I truly enjoy being a student as much as I enjoy being a teacher ... Remembering a reference to a text from long ago that I encountered during my initial education and teaching sequence, author James G. Henderson stated that to become a reflective teacher, one must prepare by becoming a student of one's own teaching. This statement exemplifies and embodies the 'portfolio' process of compiling experiences and situations upon which to reflect, learn, modify, and grow. The very process of information gathering imbeds itself as an integral component of life and one's mere survival while journeying about the elements and environment in a stumbling fashion.
I gather much knowledge and insight from experiencing mistakes as well as proven practices. Oftentimes, the former provides for a greater reward as long as it is made to be meaningful and relevant. If I can prove ownership and benefit from even the most devastating situation, then my 'bungled' efforts, or those of others, were not in vain. Stemming possibly from my early days as an only child who was into everything -- not by being bad, but as a creative outlet for the incredible amount of ideas that I held dear -- my passion for learning and growing runs deep. I charged myself to conjure ways of playing games (alone) that were originally meant for two or more players, and to invent gadgets from found items laying around the house. My parents say that I rarely missed not having an older or younger sibling, and that I always kept myself amused -- "without all of the electronics," Mom adds.
I witness little of this very desire in the youth of today; my students often need to be reminded to 'think' for themselves during the most trivial task. Nor have I heard these children boast of 'ownership' in something that they created with their own hands. This is not only indicative of the students I currently instruct, but of others as I have gathered through conversations with colleagues throughout the world. Though an occasional group of adolescents may don this inquisitive nature more so than others, the majority of children cannot effectively problem solve and use critical thinking skills within their own environment. Surely, they talk of cyber-people mutilating creatures in video games, friends purchasing the widest bell-bottom pair of jeans or skateboarding over another's personal property, and other pop-culture topics. However, rarely are they 'proud' of something that they have accomplished that is meaningful ... unless it is, somehow, destructive!
The desire to expose these students to wonderful, and often, missed opportunities drives me to discover 'new' ways to teach math -- new ways to teach color -- new ways to teach gravity, forces, and energy. Though my focus to remain informed and abreast of technological advancements may sometimes be rooted in my students' lack to excel, I believe that I will always seek opportunities for professional development, as an educator and as a person. I do plan to continue my studies at the graduate level, either as a 'Continuing Education' student or matriculated Doctoral candidate. However, I currently find it difficult to choose a specific area of concentration due to the wonderful opportunities that I have experienced in my Master-level classes at the University of Delaware and nearby, The College of New Jersey. Coupled with the over-exposure to a variety of education focal areas (Counseling, Psychology, Curriculum, Educational Technology, etc.) and my alternate, educational endeavors in writing curriculum, I am left to ponder this decision.
I have recently considered participation in the Fulbright Scholar Program and exchange with the education system of Japan. Through this program, I may offer my students an increased awareness of their educational practices, and share the experiences of another culture and history of a country. In addition to this wondrous opportunity, I also await notification from the National Science Foundation of a specialized program to be held at Cambridge University, England to sponsor Doctoral candidates in the field of Technology Education. Whatever the chosen pathway, I can state that my feelings towards additional professional growth will never lie dormant for too long, and will always affect my classroom instruction for the betterment of a child's education!
 Henderson, James G. Reflective Teaching: Becoming an Inquiring Educator. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1992.