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Blooming Like a Radiant Flower: Always Growing, Sometimes Wilting Natural Born Teacher

Lately I have been thinking a lot about what it means to not only be a teacher, but a

teacher leader. I knew from the age of eight that I wanted to be a teacher and I feel lucky that I

am naturally one. I would say that I am a natural teacher because I am confident, patient, kind,

knowledgeable of the content I teach, a good communicator and listener and also have a good

sense of humor. I know that I was not born a teacher, but I definitely have worked hard to make

myself a good one. Before becoming a teacher, I never realized how much work it takes to not

only be a teacher, but to be a good teacher. I know that I am always trying to better myself as a

teacher and grow as an educator and a leader. I recently read a post by a peer in my TE 872 class

that said teachers are like flowers. We are always growing, but we are going to wilt at times.

Teaching is very stressful and I never know what I am going to get myself into since everyday

brings its challenges. I am very OCD and teaching has forced me to learn to go more with the

flow since I can never predict what is going to happen on a daily basis. I have learned that even

if I have a bad day that makes me “wilt”, I am still going to grow from it. I joined the MATC

program at Michigan State hoping to grow and bloom as a teacher and become a leader in my

classroom, school and someday my district. I knew that I was going to be challenged and be even

more stressed, but that was not going to stop me from learning to become a better teacher and

leader. I thought that from getting my masters in teaching and curriculum that I was going to

learn how to solve the problems that I have in my classroom and with my teaching practices, but

I have learned in my Michigan State classes that I am always going to have problems to solve. I

cannot solve all of the problems that I have and will have, but from the MATC program, I can

now say that I have the tools to start and continue to solve the problems that I will face in my

teaching career and the ability to help out other teachers.

Learning to Develop My Teaching and Discipline Skills

I went into the MATC program thinking that I have my classroom management and

student engagement decently under control, but soon realized I can always better those skills and

I can always improve myself. In my first masters class after my internship year TE 808, I had to

undergo an action research project and I decided to do my research on classroom management

and student engagement. During my literature review (Artifact 1) I had to read extensively about

classroom discipline techniques and never realized how much research is out there on this topic

and how much I can learn from other teachers. I felt like I had become too cocky in the three

years that I had been teaching and TE 808 made me realize this. I had to challenge myself to try

out new discipline techniques and while doing this part of the project, I realized that the problem

is not always how I control my classroom, but how much the students are engaged. So, from this

realization I decided that I needed to not only improve my discipline but I also had to create

better lesson plans to get my students more engaged in my class. I decided to create notes that

forced the students to pay attention more, where they had to fill in more blanks or whatnot. I also

asked the students on Google Forms which games and activities that they enjoyed in my class

and which ones that they have played in other classes and that I should implement into my class.

With classroom management, I started to try out new techniques to quiet students down and to

stay engaged and off of their phones. I used a countdown system, a bell or maraca and also

students were allowed to ask to be on their cell phones in Spanish once they were finished with

their work and they wouldn’t lose participation points. The most successful technique was the

students asking to use their phone in Spanish because it forced them to speak in Spanish and

students finished their work quicker and less students were on their phones during work and

instruction time. I had never been the one to put myself out there and get advice from students,

peers or colleagues, but TE 808 forced me to do just that and I can say that I am thankful for this.

Teachers need other teachers to learn from each other and grow like flowers. We need to

lean on each other since we are going to have our moments when we start to wilt and need

advice and the only ones we can turn to are other teachers. Since I know teachers are all very

busy, I decided to use Google Surveys and send out a survey to my colleagues and post it on a

foreign language teachers Facebook page since I knew I would get the best advice on classroom

management and engagement from fellow teachers. One of the best points that my colleagues

taught me is that even teachers with over a decade of experience struggle with the same things

that I do, and that we are all continuing to develop our discipline and engagement skills.

Teachers continue to develop overtime and are constantly blooming and growing into better

teachers. We need to use each other and work together so we can all bloom into the best teachers

possible. Throughout the MATC program, I have been introduced to many teacher support

networks and realize that we cannot accomplish this job alone. Teachers depend on other

teachers, not just for advice, but also just to have people to talk to and relate to since our job is

much different than other jobs. We cannot continue to improve our teaching practices alone, so

we need to all work together and teach each other to become expert teachers.

Reaching All Students

Before I started my masters again I had thought that I was doing a good job overall

had a lot to learn. TE 845 was a class that taught me a great amount about English Language

Learners and how to teach them in a better manner. I don’t have a large amount of ELL students,

but I do have a few each trimester and they typically struggle in my Spanish class, since they are

already struggling with English. In this class I had to do a final project (Artifact 2) that consisted

of viewing an ELL class and creating a lesson plan of my own based on what I have learned

throughout the course. This project showed me how much more that I need to do in order to

reach out to my ELL students and how much they will appreciate my efforts. I noticed that just

the simple techniques that I tried out (ie: speaking slower, giving ELL students version B

assessments, getting to know their situations at home and their English levels, etcetera) made a

huge impact on how they performed and succeeded in my class. I have gotten used to

differentiating my learning for special education students, but not for ELL students and I learned

that I need to remember to differentiate for all of my students, not just special education students.

I cannot forget that all of my students are different and that is why I need to get to know every

single one of them. I need to take the time to reach out to all of them, so then I can teach them all

to the best of my ability.

