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MSED ELEMENTARY PORTFOLIO PROJECT

Section One: Teacher Candidate Introduction to the Elementary Portfolio Project

Introduction

“It’s not about what it is, it’s about what it can become.” (Healy & others, 2012,

The Lorax). I think this quote perfectly reflects the mindset of a great educator. In my

opinion, the best educators are the ones who can see the potential in every student and are

able to find ways to reach these students, to engage them and make them want to become

involved during each lessons. They are able to create a classroom environment where the

students feel safe and unjudged. These educators know when to include technology to

better their lessons and how to provide the appropriate accommodations for their students

with learning difficulties. They are the teachers that make you reflect and even make you

develop of learning on your own.

Portfolio Overview and Rationale

In my own personal experience as a student, I encountered many wonderful

teachers, but only one truly fits in the image of what I expect a great educator to be. He

was probably the scariest teacher I ever had, because I never wanted to disappoint him.

He saw what we were capable of and he always insisted for our very best. He was barely

5 foot tall, but he could command a room like no other. His knowledge was infinite and

he made us love his lessons because he loved his subject matter. His passion was

infectious and I aspire one day to be as motivating to my students as he was. I do believe

that this portfolio is a great opportunity for me to showcase my strengths and my

preparedness as a teacher. It contains my body of work that was created while conducting

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my Masters degree at Medaille College. The artifacts included in the portfolio showcase

how passionate I am for my subject matters, my creative side as well as my desire to

make students excited about learning. Since teaching is a career change for me and that I

have little work experience in the field of education; this portfolio will also be a useful

tool to demonstrate to future employers, my background experiences and why I decided

to become a teacher, my teaching philosophy as well as my ability to answer questions in

an interview conducted in an audiovisual setting.

Portfolio Development

This Portfolio is divided into six sections, each section will help the reader know

me better as an educator. Indeed, Section one is the Teacher Candidate Introduction to the

Elementary Project Portfolio. In this section, I introduce the Portfolio Project by

reflecting on my opinion of what represents a great educator and which teacher impacted

me in my journey as a student. I will also introduce some of my teaching philosophy by

highlighting some of the theorists that have inspired my way of thinking. Finally, I will

address my preparedness to the position of educator and what future employers can

expect of me.

Section two is the Teacher Candidate Background Experiences. In this section, I

will discuss some of my educational experiences. I will identify my work experiences and

include my school observations and classroom applications. Finally, I will discuss my

philosophy of education and will include a copy of my curriculum vitae. This section can

help future employers understand my skillsets and see how some of my abilities can be

transferred into the field of education.

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Section three is the Teacher Candidate Artifacts. In this section, I will showcase

eight to ten artifacts that represent my teaching abilities and values. A written rationale

for each artifact will be included in this section in order to describe and provide evidence

of how the artifact relates and adheres to the appropriate detailed curriculum and

professional standards. Finally, the relevance of the artifacts will be demonstrated

through connections to educational theories, best teaching practices and experts in the

field of education. This section emphasizes my knowledge and understanding of various

subject matters and confirms my ability to translate this knowledge to the students in

ways that facilitates and enhances their learning experiences.

Section four is the Alignment to the Curriculum and Professional Standards. In

this section, I will address the importance of the curriculum and the professional

standards as they relate to my knowledge, application and readiness to become a teacher.

I will identify the expectations for each standard, the purpose they serve and how they

relate to my project. I will connect my professional development plan with the claims of

the Department of Education (DOE) and the Council for the Accreditation of Educator

Preparation (CAEP). Finally, I will include a chart that identifies the relationship between

the artifacts and their standards. This section is imperative since it demonstrates my

ability to understand the educational requirements for each grade level and how I was

able, through my artifacts, to meet them.

Section five is the Teacher Candidate Reflection. In this section, I will reflect on

my Portfolio Project and my Program of study. I will discuss my readiness to become a

teacher and will make connection with teacher competencies. This section will help a

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future employer see my skills and abilities as an educator as well as the experiences I

have acquired during the creation of this Portfolio Project.

Finally, Section six is the Teacher Candidate Teacher Interview Video. In this

section, I will present a five to ten minute professional video in which I will answer

interview questions. In this video, I will also make connections between the Portfolio

artifacts, the curriculum and professional standards, the teacher skills demonstrated, the

teaching strategies used and my professional dispositions. Finally, this section enables me

to use my Weebly Website as a tool to enable future employers to get a better sense of

who I am as a teacher candidate. This will offer them the opportunity to navigate through

my Portfolio artifacts.

