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Saturday, December 19, 2015

Teaching at the University: End of Semester Reflections

The university semester is over. This was the first time in many years that I had taught at that level. The first time I taught teacher candidates was well before this era of greater standards, accountability, and data. So this time teaching was much different.

Overall the opportunity to teach a diverse group of invested, thoughtful teacher candidates resulted in terrific learning for me as well.

I started with the end product in mind. I wanted students to leave my course with a solid introduction to the resources, standards, content, and possibilities for teaching math to young children. I knew it was impossible to teach it all so I felt that if I gave them a good introduction they would know where to turn when researching lessons and troubleshooting learning/teaching challenges.

I also wanted the students to begin a steady habit of reflection and blended learning. Therefore every student created and reflected on their own professional blog and linked sites and lessons on their own professional math website. I hope they will continue to reflect either online or off and collect valuable resources on their professional website.

At the end of the course, I gave students a chance to reflect on the learning and the course in general. They had many good points and suggestions for the future.

If I were to teach the course again, I would provide more opportunity for targeted coaching throughout the semester. I realize how important that is, and where that was employed, students' work and learning were better.

Rather than organize the semester by various resources and topics, after a holistic introduction to how students learn and the content area, I would dive into each main learning topic and facilitate students' learning by utilizing learning progressions, related materials and resources, and lots of opportunities for students to develop, apply, and practice teaching both at the university level and in their practicum settings.

Fortunately, like the students, I saved the course materials and agenda online too. So when I return to teaching teacher candidates, I will use this summary, collected vignettes and suggestions from the students and leaders, and that website to guide the next phase of this focus of my professional learning and teaching.