California Educator

August 2016

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Linda Guthrie assesses her teaching as it happens in the classroom. If Mark Quintero is trying something new in English class and wants to know how it's working, he'll invite a colleague to observe. There's an open-door policy at California High School for just that reason, says the Whittier Secondary Education Association member. Quintero, whose students range from Advanced Placement to English learners, appreciates his colleagues' willingness to critique. Most offer positive feedback; occa- sionally there is constructive criticism. "We all have to deal with ego," he says. "If someone thinks I'm doing something wrong, I might feel a little bit hurt, but never angry. I have to prepare myself for that if I open up my classroom." Quintero, who recently became a National Board Cer- tified Teacher (NBCT), believes teachers who take time for reflection ultimately do a better job. And he is proud to be modeling the same openness that he encourages in students. "One of my first lessons is: You have to be open to criticism to succeed as a writer. By modeling that mental- ity, I put myself in the same position as my students. I tell them that those afraid of failure or taking risks will find themselves stagnating." Linda Guthrie doesn't need a quiet space to reflect on whether her strategies and curriculum are connecting with students. Instead, she reflects on things while they are happening in the classroom, so she can switch tactics if needed. "As soon as something comes out of my mouth, I reflect on how students are responding to it," says Guthrie, an NBCT who teaches English at Thomas Starr King Middle School in Los Ange- les. "Being a good teacher is changing what you do instantaneously based on reflection." Sometimes that means asking students to close their books for a meaningful discussion. Or stopping a lesson and heading to the library for research. "I am constantly reflecting on my practice as well as strategies to reach students and deciding on what resources they need," says Guthrie, United Teachers Los Angeles. "To me, a big part of the Common Core is that teachers reflect more on their practice and find ways to be better teachers." Recently she changed how she commu- nicates with parents, because they expect constant online dialogue and question her instruction and homework assignments more today than in years past. "I have made communication with them more timely and instantaneous. I explain my expecta- tions and keep them abreast of how their child is doing or any issues they may be having. I am now more in tune with parents. Being a reflective teacher taught me how to do that." Mark Quintero is observed by fellow educator Joshua Rear while teaching class. 29 A S K C O L L E A G U E S F O R F E E D B A C K 30 R E F L E C T I N T H E M O M E N T 26 cta.org F E A T U R E

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