Becoming a Teacher Leader

I have always considered myself a leader inside and outside of my job. I think that all

teachers are leaders and that is why we became teachers in the first place. I have a natural

tendency to take the lead with things, but I can honestly say that I have always been nervous to

take on more of a leadership role at school. I was very happy when I found out that we would be

learning about how to become more of a teacher leader in TE 872. From the readings and my

leadership project (Artifact 3), I realized that I am more of a teacher leader than I thought and

that most teachers don’t realize that they are leaders. Some things that I have decided to take on

this year were because I wanted to take more of an initiative at my school and show that I am a

leader. I decided to lead Spanish club, take a school trip to Puerto Rico and Costa Rica and have

Michigan State senior students observe and help out in my classroom. I have a goal to be a

mentor teacher someday since I want to teach future teachers how to teach and how to do it well,

so having a Michigan State student observe and help out was a good starting point. I think that

teaching someone to be a teacher helped me to evaluate my practices more and actually improve

my own teaching. Taking on more leadership roles has shown me that educators can make a

huge difference in not only the classroom, but in the school, district, community and possibly the

world. I face challenges daily, especially as a teacher, but once I took on some leadership roles I

realized that it adds even more challenges but that they are worth it. I want to be more than just

an expert teacher, I want to be a teacher leader and the MATC program has taught me how to be

both and I will be forever grateful.

Teacher Learning and Growth

All teachers can learn from other teachers and I have been lucky to have been given the

opportunity of learning from some intelligent teachers through the MATC program. The MATC

program gave me the chance to learn from teachers from all over the world and learn skills that I

didn’t know that I needed. I chose to take TE 831 as my elective and I have been very grateful

that I chose to take it. I thought that I knew more about technology and tech tools than I actually

did and this class taught me so much. I had been nervous to incorporate more usage of

technology in my class, but by creating a repurposed lesson plan (Artifact 4) in TE 831, it

showed me that there is nothing for me to be nervous about, and testing the waters is better than

not trying. My students appreciate every new tech tool that I try out in my classroom and even

help me out, since they know more about technology than I do. Learning seems to be more fun

and engaging when technology is used and I have continued to search out new ways to

incorporate technology into my classroom. After taking TE 831, I have made it my goal to create

a Google Classroom, where I will post videos of my teachings and make an online presence for

my students, parents and other educators. I want to help other teachers grow professionally and

teach them what I learned from the MATC program, especially from TE 831 since technology is

only going to be used more and more in the future. Teachers should befriend other teachers and

always be willing to help each other out and support each other and I am proud to say that I can

help my colleagues develop professionally more from being in the MATC program.

Literacy in my Discipline

Every class and teacher will incorporate literacy, which before taking TE 843 and 846, I

didn’t realize how much I specifically use literacy within my Spanish class. Teaching literacy

has always made me think of elementary school, when kids are learning to read and write, but

my class can be compared to an elementary level class. I teach Spanish 1 and 2, so my students

are being taught the basic usage of the Spanish language and how to read, write, speak and

comprehend it. That means that I am always teaching my students literacy in Spanish and I never

thought of it that way until being a part of the MATC program and taking the two literacy classes

that I mentioned above. I had to do research on how to make learning literacy fun within my

discipline and redesign unit plans using that research. I enjoy teaching Spanish 2 more than

Spanish 1. This is because the students are learning more in depth literacy concepts and it is

chose to focus on revamping two different and important units in Spanish 2 for both of my final

projects for TE 843 and 846. In my final project for TE 843 (Artifact 5), I focused on teaching

my students the preterite tense or the past tense in a way where my students would have more

freedom to use technology. They would be assessed with a final project using Facebook and

showing their writing and speaking skills in the preterite tense with a presentation. In my final

project for TE 846 (Artifact 6), I focused on teaching my students the present progressive or

gerund tense. I chose to have my students use concepts that I learned in class like Sketchnotes,

Inquiry, and Classroom talk. My students were much more engaged when learning and

participating in these units because of what I learned in my MATC courses. If I would have not

taken these classes, then I would have never taken the opportunity to create unit plans like the

ones that I did in both TE 843 and 846 and I’m thankful for both of them.

Everyone’s Included! Incorporating Diversity in the Classroom

My final class in the MATC program was TE 825, which is a course on diversity. I

honestly thought that I was well aware of diversity and how to incorporate it within my class, but

after taking this class, I realized I was wrong. I’m proud of myself that I can admit that I was

wrong, because that means that I learned quite a bit more than expected in this class. Diversity

includes many concepts that I see on a daily basis within my classroom, including race, gender,

sexuality, ability, nationality, language, culture, religion, education, economic status, etcetera. I

learned a variety of different ways to include all of my students and treat everyone fairly and

equally. Not all of my students are considered equal in the eyes of society, but as a teacher, I

need to see them as such. All teachers should have to take a class on diversity so they are made

aware of the ideas that I learned about in TE 825. For my final paper in TE 825 I had to write a

letter to my principal about what diversity means to me and also how to approach it within our

classrooms and school. (Artifact 7). I have gained a lot more confidence to talk to my colleagues

about issues that are important to me and diversity is one of those issues. I am proud to say that

at professional development, I stood up and said to my colleagues that I would be happy to be in

charge of leading a professional development session on diversity and how we can better

approach it in our school. I would have never done that in the past and I have the MATC

program classes for my confidence in becoming a teacher leader.

In conclusion, the MATC program at Michigan State has truly changed me as an educator

and I’ll be forever grateful to all of my teachers and peers that have shaped me on this journey.

Teaching is a career where I will always be growing in my practices and gaining more insight on

how to be the best teacher I can be to my students. I learned that I am not the only one that faces

problems and even teachers that have been instructing for many years still have similar

problems. I have learned from my wise instructors and fellow peers in my MATC courses that

we are going to have bad days and want to quit teaching, but we have each other to look to and

we, as teachers have each others backs, no matter what. Like a flower, I am going to wilt, but I

am only going to grow from wilting and I will continue to grow until I have a plentiful garden in

my classroom.