My Journey as a Teacher

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In 1992, as a first year teacher, the principal gave me the classroom key, the teacher’s editions of texts, and asked that I teach 9th, 10th, and 12th grade English. I was alone with texts and no one to help or lead me. I reflected on my student teaching experience and missed the guidance and collaboration provided by my supervising teacher. A few weeks after school started, two new English teachers arrived; we became our own learning community, before the word was en vogue. We worked to establish standards and assessments to monitor student progress. We worked with teachers in the core subjects to create a cross-curricular culture that allowed us to identify and track the transferability of skills. We became school leaders, encouraging teachers to share their resources, to provide constructive peer evaluations, and to use data from formative and summative assessments to evaluate the curricular needs of the students. When reviewing what I have done to strengthen and improve the profession, I know that the role of mentor pushed me forward allowing me to be of service, and an example, to my peers.

As I desired to be of better use in the learning environment, I sought mentor certification. I had been an unofficial mentor for five years in the state of North Carolina, and became a Florida State Certified Mentor in 2000. With this certification, I gained insight into the evaluation and accountability of teachers. With this certification, I gained insight into the evaluation of teachers and was able to move from utilizing anecdotal evidence to providing feedback on best practices used in the classroom. When working with my mentees, I combined the state-approved evaluation tool with a system requiring novice teachers to reflect and...

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...across the hall asked for instructional strategies for vocabulary development. A permanent substitute from another high school came to Columbia High seeking me out on student recommendations for instructional strategies to deal with reluctant readers. While I know that my knowledge, desire, and dedication improve and strengthen the profession, my additional role as a SAFE-T evaluator allows me to revisit teacher accountability. It allows me to review whether the student and parent survey, self-reflection, and an objective instrument are still viable determinations of professional efficacy. There is no right or wrong answer. However, the combination of those three attributes allowed a teacher who was working in isolation to hold himself accountable and to work with his colleagues so they might all be able to strengthen and improve the profession of the teaching.
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