My Future Classroom Project

Author

Linda Townsend

Department of Education and Special Education

Longwood University

Citation

Townsend, L. (2016). My future classroom project. Longwood University.

Description​

The purpose of the “My Future Classroom Project” is for teacher candidates to begin to recognize and consider various factors involved in teaching and planning for their future classroom.   It serves as the beginnings of a professional portfolio; however, it is expected that it will change and evolve further as students continue to learn and expand their experience over the course of their teacher preparation program.  DQP proficiencies addressed through this assignment are Specialized Knowledge (Introductory), Communicative Fluency, and Use of Information Resources.

Background and context

EDUC 260, Introduction to the Teaching Profession, is an introductory course for secondary education teacher candidates.  Students are obtaining an overview of teaching and schooling that addresses the foundations of education and the professional aspects of teaching. All teacher candidates are required to take EDUC 260, and the majority of the students are freshmen and sophomores. Some undeclared students take the course as they are considering the field of education, and some declared students decide by the end of the course that teaching isn’t the field they want to go into after all.

The “My Future Classroom Project” is a common assignment for EDUC 260 classes; however, instructors are allowed to modify how the project is constructed, presented and assessed.  As students participate in course activities, small group and class discussions and continuous reflective assignments, students receive instructor and peer feedback building towards this final assignment.  In the teacher candidate’s field placement or during the student teaching, students submit a Teacher Work Sample. It is a reflective body of work on design for instruction, instructional decision making, assessment planning and additional teaching and professional elements all connected to their philosophical beliefs of education. Thus, EDUC 260 and its final project introduce students to what will be required within the field of study.

This assignment emphasizes the following course objectives and DQP proficiencies:

  • To recognize and consider the various factors that are involved in choosing a career in teaching, including professional preparation and development, employment opportunities, and the public image of teachers.
  • Demonstrate an appreciation of the importance of various forces and events that shape schools through various written assignments.
  • Demonstrate an appreciation of different learning styles and contributions of all cultural backgrounds in school settings.
  • Develop and write a personal philosophy of education that is grounded in an appreciation of the teaching profession and the multiple contexts that surround it.
  • Recognize the components of an effective lesson plan.
  • Organize and contribute to a professional teaching portfolio.
  • Specialized Knowledge (Introductory)
  • Defines and explains the structure, styles and practices of the field of study using its tools, technologies, methods and specialized terms.
  • Investigates a familiar but complex problem in the field of study by assembling, arranging and reformulating ideas, concepts, designs and techniques.
  • Constructs a summative project, paper, performance or application that draws on current research, scholarship and techniques in the field of study.
  • Communicative Fluency
  • Constructs sustained, coherent arguments, narratives or explications of issues, problems or technical issues and processes, in writing and at least one other medium, to general and specific audiences.
  • Use of Information Resources
  • Generates information through independent or collaborative inquiry and uses that information in a project, paper or performance.
  • Locates, evaluates, incorporates and properly cites multiple information resources in different media or different languages in projects, papers or performances.

Alignment and scaffolding

This assignment is the final project turned in at the end of the course.  Course readings, in-class activities and assignments throughout the semester align to all elements of the final project.  At the beginning of the semester, students submit a Favorite Teacher Video in which they describe and provide explicit examples of what makes this person a special teacher. Students have opportunities to receive feedback from the instructor on their earlier philosophy of teaching papers and visual representations of their classroom management/environment as well as on small group practice with lesson development; they also receive feedback from their peers on their individual lesson plan drafts.  Throughout the course, the instructor models instructional best practices and points out how these methods are based on research.  A more detailed account of scaffolding for this assignment is attached.

Reflections

My first time in teaching this course, I only modified the assignment instructions and the grading rubric slightly from what was used by several other instructors.  Upon reading and grading the assignment submissions in fall 2015, I recognized that a redesign of the rubric to include performance levels was needed. This would decrease the subjectivity in determining earned points for each criterion. Before doing this, the assignment itself needed to be reexamined and improved. From the previously submitted projects, it appeared that student philosophies, lesson plans and classroom descriptions were based primarily from students’ past K-12 experiences, which may or may not be considered as “best practice” in teaching and learning. This is a 2 credit introductory course providing a broad overview of the foundations of education and aspects of teaching so starting with their own experiences is of course important. Even though students are in the beginning of their major coursework, I would like to see student exploration of what “my future classroom” could be beyond what they have experienced themselves. It is desired to increase their knowledge of research-based, best practices in teaching and learning and how they connect to philosophies of teaching. The class instructional activities and reflective assignments throughout the course could then be designed to build towards this improved final assignment.

Using the input received from the February 2016 NILOA Assignment Design Charrette, I modified the assignment instructions and the rubric. After using the modified rubric for grading the fall 2016 projects, I have identified and modified several rubric criteria further.  The included rubric is the most recent version.

Students do extremely well on the educational autobiography section of this project, which is most likely due to their personal connection and experiences leading to their decision to teach.  They also address the interactions with parents, teachers and community well but tend to emphasize and include more explicit examples for parent interactions.  Additional class discussion and identification of multiple teacher and community interaction examples could be beneficial.

Having several philosophy assignments with feedback earlier in the course seemed to help some students with their philosophy statements; however, there is still room for improvement.  I do have questions for teacher preparation program coordinators on what should be the level of expectation for students’ philosophical understandings at this early stage of the program.

In describing plans for classroom environment and classroom management, many students combined these areas by focusing on positive environments connected to preventive planning for behavior and discipline, leaving out the organization and physical planning aspects. These criteria have been revised in the rubric as well as the best practices criteria. The small number of students who identified best practice evidence primarily included observations from past experience.  For the future, it could be beneficial to have the class collaboratively create a resource list of best practice strategies from sources and past experience for classroom environment and management planning.

For the lesson plan submitted as part of the project, students’ plans were improved from last year.  The in-class activity in which they worked in pairs to develop a lesson plan and the opportunity for peer feedback on an individual lesson plan draft might be attributed to this improvement; however, there were also more sophomore and junior level students in the course who may have had prior experience in lesson plan development.  One weak area was the identification of research-based instructional practices in the lesson plan. Adding a separate section to the lesson plan template for students to have to complete as well as providing several model lesson plans could be beneficial.

What else could be planned in the future? 1) project-based learning (PBL) approach, and 2) e-portfolio platform submission.


Please select an option

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Rubric(s)
  1. NILOA_Rubrics - Townsend.pdf
  2. Townsend - Scaffolding Learning for Final Project.pdf