In January 2008, I started my study “Curriculum and Instructional Strategies” at the University of New England. The 30-credits program included the following courses:

•    Teacher as a Leader
•    Differentiation Theory and Strategies
•    Motivational Theory and Classroom Management
•    Study Skills and Content Literacy
•    Connecting Reading with Writing for Success
•    Instructional Leadership
•    Teaching and Learning in Inclusion Setting
•    Using Technology within Inclusion Education
•    Action Research
•    Portfolio
See reflective summary:

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In my experiences with students I have noticed a severe lack of problem-solving skills among many of them. My main learning goal for all my students is for them to become problem solvers. However, this turned out to be very challenging for me because of the huge difference in school climate and culture at Valley High School compared with the schools where I have worked in the Netherlands. For the students this was, and is, very challenging because for most of them this is a new educational approach: They are not used to it and for many high school students it is too late to adapt to it. When students come to my classes for the first time they expect me to tell them what to do and how to do it, while my assignments are open problems, with the intention of stimulating the students to find their own solutions to the various problems that they will confront.
This action research describes the process of documenting whether students’ lack of problem-solving skills is an overall concern throughout the school district. It describes the search for strategies to enhance these problem-solving skills for all K-12 students, and it describes the action that needs to be taken to implement these strategies in all grades.
Analysis of teacher and parent survey data revealed that colleague teachers and parents share my concerns with regard to our students lacking problem-solving skills.
 Based on several literature reviews and research done previously, five strategies have been distilled as important problem-solving enhancing strategies.
Professional development for all teachers is necessary to ensure implementation of these strategies. Research has shown that in order to ensure teachers’ involvement, teachers need to be aware of the need for this professional development and a peer-coaching network needs to be in place to help teachers with the implementation of these strategies.  Beside that, teachers are more involved when they themselves facilitate the workshops in which these strategies are introduced and practiced.
This research offers a future action plan for offering this professional development by means of a PLC, to all district employees, for assessing students before and after the implementation of problem-solving strategies and for future research to gauge the effect of these strategies on students a year after they have graduated from high school.

Although this action plan still needs to take shape in the next school year, I believe it will help me understand how to be a teacher leader and how to communicate my ideas with my colleagues. It is an ongoing plan and it will keep me (and my colleagues) professionally challenged in order to pursue the goal of increasing our students’ achievements in general and problem-solving skills in particular.
For this research I had to pull all the newly acquired knowledge from this study (Msed) together to create an action plan in which I am able to share my knowledge with my colleagues in order to improve on student achievement throughout the whole district.

Action Research

Creativity essay

Differentiation PPT

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