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Section Two: Teacher Candidate Background Experiences

Introduction

The purpose of Section Two: Teacher Candidate Background Experiences is to provide

information to the reader regarding the candidate’s educational and work-related background

experiences which all influenced and lead the candidate to the current point in their educational

careers. The candidate’s philosophy of education which includes the candidate’s core beliefs

involving the school, curriculum, the learner, assessment, classroom management, and the

teacher are explained thoroughly in this section. Also, the candidate’s most current resume is

available at the end of the section for the reader’s review. After reading Section Two, it is my

hope that the reader understands why I have chosen to become an educator and how my

philosophies of education influence and guide my work with students.

Teacher Candidate Educational Background and Work Experiences

Education Experiences

There are a few educators throughout my education from kindergarten through today

who’ve certainly made a positive impact on my life, instilled my love for learning, and have

influenced my desire to become an educator. I was very fortunate to have Mrs. K as my teacher

for 4th grade. Mrs. K stands out in my early childhood memories as an excellent educator

because she is a perfect model for creating truly engaging and motivating lessons that I will

forever remember. For example, we learned about Native Americans and the history of New

York State in 4th grade. Mrs. K challenged us to many fun and creative activities and lessons

throughout the unit. The culminating lesson was a field trip to an old historic school house. We

were asked to dress up in traditional dresses and we had an entire school day at the old historic
school house, using educational materials from olden times such as mini hand-held chalkboards

and chalk. We even brought specific food of that time to eat for snack and lunch. Our class was

so excited to experience a school day from this time period. It was a day I will never forget.

Another reason this teacher left an impact, is that I was always interested in writing stories and

short books. Along with another classmate, we would write and draw pictures for short mini

books. Mrs. K promoted our talents and hobby for writing by laminating and binding our books

to be displayed at the front of the classroom. She went out of her way to showcase our work and

by doing so, showed her support. We were so proud to show off our work to the rest of the class.

A second educator who made a positive impact on my life and influenced my passion for

teaching was my 7th and 8th grade math teacher. I was lucky to have Mrs. M as my math teacher

for two years in a row in Middle School. She motivated and instilled my love for learning and

studying math. She created fun and engaging lessons which made a subject area that was not as

popular in Middle School, my favorite subject. To this day, I consider math a stronger subject

area of mine. From Middle School on, I was always included in the advanced math courses

which later lead to my career path in the Accounting field.

I will fondly remember how Mrs. M and Mrs. K truly went above and beyond to create

engaging and meaningful lessons. And how they created positive relationships with their

students where they all felt included, special, and important. This is how I aspire to be.

Work Experiences

Prior to enrolling in the MSED program, I received my Bachelor of Science Degree in

Accounting from St. John Fisher College in 2014. I was hired shortly after graduation as a Staff

Accounting in a public accounting firm based in Western New York. For three and a half years,

I worked as an accountant at this firm. During this time, I was also promoted to Senior

Accountant, which led to increase in responsibilities. Some of these responsibilities included


leading a team of accountants, reviewing co-workers’ work, and training new hires and interns

who were scheduled on my clients. I was also responsible for keeping strong communication

with clients and providing consulting services. Specifically, I worked with many school districts

across New York State, working on auditing, budgeting and various consulting services.

However, after much reflection I realized that this career path was not for me and would not

make a fulfilling and meaningful career. I ultimately decided to pursue my passion for teaching.

Through my work and related experiences thus far, I have cultivated a strong set of qualities

which make me a competent candidate. I have developed effective communication and

interpersonal skills working with diverse groups of people. I enjoy collaborating and working

with teams, while taking on a leadership role. Through my flexibility and resourcefulness, I have

a strong ability to adapt to different professional and social environments. Above all, I am

committed and dedicated to motivate, challenge, and inspire my students so that they can be the

best that they can be and instill a lifetime love of learning.

School Observations and Classroom Application

Prior to beginning our student teaching experiences, candidates are required to complete

a certain number of observation hours in various elementary grade levels and in diverse settings.

I was fortunate to have the opportunity to complete my observation hours in a variety of

educational settings.

My first observation experience was conducted at a school for students with disabilities.

