As part of our science department PLCs (professional learning community), teachers at Hillcrest High School were asked to share best practices to the group. Last Monday was the first presentation and I was asked to present first to the group.
As I reflect upon that experience, I was initially incredibly nervous to stand before a group of veteran teachers and school administrators. As a pre-service teacher in a residency program – “what could I possibly share to this group of experienced educators that would be of any value I thought.” I was quickly reassured however by my mentor teacher – and quickly realized that my voice was one that was valued and my perspective as a developing teacher was one that others were interested in hearing. This feeling of acceptance by my colleagues at the school says a lot about the positive school culture. It also says a lot about how my mentor teacher has proactively integrated me into all aspects of the campus environment – which has really made my experience as a teaching resident rich.
My presentation was aligned with the focus areas for the campus – Cognitive Demand and Small Group Instruction. The presentation was also largely a reflection of one of my first full classroom observations where I had the opportunity to assume complete control of the classroom. I spoke to the group about how during the lesson I used a technique that my cohort had been taught and exposed to several times throughout the early parts of the residency. Upon reflection, I am now seeing the powerful use of parallel pedagogy that my professors practice in our graduate courses. In this context, I was able to replicate one of those techniques with the students in my class. I was initially hesitant to ‘try’ this activity because I didn’t think the students would connect or effectively engage. My reluctance changed however when I remembered the importance of setting and holding my students to high expectations – and how that mindset and belief would directly translate into their ability to be successful. And guess what … the activity was a success!
For all of my nerves entering the presentation, my presentation in PLC went well. From the questions I received following the presentation from teachers, it was also clear the activity I used during my lesson was well-received. I also received terrific feedback that challenged me to think of ways in which I could refine the activity for the next time I used it with students. I even had some teachers interested in implementing a similar activity in their classrooms.
Having the opportunity to present to my peers, while also having the opportunity to receive constructive feedback is both intimidating and rewarding. It is also one of the aspects of teaching that I value most. I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to spend my residency year in a school, and with a mentor teacher who allows me to challenge myself, take risks, and learn from others. I look forward to seeing other teachers present and to learning more about what the teaching and learning looks like in their classrooms.