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Courtney Lantz

Early Childhood Unified

October 7, 2018

Submission II Reflection Essay

Introduction

The Early Childhood Unified program has brought me to new experiences outside of my

comfort zone, taught me new techniques and better improved the knowledge that I have. With

my understandings in the professional knowledge base, I will be able to illustrate my strengths

and improve my weaknesses properly in the classroom as a student teacher and future educator.

Learners and Learning

A strength I have that relates to learners and learning is the understanding that cognitive,

linguistic, social, emotional and physical development influences children’s learning. As I started

in this program, this strength was taught in multiple classes. It genuinely stood out in FCS

490/491, Developmental Planning and FCS 591, Supervised Teaching Early Childhood Lab in

the Little Gorillas Preschool.

During FCS 490/491, Dr. Tankersley gave the class an assignment called the

Documentation Project. For this project, I had to observe in the Little Gorillas Preschool and take

notes and observations of how each type of learning domain was taking place. As they were

playing outside on the playground they were improving their physical skills and their social

skills. In the classroom, during large group time, the children would talk as a class to promote

some cognitive skills and linguistic skills. This project and observations in the preschool taught

me how to confidently include different learning domains in the classroom to help influence a

child’s learning.
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The second strength of mine is knowing some students have exceptional needs and

knowing how to use strategies and resources to meet those needs. My major has a Special Ed

minor built into it. In the program I have successfully completed at least five different SPED

courses taught by Dr. York. Her courses have provided me with a great amount of information

and skills to prepare me for working with students who have exceptional needs.

Currently, I am enrolled in Dr. York’s SPED 550 class called Methods of Primary

Children with Disabilities. In this course, we are to complete ten hours of field experience in a

resource room in the Pittsburg school district. Right now, I am placed at George Nettles

Elementary school in Pamela Thompson’s resource room. I am able to observe students with

exceptional needs and observe how each resource teacher helps them minute by minute. Most of

these children are non-verbal and need assistance with their daily schedule. They all have a one-

on-one teacher that helps walk them through their day and teach them math, reading, language,

and life skills. I have found this experience significant to my teaching career because it helps me

understand how I can help any exceptional students I may have in my own future classroom.

Having this experience has shown me exactly how every student learns differently than another.

For my third strength, I understand how to manage the learning environment by

organizing, allocating and coordinating the resources of time and space. When a teacher has poor

classroom management, it will affect the teacher and their students. With a strong grasp on

classroom management, my students will understand what is expected of them in my classroom

and resources will be easily accessible.

One example I completed in Dr. Tankersley’s FCS 390 class, Interacting with Children,

was a room arrangement activity. For this assignment, I had to create a classroom for twenty

preschoolers using the Lakeshore Classroom Designer. The room had to have a block area, art,
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manipulative, library, and dramatic play area. After I created the layout of my classroom, I wrote

a review on why I chose to place centers where I did and how my room design met the

appropriate needs of the twenty preschoolers. I evaluated myself on how the space utilized and

the arrangement met the children’s needs. Lastly, I was required to write up a class schedule for

a morning session preschool. This activity challenged me on my skills in setting up my

classroom to provide a balance of activity for my students.

Within the learners and learning section, an area I can improve in would be

understanding and identifying differences in approaches to learning and performance and

designing experiences that incorporate individual’s strengths to promote their growth. This

particular area has been hard for me at some points while teaching. During my time in the Little

Gorillas Preschool lab, I remember a specific math lesson that I was very excited to teach. While

teaching my lesson to a group of kids, I quickly had at least half of the group either excelling at

the activity and getting bored or struggling with the concept of the activity. I got nervous, but I

continued my lesson until it was through and I tried to help every student with the best of my

ability. After talking with my teacher, Kari Cronister, I understood that I would have to modify

my lesson in a way that my higher and lower level students could work on the same concept, just

in ways that fit their own learning needs. During my student teaching experience, I am going to

collaborate with my cooperating teachers and colleagues to ensure that I am performing my

lessons to meet all of my students’ individual strengths and weaknesses.

