Reflections on Practice & Growth
Lesson Objective: National Teachers of the Year reflect on learning and growth
All Grades / All Subjects / Learning

Thought starters

  1. How do these teachers talk about their students' growth?
  2. How do these teachers talk about their own growth?
  3. How can strong relationships help to support growth?
The common thread among all these teachers is that the student drives them, and that is why I am so very sad about some teachers, sadly very many teachers, who work under conditions where they are told that the curriculum is the most important, or even the delivery style should always follow the same template. Hogwash, it's all about the students, and I have been fortunate to be an educator who learned this very early, and when I found myself in an atmosphere where the administration did not feel this way, I quit. We need to respect ourselves enough as professional educators, that when we see that the school does not have the student as a central focus, although they may say they do, we need to make a change, and if that is not possible, we need to find a place to teach where this is the case. The students deserve and need this.
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I found it especially interesting to here a majority of the teachers say what sometimes is hard to embrace as an academic, you never really do master the craft of teaching. Rather as teachers we are ever growing and ever changing with no real end point. This way of thinking can be cognitively dissonant because as teachers we are nerds, we enjoy learning, we enjoy school and we have probably always been good at it. As students we know how to be good at learning and have hopefully known what it is to master the art of learning. The art of teaching however is not formulaic, or even individually formulaic. Instead it's messy, it's loud it's different, what worked so well one year, or in one subject, or with one grade could be a complete disaster in another environment. Good teaching, and by good I mean what happens when learning is occurring, is actually one's ability to know one's students. We are constantly balancing or calibrating our thermometers for the changing ecologies that we enter on a daily basis. The ability to adjust and read not only your students, but yourself and the environment is what creates good teaching and learning. This skill or this ability, like a thermometer must be constantly calibrated, and checked and tested, and for this reason teaching is not a skill that can be mastered. It is one's, willingness to strive towards mastery, openness to change, self-reflection and the embrace of serious cognitive dissonance that defines good teaching not the mastery of it.
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I liked her comment about it doesn't mater how much teaching is going on, if the students are not learning anything you have not accomplished anything. I agree teaching can be loud at times. I have met many teachers and administrators who think teaching only happens when the classroom is quite, all eyes are on the teacher, all students are listening and taking notes and all students are learning. I have found learning happens when the students are engaged! Being engaged is not always quiet.
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After seeing the video, my first thoughts were -- I need to watch this video more than once because all of the teachers "featured" in the video presented methods on how they were adapting to their current teaching environments' - team dynamics, individual personalities, teaching styles, behavioral management plans - but all of the teachers basically put the thinking back on the student or the learner. GRIT is what comes to mind! You are responsible for your own learning. I reflect every day as I commute for 40 minutes and ask myself as I drive: What did I do well today? If I could go back, what would I do differently? If I do not have a legitimate answer, I question myself: Should I ask for assistant from another person? The next day, I ask...
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The last teacher that spoke made the highest impact on me. The point that noise and chaos also leads to growth is something I need to work on accepting. A common goal with each presentation is working to expand growth within themselves, as well as with their students. It is critical to collaborate with a variety of co workers to continue to learn and grow on a variety of levels.
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School Details

Johnston Senior High School
6501 Nw 62nd Ave
Johnston IA 50131
Population: 1541

Data Provided By:



Sarah Brown Wessling
Sean McComb
Kim Oliver Burnim
Michelle Shearer
Jeff Charbonneau
Rebecca Mieliwocki



All Grades / All Subjects / Tch Tools

Lesson Idea

Grades 9-12, All Subjects, Class Culture

Lesson Idea

Grades 9-12, ELA, Class Culture

Teaching Practice

All Grades / All Students / Class Culture