Mary Ewart's bPortfolio

EDU 6990 – Teacher Leadership Capstone – Metareflection

on June 6, 2016

Standard 8: Teacher leaders present professional practice for the review of colleagues.

 

“When teachers build networks to support their need for professional learning, their effectiveness can grow over a career.” (Fisher & Frey, 2016, p. 85)

When I started this program, in all honesty, my intention was to complete a Masters degree. I began with no intention of leaving the classroom in the foreseeable future, and rather, was hoping the program would provide me with some new tools and information that would better my practice as a secondary math teacher. Being in the classroom and working with students, seeing them reach understanding on a difficult concept, watching them engage in academic discourse about mathematics; all of those things make my job very fulfilling, and when I started this program I couldn’t imagine leaving the classroom and walking away from the students. I have spent 12 years working in public education, as a teacher, and have never doubted that I belong here, with students.

Throughout the first year of the program, I really focused on learning what I could to better my craft in the classroom. The work in our human development class was something I could apply instantly to my classroom to work with students and try to meet them the way they learn. During the Spring quarter, we took an administration class, Engaging Communities. This was the first time when I considered what my career might look like if I wasn’t in a classroom until I retire. Being in administration was not something I had spent any time considering prior to this course, but it really opened my eyes to the power that leaders have in education – whether they are teacher leaders, administrators, or leaders at a more central level.

Moving into the second year of the program, I spent the summer working on curriculum and assessment work, as well as considering how morals impact education – especially in a public school. This was an interesting quarter for me, as I truly felt my view shift from looking for immediate tools to apply in my classroom to looking at the information and considering how I could share it at the largest level to have the greatest impact for all students in my building rather than just my own. Although I still wasn’t sure that I was done in the classroom for any time in the near future, I was definitely shifting to thinking about how I could expand the impact of my learning. As the new math department chair in my building, that was an obvious way, and I began to create informative blurbs that I could send out, linked to research, that would provide members of my department with key learning from my courses that could be digested in quick and easy ways.

The last three quarters have really seen my thinking shift in even larger ways. Another administration course, Leadership in Education, continued to challenge my thinking with the idea of being able to impact more students than just those in my classroom. Then the Applying Action Research class really showed me how much my understanding of data and statistics that comes from being a math teacher can benefit others in the profession by simply being able to evaluate research to determine whether or not that data makes sense. Lastly, as I explored career options in the Capstone course, I was truly challenged to consider whether I will, in fact, remain in the classroom for the next 20+ years.

Now, as I am finished with my coursework, I have come to a crossroads, of sorts, in my career. My belief that being a public school teacher was my calling for my entire career has been confronted, and I have a lot of excitement and anticipation about where I should go next. Although the administration classes have been some of my favorites, I also think that is because those were the classes where I had the smallest set of prior knowledge, so I was able to learn the most in those classes about topics that were entirely new to me. Prior to this experience I would have never considered administration as a choice for me, but now, I am considering administration as a potential future branch in my career, although I am not ready to move into that yet. Where I have become more and more convicted about is to be able to share my knowledge with current and future teachers. Ideally, this would be in a position where I could stay in the classroom part-time, and coach/mentor teachers in-building part-time. Unfortunately, that is not a position that exists in my current district. Teaching is something that is important to me, but what if I could make a greater impact by teaching future or current teachers? This is a question that has been going through my head frequently the last 6 months or so. Based on that, I am hoping I will be able to take my experience in the classroom, and new learning from this program, and find a position with a university as an adjunct professor in a school of education. I would love to be able to teach about the best methods for instruction, how to evaluate research and curriculum, and how our students truly think and learn. I would also love to be able to teach about teaching math specifically, as I truly believe the ability to tell the story of mathematics is key in successful mathematics instruction, and that is not something everyone who wants to be a teacher understands. I also am considering looking into positions within my district that would allow me to work with other teachers, and considering looking at ways to make a larger impact on education as a whole. I love to learn about current trends in education and analyzing data on the true impact of those trends. With so many universities around the area, I might be able to find a position like this as well. Do I still feel passionately about serving students? Absolutely. My professional greatest joy over the last 12 years has come from student interaction. I am sure I will miss that if I move into a new career path. However, the main thing this program has taught me is how much of an impact leaders can make in education, not just for a class of students each year, but for classes of students each year in the future.

 

Source:

Fisher, D., & Frey, N. (2016) Getting Better Every Year. Educational Leadership, 73(8), 85-86.

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