Growth & Development
As an educator, I am constantly learning along with my students. As I teach, I am reflecting. As I reflect, I am growing.
This page is dedicated as a personal journal of my reflections upon the school year. This includes areas of improvement as well as strength. I do not wish to censor any information my students or their guardians, or fellow faculty and peers. I want to be held accountable. Most importantly, I want my students to recognize that their teachers are fallible. That we too are growing and joining them on their academic journey.
Table of Contents
2021 - 2022
Learning Goal for the Year
CSTP Before & After
Areas of Strength
Promoting critical thinking through inquiry, problem solving, and reflection
Establishing and maintaining learning environments that are physically, intellectually, and emotionally safe
Collecting and analyzing assessment data from a variety of sources to inform instruction
Reviewing data, both individually and with colleagues, to monitor student learning
"Mr. Martin's strengths as a teacher are the love and compassion he has for his students. He has the understanding that every student has different needs and necessities and he goes out of his way to support them" - Mrs. Gonzalez
Areas and Opportunities of Improvement
How I've Changed as an Educator
My first year of "in-person" teaching has provided me an invaluable year of experience. Having to navigate the classroom post COVID-19 has been a challenge, but not one without reward. As the year progressed, we saw the political atmosphere shift dramatically and even experienced a COVID outbreak post winter break.
This year I was able to fully recognize the extent that COVID-19 has had on our students. Virtually teaching, we hear about the anxiety and depression levels, but we do not visibly see it nor experience it first hand with our students due to the disconnect that is inherit with virtual learning. Now, being back in the classroom, I have witnessed first hand the psychological and mental toll that this pandemic has brought on our students. I have seen how my sophomores are still basically freshmen due to their lack of a societal atmosphere for a year of school. For at least a year, most students have been put into a position that is unfavorable. In a world where equity is not guaranteed, students face many obstacles when it comes to distance learning. Is distance learning better than nothing? Absolutely! Was it ideal for our kids? Not at all. Even my introverted students have expressed their negative opinions on virtual learning at this point. Typically, even those introverts missed being able to have a minor connection with their teachers that they lacked during virtual learning.
Because of the lack of societal growth, standards, equity, and accountability present within virtual learning, students have entered high school this year not knowing what the classroom and school norms are. They do not know the rules and procedures of a classroom because they have not been in a classroom for a year. They are used to being able to sit on their phone or laptop scrolling through social media or the internet while their teacher attempts to engage them from behind a screen. This acquired behavior was, and still is, incredibly difficult to combat within the classroom.
Students want to hang out and talk with their friends. Many opt for "I'll do my work at home", so they can socialize with their peers that they weren't allowed to be with due to the pandemic. Students have anxiety issues when you try to put their phones in a phone-caddy. They do not know how to interact with their teachers and other elders on campus. They do not know how to manage their time because now assignments are due by a certain period on a certain day versus just being due at midnight at the end of the week. Students also have grown accustomed to teachers accepting late work during virtual learning in an effort to just have the students do literally anything. Now when a teacher says they do not accept late work, the teacher is lambasted with students groans about how "unfair" the situation is.
You know what? The situation is unfair. It is unfair to all these children that they were denied a year of societal growth, cultural expectations, and education. They will be recovering for years to come just trying to catch up with what they have missed out on. They don't recognize they are behind, but they are. That's where we come in.
At the end of this very long-winded section, I can finally state what my growth has been this year. My growth has been to just "let go" and to meet students where they are at. Do I need to be a non-malleable force that doesn't budge on anything? Do I need to be a teacher who rules the classroom with an iron fist? No to both of these. I learned that to get my students where they needed to be, I needed to be where they needed me. I have found success in motivating my students by fostering interpersonal relationships with my students. I have grown introverted and shy students to outgoing students who want to participate and answer questions in class.
I only was able to accomplish this by taking a step back and saying, "its ok that the classroom isn't perfect right now". Life isn't perfect. COVID made sure to remind us of that. Through the year I found myself continually reminding myself to have empathy and meet my kiddos where they were at. Does this mean I dumbed down the content at all or didn't hold them accountable? Not at all! Instead, I had to re-evaluate my entire approach to lesson design. My focus this entire year has been how to make history lessons meaningful and fun.
This year my students got to experience historical simulations, socratic seminars, debates, tiktok video creations, poster creation, presentations, media analysis through non-traditional media, and more. Each lesson design and instruction was created with input from my fellow peers as well as my induction coach with the intention to reach as many multiple intelligences of students as well as meeting them where they were at post-COVID and virtual learning.
I believe that adapting to the students' needs and respecting their social-emotional levels is the best approach to impacting their life. Are students going to remember 100% of the content you teach them in that class? No, I know I didn't. But they will remember the way you made them feel and how you treated them as a human and not just an inferior in a hierarchical relationship of teacher-student?
What am I Most Proud of this Year?
What I am most proud of this year is the connections I have made with my students and the connections they have made with each other. Socializing and creating these bonds is just as important as education and doing well within their classes.