ACT Voices Part 5: An Experience-Focused Approach

In this final “ACT Voices” video from our 8th cohort, Teacher Residency graduate Elsie McIver underscores the importance of an experience-focused approach in developing her teaching practice.  As an Arbor faculty member from the outset of her program, Elsie jumped into teaching immediately on the first day of school.  This active and immersive approach is supported by ongoing reflection and feedback from co-teaching mentors and coaches for the two years of the program.  
 

As a result of this perpetual experience and reflection cycle, residents come to see their lesson plans as their best hypotheses about what will work for their students that day, followed by analysis of the impact of their lesson design on students’ evolving understandings and habits.  This emphasis on analysis and adjustment in the midst of lessons as well as at the end of each day develops residents’ ability to focus on differentiating their practice for the range of children in their classrooms.  Their strong teaching practices stand out when ACT residents move to work in public schools during their second year.  

This ongoing planning/instruction/assessment cycle is engagingly depicted in Elsie’s “action research” project entitled, “Why Are They Telling Me This?  Reading Non-fiction for Understanding in the Early Elementary Grades”  Elsie studies her 2nd and 3rd graders’ non-fiction comprehension and shares the differentiation strategies she developed to support the varied reading and writing needs in her classroom.

Elsie also shares her background as a Peace Corps volunteer to Panama prior to joining the ACT program.  Capitalizing on her Spanish language strengths, she taught in a dual language immersion program at Trost Elementary school in her second year and worked to add 5th grade mathematics vocabulary to her teaching repertoire.  Currently, she teaches 4th grade in Sandy, Oregon within a small rural public school with a substantial proportion of English language learners.