The students were of all ages from 5-18, and came from all over Western New York to attend the

school. This resulted in culturally and economically diverse classrooms. Two classrooms that I

observed were 6:1:1 classrooms and each student was very high need in academic, social and

physical development. I was able to observe the teachers collaborating with various
professionals in the field of education, such as physical therapists, occupational therapists,

speech therapists, counselors, nurses, and social workers. I was also able to observe the ways

that they differentiated the material for each individual student. It was a student-centered

learning environment. A best practice that I would take away from this observation experience is

the importance of collaboration and teamwork with other educational professionals. These

educators were effective in co-teaching and working together to benefit each student in the best

possible way. This way, these educators were able to better focus on each individual student,

rather than implement a one size fits all education.

My second observation was also conducted in a 7th and 8th grade 6:1:1 special education

classroom in a public school located in an urban setting. In this school, 70 countries were

represented as well as 40 languages spoken. During my observations, the teacher greeted

students at the door using their first names and asking questions such as how their night had been

or how their morning was going. She was showing her students that she cared about them and

was interested in their lives. The students clearly felt comfortable sharing information and

talking with their teacher. This automatically was setting a positive rapport with her students as

soon as they walked in the door. This teacher also incorporated, “Circle Time”, for about 20

minutes at the start of each school day. During this time, the teacher and all 6 students sat in a

circle on the carpet and shared their feelings or any short stories while they passed around a

talking piece. Only the student who had the talking piece was allowed to share. Other students

were allowed to raise their hands if they wished to comment or add to something that the student

with the talking piece shared. Before beginning, “Circle Time”, the teacher would review the,

“Circle Norms”, which were rules listed on the wall conveniently behind the carpet for all

students to easily read. The, “Circle Norms”, were: Respect the talking piece, Speak and listen
with respect, Confidentiality, Remain in the circle, and Speak from the heart. During my

observations, each student followed each and every one of these rules, listening politely while

students shared. This promoted a positive learning environment where all students and teachers

are respected. Also, “Circle Time”, was a way for the teacher to informally assess each of her

students’ moods and behaviors. After observing the benefits of these classroom management

techniques, I plan to implement them in my own classroom in the future.

During my second observation, I observed ways that the teacher scaffolded lessons.

When educators implement scaffolding techniques, they work and collaborate with students to

slowly decrease their levels of support. This helps students move towards greater independence

in learning. According to Lev Vygotsky, students should be taught this way, so that they are able

to develop relationships with material within their zone of proximal development (Zeske, 2018).

When the support is taken away, students are able to fully form an understanding of the

information that was taught (Zeske, 2018). The teacher modeled writing sentences about the

students’ recent field trip on the white board. The teacher took this as a writing opportunity and

for students to recount steps in order. At the school I observed, there was a system in place that

students followed for writing sentences and paragraphs across all classrooms. This system is a

way to organize their ideas and sentences. They write their introduction and conclusion sentence

in green, their topic sentence in yellow, and detail sentences in red. The teacher led the class

discussion about their field trip and wrote each sentence in corresponding colors on the white

board. Then, students wrote their own writing pieces. This scaffolding technique allowed

students to make social connections with the teacher on information they already knew before

completing the task on their own without as much support from the teacher.
My third observation was conducted in a 3rd grade general education classroom in a

public school located in an urban setting. During my observations, I observed teachers in the

grade level meet with and co-teach alongside literacy and math specialists. I also observed many

effective classroom management techniques. For example, the teacher I observed implemented

flexible seating in her classroom. Students were grouped at tables and had seat sacks which held

their school supplies. There were stations set up around the room with flexible seating options

such as yoga balls and wobble stools. There were rules on the classroom walls for how students

should behave while using the flexible seating options. Utilizing flexible seating allowed for

more free space in the classroom. This allowed students to move around the room freely if they

needed to. It also promoted responsibility for their actions. Another example, is a classroom

constitution that the teacher implemented from the beginning of the year. The teacher posted the

constitution on the bulletin board all year for students to be able to see. At the beginning of the

year, the teacher led a classroom discussion on rules and procedures which are important for a

classroom. Students provided their own ideas and insight to help create the list. At the end of

the activity, each student and teacher signed the bottom of the constitution. When students and

teacher work together to create a set of rules and procedures, they are working towards building

a classroom community. It’s important for students to understand the need for a rule so that they

can accept the rule (Brophy, 1976). Students are more inclined to then respect and follow the

rule. This activity allows the teacher an opportunity to discuss the rule with students while also

explaining the reason behind the rule.

