Introduction

After completing the School of Education Curriculum and Instruction Master’s Program, I have developed competency in the four major strands that exist in the Conceptual Framework: content expert, reflective practitioner, effective collaborator, and educational leader. Each of these four strands will have further elucidation on other pages of this portfolio, but this essay focuses on my knowledge, skills, and dispositions that support my development into a competent teacher.

Content Expert

Being a content expert not only entails possessing a deep working knowledge of physics and mathematics principles, but also a pedagogical knowledge relating to how students learn and develop their own framework within themselves about the disciplines. The School of Education further defines content expert as a teacher with a commitment to intellectualism and the ability to organize and transfer knowledge. I feel strongly that I possess all of these characteristics, and I will give reasons why I feel this way. For general content knowledge, I have taken almost every course offered to undergraduate students in the physics department and many mathematics courses. This continual experience of solving problems and applying conceptual knowledge in physics laboratories has given me many experiences from which to cull resources, which will help when teaching students. I have also tutored students in physics over the past five years, and this has given me a feel for the misconceptions and mistakes that novice physics students routinely make. These experiences will help me apply the pedagogical content knowledge that is necessary to move students forward in their thinking, and this is accomplished through presenting the material in a robust, organized manner that is accessible for all students. Finally, I cherish the ability to grapple with problems until a solution is found, even if this is difficult. Not thinking is not an option, because thinking well is a very important skill to have; therefore teaching students to think metacognitively about problems is an important goal with major implications for the student’s life.

Reflective Practitioner

Thinking metacognitively is a major aspect of a reflective practitioner, and this is something that I practice regularly and enjoy. The School of Education defines reflective practitioner as a teacher who articulates his or her ideas, experiments with the ideas of others, and makes connections to the world in which he or she lives. For reflective practitioners, teaching is a cognitive process. I try to live this ideal by writing notes each day about how the day went, along with thoughts concerning positive or negative aspects of lessons and ways to improve them in the future. I also think about how the content may be differentiated between various school populations, and what connections may be made from the previous day’s activities and the next day’s activities. As for experimenting with ideas of others, I very much enjoy reading education journals or magazines to find tips for all aspects of teaching. The magazine produced by the National Science Teachers Association has been a valuable resource, and will continue to be throughout my career.

Effective Collaborator

Another aspect of teaching that has been impressed upon me is that teaching is no longer a highly individualistic enterprise; rather effective collaboration between parents, administrators, and other teachers helps students achieve at a high level. The School of Education defines an effective collaborator as a teacher who effectively engages in interactive processes of learning that involve reciprocity, which in everyday terms means that I must work well with other professionals to help students. For some content areas, collaboration among teachers may be an easier task because of a shared curriculum and proximity of classrooms. For physics, this is not usually the case, because it is rare for a school to have more than one physics teacher. Therefore, it is imperative that I am creative in my collaboration, using all the resources I have acquired during my time in the Master’s program and other school resources. I am confident that I will utilize all my resources to help students, and continue being an effective collaborator.

Educational Leadership

The final strand that the School of Education develops when training teachers is educational leadership, and the School defines educational leader as a teacher who provides leadership beyond the classroom and school, serves as a mentor, and engages in educational research. This is an aspect of teaching that I am excited about being more involved with, because it is an area that I find fascinating. I am very much looking forward to helping create or modify curriculum guides and frameworks, and potentially becoming a presenter of ways of teaching physics that are robust. I also will coach, and the respect that comes with those positions I will marry with academics, showing the community that a school may be serious about both athletics and academics and excel at both. Eventually, I will also perform educational research, either for work on a doctorate or to publish in educational research journals.

Conclusion

The four strands set forth by the School of Education provide a solid basis on which to begin my teaching career. By mastering each strand, I am prepared for teaching and build on the knowledge I have gained through learning in this program to become a master teacher. Bring on the students!