Standard #9: Professional Learning and Ethical Practice
Any professional in any given discipline will tell you that two of the most important aspects of their career are a thirst for knowledge and the ability to network. Knowledge is gained in a variety of ways, but for teachers it's most beneficial when that knowledge is attained through teaching and self reflection or feedback from an outside source. Reflecting on one's work, such as a video of a lesson plan, helps the teacher learn how to relay information in different ways or notice aspects of their lesson that may not have considered or realized previously. This also helps the students learn information more efficiently because the teacher himself is more aware of what they are doing and how they are communicating. Reflecting on other's work is also valuable. Evaluating a fellow teacher, or taking notes on a masterclass or a clinic at a professional development event, helps one become more aware of their own teaching habits or inspires them to try new ideas in the classroom.
Networking and professional development is equally as important as reflection. Getting involved in professional organizations, school boards, or the community helps a teacher build his reputation and make connections with fellow teachers. Getting to know the parents in a community or being involved in local events is also great for recruiting students, as well as familiarizing oneself with the interests and needs of the students and parents of that community.
My experience at BSU thus far has vastly improved my ability to reflect and evaluate my own performance. Many of my music education courses require video logs or recordings of my field teachings. In fact, my MUSE 350 course requires the class to keep a journal of our experiences and collaborate with our peers in a facebook group. Being able to bounce ideas around with my peers helps me consider new possibilities in teaching and makes me more aware of my own performance. It's important to build connections with my peers as well as current teachers because these are my future colleagues, coworkers, and in some cases employers. Networking not only opens me up to new job opportunities, but innovative ideas as well.
An educator must constantly evaluate himself and his choices and keep an open mind while doing so. Self-assessment through video and audio recordings of performances, conducting or teaching in rehearsals, and personal practice time can be key in this regard. It is also essential that a teacher allow criticism from colleagues and other professionals in the community, parents, and students to help refine his demeanor both in and out of the classroom.
I constantly analyze my actions and the results that may follow. Self-assessment is an important part of both my professional and personal life, and I welcome criticism with open arms. I often consider how my actions may affect those around me before myself, which sometimes can be detrimental and requires reevaluating. Despite this, I feel that I can present myself quite professionally, and I will continue to develop in this principle as the years go on.
Ball State University vigilantly reminds and expects its students to hold themselves to a standard of excellence and professionalism. The music education courses I have been exposed to so far have all required self-evaluation and reflection, as well as many of my other music and core classes. Coupled with insight from my colleagues and personal assessment, I am confident that my university will prepare me for the professional world.