An area of improvement that I see myself working on is knowing how to access

information about the values of diverse cultures and communities and how to incorporate

languages, experiences, cultures and community resources into practice. A majority of my field

experience has been completed at the Family Resource Center in Pittsburg. In the preschool
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classrooms, I have worked with some diverse cultures and languages, but not enough to feel

qualified in that understanding. Recently, I have noticed a more diverse community at the Family

Resource Center and I feel that I am getting to improve on this skill daily. As a student teacher

candidate and a future teacher, I want to better my understanding in this area of improvement. I

believe that my experience in student teaching and help from my cooperating teacher will better

my practice in this subject.

Content

My first strength would be realizing that content knowledge is not a fixed body of facts

but is complex, culturally situated and ever-evolving while keeping abreast of new ideas and best

practices in the field. This semester I am enrolled in Educational Psychology with Dr. Jamie

Wood. This course helps strengthen my understanding that knowledge is complex and learning

to keep new ideas and practices is ideal in the teaching field.

Within Dr. Wood’s Educational Psychology class and many field experience

opportunities, I have learned from various educators that there are always new ways to teach

different tasks and to keep my mind open to new ideas. As I have observed, I have tried many

lessons that I know I can improve on or also teach in different aspects to help meet the needs of

other students.

A second strength that I feel I have would be knowing how to use supplementary

resources and technologies effectively to ensure accessibility and relevance for all. Technology

is becoming more relevant in classrooms today. Technology for the Classroom and my

experience in the resource room at George Nettles have both helped me in understanding this

knowledge.
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Technology is a great tool that can become another resource for teachers. My class

Technology for the Classroom opened my eyes to many different resources that I can use with

my students. Also, when observing in the resource room at George Nettles, I noticed they use

technology as a resource to help their students with exceptional needs to make things more

accessible to them. Since their students are non-verbal they use iPads to help them speak and

express what they are working for.

An area of improvement for me would be having a deep knowledge of student content

standards and learning progressions in the discipline. As my years of teaching increase, I know I

will deepen my knowledge in this content. During my student teaching semester, I will make it a

goal to familiarize myself with the content of the standards and the learning progressions that

apply to myself and my students.

For my second area of improvement, I could work on knowing major concepts,

assumptions, and debates that are central to the discipline. To keep learning as a teacher I need to

study and improve my knowledge in this area. I will better this skill during student teaching by

collaborating with my cooperating teacher and using her methods to better my understanding.

Instructional Practice

My first strength related to Instructional Practice is knowing how to engage learners

actively in the assessment process and knowing how to develop each learner’s capacity to reflect

on and communicate about their individual progress. One course I am enrolled in currently is

Mrs. Bartlow’s EDUC 464 class called Foundations of Measurement and Evaluation. We have

covered many methods of assessment that help engage learners in the assessment process and

help communicate their progress.


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For example, one of my assignments was to choose a grade level and describe how I

could effectively use a portfolio with that age of students to engage them in the assessment

process and communicate with them about their individual progress throughout the year. I chose

to create a portfolio for kindergarten students. Their portfolio would show who they are with

their own cover page designed by themselves. Each month I would save two work examples

from multiple subjects such as math, art, and writing. The student’s portfolios would track their

progress and after the end of each month, we would talk about how they have improved over

time. This assignment has helped me visualize a way I can use this strength in the classroom

when student teaching and also when I am assessing my own students in the future.

A second strength I have is knowing how to engage learners in using technology tools

and a range of skills to access, interpret, evaluate and apply information. This is a strength of

mine that I have great interest and confidence in. In my first fall semester, I took the course

Technology for the Classroom (EDTH 330) with Dr. Rampy. During this course, I was

introduced to many different technology tools that could be beneficial in my classroom and while

student teaching.

Children today are more tech-savvy than most of us. Because of this course, I have been

introduced to different tools like Quizizz, Kahoot, Makey Makey, and much more. Dr. Rampy

assigned the class to make a Quizizz assessment that we could use in the classroom. In class, I

shared my Quizizz assessment and tried other students’ creations to compare it with my own. I

learned how I could use this technology tool for different subjects or different needs in my

classroom. A great feature about this tool is that I could analyze if my students got the correct

answer, the incorrect answer or whether or not they attempted the question. It also allowed me to

look at my overall class average and accuracy on the quiz. With the help of technology tools and
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courses like this, I am able to further my student’s education efficiently and assist them in

interpreting and evaluating information.

