Derek Corse began his teaching career with us at Greystone this year. He first joined our School Community as an Educational Assistant, keen to get connected with a school where he would have the opportunity to demonstrate his dedication to making a difference in the lives of students. A teaching position in Learning Community 5 opened up part way through the year and Derek was the perfect fit. He will loop up with his students to grade 6 next year and we are excited to see him continue to grow and learn in his chosen profession.
Professional Growth Plan Reflection 2014 – Derek Corse
Coming to Greystone as an EA has given me multiple opportunities to collaborate with both the LC7 team and students. I have experienced many different management, learning and teaching styles, which have translated into my own classroom. My position as an EA brought many challenges, more specifically with one particular student. This experience has opened my eyes with regards to behavior management, as I had the freedom to try different strategies. Although I fell flat on my face many times, I was able to learn from my challenges, tweak as needed and implement stronger strategies. Working with this one challenging student on a continuous basis, has also allowed me to experience the “Middle Years Alternative” program at Broxton Park School. Working with the teacher and the EA’s has broadened my appreciation for children with severe behaviors. During this time, I also had the opportunity to get to know and observe other classrooms. During observations, I take notes and pictures of strategies/assignments, etc, which I use in my own practice. For example, the “Daily 5” is a great tool that allows for little down time between subject changes, while allowing students to practice their reading comprehension and fluency skills.
Taking over LC5E has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my life. This profession has truly solidified my purpose on this earth. Collaborating with 7 amazing teachers has strengthened both my own practice and our practice as a learning community. During planning, the document we use is the “Inquiry Planning Document”, which utilizes Greystone’s 6 pillars of synergy, creativity and citizenship. This document also allows for a teacher reflection, which we will use to improve the particular project in the coming years; as well as in other projects. One main goal our team will be working on next year includes communication across both teams. We need to have consistent communication, which will be enhanced by continuing to use google docs, email and Joan (who is our liaison between both teams).
Students found it difficult to switch gears and learn my way of management, rules and organizational style. Immediately, I included my students in the process. We built a behavior contract together, I had their input on a seating plan and we simply had a conversation on expectations from both me and them. First and foremost, my classroom is built on mutual respect. In order to get to where my classroom is today, from February, I had to have extreme persistence, which I pride myself on. I had to get the students to trust and believe in me. I knew that I was going to have a challenging struggle, so I immediately developed close relationships with my students and parents, through consistent emails, questioning and journal entries (students telling me what they did on their weekend). During summative assessments, once the students are finished, I have students either ask me a question to get to know me better, or I have them tell me something about them that I don’t know already (on the back of their assessment). This allows me to get to know my students better and also allows for silence until everyone has finished.
On my desk, I have a sign that says “teach me”. Multiple students have asked me why I have that on my desk, and I tell them that I want to learn from them as much as I want them to learn from me.
Developing relationships through coaching has been another fulfilling aspect of my career. Coaching both basketball and badminton has allowed me to build stronger bonds with fellow teachers, as well as students across the entire Greystone population. Working as a team, celebrating both our successes and failures together, show students that good sportsmanship is important in both a win and a loss, and learning from our losses.
Assessment: Formative, Summative and Continuous
After attending one of Greystone’s PD sessions, I took away one tool that another grade 5 teacher uses. That is, having the learning intentions on the board, which is paired to the daily time table. For example, if block 5 is Math, I would have “I can make 3 equivalent fractions using an example”. Students appreciate the fact that their daily schedule is visible, but also that there is a clear relationship between the learning outcomes and the subject.
It is important for me to express to my students, that I don’t know everything. For example, we were working on a social project, writing a letter from the perspective of an immigrant who settled in Canada. During the research portion, a student asked me if we lived in the “Boreal Forrest”. I used this opportunity and expressed that I didn’t know. I then proceeded to state that we would look up the answer together and learn from each other. I express to my students that I want them to take risks, even if they don’t know something.
Speaking more from a formative standpoint, I use entrance and exit slips before or after a lesson. For example, if we are studying decimals and fractions, I will put a problem on the board (ie: 0.64), and ask students to write the same number in fraction form. I will then collect each slip, using it as a guide as to what concepts I need to spend more time on. Students are highly engaged with this tool, as they want to demonstrate that they get the concept.
