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The purpose of the autobiographical reflections exercise is to have time to reflect on your personal history in the focus areas of the field experience which will begin in the coming weeks. In a response of one or two paragraphs per focus area, write a well-developed short essay (not a Q & A format) answering the questions for each topic.
- Professionalism: How did my elementary teachers demonstrate their professionalism? (You may focus on one or more teachers) What commanded respect? How did teachers interact with you, other students, and/or other adults? How did they dress? What put you off?
- Learning: Who am I as a learner? Tell about an engaging learning experience. What does this tell you about how you learn?
- Enduring Themes: What recurring themes in education can I recall from my elementary school days? Were you aware of grouping/tracking, achievement gaps? What were your teachers’ expectations for you? Were you informed on why you were receiving education?
- Learning Environment: In what environment do I learn best? Reflecting on your own learning experiences in elementary classrooms, tell about the environment in which the learning played out. What kind of relationships did you have with your teachers? What were the expectations for student behavior? Did you sit in desks in rows or circles, at tables with groups, etc.?
- Diversity/Culture: What do I remember about my culture or diversity issues from my elementary school days? Was your elementary experience culturally and/or racially diverse? What was the school or classroom climate in regards to acknowledging culture/diversity issues? Did you notice any socio-economic or gender bias? Did you experience any overt or covert prejudice?
- Curriculum: What do I remember about curriculum from my elementary school days? What knowledge, skills, or values do you remember learning in elementary school? What are some examples of curriculum materials from your elementary school experience (e.g., textbook, field experiences)?
- Instruction: What do I remember about the way I was taught in my elementary school classes? Tell about the various ways different teachers taught you. Did you receive individualized, small or large group instruction? Did you spend the majority of the school day sitting in your desk? Did you learn only from a textbook?
- Assessment: What do I remember about being evaluated in my elementary days? Tell about ways elementary teachers had you show what you knew. Do you remember any specific testing situations? How did testing situations make you feel?
- Communication: What do I remember about teachers communicating with me in elementary school? Tell about verbal and nonverbal communication with your elementary teachers. Did anything really stand out? Did you have a teacher who had “a look”, used sarcasm, yelled often, had crystal clear explanations, or used humor well? What was your reaction to the verbal/nonverbal communication?