One of my requirements as an alternative licensing teacher was to put together a teaching portfolio. My portfolio required a variety of essays, artifacts and lesson plans. I wrote some of these essays prior to teaching my my first day of school and have included right on this very page. Others were written as an ongoing requirement for my teaching portfolio. One year later, my portfolio serves as a useful benchmark to compare my experienced with my expectations. I will continue to add artifacts and other reflections to my portfolio on this page.
While my teaching portfolio consists of Essays, Lesson Plans, Resume and Artifacts, I will also continue to provide past and recent teaching reflections as they continue to grow with my experience as a teacher. To get started, below are three essays I wrote as a requirement of my alternative licensing teacher’s application. I hope you will enjoy visiting my portfolio page often.
My Portfolio Essay Introductions
Why I want to be a Professional Educator
My interest in teaching evolved from my growing desire to serve God through my vocation. I simply could not think of a higher calling than to educate, mentor, coach and help young people gain the knowledge, confidence, faith, compassion and love for a successful and happy life. To me, an education is far more than gaining knowledge and fluency in Reading, Writing, Math, Science, Social Studies, etc. A fulfilling education includes real-life practical application of the skills and tools gained by this important knowledge. This is an area where I have gained a great deal of experience and value and have the burning desire to share it with students of all ages.
Reflecting on my 27 years of experience in the business world has helped me gain a more meaningful appreciation for my own education. Looking back, I am able to see what was important in school for me; what helped; what didn’t help and what strengths and weaknesses contributed to my successes and failures at my job. One of the most valuable things I learned about myself is that I am different than others. What works and doesn’t work for me isn’t the same for everyone. All students are unique individuals with highly personalized interests, skills and abilities. One of the other important roles I can serve as a teacher is to help students learn about themselves and prepare for a vocation in life that matches their love and passion. However, they must never think that their own strengths, interests and abilities prevent them from learning other things, particularly those areas that are the most difficult. Some of my most satisfying achievements in life were the result of working extra hard on personal weaknesses and overcoming obstacles to do things I didn’t think I could do. This is something I would love to teach.
As an educator, it would be extremely rewarding to watch students overcome and persevere through their own difficulties to experience the joys of personal achievement and success both inside and outside of the classroom. The thrill that one gets from working through adversity to win or succeed at any subject is often the catalyst for discovering one’s own calling. Being an educator is an enormous responsibility; one that is far more important than anything else I have done up to this point in my life. When I graduated from college and started my own career, money was the only purpose behind my job search. Consequently, I have spent the last 27 years trying to find ways to satisfy my purpose and genuine calling in life. I have no regrets because I feel God has prepared a special place for me in this world and has chosen the best way to put me in the position to help others. I cannot imagine a better way or time to begin my vocation and highest-calling as an educator.
My Professional Education Philosophy
My professional beliefs in education are centered on the fact that no two people are the same. While we do share some similarities and patterns in the way we think and learn, it is our individuality that ultimately shapes our success and defines our God given talents. Educational text books and curriculums provide a framework that is intended to cover the learning needs of an entire classroom. An educator’s role is to encourage and inspire individual knowledge of these materials within a classroom setting. One of my most important roles as an instructor is to value the uniqueness of each and every student and try to understand the way they think and learn about them as much as possible. It is my responsibility to provide students with a team environment that helps them grow, learn, and succeed both in, and outside, of the classroom.
I see the classroom as a great and necessary way for individuals to help each other learn. I believe that one of the most important things about the classroom is that students can learn how others learn. As I went to school, I remember struggling at some things the majority of my classmates found easy. I recall other times when I breezed through stuff that much of the class felt was difficult. When working in groups with my peers either in a classroom or business environment, I realized how I could become better at those things that were most difficult for me by watching and listening to them. This has been an important lesson for me that will shape the way I teach. I recognize that some students are going to be shy or anxious about participating in group settings, but this is how they will learn about themselves. It is important to help them recognize that their specific struggles are not lifetime obstacles to their success. As a teacher, I want students to be comfortable with the fact they are different. Sometimes that means they won’t catch on to certain subjects or strategies as quickly as their classmates and will have to work extra hard in those areas. A positive and healthy classroom setting is the perfect way for students to learn about their social environment and their valuable role in the world.
Whatever our calling is in life, we need to gain the skills and tools that maximize our chances for success. A successful education requires that students want to make the effort to learn important subjects like Religion, Math, Science, Reading, Writing and Social Studies. Classroom management, structure and routines are extremely important factors for helping children want to learn in school. When daily structure is missing from the classroom, students lose interest and become bored. Structure and routine give students a sense of responsibility and purpose each day. Without good classroom management, less attentive students will distract others and negatively affect the education of everyone in the room.
As a teacher, I believe I am a role model and mentor. Students deserve and need role models who are compassionate, dedicated and committed to their best interest, overall. These are attributes that all teachers with good, classroom management skills have in common. When students know and believe that their teacher really does care about them for more than just their grades, they are most likely to give their best effort to learn each of their subjects as best as possible. I want my students to feel that I am very approachable when it comes to asking questions and getting help. In a supportive learning environment, students will be able to turn their personal struggles and adversity into achievement and success. Helping kids realize that they are individually gifted with a unique, valuable place in life will be my most important role as a teacher.
An Assessment of My Present Professional Skills
My 27 years of marketing and selling computers has given me a diverse range of professional skills which includes technical knowledge, relationship-building, and written and verbal communications. To gain a meaningful understanding of my professional skills, it will help if I provide some background and chronological history on my career:
I was fortunate to have begun working in a technology career just a few years before personal computers began taking off and soon thereafter, the internet boom. Hands-on, participation in this industry from its earliest days has given me a useful appreciation and perspective on the rapid pace in which the methods of communication advance in our world and society. To be successful at my job I had to be willing to not only accept, but to embrace change. Learning and staying ahead of the technology curve, however, played only a part of what helped me become effective in sales.
To be successful in sales, I had to learn how to understand the unique needs and abilities of each of my prospects. I quickly learned that people learn and communicate at different rates and levels. Not everyone embraces technology and change at the same pace. In the early days, the telephone and personal visits were the only ways of reaching out and communicating with customers. Personal interaction is a skill that is still necessary to communicate effectively with many people today. Where an email would not be helpful to a customer, I had to be willing to pick up the phone and call. I feel fortunate that I worked with small companies throughout my career, including the valuable experience of operating my own company for 8 years from 1995 – 2003. The communication needs of a small company are very personal and so I had to learn very quickly to wear many different hats. I wrote bi-monthly newsletters, press releases, advertising copy and helped produce our company’s product brochures. I also learned how to write persuasive letters, including apologies over very delicate subject matters when the situation called for it. Today, these communication skills have evolved into blog writing, email campaigns and social media such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Writing is an important skill I continue to use today with the development of my own websites and blogs.
Working in the computer industry for small companies also required me to gain a great deal of technical experience with both, computer hardware and software. I’ve assembled and installed operating systems and software on thousands of personal computers and servers. My experience in computers eventually led to a part-time, job at home repairing and upgrading computers for current and previous customers as well as friends, acquaintances and family members. These skills became a great asset to me as I engaged and worked with new customers and projects.
My professional experience in sales, technology and writing has served me well in all aspects of my life. One of the most profound lessons in my life is how I overcame great obstacles to excel in these subjects. English was not my best subject in school. I became a proficient writer when I had to prepare and study for an English barrier exam in order to graduate. Before that, I struggled in my Computer Science and Computer Applications classes. When I overcame the difficulties I had in these courses, both writing and computers became life-long interests and passions. This is a valuable lesson that I will take with me to the classroom.