Theories, Theorists and Experts in the Field of Education

Through my journey into becoming an educator, I have discovered the works and

values of important figures that shaped the way we see education today. Indeed, theorists

like Lev Vygotsky, Benjamin Bloom, Neil D. Flemming and Geneva Gay have slowly

changed the way I see our learners. With their theories, they have helped me develop a

better sense of my teaching philosophy. They also have inspired me to try different

teaching methods in my various lessons in order to stimulate different types of learners.

This will be demonstrated in the artifacts that will be included in Section three of this

Portfolio Project.

I think the biggest challenge teachers face today is the fact that we have so many

different types of learners. Indeed, Howard Gardner introduced the idea that students

have multiple intelligences, which indicates a variety of learning styles and that every

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person has their own. Garner’s theory suggested that there were seven types of learning.

Later, Flemming’s VARK theory, offered a simplified approach by introducing only five

main learning styles. Flemming’s VARK theory is meaningful to me because it

empowers me to be an educator that creates lessons that will engage all five types of

learners. Indeed, it can be challenging at first to create lessons that will be compelling to

visual, auditory, read/write as well as kinesthetic learners; however I live in Toronto,

which is the most multicultural city in all of Canada. Due to this fact, it is inevitable for

me, in my career as a teacher, to encounter students who may not have English as their

first language. I will also most likely encounter students that have an Individual

Educational Plan (IEP) who will also require some accommodations or modifications to

my original instructions. This is where the idea of Universal Design comes in. If I, as a

teacher create a lesson that compelled to all of Flemming’s various types of learners, I

will be able to provide, most of the accommodations or modifications my students require

without having to separate them from the group and without having to provide

differentiated instructions. Obviously this is not applicable in all scenarios, but it would

be beneficial in many cases. I believe that this will engage the students more and

inevitably help create a better classroom environment.

I also believe that when a teacher is able to have motivated and engaged students

by offering them differential learning strategies, it is easier for them to push their students

to reach a higher order of thinking. Indeed, if in my lessons, I promote an inquiry based

learning approach that appeals to kinesthetic learners as well as visual, auditory and

read/write learners, I will enable my students to consider alternative explanations or

outcomes. These types of lessons will encourage students to analyze, to synthesize and to

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evaluate the information that they have found. I also believe that providing lessons based

on Vygotsky’s theory of scaffolding will slowly enable the students to achieve their

learning goals on their own. Using a variety of teaching techniques and by building

strong educational foundations, students will become more confident in their abilities and

will be able to execute the tasks on their own. Another interesting way to achieve this

would be by integrating cooperative learning in my lessons. Doing this would enable

students to have access to a More Knowledgeable other (MKO) on whom they may be

able to rely on instead of always relying on the teacher. It is also a great way to

encourage the students MKO to reach higher order thinking levels in Bloom’s taxonomy.

Finally another aspect that is important to include in our classroom, that seems to

have been lacking in the past, is having culturally responsive teaching. Again, living in a

very multicultural city requires the teacher, in my opinion, to be even more culturally

responsive since it is very likely that they will be faced with a very diversified classroom.

Gay defines “culturally responsive teaching as using the cultural characteristics,

experiences, and perspectives of ethnically diverse students as conduits for teaching them

more effectively” (Gay, 2002, 106). What I believe is imperative for teachers to go

beyond the curriculum in order to offer students cultural diversity in every subject that we

teach them. I strongly believe in the power of conversation and discussions and I believe

that every voice should be heard and that every opinion matters and should e respected.

In this sense, I believe that educators should not shy away from difficult or controversial

subjects in their classrooms. However, it must be handled properly. Gay suggests that the

best approach is by “contextualizing the issues with race, class, ethnicity, and gender, and

including multiple kinds of knowledge and perspectives” (Gay, 202, 108). In order to be

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successful in this endeavor, the educator ‘must know how to implement cultural

scaffolding, which is the use of students’ own cultures and experiences to expand their

intellectual horizons and academic achievements” (Gay, 2002, 109).

Conclusion

In order to become a great educator, one must first understand that students come

in all shapes and sizes and that they will require different teaching techniques in order to

be engaged in the lessons proposed. It is the responsibility of each individual teacher to

build relationships with all their students in order to know them. The more an educator

knows their students, the better they will be able to customize their approach. This will

create a strong classroom community where students will feel safe to communicate their

opinions. I also believe that a teacher’s responsibility is to find ways to share their own

passion about the subject they are teaching to their students. Offering lessons that appeal

to all types of learners in a culturally diverse setting is the best approach a teacher can

have. I believe that once a student teacher possesses those abilities, he/she is truly

prepared to take on the position of educator. I consider that I have reached this level and I

believe that this Portfolio Project will enable me to showcase my preparedness to my

future employers.

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