“The Teaching Moment That Changed My Practice”

By The Room 241 Team February 15, 2018

Most teachers have a powerful story of a student, a moment, or a class that changed their practice forever. We asked a few faculty members at Concordia University-Portland’s College of Education to share theirs. Read on for some moving stuff.

“In one of my graduate classes, a student shared that throughout his entire K-12 education, he never had a teacher who truly saw him. His feelings of isolation and marginalization ultimately impacted his entire school experience. He decided to become a teacher so that no other child would feel the way he did. When he shared his experience with the class, his pain was palpable. It was a powerful reminder of the importance of relationships and caring, and it has stayed with me ever since. I share it with all of the preservice teachers with whom I work. An educator has the ability to impact a student’s entire trajectory; what an important responsibility!” – Stephanie Murphy, Master of Arts in Teaching Program Director, Concordia’s College of Education

“There was a shift in the demographics of my first grade classroom my third year of teaching this grade. Up until this point, I had a small handful of dual language learners in my classroom. These students typically spoke Spanish or Russian and had access to language liaisons within our building. However, this specific year, my numbers spiked to 10 different languages spoken with access to only a Russian and Spanish liaison. Unfortunately, that did not cover the need of my entire classroom community. It was at this point that I found turning to the community and teachers in other grade levels to be pivotal in my teaching career. There was a lack of equity in resources provided to our students and their families and it was our (the teachers’) job to support these students and families the best we could. It was also this same year that midway through the year, a blended class was dissolved and we welcomed seven more students into our classroom community. This helped me understand the importance of continued community building throughout the year and the vitality of ensuring all students felt welcomed and valued into this community. From this point on, I understood the power of relationship building with colleagues and community members.”  Julie Owens, Associate Professor of Education, Concordia’s College of Education

“The moment that changed my practice forever was when one of my students told me that whatever class I taught she would take because it was with me. It just proved to me that it is all about the relationships we form with students and not the content we teach. She took all four years of my Spanish classes and took the extra J-term classes I taught too. Saying goodbye to her in the middle of her senior year was very difficult and tears were involved. That student made me realize how much I had touched her life and didn’t even know it.” – Juliana E. Smith, PhD., ESOL Specialist, Associate Professor, Concordia’s College of Education

“In one of the early years of my teaching career, I was given a very small class in a school that provided the teachers with a great deal of autonomy. I was not only allowed to—but was highly supported in—using Project-Based Learning in the classroom. I was also blessed to have a group of students that was excited about learning and willing to try just about anything. Over the course of the year, we completed Projects based on Women’s History, for which the students made a replica of Judy Chicago’s “Dinner Party” art exhibit; one on the topic of trees which integrated a photography study, including an exhibit of the students’ work with the work of Ansel Adams as their inspiration; and finally one on restaurants for which the students designed, created, financed, and executed a full-service restaurant for the entire school over the course of the week. The amount of engagement, critical thinking, cooperative learning, problem-solving, and learning that happened that year fueled my passion for this type of education, and was the guiding light for my work later as I founded The Emerson School, a PPS charter school that has Project Based Learning as its foundation.” Joanna Sigmund, edTPA Coordinator, Concordia’s College of Education

“The moment that changed my practice was the moment I experienced the power of Comprehensible Input. A friend and colleague who is multi-lingual simply demonstrated the difference that teachers can make in communicating content to students using more than just oral language. At that moment, I felt like Alice in Wonderland—a new world opened. That experience started me on a journey towards ever-expanding cultural and racial instructional practices that continues today.” – Cathy Lambeth, Associate Professor of Education, Concordia’s College of Education

What moment changed your teaching practice? Share it on our public Facebook page, Concordia Portland – Educator’s Community.

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