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Teacher shares insights into Utah Effective Teaching Standard 1

1/16/2014

UEA’s Educators Taking the Lead initiative is designed to support member success in the new educator evaluation process by focusing on effective teaching practices and instructional quality. January 2014’s focus is Standard 1: Learner Development (PDF) and Standard 2: Learning Differences (PDF).

UEA State Evaluation Lead and Kindergarten teacher discusses Utah Effective Teaching Standards

 
Standard 1: Learner Development

  “The teacher understands cognitive, linguistic, social, emotional and physical areas of student development.”

By Gay Beck, UEA State Evaluation Lead and Kindergarten teacher

As a classroom teacher, I believe learner development is a critical area to understand. It is a wonderful part of teaching that I love! I love understanding and getting to know each child and seeing the excitement in their faces when they are interested in and excited about learning.

As I plan my instruction, I work to develop challenging learning experiences that will hit various strengths, interests and needs of my students so they have options that are developmentally appropriate and exciting to spark their interest.

This month we are studying winter weather. First, I start with a great read-a-loud book like “The Snowy Day” and use both modeled and interactive strategies to the whole group. Then, I put the book in a listening center and I might also show a video clip of the story or do a follow up smart board activity. The children continue with writing and illustrating in writer’s workshop about their experiences in winter weather. I might also read the book “Jack Frost” and do a science experiment making ice crystals with Epsom salt with another center making snowflakes.

I have leveled books, fiction and non-fiction, about weather in guided reading groups. I touch on various methods throughout the unit to engage students with different interests and learning styles. Some students love writing, reading and listening to stories while others like illustrating and doing science experiments. Another group may respond to video, iPad or smart board activities. We might even go outside and feel the snowflakes fall or build a snowman at recess!

I have also found collaboration with colleagues, families and other professionals helps me understand various methods to meet my students’ backgrounds, strengths and needs. I have learned so much about my students through emails, phone calls and parent conferences.

I also have a clipboard with each child’s name and I write anecdotal notes that help me understand their interests and learning styles. I make note of things I learn in conversations with them and I note areas where they struggle and interventions taken. I communicate with parents through newsletters and send group emails about how parents can help at home with what we are learning. This helps to keep the lines of communication open.

District and grade-level team meetings provide ideas to improve my instruction. I recently facilitated the training on the new math core to our new Kindergarten teachers. We all learned so much from each other during three days of training. Weekly collaboration time in grade level teams lets us review assessment data and share strategies to improve learning.

I believe the very heart of good instruction starts with Standard 1 as we take the time to understand our students’ cognitive, linguistic, social and emotional areas of development and appropriately plan instruction for them. It’s the knowledge of our students that helps us create meaningful learning experiences for them!

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