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Reflection On Professional Growth As A Educator

1537 words - 6 pages

I’m struck by how far I’ve progressed professionally over the past seven years. I’m grateful to the students, parents, colleagues, professors, my professional learning network, authors, consultants and administrators who’ve contributed towards my development, thus making me a more effective educator. I look forward to continuing my professional growth, as I endeavor to prepare students successfully for the 21st Century challenges they’re certain to encounter.

Learning & Professional Knowledge

Through formal coursework (nine graduate credits) and numerous workshops, conferences, network meetings, etc., I have consistently added to my professional knowledge and learning.

Ask any colleague about my area of “expertise” and it’s likely they’ll mention technology integration. I’ve always considered this to be interesting, as just a few years ago the answer would be something along the lines of “He’s the literacy guy.” The fact is, both are correct. I’ve taken the leap into the realm of digital literacy, the 21st Century literacy. After having the good fortune of connecting with educators around the world via Twitter and the blogosphere, I concluded that not engaging students in various web applications and social media would be doing them a huge disservice. The very tools they engage with daily at home or elsewhere should be brought into the classroom to authenticate their learning experience. Also, when used in a targeted manner, with specific learning objectives in mind, they’re highly effective learning tools.

The two courses I’ve taken relative to this have enabled me to explore, experiment and create, thereby successfully integrate technology, on a large scale, into my classroom. Digital Storytelling compelled me to look at narrative in a new light. Previously, my conception of teaching narrative was solely black text on white paper. However, the very definition of narrative is to tell a story. It doesn’t matter what form the story takes, as long as it effectively captures a moment in time for the audience. Considering that black text on white paper doesn’t work for some students, particularly those with learning challenges, I’ve had success using online comic creators (ToonDoo), along with other web2.0 applications, like Voicethread, JayCut, and Mixbook to tell engaging stories further enhanced by images and video.

Tech Integration Using Web2.0 enhanced my capacity to integrate social media into my instruction. Student blogging has become a key component of my writing instruction. Now in my 16th year of teaching, I’ve found nothing to motivate students to write, and write well, more than blogging. There are numerous reasons why blogging is such an effective tool; the primary reason being an authentic global audience. No bell or whistle compels students to engage writing better than comments on their posts, or hits recorded on their ClustrMaps. No longer are their written products limited to the eyes of a few. ...

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