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Starting as a provisionally licensed teacher was overwhelming at first.

I had never been in

a classroom environment before, and I had no idea how to teach. When I first started, I relied

heavily on other teachers around me to help me with lessons, instructional practices, etc. After a

few months, I began to explore my own teaching style. I knew my classroom would be a more

relaxed environment because I wanted students to feel comfortable in my classroom. A positive

classroom environment enhances student achievement (Swafford, M., Bailey, S., & Beasley, K.).

To ensure I had a positive environment, I make sure to go every class with saying hello or good

morning to each student as they walk into the door. At my school, I am expected to monitor the

hall between classes, but most teachers use this time to chat with other teachers in the hall. While

I do talk to my colleagues, I make a point to say hello to each one of my kids as they enter my

room. This may be the only time in their day that an adult speaks directly to them.

Again, in August I was not sure how to deliver lessons. I now will have personal

conversations with several members of my instructional team (IT) to ask questions, get advice,

and feel out how they are going to deliver each lesson. This gives me confidence each day to

deliver each lesson. As an IT group, we are required to give common assessments throughout

each level. We are able to hold one another accountable by doing this. As an IT group, we

construct our summative assessments. We have to assign each test questions to a standard, a

depth of knowledge (DOK) level, and a learning target. We started this practice about mid-way

through the year. I was extremely uncomfortable constructing test questions. I felt like I was

terrible at it, but I went to my IT lead and sat down for help. She coached me through my first

couple of questions, and now I feel very confident creating test questions. Being able to construct

test questions allows me to construct my lessons better because I know what my students will be
assessed on, and I know how deep into each topic I need to go. This is one of the many things

that has improved my instructional practices.

I remember last summer hearing the phrase culturally responsive teaching. I remember

being so closed off to that idea, and thinking that is extremely wrong to treat students differently

based on their cultural. I now know that to be so far from the truth. I remember one day two

students in my 6th period class came to me that they needed to go pray. I was so confused, and I

remember I kind of smiled and said “what?” I thought they were joking. They then asked to talk

in the hall. They said they were both islam, and needed to go pray. I of course told them to go,

and when they came back about 10 minutes later they were soaking wet. I asked them why they

were soaked, and they told me it was apart of the ritual. This was the first time that I needed to

be more culturally responsive to my students. Then at the end of first semester, the last unit I had

to cover was genetics. This can be highly sensitive because certain cultures only have some

genetic disorders, or some cultures are more susceptible to genetic diseases. I knew before I

started teaching the unit that I had to ensure that I was culturally responsive to all my students. I

read different articles, and one stuck out to me. I read ​Culturally Relevant Teaching in Science

Classrooms. ​This article gave several examples of ​ ​lessons that were culturally appropriate for

students. One lesson was a DNA lesson, and I thought how perfect. This article said to make

culturally hard topics like genetics fun. Use fun activities to keep students interested, like I DNA

extraction lesson. This would keep students engaged and feel safe in the class (Boutte, G.,

Kelly-Jackson, C., & Johnson, G.L.).

I feel I have done a lot of things to improved my instructional practices. I am excited to

continue in this field, and to continue to improve my practices.


References

Boutte, G., Kelly-Jackson, C., & Johnson, G. L. (2010). Culturally Relevant Teaching in Science
Classrooms: Addressing Academic Achievement, Cultural Competence, and Critical
Consciousness. ​International Journal Of Multicultural Education​, ​12​(2),
Swafford, M., Bailey, S., & Beasley, K. (2014). POSITIVE LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS
ENHANCE STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT. ​Techniques: Connecting Education &
Careers​, ​89​(5), 32-35.