Teacher Innovation #10: “Innovation as Self: A Teacher Reflects on Innovation as a Pedagogical Philosophy Shift”

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Post #10 is from Dr. Kim Foster, a practicing ELA teacher with nearly a decade of classroom experience. I met Dr. Foster when we both started our doctoral studies in 2013 and from day one, she was both a good friend and someone who challenged my own intellectual aptitude as a graduate student. (I grew to be a better doc student because of her; although, she is too humble to agree to that.) Dr. Foster has my utmost respect and is the embodiment of what it means to foster (no pun intended) caring relationships in the classroom and to have a growth mindset. Her post reflects on her evolution in pedagogical philosophy and pedagogy in the classroom over the course of her career and particularly the last four years of research. Much like myself, Dr. Foster experienced a seismic shift in her pedagogical approach. If you want delve into culturally relevant pedagogy and a critical approach to teaching in the classroom, you do not want to miss reading this post. Even if you’re not a teacher, this post highlights how our best teachers grow and change student lives.

Previous Entries in the Series: Post #1 // Post #2 // Post #3 // Post #4 // Post #5 // Post #6 // Post #7 // Post #8 // Post #9

By Dr. Kim Foster

When Kyle asked me to participate in this “innovation” series, I immediately said yes because Kyle is awesome, and I love to write about my classroom. However, the more I pondered on my teaching, the more I concluded, “What I do in the classroom is really not that super innovative…what does it mean to be innovative?” Well, I googled it because that is how we find quick answers these days. Google claims that innovating is “to make changes in something established, especially by introducing new methods, ideas, or products.” As I mulled over my thoughts, what I determined is that my mindset as a teacher has been in a process of innovation for the past four years. In this post, I will share about an unanticipated shift in my pedagogical approach that came about when I started a doctoral program (how I met Kyle) to learn more about how to teach more effectively, and what I gained can not be quantified by insignificant numbers or qualified by mere words. I am the result of innovation, and I hope that all teachers can find encouragement in allowing yourself to be refined, revived, and renewed in ways that you may never know that you need. I start with a reminiscent scene from ten years ago during my student teaching; I then share a brief description of the knowledge that sparked my journey. I move to a reflection from my dissertation research; and I end with a reflection as I move into my tenth year of teaching. Continue reading

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NCTE 2016: A Quick Look Back

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I only got to stay one day this year, but I must say I think Atlanta did a fantastic job hosting this year’s conference! Bravo, ATL!

I’m also digging NCTE’s new logo, or maybe it was just the logo for the conference this year. In any case, love the simplicity of the design.

With the one day I did spend at the conference, I packed in as much as I could, including seeing some fellow doc students and recent grads, meeting with my dissertation chair, hanging out with the Kennesaw State crew, and probably most importantly receiving stellar feedback on my dissertation at my roundtable. The only regret was not getting to meet one of my ELA heroes, Buffy Hamilton, when I had the chance. The stars simply did not align. Continue reading

The Hiatus is Over: Update on All the Things

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I suppose I should not be entirely assumptive that my posts were missed these last couple of months, but personally, I am happy to be writing on the blog again. In my first true post since taking a bit of break, I give insight into the continued dissertation process and insight into some of the ground swell of project-based learning at my school. If you read this blog or even just this post. Thanks–it means a lot. Continue reading

A Summer Update: Data Analysis, SREB, and a New School Year

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Posting this summer has become an elusive task for me. As much as I meant to chronicle my summer of analyzing data, I have not been inspired to do so. Partially, I have been surprised how far behind I feel in my effort. I suppose I am not really, but there is a bit of mental game being played when spending hours reading transcripts, watching videos, and coding it all. I have a long way to go, but what is emerging from the data is both affirming and surprising. That is the fun part. Yes, tiring to be sure, but also fun. It is like I am on a treasure hunt–a long, at times boring, yet exhilarating treasure hunt.  Continue reading

My Dissertation Proposal Defense is Tuesday

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Remarkably, I am not freaking out. I feel ready–mostly–but I have a sneaking premonition that there is no way I can be fully prepared for what my committee will ask me. While mostly calm, I do worry if I have read enough, or really my worst fear of being able to recall and synthesize what I have read to explain my position, my study, and why I am ready to move to the next phase of my journey–data collection. The proposal defense is essentially the defense of my first three chapters in their most current form–Introduction (What), Theoretical Framework (Why), and Methodology (How). (I feel strongly I will be making modifications to it after the defense). The defense is my opportunity to prove to myself and my committee that I am well-informed enough and well-read enough to take on data collection and the subsequent analysis of that data. Most hours I think I am ready, but every once in awhile an element of doubt creeps into my mind (Have I done enough? Do I know enough?). On the spectrum of excitement and anxiety, I am somewhere in the middle. If there is a word for that feeling, I need someone to fill me in because I do not know it. In any case, I will be sure let those of you following my adventure know how it goes. Hopefully, I will have good news Tuesday night. Cheers!