Reflecting On My Role As A Teacher

Master Teacher Guest Blog Series

Part 4: Reflect Honestly

Post 3 of 4

Honest reflection can yield many positive results. We’ve already heard from two Master Teachers, one who invited students into the reflective process, and one whose regular reflections led to lesson adjustment that will benefit future students.

In today’s post, Master Teacher Michelle Marcus describes how honest reflection challenged her to rethink her entire outlook on her role as a teacher. Enjoy!

As I was driving home tonight from parent-teacher conferences, I was struck by how different my approach to teaching and learning is from what it was even just a few years ago. As a veteran teacher of 25 years, I have reflected on my teaching in many ways over the years. Only now, however, do I see that I am reflecting in order to revise my thinking first, before I work to change the student’s behaviors.

In the past, up until very recently, I would discuss with parents what their student could do well and what seemed to be a struggle. I would then go over suggestions for work and activities students could do at home to help raise their child’s conceptual understanding, test scores, and/or their work production. It was all student-centered, but not necessarily in the child’s control.

What I realized, after an evening of speaking with parents, is that now I use the CCSS to guide me in my lessons and I consider the practices that help make students THINKERS and ACTION TAKERS. I realized that my lessons need to put students in control of their sense making and I need to guide them through the comfortable struggle in which I place them.

Now when I work with parents to help their students develop understanding, score better on high stakes tests, and produce wonderful pieces of work, I explain what I will do to help the student. The conversation shifts to matching what I do to what the student needs based on their starting ability and understanding. The work is mine and I am responsible for creating an environment for the students in my class to make meaning, communicate learning, and ask questions.

If you have had a similar epiphany and are ready to own the learning that takes place in your classroom, there is a site available, for free, to all teachers that want to begin or continue to work and learn in this way. It is

When you visit this site, you will find thousands of lessons written by Master Teachers who have developed a mindset of “what do I need to do so the children are successful?” There are lessons covering math, language arts, and science for grades K-12. Each of these lessons is written with the goal of sharing not only great activities, but to also show through video and resources how you can develop professionally in order to meet your students’ needs and support them to gain new skills.

Another great feature is that Master Teachers have taken the time in each lesson to share their reflection about some aspect of their learning and teaching. These reflections give insight into how the Master Teacher would adjust the lesson in the future and provide you with this pre-reflection before you implement the lesson in your classroom.

If you are ready to reflect on your own teaching and are ready to update or change some of your practices, head over to and pick the brains of some amazing teachers!

Michelle Marcus is a 3rd-grade teacher at Pembroke Elementary School in Troy, Michigan. A leader in her school and district, Michelle helped develop, document, and distribute math curricula and assessments that reflect goals of high achievement and quality instruction. Michelle was a member of both the Math and Science Master Teacher Projects. Click here to see all of her great CCSS and NGSS aligned lessons.