Providing peer feedback will be a major focus in LC6. I do believe that peer feedback provides the opportunity for students to realize where they have done well and indicates what they could improve on. In order to set students up for successful feedback, we will be spending a lot of time going over exemplars of feedback, as well as developing exemplars together. When providing feedback myself, I make sure that I’m providing it in a timely manner. For example, we are editing our immigrant letters in social. During this time, I try to get through 7 or 8 students in one period, editing their papers with them. Instant editing allows for students to visualize their mistakes, rewrite with the corrections and repeat.
It is important for my students to be involved in the process of assessment, which results in us building rubrics together. During our Afghanistan inquiry project, the LC5 teacher’s developed an exemplary and beginner rubric, then asked the students to help develop approaching and proficient. Using the basis of the exemplary and beginner, students were highly engaged and had a sense of pride, as they were involved and ultimately were going to be responsible for their own learning. With this state of mind and success, I will be developing every rubric with my students.
Blogging has become an integral part of the LC5 team, as well as the Greystone team as a whole. Students were able to design the format of their blogs, which allowed for a high level of engagement. I find that during blogging periods, behaviour issues are at its minimum. Blogging allows for my students to instantly demonstrate their work, whether it be with peers, family or themselves. Students are building their technology skills, while enhancing their feedback skills as well. I have students either pose a question to a classmate, which is related to the subject we are learning, or I have students comment on previous posts. Again, we will be working as a team in LC6, developing strategies on how to provide successful feedback. Blogging allows students to push past surface thinking into a deeper level of thinking. For example, in order to navigate through the dashboard, which is the control area of a blog, students need to play and make mistakes, while learning from them. As a class, we go through the steps of posting a blog, but students take their learning further, enhancing their posts, adding different types of media and so on.
One major area of teaching that I will forever strive to improve on, is providing a wide range of teaching strategies in my day-to-day teaching repertoire. Although technology and group collaboration is great, I want to push the envelope and create an environment where deep level thinking is occurring most of the time. I want my students to feel comfortable speaking out loud and in front of the class. If a student is not comfortable speaking in front of the class, I will set them up to feel safe. I will stand with them, have a friend stand with them, or help deliver their project with them. I believe that these skills will be highly beneficial both inside of school and for years to come. I wish that I had more practice and more projects that allowed for public speaking when I was in school. I also have students reflect on their work, field trips, presentations and assemblies. I’m a reflective person by nature, whether it’s making notes on a math lesson, stating what went well or what I could have changed, or reflecting on my day as I drive home. My students take the time to reflect, but use their reflections moving forward. I tell my students that we are continuous learners and there is always a way to improve something. An example of reflection I use during an assignment is, students reflect on 2 things they feel they did really well, and 1 where they could have improved on. One strategy that I want to try next year is “simulated interviews”. I don’t have it quite figured out yet, but I want my students to have a dialogue with each other, sharing and reflecting on work, while providing successful feedback; which will ultimately lead to the best final product they can achieve. This is my perfect world scenario.
Derek Corse as a Lifelong Learner
During my first year of education, I never really thought what a lifelong learner was. I thought that each teacher had their own specialty and that’s it. My first practicum opened the doors to lifelong learning for me, and I was hooked. During my time at Greystone, I have attended our school wide PD sessions. I completed Non-Intervention Crisis Training”, I completed a PD session on decimals and fractions, as well as started reading “Visible learning for teachers”, by John Hattie. I’m always open to reading a good book, especially when it applies to my career, and will ultimately help my students. One quote by John Hattie that resonates with me is, “It is teachers seeing learning through the eyes of students, and students seeing teaching as the key to their ongoing learning.” One recent example, which touches on my personal life, is my spouse and I, who will be travelling to Greece this summer. I have shared this news to my class, but more importantly, I have shared the process I’m going through, doing as much research and learning as I can; before I even leave Canada. I explain to my students that through PD sessions, reading books, researching other countries, etc, there is no limit to learning and no learning too limitless.