8. Professional Practice: The teacher participates collaboratively in the educational community to improve instruction, advance the knowledge and practice of teaching as a profession, and ultimately impact student learning. To me, this category represents the importance of utilizing and going beyond the use of typical professional seminars, workshops and conferences by enhancing professional development through the creation of collaborations with other teachers, school administrators, highly qualified mentors and professional partnerships. This greater range of development contributes to our collective goal of setting up our students for optimal success. According to Desimone (2011), over the past decade a more broadbased view of teacher professional development has emerged, treating teacher learning as interactive and social, based in discourse and community practice. In this view, formal or informal learning communities among teachers can act as powerful mechanisms for their growth and development. I really like the idea of collaboration and find that in my internship, working with state agencies involved with transition is an invaluable tool.
I feel so very lucky to be endorsing special education because the community of teachers that make up our department are a very close team of individuals. I never imagined that teachers would work so closely together, supporting each other through the good, the bad and the in-between. Beyond the amazing support system that has built up around me, I continuously have been afforded opportunities to further my career through professional collaboration. I recently was asked to help facilitate an amazing opportunity for collaboration between my school district’s high school special education teachers, a non-profit called Open Doors for Multicultural Families and many state agencies directly involved in our student’s education and transition. As a group, our goal is to help multicultural families with children with disabilities plan for transitions and help them better understand why interventions are important. This experience is significant in my development as a teacher because it gives me the opportunity to work with numerous multicultural families, an array of special education teachers and state agencies that help support the student population that I am endorsing. I feel so fortunate to even be considered to participate in such a unique professional collaboration and know that the outcome will greatly benefit my student’s learning. At the grade level I am interning in, 18-21 year old special education transition, it is beyond important that we teach our students the importance of what transition means. It is just as important that we also help the families understand what transition looks like so our students will continue to be successful once they leave our program. These professional collaborations afford me that opportunity and equipped me with the knowledge and support that I need to teach my students successfully.
For the future, I will continue to network and collaborate in ways that will better facilitate learning. I also plan to join the National Association of Special Education Teachers because I believe that they are a wealth of knowledge. They offer trainings and supports in regards to IEPs and transition that I am just now starting to use in my internship. Their website offers ideas on different community based outings which is something I have struggle to plan for my students. These outing need to be educational and relevant to young adult life and it has been difficult to plan field trips that are engaging and appropriate. I was thrilled to find many different examples of community based outings and am looking forward to implementing them into our lessons.
Desimone, L. M (2011). A Primer on Effective Professional Development. Kaplan Magazine, 92(6), 68-72. Retrieved November 28, 2016, from https://bbweb03.spu.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-1068143-dt-content-rid- 2249919_1/courses/EDU6134_10240_201561/Desimone2011. pdf