Philosophy of Education

The School
According to Cile Chavez, Ed.D. and former superintendent, “An effective mission

statement is certainly one that has meaning to the whole school community. It should inspire! A

mission statement should clearly communicate what has heart and meaning within the school

district.” (Bafile, 2007). I strongly agree with Chavez. I believe that it’s critical for a school to a

mission statement that articulates clear meaning and goals of the school while providing a

framework for making important decisions and providing a sense of purpose for the school. It’s

also important for the school to promote their mission at every opportunity. The mission should

be posted all over the school and especially in every classroom so that the mission is understood

and accepted by everyone in the school community.

The Curriculum

Currently schools in New York State follow the Common Core guidelines and standards.

This set of guidelines and standards provide a framework for schools to develop their curriculum

around. It’s also critical for teachers to create engaging curriculum that is attention grabbing so

that students are interested in what they are learning. Overall, I believe that curriculum

implemented, should be challenging so that it promotes higher level thinking skills. The teacher

should differentiate lessons so that all students’ unique learning styles can be expressed. This

relates back to Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences, which explains that every

person has different types of intelligences.

There are also hidden curriculum that I believe is important, if not just as important for

educators to implement. For example, I feel that it’s important for educators to help their

students develop character traits such as being caring and kind, being fair to each other, being

responsible, demonstrating integrity, and being a good citizen. Ways that students can develop

these traits can easily go hand in hand with NYS guidelines and standards. Other examples of
hidden curriculum that I feel are important and should be integrated are abilities such as creative

thinking and problem solving.

The Learner

I am enthusiastic about working with elementary students between grades 1-6. This is

the grade level range that the MSED program I’m currently enrolled in is certifying me for. I

choose elementary education because I believe that I have the ability to make the most

meaningful connections with this age group. I also truly enjoy educating students integrating all

subjects across the curriculum to create engaging lessons.

In order to be prepared for educating students in this age range, it’s important to note the

theorist, Jean Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development so that lessons can be accommodated

and are appropriate for the students’ age and cognitive abilities. Jean Piaget’s theory explains

that children do not have intelligence as a fixed trait but rather develop their cognitive abilities

through biological maturation and interactions with their environment (McLeod, 2015). He

explains the four stages of development that children progress through during their years in

elementary education. The first stage, called the sensorimotor period beginning from birth to 2

years, involves the child figuring out the world around them through trial and error. In the

second stage, called preoperational stage from age 2 to 7 years, children are able to mentally

represent objects and events. In the third stage, called concrete operational from 7 to 11 years,

children are beginning to think logically about physical objects. In the fourth stage, called

formal operational from 11 to 16 years, children have the ability to think abstractly.

Assessment

I believe that it’s important for the teacher to utilize many different ways to assess their

students. Every student is different, by learning differently and by testing differently. This
relates back to Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences. Therefore, it’s important for

teachers to assess their students in ways that they can best show their knowledge and abilities.

This is a fundamental component to the educational setting.

The goal of assessment in education in general is for students to show what they have

learned and what they know. Students should be evaluated frequently so that educators can

accommodate their lessons to improve student learning and also to help monitor the educator’s

delivery of information as well.

Classroom Management

I believe that classroom management is an essential skill that an educator must have in

any educational setting. There are different components to classroom management such as

building relationships with students, time management, and creating behavioral standards for

students. It’s important to build positive relationships with students and cultivate a rapport with

them. It’s the teacher’s responsibility to establish a positive classroom community and cultivates

the respect and acceptance of each child. Educators can accomplish this through asking students

questions about their lives outside of class or what their interests/ likes and dislikes are. They

should show an interest in their students, which also promotes respect within the classroom.

