Throughout the Master of Education program at the College of William and Mary, I have developed as a content expert, reflective practitioner, effective collaborator, and educational leader. My development in these four areas has been facilitated by my coursework and field experience. The coursework presented the knowledge and reasoning behind the pedagogy and the field work allowed this knowledge to be implemented first-hand. The combination of these four areas represents an overview of my readiness as an effective educator.

Through my own pre-k through undergraduate schooling I have gleaned the content knowledge and background necessary for an elementary educator. I was able to score within the top 15% of test takers on the Elementary Content Knowledge Praxis II exam, receiving the Recognition of Excellence Award. This knowledge would do me no good as a teacher if I knew nothing of pedagogy, though. The master-level content knowledge courses taken during this program have provided me with the pedagogical content knowledge necessary in teaching. I was able to apply this knowledge in my field work during practicum and student teaching. I was able to implement lessons based on the pedagogy learned in the content courses. I am grateful that I was encouraged to try and was therefore not afraid to fail. I have found that failing on the first try is sometimes more valuable than success on the first try.

Reflecting on failure as well as success is an important part of becoming a reflective practitioner. As a pre-service teacher, I was encouraged to try new things. Whether or not they worked I was able to reflect. I have found that failure is an especially good time to reflect as there is usually a perfect “teachable moment” hidden somewhere beneath. As a reflective practitioner I am constantly reflecting. Whether the reflection comes in the form of a paper, a video, a meta-reflection, or in my mind, I am actively reflecting and it is helping me develop as an educator every day.

Not unlike reflection, collaboration has been instilled in my professional mindset. Whether it is with other student teachers, cooperating teachers, or other faculty such as resource teachers, collaboration happens constantly, automatically, and effectively now. The grade-level teams in my placement school are like well-oiled machines. They work together, enthusiastically share ideas, and make constructive suggestions for each other. I have been able to participate in multiple grade-level teams at my placement school, in various situations. One grade-level team collaborates in pairs as each teacher takes a different subject to teach. My first-grade team collaborates closely with the Reading Recovery teacher to make sure we are all using similar instructional methods. Overall, I have witnessed and participated in effective teams working together with student success as the shared goal.

Being a teacher is synonymous with being a leader. A teacher is a leader not only to a classroom full of students, but to the rest of their colleagues in the field of education. A leader is someone who leads a group of people, striving for something better. The field of education is constantly changing and evolving. Teachers are at the forefront of this change because we are the first to see what needs to be changed in our education system and we are at the most influential spot for starting those changes. For this reason, teachers need to stay up to date on the latest, effective, proven methods of educating a diverse group of students. This comes from actively pursuing professional development and personally using research to make the classroom a more effective learning environment. I was fortunate enough to attend Math Day, a professional development conference regarding teaching math. I was able to listen to many seminars about effective math-teaching techniques such as Math Talk and manipulative use. I have attached my summary of the event below.

From the very beginning, during our Research Methods course, I learned to acknowledge the importance of researched-based education techniques. All of our coursework has been based on research, whether it was a research prospectus for our research course or intervention research for exceptionalities course. Our coursework has instilled in me the importance of seeking out and finding proven methods of instruction and management. As an educational leader, it is important to know how to find solutions to questions that do not have an easy answer. Our coursework has given me the confidence that the answer is out there and I have the ability to find it. As a first year teacher I might be new, but I have the energy and fresh knowledge that will help me become a leader. I hope to continue developing as an educational leader. In the future, I would love to be able to serve as a mentor and participate in a teacher preparation program as a cooperating teacher.

Research Prospectus:

Intervention Research

Through the combination of coursework and fieldwork during my program with the College of William and Mary I have developed as a content expert, reflective practitioner, effective collaborator, and educational leader. The lessons learned through failure and success and knowledge gained through assignments and first-hand experiences have prepared me to be an effective educator. I feel confident as I finish my program and enter the field of education.