The Final Reflection

Waldorf College seeks to be an engaging community of learning and faith where relationships are formed and opportunities for learning and service abound. Our mission is to educate the whole person emphasizing integrity and equipping students to succeed and to serve the communities where they live and work.

That is the Waldorf College mission statement, something that I have both carried with me and embodied throughout my four years here. When I first drove the six and a half hours to Forest City, Iowa, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The town was quiet, quaint, and nothing like my fast-paced suburban life. I knew it was going to be different, but I was ready for a change.

marisa

 

 

I came into Waldorf with hopes of becoming independent, taking advantage of opportunities, and becoming more of myself. I came in as a young girl and now I’m leaving as a self-assured, confident, teacher and writer. 

 

 

Throughout my years at Waldorf, I have been challenged my professors and peers to be the best Marisa possible. From traveling to Myrtle Beach and completing clinical hours during my spring break softball trip to sitting next to a Somalian student in Minneapolis and talking about culture, I have learned how to interact and form relationships with many people. I have learned technology and how to use the internet as a resource for beyond-the-classroom learning. I have learned to use my passion for writing to engage and motivate learners of all ages. I have learned how to be both a teacher and a friend.

Through community service as a reading tutor and in the Forest City community, I have learned the value of relationships and getting to know the people around me. I have formed connections with people my age, much younger, and much older, and these connections have made me a more well-rounded and positive person.

Through student teaching, I have learned to meet students where they are, to be flexible, to think on the fly, to adapt, and to love what I do. I have created assessments, assignments, projects, rubrics, and lesson plans that have stretched my thinking. I have learned ways to reach students at their individual learning level. I have learned to accommodate.  I have learned that students come to the classroom with difficult lives. I have hugged students who have lost their mothers to drugs. I have consoled students who have been broken down by bulling. I have been a consistent and positive adult in their lives.

As I finish my student teaching and prepare for a life and career outside of school, I feel ready. Waldorf College has prepared me to walk into the ‘real world’ through experiences and opportunities. Over the past four years I have grown into someone who values young minds, who understands her role as an educator and mentor, and who cares, deeply about the impact she has on the world. I have not only become the true definition of a teacher, but I have become Marisa. A person who is open-minded, complex, loving, and positive. And I am proud to be her. 

My Professional Growth Narrative

'I give the same advice to all new teachers. Pretend you know what you are doing.'

My greatest growth during student teaching: This would have to be my confidence. Going into student teaching, and especially the months prior, I was extremely nervous. I was fretting about what I would wear, what the students would think of me, how my lessons would go….I had even gotten to the point of stressing about my feet smelling bad. (Yes, I was really anxious). But once I started teaching, let go of my insecurities, and focused on my positives, I realized that I really did know what I was doing and I really could do this.

Stepping into my first day with a big smile and head held high, I learned that a confident face (even if you don’t feel it inside) makes all the difference. When I acted with authority and assumed authority, students gave me authority. And when I believed I was a teacher, my students did too. This has been my biggest growth. Now if anyone asks me about who I am or what I’m doing, I proudly say, “Yes, I am a teacher. Yes, I’m loving student teaching.”

 

My greatest professional challenge: This would definitely be learning Standards-Based Grading. Heading into my second placement, I had no idea what SBG meant or even stood for. I had to not only learn the grading system, but also accept it. There was a lot of controversy surrounding the grading system in both the middle school and the community. There were parents who weren’t educated on how it worked; there were parents dead set against it. There were even teachers who didn’t advocate for it, and my greatest challenge has been navigating through that, learning how to assess students, and implementing the grading system for my own assignments and projects.

sbgquestionsAt first I was hesitant about SBG, and if I’m being honest, I still am. There are aspects I don’t agree with–for example the late work policy, or the re-do opportunities–however, I love how SBG has challenged me, as a teacher, to generate individualized feedback and teach to every single student. I have been more personal with my students in grading. I have learned what they truly know and therefore been able to help them succeed through re-teaching. I could tell you what specific standards my students excel at and what ones they struggle with–and that in itself speaks for SBG and it’s benefits.

Though I am not a 100% advocate, I have learned to accept and implement the grading system. This has challenged me and allowed me to be, in my opinion, a better teacher. And I am thankful for that opportunity.

 

"I need a good book on classroom management. My class went from The Learning Channel to The Jerry Springer Show in one week."

My future plans/goals: As I complete my final weeks of student teaching, I think the one area that I still struggle with the most is behavior management. I feel that there’s a fine line between being a teacher whose classes students enjoy, and the tough teacher that no one respects. I want to skate on that line between fun and firm without losing out on either of the positives.

To help me with this, I plan on pursuing some classes or professional development in the area of behavior management. I think it’s important for me to learn how to be a successful teacher that demands respect, but still has an engaging, social classroom.

There are hundreds of resources online as well as workshops, classes, and webinars. Even with a busy schedule, this is something that I can do and I’m excited to keep bettering myself and my future students.