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 Childhood Education 

 Teaching Portfolio 

Certification

I love teaching students. Thus I am a career changer from researcher to a teacher. In July 2021 I will get my certificate in elementary teaching through Ithaca College.

Years ago, as a high school teacher in Russia, I liked the flexibility of choosing teaching methods that were most effective for my students. Now, after I got vast experiences in higher and environmental education as a Cornell University researcher and course instructor, I want to become a teacher again, yet in an elementary school. I believe that I can make the most powerful academic impact on young minds on an elementary-school level, and I can grow professionally in the field that I enjoy.

I'm excited about integrating reading and writing, STEM topics, environmental themes, and civic engagement into my teaching, especially through project-based and inquiry-based teaching. I'm committed to promote student-centered teaching, and to use other teaching values to serve students' learning needs and foster their social-emotional development.

Teaching Philosophy

Replace this text with TPTeaching is one of the most inspiring and rewarding callings. As a teacher, I want to help young people grow intellectually and mature emotionally. Teaching has no limits for professional growth because all children are learning differently, and new pedagogical approaches are developed frequently. I am motivated by several broad topics that guide my teaching: (1) Educational research, (2) Effective educational practices, (3) ELA and math literacy, (4) STEM and sustainability, and (5) Social-emotional development.

 

Teaching Values

Our teaching is driven by our values and beliefs. I've been thinking a lot about my teaching philosophy that should guide everything I do as a teacher. This philosophy will continue to evolve, but I already would like to mention several values that I hold.

Student-centered teaching

Teachers should support individual students' learning needs, and promote their autonomy and independence as learners.

Diversity

Schools should celebrate multiple expressions of diversity: race, ethnicity, social class, gender, religion, sexual orientations, language, nationality, ability, and other characteristics.

Culturally-sustaining pedagogy

Instead of promoting cultural assimilation, schools should affirm and validate students' cultures, traditions, and unique identities. 

Multiple intelligences

Students can express their ideas through various intelligences: linguistic, mathematical, musical, visual/spatial, kinesthetic, interpersonal, interpersonal, naturalistic, and existential.

Dignity

Learning happens in a safe environment where everyone is treated with dignity. Schools should intentionally prevent violence, bullying, harassment, and prejudice.

Welcoming all abilities

Children have different abilities, yet they deserve equal educational opportunities. With appropriate support, all children can thrive academically.

English learners

Linguistically responsive pedagogy can help English language learners, recent immigrants, and bilingual students succeed in school.

Caring community

Teachers, school administration, parents, peers, and community members are parts of a caring community that promotes students' positive development.

Constructivist learning

Students can construct their knowledge and new meanings by using inquiry-based learning, project-based learning, and their own prior knowledge.

Active learning

Students should be engaged in the learning process through meaningful learning activities, and reflection on what and how they think and do.

Social learning

Positive social interactions with teachers and peers are important for learning new knowledge, skills, behaviors, and values.

High expectations

While creating different pathways for academic success, teachers should demonstrate high expectations and provide rigorous instruction for all students.

Resume

Education

  • MS in Childhood Education               Ithaca College, 2021

  • PhD in Environmental Education       Cornell University, 2013

  • MS in Environmental Education         Cornell University, 2006

  • BS in Environmental Conservation    Tomsk State University (Russia), 2001

 

Teaching Standards

To reflect my teaching, I combined 10 InTASC teaching standards into 4 broad topics. The following document contains (1) my perspectives on each topic, (2) teaching artifacts, and (3) statement explaining each artifact, as well as my understanding of teaching and learning. 

 

Professional Interests

Several content and skills-related topics inspire my teaching. They include: (1) reading and writing, (2) STEM subjects, (3) environment and sustainability, and (4) cvic engagement. I think that these topics important for elementary students because they promote general literacy and critical thinking, foster students' curiosity and interest in lifelong learning, and help students become contributing members of their communities.

Value of Reading and Writing

I absolutely love reading and writing. And I know that all student can become avid readers and writers. Reading fiction and nonfiction expands your mind, unleashes creative thinking, and gives a greater perspective. Writing helps you articulate and refine your ideas. Reading and writing are complementary activities that help students achieve academic success, become more empathetic human beings, and develop an interest in lifelong learning. Reading and writing expectations for students are never too high if we use a variety of engaging and age-appropriate teaching tools such as literature circles and free writing.

