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Artists of Our Profession


Standard XIV. Self-Reflection

“Accomplished Early Adolescence/English Language Arts teachers constantly analyze and strengthen the effectiveness and quality of their teaching.” (EA/ELA pg 61)

With apologies to Letterman, this and possibly the next two entries will take the form of top ten lists, as I cull key phrases and ideas from the standard under study (unless this format becomes excruciatingly boring or I change my mind). I do this also on the advice of a reader who posted a comment some time ago that she found it invaluable to sprinkle her portfolio with bold-faced buzz words in order to show that she was meeting standards unequivocally. Without further ado, including any reference whatsoever to pachiderms... the (1st) list.

10. Teaching is an evolving field, and every day we face fluid situations. Practitioners must always be adapting. We are lifelong learners.
9. We use many resources in this process, especially feedback from students, parents and other educators. One way we teach kids is by modeling how to learn.
8. We are familiar with state and local standards governing what we ought to teach, and stay abreast of current publications and issues in the field.
7. We participate in an ongoing basis in “professional development” of various kinds, be it workshops, research, or study groups.
6. We cultivate a habit of introspection that makes us continually improve. When faced with problems, we draw on our experience, our knowledge of educational theory and the most current research available.
5. We know our own strengths and weaknesses, and are open to change.
4. We are aware of our filters-- biases, predilections, and experiences that make us see the world the way we do. We know when these filters help us and when they might prevent us from seeing clearly.
3. We get the vision thing. It allows us to know where we want to see our students, ourselves and our profession, and provides a basis for us to look at and critique issues that are important in education.
2. We can talk about why we do what we do in the classroom with reference to both theory and experience.

And the number one thing that characterizes teachers’ practice of self-reflection?

1. We know we’re on a journey, not just to knowledge but to a zen-like state of readiness and training where we can think on our feet and seize teachable moments to make them our own. At our best, we are (and I quote directly from the standard here with my best goofy grin) “artists of [our] profession.”

Beat, hurl card off camera to the sound effect of breaking glass. Paul and the band play me out with a peppy version of "Fly Me to the Moon"....


Thanks for the humor.I'm in a credentialing program in Los Angeles. I'm finishing my 2nd year, and drowning in the same kind of stuff you're describing. I've actually been taking the stuff serously, and it's destroying any chance of me being able to treat my students as human beings, because I have unrealistic expectations of them and me. Is this what all new teachers go through? My 2nd year video showed me looking like a deer in a headlight and the kids confused and anxous.

I've been thinking quite a bit about your latest comments in light of that newest report showingpresence of a National Board Certified teacher in the classroom makes little difference in students achievement. I have also had recent conversation with one of my building "mentees' who is also going through the process and wondering about the "buzzword cum lipservice" factor.Does the NBCT process really make us better teachers? My answer is an equivocal "yes" -what I gained from this experience is with me every day in my collaborative endeavors with staff, myinteractions with students and in the formal and informal reflective processes I take myself through at the end of every lesson.Does it make me "better" than any other non-NBCT teacher-of course not. But there is so much more in the way of awareness that I bring to the table when discussing best practices, curriculum mapping, professional learning communities-along with a greater sense of confidence.

So all this reflecting is actually helpful. What is the operant part, and what is the time wasting part? Administrators and University professors who aren't in a classroom don't have the time limitations or emotional strain that comes from teaching in a classroom. Perhaps we need to trim the fat off the system that is being used so that we can improve our skills without burning out.

Regarding the study - using Charlotte teachers a s a baseline is patently absurd in studying NC teachers, as the state is not reflected in the make up of its largest and most urban system (I say this as a recent escapee from the Charlotte system and a NBCT)

Emmet - I can't emphasize strongly enough that ANYONE who falls prey to a standardized approach to certification is doing him/herself, the students and the profession a grave disservice. I agree with Amansfield that NBCTs are not better simply because they are certified, but the process does make you better than you were before. It is an opportunity for you to reflect on and explain YOUR approach to our profession to others who share your passion for the craft. Certification is simply recognition of great teaching in all its forms, not some standardized hoop to jump through. If it ever comes to that, I'll ask to be removed from the lists - educators don't need more standardized lockstep approaches to teaching, we need more independence and vision.

Seriously, Emmett, I love your blog.

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Recent Comments

  • Rose: Seriously, Emmett, I love your blog. read more
  • Brett: Regarding the study - using Charlotte teachers a s a read more
  • Dvora: So all this reflecting is actually helpful. What is the read more
  • Amansfield: I've been thinking quite a bit about your latest comments read more
  • Dvora: Thanks for the humor.I'm in a credentialing program in Los read more




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