Tuesday, October 25, 2016


About Whitney

My husband and I moved to Seattle almost 8 years ago when he was accepted into grad school at Seattle University. Soon after he graduated, we found out we were pregnant with our first and moved to Redmond, where we still live today. We first met at school in southern Utah, transferred to University of Memphis, where we graduated and then he started applying for grad school. I've moved around my whole life as a daughter to a parent in the Air Force but claim to be from Montana, where I graduated high school and most of my family still lives. I have three kids, two girls and a little boy, who we welcomed to the family just a couple short weeks ago.

Interest and Experience in Education

Teaching has always been something in the back of my mind, something I've always thought I could do well and really enjoy. It wasn't until after I had my first daughter that I really started thinking about what I wanted to do when my kids were more independent and in school full time. My degree was in communication and graphic design and I wasn't sure I wanted to make a career out of either. I also wasn't sure if completely changing my career path and going back to school was an option. After doing some research and having the support of my husband behind me, I started applying for teaching programs and grad school. Later, as a youth leader for teenage girls, I was once again reassured about my decision to go pursue a career in teaching. I love working with high school students so I hope to teach at the secondary level with an endorsement in English Language Arts. As I mentioned earlier, I had the opportunity to work with girls ranging in ages 12-18 for about a year and a half. We had weekly activities I had to plan as well as Sunday lessons and sometimes weekend retreats. There were also several weekly meetings I had to attend with other youth leaders and clergy from my church. I loved working with these girls, even on the bad days. I was grateful for the chance to get to know them and be someone they could come to and confide in. I hope to be able to make similar connections with the students I teach.

Characteristics of an Effective Educator

When I think about the qualities of an effective educator, I think back to the teachers and professors I've had the privilege of learning from as well as the few things I've learned in just the last couple weeks in the MAT program. First, an effective leader should be very knowledgeable in the field they are teaching, which is pretty obvious. They should have the proper education and certification to not only teach but connect and make the material relevant to the students they are teaching. I also believe there's more to an effective educator than being knowledgeable in the subject they're teaching. I think back to some of the teachers I had that I really enjoyed and still remember specific lessons and assignments. I also think of other teachers where it was quite the opposite and I struggled in their class as we read from textbooks and lectured the whole time. The successful teacher/professors were personable, approachable, gave the class questions to help us think and come up with our own answers not just what may have been written in the text. As an individual, they had me thinking for myself, even if my thoughts or answers differed from theirs or others in the class. Lastly, they had a passion that, without even knowing it, rubbed off on me and gave me the desire to learn and go to class. I didn't just show up and become another number on their roll, I was present and participated. I feel like that makes for an effective educator, someone that can get their students excited for class, someone who can get their students to participate and really think for themselves all while teaching them and giving them the tools and knowledge they need to succeed.

Program Standards and Elements of a Model Entry

Program Standards

Expected outcomes are expressed as program standards, which are aligned with State-designated teacher preparation approval criteria shown in WAC 181-78A-270. Program standards include criteria (e.g. 1.), elements (e.g. 1.1), and examples. Any level of the program standard is appropriate for reflection, feedback, or evaluation.

1. ExpectationsThe teacher communicates high expectations for student learning.
1.1 Demonstrating Knowledge of Content and Pedagogy
E.g. Teacher recognizes the value of understanding students’ interests and cultural heritage and displays this knowledge for groups of students.
1.2 Communicating with Students
Teacher’s explanation of content is appropriate and connects with students’ knowledge and experience.
1.3 Engaging Students in Learning
The lesson has a clearly defined structure around which the activities are organized. Pacing of the lesson is generally appropriate.

2. Instruction – The teacher uses research-based instructional practices to meet the needs of all students.
2.1 Using Questioning and Discussion Techniques
Most of the teacher’s questions are of high quality. Adequate time is provided for students to respond.
2.2 Engaging Students in Learning
Most activities and assignments are appropriate to students, and almost all students are cognitively engaged in exploring content.
2.3 Reflecting on Teaching
Teacher makes an accurate assessment of a lesson’s effectiveness and the extent to which it achieved its instructional outcomes and can cite general references to support the judgment.

