A group of education students presented their original project, Are You the Teacher You Intended to Be?, at the international Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) Conference in Atlanta, Ga., on April 2.
Jessica Bjick, Emily Blaser, Katie LeTourneau, Allison Warmka, and their project adviser, Dr. Scott Sorvaag of the Education Department, joined a community of educators from around the world. Those in attendance included big names in the education community, such as Carol Ann Tomlinson and Carol Dweck, to discuss the most up-to-date research in whole-child learning and the best teaching practices that align with the whole-child model.
Left to right: Katie LeTourneau, Jessica Bjick, Dr. Scott Sorvaag, Emily Blaser, and Allison Warmka
Extending upon ASCD’s advocacy work for teacher development and equity in education for all learners, the team’s project, featured first in ASCD’s preview magazine, focused on the possibility of self-realization through intentional reflection. By journaling throughout their student teaching experiences, each of them contemplated whether or not they were in the process of becoming the kind of teacher they first set out to be.
LeTourneau explained that this qualitative research was then turned into a model for reflective practice. According to Warmka, the intent of the work was to “give teachers, new and veteran, the opportunity to reflect on what they have been doing to see if their motivation has changed.”
The process of entering into the conference was extensive. The team members began working on the project last spring and continued throughout the fall semester, meeting once a week to discuss their findings. They then created a comprehensive model by breaking down the reflection process. They submitted their proposal to the ASCD conference, with only a 30% chance of getting in, and were accepted.
Along with discussing their project at the conference, the students were able to listen to speakers and participate in other themed sessions. Blaser recalled one fellow educator who expressed gratitude toward young pre-service teachers for their commitment to students.
Manny Scott, one of the original Freedom Writers, was another key speaker whose message spoke to Warmka in a unique way.
“His message was incredible and it affirmed my decision to not be a classroom teacher, but instead work toward being able to support students in their lives outside the classroom,” said Warmka.
LeTourneau commented on the overall experience, saying, “I gained so much insight on education and it affirmed that what I am learning at Saint Mary’s is being presented at international conferences.”