Standard 7: Instructional Strategies

 
The teacher uses various instructional strategies to ensure that all learners develop a deep understanding of content areas and their connections, and build skills to apply and extend knowledge in meaningful ways.

 

One of the education classes I took at Westminster College was Literacy Foundations.  For

this course, I was assigned to a first grade class for my field placement.  I designed 

several Read Alouds for this class.  The most important literacy ­consideration I had for 

this class was that the majority of students were English Language Learners.  In 

consideration of this, I selected two books with meaningful content presented through 

fewer words.  Instead of choosing simplified content or low level books, I went with texts 

that have fewer words and meaningful visual supports.  I utilized the Developmentally 

Appropriate Practice model when creating my lesson plans for the students.  Working 

with this model helped me think through the best instructional practices.

Between Westminster College field experiences, student teaching, and teaching 

jobs, I have been in many different kinds of classrooms.  I have worked with students of 

all ages from toddler to adult.  I have been in public schools, charter schools and private 

schools.  This breadth of experience has taught me that the role of the instructor must be 

flexible and adapt to the students and learning environment.  When teaching adults, I 

quickly learned that I could not manage classes the same as I had with teenagers.  At 

Westminster, for Special Education, I worked on precision commands and direct 

instruction.  During Montessori training, I was immersed in a completely different system 

that allowed me to guide students as they constructed knowledge on their own.  I have 

also adapted to the cultural context of the classes I taught.  In Thailand, I learned to not 

point a finger at students, raise my voice, or step over student work.

I struggled with this initially during my student teaching placement.  Then, I created 

signs with "higher order thinking" questions on them to place on the wall at the back of 

the room to remind me to push for more information

For my student teaching placement in a resource class for  students with high-­incidence 

disabilities, I developed a  five paragraph essay topic to challenge students to further 

develop their thinking.  The essay topic asked students to identify three things that they are 

good at.  In the body of the essay, students had to provide a rationale for each of their 

choices.  Pushing students to answer the question “why” was difficult.  However, the 

essay provided a concrete focus to walk through the process of defending statements 

and providing concrete examples.  I also connected the topic to real world situations 

because in job interviews, interviewees are often asked to list their strengths and 

expand upon their statements.  

In my future classrooms, I will continue to develop student thinking.  I will push 

myself to continue asking questions that move students beyond one ­word answers and 

the most basic responses.  Additionally, I will focus on selecting content that is 

appropriate for students I am teaching.  Thoughtfully selected books are a powerful 

tool to support student learning.  I will continue to seek out titles to engage all students.