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A question that educators continuously seek to answer is – “How do we support students in achieving expected academic growth each year?”   While we keenly focus on the learning needs of our students, it is important that we not neglect our professional progress.  Teaching is complex and multifaceted requiring a commitment to continuous improvement to move along the continuum from novice to expert practitioner.

Moving along the Continuum
Recognizing that teachers are diverse learners who progress at different paces for varied reasons, the 3-Day Differentiating Adult Learning Course (DAL) has been developed.  A component of this course expands on the work of David Berliner’s Stages of Teacher Development to include situational learning, proposing that any teacher, regardless of years of experience, may simultaneously be a novice in one content or context while at the same time be an expert in another area of practice.  For example, one may be expert with classroom management while being at the beginning stages of understanding in the implementation of instructional technology.

Reflection, a Powerful Tool for Growth
So, how does one move from one stage to another? Reflecting deeply and carefully about our practice is a powerful way to sharpen our tools and refine our craft.  John Dewey said, “We don’t learn from experience. We learn from reflecting on experience.” That learning is deepened when we apply it to future situations.   A good example of reflection is post-game interviews in sports. The players and coaches immediately begin dissecting their performance – what they did well and what still needs work.  Their goal is to incorporate those reflections into future practice and play.

In the same way, reflection allows the teacher to unpack a lesson, examine each component, and gain new insights that can be applied to other teaching and learning situations.  For example, in a math lesson a teacher must attend to many things including the math standards, how the lesson begins, transitions between activities, instructional strategies, and assessment for and of learning.  To learn from practice, a teacher may ask:

  • What is my evidence that the lesson goals were achieved?
  • What are some indications that all students actively participated in the lesson?
  • In what ways did the selected instructional strategies engage my students and deepen their understanding of math concepts?
  • How might I apply what I learned from this lesson to future lessons?
Tips for Deeper Reflection
Becoming a reflective practitioner requires intentionality.  Some ways to ensure development of the habits and skills that lead to deeper reflection include:
  • Reflect with others- Individual reflection, such as asking oneself the above questions, can be enriched by examining our work with colleagues to support each other’s growth.  Art Costa and Bena Kallick write, “We foster our own growth when we control our learning, so some reflection is best done alone. Reflection is also enhanced when we ponder our learning with others.” 
  • Be goal oriented – Reflecting on every single component of a lesson may be overwhelming, so select a goal area such as classroom questioning asking, “In what ways was the expectation established that all students must answer?”, “Did I ask questions at various cognitive levels?”
  • Compare reflection to planning – Set yourself up for deep reflection by having a solid instructional plan.  One might ask, “How does what was planned compare to what occurred during the lesson?”
  • Journal your thoughts to document and monitor your progress towards your identified goals.
  • Videotape yourself teaching and review the video as an observer analyzing specific student and teacher actions and the resulting impact on learning.

The goal of reflection is student growth which will happen as a result of teacher growth.   To gain more information on ways to support adult learning, consider the Differentiating Adult Learning Course offered Spring 2018.

Costa, A. L., & Kallick, B. (2008). Learning and leading with habits of mind: 16
     essential characteristics for success. Alexandria, Va: Association for
     Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Lipton, L., Wellman, B. M., & Humbard, C. (2003). Mentoring matters: A practical
     guide to learning-focused relationships. Sherman, CT: MiraVia, LCC.

“Growing in SC: The Future of STEAM is Here” - Grant Opportunities

PreK-12  -  In or Out of School Time -  New STEAM Initiatives
The grants are designed to support the development and implementation of new projects and/or units that enhance preK-12 STEAM education as related to the Profile of the SC Graduate.

Grantees will receive up to $2,500.  In addition to the monetary award, grantees will receive 8 hours onsite STEAM-focused professional development valued at $1,500.

All applications must be submitted by 5:00 pm on January 12, 2018.

Visit our S²TEM Centers SC team!  They will be at the following conference offering sessions.

What’s in Your Disciplinary Literacy Strategy Toolbox?

Participant’s toolbox will be filled with disciplinary literacy strategies that can easily be implemented in classrooms and assist students in developing world-class skills.


STEM’s Not What We Teach; It’s What We Do

How do you STEM? We will examine community partnerships and instructional leadership experiences in STEM to become better prepared for implementing STEM-mindedness communitywide.

Free Downloadable Math & Science Lessons

A collection of professionally developed K-8 lessons, aligned with the latest SC standards.


Explore our collection of STEM events and opportunities around the state. 

Have a STEM event you'd like to adverstise, visit STEM Linx!  Posting is free for registered users.  Add your opportunity to STEM Linx and you just may find it advertised in our next issue of Insights!

Differentiating Adult Learning 3--Day Course

Explore strategies for how adults learn and learn how to transform your schools and districts into sustainable learning environments. Learn More

Educator Winter Science Café Series!

The Science Behind Sound: Music, Math, and Messages

January 18th, 2018, 5:00 pm- 6:30 pm
Smokey Oak Taproom, James Island, SC

Guest speaker, Dr. Melissa Hughes, explores the relationship between music, the mathematical world as well as the music found in nature. Learn new strategies to communicate these connections in your classroom from the experts themselves in a “dinner-table” style discussion.

This event is open to any K-12 formal or informal educator!  Registration FREE but limited so sign up today!

Charleston STEM Festival

February 3, 2018
Brittlebank Park, Charleston SC
A community celebration of STEM, featuring ~80 exhibitors who will provide hands-on activities, live performances, interactive demonstrations, and family-oriented STEM entertainment. Find out More!

Storm the Citadel

February 10, 2018
The Citadel, Charleston, SC
Teams of students in grades K-12 from all over the state of South Carolina will participate in trebuchet, bridge building, Lego robotics, and water bottle rocket competitions.   Find out More!

South Carolina Recreation and Parks Association Programming Summit

February 21-23, 2018
Myrtle Beach, SC
Join us in sharing educational or recreational programs and learn from others in the field about developing new opportunities.   Find out More!

Code Quest

April 21, 2018
Greenville, SC

Lockheed Martin hosts Code Quest, an annual computer programming competition where teams of 2-3 high school students each work together for 2.5 hours to solve problems by using JAVA, Python and/or programming to complete the “quest.” The problem set consists of 15-20 challenges created by Lockheed Martin engineers and computer programmers.

iMAGINE Upstate STEAM Festival

April 7, 2018
Greenville, SC
A free community event featuring interactive exhibits and live stage shows from more than 70 STEAM organizations.  Find out More!

KidWind Challenge

April 7, 2018
The Citadel, Charleston SC
Students in grades 4-12 are invited to participate in two fun renewable energy competitions.  Find out More!

4-H Engineering Challenge

April 14, 2018
Midlands Technical College, West Columbia, SC
An opportunity for students 9-19 to learn, have fun, demonstrate their science, technology, engineering and math skills, and compete for individual and team honors.  Find out More!


The Gene Machine Mobile Science Laboratory

This mobile science lab allows the technology and expertise of the Greenwood Genetic Center to come directly to classrooms across South Carolina at no charge to the school. Find out More!


Clemson University Life Sciences Outreach Center

Offering laboratory field trips in modern genetics and biotechnology to school groups. Students will use modern technology to generate and analyze results and to learn key concepts.  View a list of labs and for information on bringing CULSOC labs to your school.
Copyright © 2018 South Carolina's Coalition for Mathematics & Science at Clemson University, All rights reserved.

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