Hello Fellow Readers!

The end is near! The Get Real! Science (GRS) cohort and I are in our final days of our second and last teaching placement. We have been diligently planning an innovative science unit, a comprehensive plan that was developed with Wiggins and McTighe’s framework of Backward Design and one that involves reform-based science practices. These innovative units are a culmination of the best science practices we have learned within the last year and, very fittingly, are being implemented in our final days of our student teaching placement. As we dive into our lessons, however, we must also resurface to reflect on them, as well as our collective time teaching. It is this reflection time that I want to focus on, for many us in the cohort, and perhaps many of you readers, fail to give yourself that time.

Reflecting on this past week, both from my field experience as well as from our cohort’s seminar class, I have been reminded of the importance of building strong relationships with our colleagues. In seminar, one of our GRS members shared his challenge of collaborating with a reluctant co-teacher. He felt frustrated and overwhelmed with the lack of communication between himself and his colleague and more importantly, saw how such a lack of communication was diminishing his students’ learning experiences. Through reserved time in our seminar class, we, the collective GRS cohort, had the time to reflect with him on his challenges and were able to brainstorm with him on possible solutions. Of our most notable solutions, we believe that opening a clear line of communication and explicitly defining roles of both teachers were the first steps. This is essential for collaborating and also keeping the students’ best interests at heart. If controversy arises, both teachers should always remember their commonality – cultivating an ideal learning environment for all of their students.

This moment of workshopping a problem, of identifying possible solutions for a poor content-teacher and co-teacher relationship, however, could not have been achieved if we did not protect the time to reflect. Such time also transfers to other moments in our teaching experiences. Teachers need time to review student work and assess student understanding, as well as reflect upon a lesson and make adjustments as seen fit. Most of all, reflection time is needed in our personal lives, to review where life has taken us and to assess our battle in achieving a work-life balance.

As the cohort and I reflect on our final days of student teaching, I hope that you too are taking much needed time to reflect. A few questions that I hope you consider as you reflect are:

Are there any relationships in your work environment that could be strengthened?

In the past few weeks, what has been your most challenging and your most rewarding teaching moments?

How often do you reflect on your professional and personal lives?

Lastly, if you are in specific need of resources regarding content-teacher and co-teacher relationships, or Backward Design, I would recommend the following:

Honigsfeld, A. & Dove, M.G. (2016). Co-Teaching ELLs: Riding a Tandem Bike. Educational Leadership, January (2016), 56-60.

Wiggins, G. & McTighe, J. (2011). The Understanding By Design Guide to Creating High-Quality Units. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.