4. Content Knowledge – The teacher uses content area knowledge, learning standards, appropriate pedagogy and resources to design and deliver curricula and instruction to impact student learning.
The average elementary school teacher must learn and master the content of anywhere between 5-7 subjects, including (but not limited to): math, reading, writing, social studies, technology, art, science, and many others to follow. Not only are we teaching the students skills within these subjects, but we are also teaching them how to operate in society and how to become a well-mannered citizen in their community.
For standard 4 of the State 8 Standards, the teacher “uses content area knowledge, learning standards, appropriate pedagogy and resources to design and deliver curricula and instruction to impact student learning.” It sounds simple enough read this standard within a single sentence, but it packs on so much more than a simple task for a teacher to be doing.
In my internship, I have been expected to script my lessons to ensure that I have the right content down, I have examples of what the students will be looking at already prepared, I am using my scope and sequences for planning as well as the provided (and not provided texts) and using what I believe as an educator in my personal pedagogy and applying said beliefs into the how I am teaching my students. The example I am using for my piece of evidence is the combined scopes and sequences for a single unit – the Westward Expansion. I sat down with my mentor teacher and saw so many different materials, texts, and resources… needless to say, I was overwhelmed. So, what I did is I used my content knowledge and combined everything into one big document of what needed to be done and learned for each and every lesson of the month-long unit. It took me and my mentor teacher hours to put together and it personally helped me get a better glance at where the students were going and how.
The last step in this process was to apply my own pedagogy into the process, and I will admit that this has been the harder part of this standard to hit. According to the published article The Five Half Truths about Classroom Management by Joshua Englehart explains how different things work for different people, “The premise: Teachers, just like their students, bring their own individual strengths, weaknesses, likes, dislikes, personalities, temperaments, and styles to the classroom” (71). Englehart showcases how different every teacher can teach the same lesson and how important it is to embrace how varying ways of teaching can be beneficial not only for your students, but for your own comfortableness teaching that subject. I have begun experiencing this with teaching mathematics. It is my weakness in teaching; the process, the vocabulary, etc. It doesn’t come as naturally to me as it was to be the student. Lately, it has been important in my student teaching that I learn ways that works for me to teach the content and not just the ways my mentor teacher is giving me, but keeping these ideas in mind.
Learning the content, making the content, and teaching the content can often get in the way of starting teachers showing their personality and methods with the students. But that is the way teaching goes: you learn something new every day and you make it a goal for yourself to continue learning and reflecting where you need to grow.