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Section One: Teacher Candidate Introduction to the Elementary Portfolio Project

Introduction, Overview and Rationale

Welcome to my elementary portfolio, an opportunity for me to showcase my

competencies, abilities, and aptitudes as a teacher, my professionalism, and my pedagogical

knowledge that I have cultivated through the Master of Science in Education program at

Medaille College. This portfolio enables me to demonstrate the skills that I have developed as

well as the knowledge I have acquired for prospective employers to view, in the hopes of making

a good first impression.

This portfolio will also serve as a means to present myself and my personal experiences.

For over a decade I have been working full time as a flight attendant and, for the better part of

that decade, I pursued my undergraduate degree at the University of Toronto part-time. Working

diligently and taking as much time as needed, my commitment to education and learning was

paramount in shaping my world view as well as my view of the field of education. As a teacher

candidate, I will be a fourth-generation teacher on my mother’s side. I have always understood

the hard work and responsibility teachers assume, and I have always respected it. It was through

this respect for educators and my love of teaching yoga that inspired my desire to teach in a

classroom, and so I did – teaching core French to elementary and junior high school students.

This portfolio will highlight my ability to educate, displaying my teacher competencies

through planning, instruction, assessment, technology, learner accommodation, culturally

responsive teaching/diversity, classroom management, professional collaboration, curriculum

standards, professional standards, and professional development. I will showcase my abilities to

keep students engaged and promote an inclusive learning environment. I truly believe that an

effective teacher approaches education with a student-focused instruction style that engages and
appeals to all learners of varying abilities, maintains effective planning strategies, and provides a

culturally responsive classroom as a safe, inclusive space that promotes diversity. Throughout

my studies at Medaille College as a student in the Master of Science in Education program, I

have committed to a rigorous course load that not only promotes good time management skills,

but also fosters a love of learning and the desire to be the best teacher I can be, by providing me

with the tools, skills, and preparedness I need to be an effective, caring educator.

There are six sections to this portfolio, each will be discussed in depth. These sections

include the introduction to the elementary portfolio project, my background experiences, eight to

ten of my artifacts, alignment to both curriculum and professional standards, a reflection, and an

interview video, all of which demonstrate a well-rounded teacher candidate. It is important that I

address my understanding and capabilities in the key competencies needed for an effective

teacher. I will be focusing on planning, instruction, assessment, technology, learner

accommodation, culturally responsive teaching and diversity, classroom management,

professional collaboration, curriculum standards, professional standards, and professional

development. These competencies entail planning meaningful lessons that engage students and

are functional for a variety of learning styles, needs, and abilities; caring about the needs of the

students and differentiating instruction; creating fair assessments that provide students with the

opportunity to showcase their best work and try again when needed; incorporating technology

for educational purposes; making accommodations in instruction and the classroom to suit

learner needs and conditions; being culturally responsive in my teaching and maintaining an

inclusive classroom that promotes diversity; having effective classroom management skills;

collaborating with colleagues; adhering to curriculum and professional standards of pedagogy;

and continuously learning to improve my own professional development. I feel well-equipped


and prepared to take on the most important challenge of my lifetime - a complete career change

and finally doing what I am passionate about: learning.

Portfolio Development

The Elementary Portfolio Project of the Masters of Science in Education program is

comprised of six sections, each highlighting a different aspect of the capstone portfolio: Section

One, Teacher Candidate Introduction to the Elementary Portfolio Project; Section Two, Teacher

Candidate Background Experiences; Section Three, Teacher Candidate Artifacts; Section Four,

Alignment to Curriculum and Professional Standards; Section Five, Teacher Candidate

Reflection; and Section Six, Teacher Candidate Interview Video. Each section and its

components are detailed below.

Section One, Teacher Candidate Introduction to the Elementary Portfolio Project,

introduces the portfolio and provides readers with descriptions of each section as well as the

purpose of this portfolio as a demonstration of my preparedness as a beginning elementary

teacher. This section consists of my background information; portfolio introduction and

rationale; portfolio section development; theories, theorists, and experts in the field of education;

and a conclusion.