STEM Subjects

Science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields are vital for anyone who wants to better understand the world, and serve our society through exploration and discoveries. STEM learning benefits all students because it helps them spark imagination, question things, seek the truth, and creatively solve problems. STEM learning can also prepare students for careers related to scientific and technological innovations. Mitigating climate change, mapping community resources, building a hydroponic system, creating an educational website, or programming are only some of many STEM topics that can be used in schools.

Environment and Sustainability

Human health, prosperity, and well-being depend on the quality of our environment. We need to learn how to take care of urban and natural ecosystems. I look forward to helping my students become environmental citizens. Environmental and sustainability topics can be integrated into all subjects, and strengthen students' critical thinking and academic success. Students can find that sustainability topics are relevant to their lives – including nature connection, sustainable development, green cities, healthy food, and urban agriculture.

Civic Engagement

Civic engagement empowers students as democratic citizens and agents of social change. It teaches students about social justice and responsibility, contributes to their moral education, and empowers them to make positive changes in their communities, families and schools. To practice civic engagement in schools, students can make and deliver speeches on issues that are important to them and their communities, critically examine and influence power structures, and take action through service learning.

Relevant Experiences

Teachers can use various prior skills and knowledge to improve their practice. As a student teacher, I working with a 1st grade and 4th grade in two schools in Ithaca, New York in 2020-2021. In addition, I have other relevant experiences that I can use in my future teaching. Here are a few of them:

Student teaching

In 2020-2021, I was a student teacher in two elementary schools in Ithaca, New York. I taught lessons in Math, ELA, Science, and Social Studies. During teaching, I was able to put my teaching philosophy to practice. I also worked alongside special educators who focused on students with IEP and 504 plans. In addition, I conducted an inquiry project about human rights education in elementary schools.

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Educator trainer

Since 2013, much of my work at Cornell University focused on training educators and teachers. I developed and conducted a number of online courses for educators from 60+ countries interested in environmental education, nature education, and E-STEM. As the first editor, I also published a book "Urban Environmental Education Review" (2017), which has been used in university courses for future teachers in several countries.

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 Science lesson about water quality 

 Seattle, USA 

Observing schools around the world

When I travel around the world, I love visiting schools and nonformal education programs. In my practice, I'd like to borrow effective teaching ideas that I observed in several countries. For example, I saw how teachers and educators used problem-solving, inquiry, community resources, outdoors spaces, and positive youth development as learning contexts that were engaging and relevant for students.

 

Here are some photos I took in schools and other educational programs in various countries.

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Nonformal education

Through my research, outreach, and observations, I worked a lot with nonformal education programs in New York City, elsewhere in the U.S., and around the world. These programs included after-school education, nature centers, botanical gardens, and more. I believe that formal education can borrow many useful ideas from nonformal education, including relevance of educational topics to student's lives, connection with local organizations, interdisciplinary approaches, and building trust between students and educators.

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Higher education teaching

I've designed and teach the "Green Cities" summer course for high school students who come to Cornell University's Summer College. In addition, I taught a number of other courses through Cornell University designed mostly for teachers and nonformal educators.

Inspiration

Teaching is an inspiring and rewarding profession. Why? Because we help young people grow, every day in school is different, and there is no limit for professional growth. At the same time, I'm motivated by several broad topics that can guide teaching: (1) Educational research, (2) Educational systems, (3) Positive youth development, and (4) Goals of education.

Educational research

Educational research must inform teachers' pedagogical approaches. For example, we can use established educational and psychological theories to guide our practice – e.g., developed by Vygotsky (social learning, zone of proximal development), Bronfenbrenner (ecosystems of learning), Freire (freedom), Delpit (cultures), Noddings (caring environment), Nieto (identity), Piaget (stages of human development). At the same time, our teaching methods can be constantly revised based on new evidence of what works and what does not work. To stay up-to-date with latest research, educators can participate in professional associations, visit conferences, and read educational research journals.

Educational systems

While teachers have to cover the most recent state learning standards, schools usually have enough flexibility to experiment with other effective teaching strategies. We can borrow some educational ideas from other educational systems, and adapt them to our students' learning needs. For example, some countries such as Finland, Singapore and Korea ranked high in the PISA study (which measures students' performance in math, reading, and science). We can learn which teaching approaches make these countries successful, and use this knowledge to improve our pedagogy.