Teachers face an exciting challenge every day. We must connect our area of expertise with real live learners in the classroom. To meet this challenge, we must know more that our content. We need to understand how students learn, how to engage students, and how to work with other professionals to continue to improve upon our practice. We do all of this because we know that our work is about the students and their learning experience. The courses, practicum, and student teaching experience through the College of William and Mary have all worked together to prepare me for the challenges and rewards of teaching. The program has also ensured that I have developed as a content expert, reflective practitioner, collaborator, and educational leader.

Prior to entering into the teaching program, I had received a degree in History from Penn State so my subject area knowledge was strong. It will only continue to grow as I move forward in teaching because I have a commitment to being a lifelong learner myself. I also have a commitment to making sure that my students become lifelong learners and value intellect. Due to the program at William and Mary, I now have a strong foundation of pedagogical knowledge that I can use to be a successful teacher. In methods courses, I learned and practiced writing four styles of lessons that support social studies education including inquiry, concept formation, structured academic controversy, and Socratic seminar. Through student teaching, I was able to implement these strategies and others in the classroom. I was also able to gain additional ideas from other teachers and modify certain techniques to fit the learning needs of my students.

Along these lines, being a reflective practitioner is an area in which I excel. I am constantly trying to make my lessons and teaching better. I reflect daily on how lessons went and how they could be improved. I am not afraid to ask for help or ideas when I am stuck, and I am excited that much of what I have come up with has been successful. I am naturally a person who will reflect on life, but the teaching program has certainly helped me to harness this natural tendency to focus on teaching practices. I am positive that this is an aspect of being a professional teacher that I will continue to do throughout my career.

Throughout this program, I have collaborated with fellow student teachers, my cooperating teacher, the special educator in my classroom, and others. This has truly been a collaborative experience in that very little of this program is done completely solo with no input from anyone. My professors, university supervisor, and cooperating teacher all had input into what was going well and how I could improve. I worked with the special educator in my classroom to learn about the students with IEPs and their needs in order to have the appropriate accommodations worked into my lessons. The other student teachers in the program were always helpful in terms of discussing ideas and lessons. They also formed a support group, which everyone needs to have in any profession.

I have the potential to be a leader in my career because I have the ability to work with anyone. No matter what personal differences may exist, I can put that aside to focus on what matters; the students. I see each student as an individual. Each has their own wants and needs in terms of learning, and I try to accommodate all of them. I have gone to pep rallies, sporting events, and other school activities that my students participate in. Being involved in the school community, keeping my focus on the students, and having the ability to work with anyone helps me to be a leader in the classroom and among my colleagues.

The College of William and Mary has prepared me to be an effective teacher who reflects actively on practice, collaborates successfully, has content and pedagogical knowledge, and has the potential for leadership.