Section Two, Teacher Candidate Background Experiences, outlines my educational and

work-related experiences as related to theorists and experts in the field who have helped to shape

my beliefs pedagogy. This section integrates my experience in the classroom with what I have

learned in the Master of Science in Education program at Medaille College. This section allows

the reader to gain insight into my experiences and how they have constructed my journey from

being a flight attendant and yoga instructor to becoming a teacher.


Section Three, Teacher Candidate Artifacts, provides evidence of my competence as an

engaging and effective teacher. It showcases my skills and proficiency in pedagogy, teacher

competencies, and best teaching practices throughout my coursework at Medaille College. In this

section, I will showcase my lesson plans that can accommodate the diversity of learners, my

artifacts connect to the theories and practices that I have learned throughout the program, as well

as meaningful learning experiences for students of all leaning levels, backgrounds, and needs.

Section Four, Alignment to Curriculum and Professional Standards, is centered on the

curriculum and professional standards and my ability to align these to the everyday

responsibilities required by teachers. This section consists of an introduction, definition of the

standards and their purposes, as well as making connections to each artifact that I have chosen to

include in Section Three of this portfolio. The standards that will be addressed in this section

include: New York State P-12 Common Core, New York State Learning Standards, Ontario

Curriculum Expectations, New York State Code of Ethics for Educators, Ontario Ethical

Standards, Interstate New Teacher Assessment Support Consortium Standards (InTASC),

International Society for Technology Education for Teachers and Students (ISTE), Council for

Exceptional Children (CEC), Department of Education Claims, and CAEP Standards. This

section should serve as evidence of my best teaching practices, pedagogy, subject matter

knowledge, as well as my ability to be an effective, supportive, and caring teacher.

Section Five, Teacher Candidate Reflection, focuses on my abilities of reflection as I

ruminate on the overall experiences I have had in developing this portfolio, experiences in the

Master of Science in Education program, and my readiness to become a teacher. This section

will also address how I have met the Department of Education Claims and CAEP Standards. It is

essential to reflect upon one’s experiences in order to make changes and adaptations as a means
of creating best teaching practices. It is important for educators to reflect and re-assess to

improve their teaching practices to give all learners the tools they need to find success and thrive

both inside and outside the classroom.

Section Six, Teacher Candidate Interview Video, is a ten- to fifteen-minute video of a

mock interview using Screencast-o-Matic, and the Weebly website to showcase my work and

answer questions that could potentially be asked in a job interview. I will make connections to

my portfolio artifacts, standards, teacher skills, strategies, and professional dispositions. As

technology in the classroom is becoming more predominant, this section provides the

opportunity for me to demonstrate my skills in this area. It also affords me the opportunity to

display my communication skills as I articulate to the viewer the key teacher competencies as

discussed throughout this portfolio, demonstrate professionalism as well as my readiness to be an

educator in today’s classroom.

Theories, Theorists and Experts in the Field of Education

Throughout my studies in the Master of Science in Education program at Medaille

College, I have gained invaluable knowledge and understanding of the field of education. Many

theorists have influenced the field of education, and for a variety of reasons. The theorists and

experts that have shaped my philosophy of education are Jean Piaget, B.F. Skinner, Harry Wong,

Lev Vygotsky, and John Dewey. I do not feel as though I identify entirely with one certain

school of thought, but rather captivated by a variety of schools of thought; however, I do feel that

I connect the most to the behaviorist school of thought and firmly believe in positive

reinforcement.

Jean Piaget’s pioneering work in children’s growth patterns and their stages of

development is a vital part of understanding the development and learning processes of a child.
Understanding this essential aspect of development is a key aspect of being an effective teacher.

Piaget’s detailed analyses of a child’s stages of development – the sensorimotor stage, the

preoperational stage, the concrete-operational period, and the formal-operational period – are

paramount to learning the essential developmental stages of knowledge (Ornstein, Levine,

Vocke, & Gutek, 2017, pp. 112-113). The learning process changes as the child transitions

through each stage of development, which is important for teachers to recognize, because as their

students move through the stages, the children’s notions about knowledge and reality change. It

is vital that primary education teachers be cognizant of their students’ stage of development

depending on their age and grade level, and individualize instruction so that each child may learn

according to their own individual degree of readiness. Additionally, according to Piaget, children

establish their notions about reality by “actively exploring their environment;” which is

something that I truly believe is essential to a student’s academic success (Ornstein et al., 2017,

pp. 112-113).

