Usama Tahir-Portfolio ED-631

Today is May 4th, and it has been a long journey as I started in September as an educator. Time has passed, and we all learned so much about ourselves and our students and reached a professional and friendly milestone. Teachers are not appreciated as much as they should, just as nurses, domestic helpers, caretakers and artists; this portfolio takes a glimpse into what I learned.

Interestingly enough, in my very first breadcrumb, I call my entry into the field of education as a journey and even today, I used the word journey. This specific word signifies exponential growth, and looking back I see that I was excited about being a teacher and show passion about learning from this course and my profession. If I were to contact my younger self, I would tell him that he is doing just fine and with the help of proper resources and guidance, so much can be achieved. My aim was to incorporate educational learning theories and experience of my colleagues into the academic year and this is something I had to deal with when I had to deal with an aggressive email from a particular student as I mentioned in week 3:

That was the time, it felt as if building a relationship with students is challenging just as motivating them and I pull through with the help of the dean and patience. It can frustrate any adult to be verbally abused by someone, but I knew that as a teacher, I can't take it personal and start a never ending race of heated arguments with a student. When the particular student was serving detention, I got to know more about him by talking to other teachers who had/have issues with him and we decided to take a step back and deal with it in an appreciative way, rather than a punitive one. The student is an intrapersonal learner and does not want to work with anyone else and gets defensive about that so I figured that best way to deal with him is to fulfill his learning needs so that he can work independently. 

                  Shortly afterwards in week 4, I had to deal with another student who used explicit curses and this made me realize more that classroom management determines which direction the class is going to take.

If we allow students to do as they please, unchecked; it results in disorder, lack of control, and academic loss as students are without structure. I am confident that next year, my first few weeks will be all about establishing routines, norms and procedures rather than academic focus. This will help me dealing with any misbehavior, late submission and lack of engagement. It is important in any organization to have protocols, directions and structure to function as an effective team and if we are negligent about classroom management techniques, protocols and parent engagement; the academic success of students cannot be guaranteed.

As weeks progressed, I began to use humor; especially chemistry humor/memes in the classroom which helped create a friendly atmosphere and a sense of ease among students. I was told by some people that as a new teacher, I shouldn't smile till Christmas and I knew that I cannot be that person as I tend to use humor to get to know strangers who become the best of people I know.

This is because an atmosphere of trust and safety is generated when someone can relate to you and this is what my aim is for the next year, to be transparent, open, and my usual self rather than trying to be someone I am not, in front of my students. The use of good natured smile, humor and supportive comments can help students trust educators, not just as teachers but as human beings and mentors. 

This direction helped my so much as I explain in the next weekly post:

I see that I am adaptive to factors around me and as educators we need to keeping on incorporating strategies that can help us create effective teams of students who stay on task and show resolve by meeting academic and personal expectations. It is important to emphasize on collaborative learning and that can be achieved by proper grouping so that students work effectively and fill each other learning gaps by supporting them. In science class, this becomes imperative because some problems, if not many, required team effort and small groups of two or three students can achieve a lot. I achieved that by providing a proper protocol. In my lesson plan, I show how the lesson for the day is going to progress: 

Anatomy of the lesson plan:

Do Now, Review Now, Preview, Mini lesson, Independent learning, Cooperative learning, (team effort), Aloha misconceptions (students show why the underlined response in incorrect and give the correct answer by using reasoning) and Peer evaluation (at the end of each major section in the worksheet) and Exit ticket.

In the student action, the protocol is as below:

Assessment and differentiation criteria:

Scaffolding is provided in form of guided notes, pictures and vocabulary. Students will be seeing various examples and taking guidance from the teacher and the notes provided.

There are a select few intrapersonal thinkers who will work by themselves, but engage with their mates when they approach peer evaluation sections in the worksheet.

Higher functioning kids will solve bonus questions which will serve as extra credit to anyone solving them.

Students will be solving questions as effective teams and ensure that all the questions are answered and done in a timely manner.

Students will be using peer evaluation sections in the worksheet and grade each other work and ask for assistance of the teacher if they are in a conflict about their responses of certain questions


Since this is a journey, I wouldn't be able to express everything that I learned as in teaching; every day is a new day and this is going to continue. If this portfolio is not sufficient to satisfy your curiosity, I invite you to see my weekly blogs and see what I had to overcome during my first year of teaching:

Yours sincerely,

Usama Tahir

    • Gerald Ardito
      Gerald Ardito


      I really love your focus on this process/course being a journey. In addition to the metaphor, it is clear that you have established yourself as a traveler on the way to being an extraordinary teacher.

      It is great to see how you have worked to integrate the key concepts and theories from this course into your practice as a teacher. It was particularly powerful to see how you used these concepts and theories to address real concerns in your classroom.

      Thanks for such great work.

    ED 631 - Educational Psychology- Spring 2018

    ED 631 - Educational Psychology- Spring 2018

    Here is our online home for ED 631 for Spring 2018.