Standard #9: Professional Learning and Ethical Practice
The teacher engages in ongoing professional learning and uses evidence to continually evaluate his/her practice, particularly the effects of his/her choices and actions on others (learners, families, other professionals, and the community), and adapts practice to meet the needs of each learner.
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 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. One way to do this is by watching a recording of a lesson, and then writing a reflection based on what was effective or ineffective or discussing it with a colleague and getting feedback. 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.
Throughout my practicum at Jefferson Middle School I was also required to attend staff and department meetings. During these meetings, teachers would share good news such as their child winning an award or ask for assistance in planning an office staff party, to asking for thoughts and prayers for sick loved ones. I felt that these praises and supports were extremely important to help unify the staff. These meetings also consisted of various teaching workshops to help teachers come up with new strategies, discuss state standards and district protocol, and share what’s worked well in their classrooms. I would often try to participate or even lead discussions when appropriate, especially during department meetings. Being able to collaborate with my colleagues in the school helped me acclimate to the community quickly, and I tried to incorporate many of the ideas and strategies discussed in meetings into my own teaching. Specifically, you can see some of these elements in my instructional strategies, assessment tools, and secondary standards used in my LAMP project. Being able to bounce ideas around with my colleagues helps me consider new possibilities in teaching and makes me more aware of my own performance. Networking not only opens me up to new job opportunities, but lasting friendships and innovative ideas as well.