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.