to be a part of a similar community of educators as I pursue a career in teaching.