For my third strength, I know how to analyze assessment data to understand the patterns

and gaps in learning, how to guide planning and instruction and how to provide meaningful

feedback. Like my first example explained in my first strength, Mrs. Bartlow’s Foundations of

Measurement class has helped me further my understanding in analyzing assessments and

providing feedback to my students and their families.

As Mrs. Bartlow’s course has continued, I am understanding more and more about

assessment and how to provide feedback. During class, I have participated in many discussions

involving different types of assessments that apply to different grade levels. I worked in a group

and tried to see if I or my other peers could find items that would cause the student or teacher

confusion or frustration. After everyone in the class had some time to look at multiple

assessments, we all discussed the differences we noticed and whether there was anything wrong

with the assessment. This class activity increased my knowledge of the patterns and gaps in

learning. It taught me different ways to give instruction to my students and colleagues when

using different assessments in the classroom.

An area of weakness for me, related to Instructional Practice would be knowing how to

engage learners in multiple ways of demonstrating knowledge and skills as part of the

assessment process. I have always noticed that not all students learn the same way. With

realizing this I have tried to improve my skills in meeting all of my students’ needs. I find it

tough sometimes during my lessons to keep students engaged. During my professional semester

as a student teacher, I am going to widen my knowledge in that area and reach out to my peers

and cooperating teacher to help me with that skill.


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One more area that I could improve in is understanding how theory, research, and the

best practices impact ongoing planning and instructional practice. One thing I have noticed in the

Early Childhood Program is that it does not require any research method classes. Dr. Wood, the

professor of many psychology classes (including my Educational Psychology class) brought that

to my attention. I am learning that as a teacher, to keep up with the latest practices and research

regarding education, I have to keep my knowledge up-to-date as well. As I start my student

teaching and continue on as an educator, I plan to do more research on my own time to help

better educate my students.

Professional Responsibility

Relating to professional responsibility, I understand how to use information and

technology ethically, legally and safely. Because of my current jobs and choosing the teaching

profession, this is a strict rule to follow. Dr. Rampy’s class, Technology for the Classroom

helped me strengthen my practices in this skill.

During this class we had a guest speaker come and talk to us about the use of technology

as a teacher. I was shown examples of what is not acceptable and what is. As a teacher, I have

learned to model the correct behavior when using technology in my classroom and follow the

teacher responsibilities such as IDEA and FERPA within my school district.

My second strength is my understanding of how to use a variety of self-assessment and

problem-solving strategies to analyze and reflect on my practice and to plan for adaptions and

adjustments. Majority of the courses I have completed at Pittsburg State University have helped

me build my strength in this area.

By completing lab work and observations outside of the classroom, my teachers have

been able to give me feedback that helps increase my understanding of self-assessment. Because
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of their feedback, I am able to see that as an example and continue that with my future students

in my teaching career. Also, completing peer reviews in multiple classes has also proven my

understanding of self-assessment.

For my third strength, I know how to communicate effectively with all members of the

learning community. In the course FCS 690, Parent/Professional Relationships, I learned how to

communicate effectively with the families of my students and also my staff and community.

During this course, I completed multiple assignments that involved writing parent letters,

family involvement, and family resource packets. With these assignments, I demonstrated my

knowledge of communication as an educator and how I can help the community I am working in

as well. The family resource packet represented what I had learned in the course and how I can

put it to use in my future career.

One area of improvement of mine is understanding laws related to learners’ rights and

teacher responsibilities like IDEA, FERPA, and mandated reporting. I only have a general

understanding of this and as I complete my student teaching I know I will further my knowledge

on mandated reporting and what to do as the educator in difficult situations.

For my second area of improvement, I will work on understanding schools as organizations

within a historical, cultural, political and social context and knows how to work with others

across the system to support learners. It is my professional responsibility to work properly with

my colleagues in all different ways. There will be times when I have opposing opinions and I

will have to appropriately handle this with others across the school.

Conclusion

In conclusion, I will always continue to grow in areas of strengths and weaknesses in the

teaching profession. With the help of my peers, cooperating teachers and students I am going to
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become a professional and effective teacher because of the knowledge I have gained throughout

my experiences and coursework at Pittsburg State University.

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