3. Differentiation – The teacher acquires and uses specific knowledge about students’ cultural, individual intellectual and social development and uses that knowledge to adjust their practice by employing strategies that advance student learning.
3.1 Demonstrating Knowledge of Students
Teacher recognizes the value of understanding students’ skills, knowledge, and language proficiency and displays this knowledge for groups of – students.
3.2 Demonstrating Flexibility and Responsiveness in Lesson Adjustments
Teacher makes a minor adjustment to a lesson, and the adjustment occurs smoothly.
3.3 Demonstrating Flexibility and Responsiveness in Persisting to Support Students
Teacher persists in seeking approaches for students who have difficulty learning, drawing on a broad repertoire of strategies.

4. Content Knowledge – The teacher uses content area knowledge, learning standards, appropriate pedagogy and resources to design and deliver curricula and instruction to impact student learning.
4.1 Demonstrating Knowledge of Content and Pedagogy
Teacher’s plans and practice reflect familiarity with a wide range of effective pedagogical approaches in the discipline.
4.2 Setting Instructional Outcomes
All the instructional outcomes are clear, written in the form of student learning. Most suggest viable methods of assessment.
4.3 Designing Coherent Instruction in the area of Learning Activities
All of the learning activities are suitable to students or to the instructional outcomes, and most represent significant cognitive challenge, with some differentiation for different groups of students.
4.4 Designing Coherent Instruction in the area of Lesson and Unit Structure
The lesson or unit has a clearly defined structure around which activities are organized. Progression of activities is even, with reasonable time allocations.

5. Learning Environment – The teacher fosters and manages a safe and inclusive learning environment that takes into account: physical, emotional and intellectual well-being.
5.1 Creating an Environment of Respect and Rapport
Teacher-student interactions are friendly and demonstrate general caring and respect. Such interactions are appropriate to the age and cultures of the students. Students exhibit respect for the teacher.
5.2 Managing Classroom Procedures through Transitions
Transitions occur smoothly, with little loss of instructional time.
5.3 Managing Classroom Procedures through Performance of Noninstructional Duties
Efficient systems for performing noninstructional duties are in place, resulting in minimal loss of instructional time.
5.4 Managing Student Behavior by Establishing Expectations
Standards of conduct are clear to all students.
5.5 Managing Student Behavior by Monitoring
Teacher is alert to student behavior at all times.

6. Assessment – The teacher uses multiple data elements (both formative and summative) to plan, inform and adjust instruction and evaluate student learning.
6.1 Designing Student Assessments around Criteria and Standards
Assessment criteria and standards are clear.
6.2 Designing Student Assessments with an Emphasis on Formative Assessment
Teacher has a well-developed strategy to using formative assessment and has designed particular approaches to be used.
6.3 Designing Student Assessments to Inform Planning
Teacher plans to use assessment results to plan for future instruction for groups of students.
6.4 Using Assessment to Provide Feedback to Students
Teacher’s feedback to students is timely and of consistently high quality.

7. Families and Community – The teacher communicates and collaborates with students, families and all educational stakeholders in an ethical and professional manner to promote student learning.
7.1 Communicating with Families
Teacher communicates with families about students’ progress on a regular basis, respecting cultural norms, and is available as needed to respond to family concerns.

8. Professional Practice – The teacher participates collaboratively in the educational community to improve instruction, advance the knowledge and practice of teaching as a profession, and ultimately impact student learning.
8.1 Participating in a Professional Community
Relationships with colleagues are characterized by mutual support and cooperation.
8.2 Growing and Developing Professionally
Teacher welcomes feedback from colleagues when made by supervisors or when opportunities arise through professional collaboration.

Elements of a Model Entry

There are different formats for writing portfolio entries. However, responding to writing prompts 1-6 helps to address desired performance on professional knowledge and skills, along with identifying steps for having a greater impact on K-12 student learning.
1. Citation of the program standard (either criteria, element, or example) along with an interpretation of what the standard means.

2. Presentation of evidence with description. The description includes context and related research or theory associated with the creation of the evidence.

3. Justification of how the evidence demonstrates competence, or emerging competence, on the program standard.

4. Summary of what was learned as a result of creating the evidence or having the experience.

5. Comment on the implications for student learning.

6. Propose specific changes or next steps to increase effectiveness in the area under examination.