Essentially you are well prepared to successfully complete the edTPA. If you weren’t, you wouldn’t be this far along in your program. After all you know how to plan lessons, you know how to engage the students in instruction and, you know how to evaluate the effectiveness of your instruction. So feel confident about your preparation to participate in this process. However, what you may find more challenging with the edTPA evaluation process are the connections you will have to make from each of these components to the other. Higher scores on the edTPA portfolios will be obtained by candidates who are able to answer these three questions thoroughly:
Why did you design the lessons the way you did? It sounds like a simple question but it is not. Successful candidates will be able to articulate what they know about their students. This includes knowledge of their culture, their social/emotional development, the cognitive strengths and weaknesses of the students and the prior knowledge the students have regarding the content you intend to teach. Articulating strong explicit connections to these pieces will earn you favor with the evaluators.
How do you know the students learned what you intended for them to learn? Again, this sounds simple but it isn’t. A task or a knowledge piece is “learned” when a student (or a group of students) can perform/recount what they have learned independently AND can apply it to a less familiar situation. For example, a candidate can teach a child to perform column addition so that child can get ten out of ten column addition problems correct on a paper and pencil test. However, the pupil doesn’t really know the skill unless they can apply it in a grocery store situation. That is the real test that the skill has been learned adequately. Evaluators will be looking for your ability to stretch the assessment process beyond the student’s notebook.
What have you learned about your capacities as a teacher? Again, this sounds simple but the skilled teacher knows that this is more complex than it appears. Answering this question involves some fundamental understanding of child development: including knowledge of receptive and expressive language modalities, knowledge of the scope of the content you have attempted to teach, and your pedagogical knowledge, including your understanding of efficient and effective strategies and instructional procedures. EdTPA evaluators will be looking for penetrating and honest reflections about your practice.