Professional Dispositions

Professional dispositions are defined as the values, commitments, and professional ethics that influence behaviors towards students, families, colleagues, and communities and effect student learning, motivation, and development as well as the educators own professional growth. Dispositions are guided by beliefs and attitudes related values such as caring, fairness, honesty, responsibility, and social justice, For example they might include a belief that all students can learn, a vision of high and challenging standards, or a commitment to a safe and supportive learning environment (NCATE, 2002).

Research shows that attributes of the classroom teacher significantly affect how well students learn. Recently it has become clear that the quality of the education of our children receive depends directly upon the quality of the education of the teachers in our schools. Parents, teachers, educators, and researchers agree that effective teaching happens when the teachers thoroughly know their subjects, have significant teaching skills and possess dispositions that foster growth and learning in students (USCA). Teaching involves more than effective planning, instructional knowledge, and teaching, skills.

Professional dispositions also play a big part in the scenario. Teacher education programs bear a responsibility to convey, model, and promote positive standards of professional conduct. They also should maintain screening assessment procedures to assure that teacher candidates with negative dispositions are not permitted to continue in teacher education programs (NCATE 2006). At the beginning of my clinical experience I choose specific professional dispositions that would be reflected upon during my first four weeks in the classroom. Those dispositions included: 1. Believes that students learn in many different ways . Reacts positively to suggestions and opportunities for growth 3. Socially articulate 4. Attendance/punctuality 5. Equity/Diversity 6. Maintains a nurturing, well managed learning environment 7. Maintains student and professional confidentiality 8. Communicates effectively and clearly with students, parents 9. Reflective and effective student engagement 10. Utilizes standards and curriculum guides to create learning goals Since I have been a Para educator working with special education students for the past three years, many of my chosen dispositions were already in place.

Now that I am in my second eight weeks of student teaching I still hold true to the dispositions that I choose in the beginning. The only disposition that I had no knowledge of was number 9-Utilizes standards and curriculum guides to create learning goals. This disposition is one that I learned once I was placed in the classroom with my co-op teacher. There was a variety of exceptionalities in my special education classroom and along with those exceptionalities came different learning skills. Those exceptionalities encompass the disposition that students learn in many different ways.

This also hold true in the general classroom. There are visual learners as well as kinesthetic learners. This is why teachers must engage their students in many different ways. In my lessons I use a variety of learning techniques such as journals for those students who like to express themselves through writing, and cooperative learning exercises such as concept mapping. Concept mapping helps students connect terms in the material with the theme in that part of the lesson. Videos are also shown to launch a lesson. This helps the students visualize what will be happening in the lesson.

Videos are also helpful to ESL students. Pictures help ESL students connect with the lesson. Student teachers should not take constructive criticism in a negative way. Student teachers should always react positively to suggestions and opportunities for growth. My cooperative teacher’s way of acting with me as a student teacher is the same way that she deals with her students. She takes a very active role in guiding me through the whole teaching experience. One thing that she does is make her own materials used in the classroom unavailable to me.

This forces me to use my own materials and come up with my own activities for my lessons. I enjoy putting my own lessons together and coming up with my own activities for the students. She also models a very assertive discipline plan which I do feel is my weakest asset. She also gives me a lot of guidance in design and planning of lessons. For example, she told me to effectively teach fifth grade students I should always chunk the material into sections. By breaking the lesson into pieces students will have an easier time remembering the material being taught. By helping me throughout y teaching experience I have learned to react positively to her suggestions. Student teachers should always be socially articulate when speaking with their co-op teachers, administrations, parents and of course their students. Teachers should be role models for their students and language should be the top of the list of teacher priorities. This disposition is very important to me. I took public speaking as a class in college and I feel that interpersonal skills are important. There is a precise way of speaking and making sure that prefixes and suffixes are clearly pronounced and articulated.

Starting on the first day of student teaching I have always been punctual and my attendance has been pristine. I believe that teachers should always be on time. Whether it is for staff meeting or to start the day in their own classroom, students should never walk into a classroom in the morning without the supervision of a teacher. The teacher should always be standing in the doorway ready to greet his or her students to the start of a new day. Teachers should also treat all students fair and should not show partiality to any student in his or her classroom.

As the student population in most American classrooms becomes increasingly diverse, teachers should develop a curriculum that meets the needs of all students. Teachers should prepare meaningful engaging lessons for all students regardless of their ethnic or religious background. Maintaining a nurturing, well managed learning environment is crucial to effective classroom management. At the beginning of the school year teachers must establish expectations for student behavior. These expectations should be clearly written in the classroom and should be visible for all students to see.

The fifth grade classroom where I am doing my student teaching has a few students that like to challenge the authority of the teacher when it comes to giving an assignment. My co-op teacher has taught me to let the student know that we have thought about the issue, and they will also understand soon why the assignment is valuable to their learning. Teachers also have a responsibility to maintain student confidentiality. This could be as simple as not sharing grades with other students and also not displaying student’s grades.

Teachers also should not share information about students with parents through email or by leaving messages on an answering machine. When kids come from divided families, one parent may not have the right to see or hear any information about the child. As a Para-educator I have come across parents in the grocery store who ask me specific questions about their child. I must politely tell them that they must ask their child’s teacher about such information. Teachers should always communicate effectively with students. Teachers should make eye contact when a student is speaking.

This tells the student that you are really listening to what they have to say. In the fifth grade classroom I hear student speak a lot of slang. I do not converse with them in this language but I do let them speak as long as their language is appropriate. Teachers should also let their students speak. If a student is trying to tell you something, give him or her opportunity to finish the sentence before jumping in. It is very impolite to interrupt. Some students will ask me if they can speak to me in the hall. If a student is confiding in me I will listen and will not judge them.

When planning lessons for the classroom I make sure that my lesson always has an activity. Student engagement is very important for learning. Students in my fifth grade classroom are always actively engaged in lessons through reading, working on interactive whiteboards or doing some type of research in the computer lab. Teachers may prepare flipcharts from Promethean Planet in many different subjects including spelling, language arts and reading vocabulary. Students also interact with each other through collaboration in study groups. Students who are engaged during the lesson have less of a chance for negative behavior.

Finally before planning lessons I always check the grade level expectations for that particular lesson. Following grade level expectations is imperative to student learning and success, and what all students should know or be able to do by the end of each grade. Students should be able to achieve these expectations if teachers are fully prepared and committed to following the lesson. Teachers play many roles in the classroom from facilitating education to being a positive role model. I want to be the teacher that my students remember. I want to change lives.

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