B. F. Skinner’s distinguished work in behaviorism is especially beneficial to examining

how learning occurs and understanding that behavior is shaped by operant conditioning, meaning

that one acquires his behaviors through consequences (Nevin, 1992, p. 614). Through his

research, Skinner demonstrated that learning occurs though association and that positive

reinforcement increases the frequency of a desired behavior, while negative reinforcement

decreases its frequency (Nevin, 1992, p. 614). Positive reinforcement is a technique I believe

successful and effective teachers utilize in their classroom to maintain a safe, positive space for

learning.

Renowned theorist Harry Wong defines classroom management as referring to “all the

things that a teacher does to organize students, space, time, and materials so that student learning
can take place” (Wong, Wong, Rogers, & Brooks, 2012, p. 60). Classroom management is

inherently connected to instructional success, as establishing routines and procedures provides a

structured, consistent environment that facilitates learning. Teachers must clearly communicate

to their students their expectations, class rules, and procedures at the beginning of the school

year, as this sets the standard and objectives of a successful classroom. This communication

enables the teacher to spend their time educating the students, and not disciplining them. This

stability is necessary for a variety of learners, and, as Wong posits, that predictability is an

essential success factor for students who come from unpredictable and chaotic homes (Wong et

al., 2012, p. 61).

Lev Vygotsky’s work in cognitive development and social interaction is preeminent in

not only psychology, but also the field of education. Understanding a child’s Zone of Proximal

Development (ZPD)- the distance between a child’s actual ability and their potential ability with

educational support, or the ‘sweet spot’ where learning occurs- is crucial to proper scaffolding,

assisting a student with a task until they are able to perform it on their own, and teaching

children with a variety of abilities and needs (Johnson, 2004, p. 109).

Lastly, John Dewey is an important educational figure who “organized the curriculum

into constructive, experimental, and creative activities” to develop “children’s sensory and

physical coordination,” and to offer “opportunities for children to make and do things based on

their interests,” as well as to “stimulate children to formulate, examine, and test their ideas by

acting on them” (Ornstein et al., 2017, p. 104). I strive to create and maintain these types of

meaningful, memorable, hands-on experiences that facilitate a child’s expansion of knowledge,

growth in their personal character, and success in school.


Conclusion

There have been significant changes in education as well as in teaching since I was an

elementary student. It is no longer a factory-style classroom filled with rote memorization and a

teacher pontificating to the listeners. It is now about students being active participants in their

education and learning experience. It is essential we teach children in a student-centered setting

and create memorable, relatable experiences for them. This portfolio demonstrates my

understanding of the importance of being an effective teacher through the key teacher

competencies. Each section showcases my readiness for a career in teaching as they provide

details of experiences and theorists that have developed my belief in equity for all learners within

an inclusive classroom, my background and journey through education, my teaching artifacts,

alignment to curriculum and professional standards, a reflection of self and experiences, as well

as my interview video.

In this first section, I have outlined my portfolio for you, the reader, but I hope that I have

given you a glimpse into my journey to becoming a teacher, my pedagogical knowledge, skills

and abilities to be an effective teacher, all of which encompass the key teacher competencies. As

Jean Piaget delightfully said, “The goal of education is not to increase the amount of knowledge

but to create the possibilities for a child to invent and discover, to create men who are capable of

doing new things.” (Dwyer Family Foundation, 2016) This quote is so relevant in today’s

classroom with an ever-changing world, society, and technological advancements. I believe it

embodies what you will find throughout this portfolio. I hope you have enjoyed reading thus far

and do hope you will enjoy reading more about my journey into the field of education in Section

Two: Teacher Candidate Background Experiences, where you will learn about what has led me

to become a teacher.