Like a trip leader exploring the best route through a tricky rapids, as I was doing here on the Swift River in New Hampshire, a teacher needs to show at all times a willingness to adapt his techniques to changing situations and especially to the varying abilities of his students. By exuding competence, self-confidence, and a willingness to be corrected, by showing his classes that he is a learner like them and not just a spouter of facts, by being willing to throw himself into the process of learning, a teacher can spark his students' imaginations and urge to learn.
Practice Makes Perfect is what Billie Holliday swings to. She is talking about a love affair, but the educator also must practice his craft and seek continuous improvement.
Teachers Think Systematically about Their Practice and Learn from Experience
* Teachers model what it means to be an educated person: they read, they question, they create and they are willing to try new things.
* They are familiar with learning theories and instructional strategies and stay abreast of current issues in American education.
* They critically examine their practice on a regular basis to deepen knowledge, expand their repertoire of skills, and incorporate new findings into their practice.
Artifact #1 - The Vernal Pool as a Vehicle for Science Instruction
Rationale Reflection
This is actually a pair of artifacts. Both were developed as an assignment for a master's level course at the University of New England entitled EDU 707 Instructional Leadership. The point of the assignment was to demonstrate leadership by developing a curriculum that took an existing subject and expanded it into new territory. The first artifact is the curriculum map, while the second is a Power Point demonstration to acquaint the teacher staff with the thinking behind the new curriculum.

The school where I was working at the time had a similar program. Since I did not work with that program, I decided to see if I could develop my own version of the curriculum based on the Massachusetts educational standards. The "interviews" were real conversations I had with various personnel from several different schools about the issues that might come up if a school decided to make such a change in curriculum. The map is a PDF file and can be downloaded HERE, while the PPT file can be accessed HERE.
The latter is large (6.8 Mb). but you can see it as a slideshow HERE.


I believe that these items show that I have achieved the definition of this standard for the following reasons:
1) In order to develop this curriculum, I had to learn a lot about vernal pools in general, and about those in my neighborhood in particular. While doing this, I was also working with my 1st grade students on a diorama and informational booklet on their choice of local animal and habitat. I showed them that I was working also on learning the same sort of information, and several children chose animals that I investigated as part of the vernal pool project.
2) I integrated opportunities for differentiated assessment for students of varying abilities and learning styles to ensure that all students would be able to show mastery of the subject.
3) The development of a formal curriculum plan for teaching in an outdoor environment was a new skill that I developed. I had to learn how to create a curriculum and synchronize it with state standards of instruction.

It was interesting for me to go through the process of developing a curriculum and a justification for it, both financial and philosophical. While I have used to outdoor classroom before and have had to develop curricula, I did not have to justify either the rationale or expense of the effort; both of those were inherent to the programs I was involved in. I was not able to take this further than a classroom project, but I am convinced it would work. I know there has been for a long time many schools that make use of nearby natural resources for the science instruction. I, myself, believe strongly in getting students into an outdoors setting as often as possible. There is something about education al fresco that seems to open the mind and imagination. I found it so as a student, and, from my observations, it is pretty nearly true in most cases. While crowd control is always a concern, the opportunities for science learning that accompany the use of the outdoor classroom make it imperative that teachers try to get out as much as possible.