The Teacher

I believe that throughout a teacher’s career, they will serve many roles beyond the role of

an instructor. The teacher should be a mentor, advocate, role model, leader, coach, supporter,

and also learner. This wide range of roles are necessary in order to support students and promote

success within the classroom and school. Teachers should add value and importance to each

individual students’ educational experience. Also, teachers should be able to work well with
other professionals and in teams to effectively provide students with the best educational

experience possible.

Resume

Introduction

An important component of Section Two is the candidate’s resume. It’s important for the

candidate to include the most current resume so that the reader can see the whole picture of the

candidate’s education and work-related background experiences. The resume also includes more

detailed information about background experiences which may not have been explained in the

earlier subsections of Section Two. The following subsection contains the candidate’s current

resume.

My Resume

Kathryn Pasier
195 Lexington Avenue, Buffalo, NY 14222
(716) 983-8297
kpasier495@gmail.com

CERTIFICATION: Seeking New York State Initial Certification in Childhood Education,


Grades 1-6
EAS – Passed April 2018

EDUCATION: Masters of Science in Elementary Education, anticipated August 2018


Medaille College, Buffalo, New York
GPA: 3.83

Bachelors of Science in Accounting, May 2014


St. John Fisher College, Rochester, New York
Member of the Women’s Tennis Team from 2010-2014, Captain (2012-
2014)

TEACHING EXPERIENCE:

Substitute Teacher May 2018-Present


Hamburg Central School District, Hamburg, New York
Sweet Home Central School District, Amherst, New York
- Instructed to all grade levels at various schools within the Districts
- Followed school standards and teachers’ guidelines and expectations
- Followed lesson plans and utilized relevant activities and manipulatives to supplement
the lessons
- Communicated with teachers regarding student progress and disciplinary transgressions

Student Teacher March-May 2018


Boston Valley Elementary School, Grade 4, Hamburg, New York
- Taught mathematics aligned with the Common Core State Standards using Math
Expressions
- Designed and utilized inquiry based learning for Electrical Circuits science unit aligned
with Next Generation Science Standards
- Experienced full instruction throughout the placement allowing for development of own
teaching style

Student Teacher Jan–March 2018


A.J. Schmidt Elementary School, Grade 3, Lakeshore, New York
- Taught mathematics aligned with the Common Core State Standards
- Experienced co-teaching model of parallel teaching and collaborating with various
professionals
- Taught with Guided Reading and Accountable Independent Reading (GRAIR), which
included guided reading, fluency, independent reading, writing skill lessons, and phonics
skill lessons
- Designed a Brazil social studies unit incorporating hands on activities
- Experienced full instruction throughout the placement allowing for development of own
teaching style

RELATED EXPERIENCE:

Volunteer Nov 2017-Present


Westminster Economic Development Initiative (ENERGY Program), Buffalo, New York
- Experienced working and supporting English Language Learners with one-on-one
reading activities
- Facilitated learning games and activities
- Tutored and assisted with daily homework assignments

Tennis Instructor Summer 2010


Willow Bend Country Club, Hamburg, New York
- Planned, coordinated, and taught tennis lessons to students of all ages, in both group and
private lessons
- Provided student progress assessments and adjusted training techniques based on
strengths and weaknesses
- Prepared schedules to accommodate all students and kept accurate records

OTHER EXPEREIENCES:
Senior Accountant July 2014–Dec 2017
EFPR Group CPAs, PLLC, Buffalo, New York
- Prepared and reviewed complex financial statements and disclosures in compliance with
U.S. GAAP
- Developed effective working relationships with clients to provide consulting, auditing,
and compliance services
- Assisted in developing, training, and mentoring junior staff and interns
- Effectively managed schedule to meet client engagement deadlines and tasks on a budget

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT:

WNY Children’s Book Expo November 2017


Canisius College Math Conference January 2018

TECHNOLOGY:

Proficient in the use of Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, and Microsoft PowerPoint.

REFERENCES:

Available upon request.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Section Two: Teacher Candidate Background Experiences included

important components to the candidate’s background experiences which influenced the desire to

pursue a path in education. The candidate’s educational and work-related experiences,

philosophy of education, and resume were all highlighted and explained within this section. It is

my hope that the reader understands the experiences which have lead me to this point in the

MSED program and prepared me to become an effective professional educator.

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