Jennifer Nicholson's 

Professional Portfolio 

Student of the University of Northern Iowa



Jennifer Nicholson

The Univeristy of Northern Iowa



    My name is Jennifer Nicholson. I grew up in Southeast Iowa in the city of Ottumwa. As elementary students, my two brothers and I attended Seton Catholic School were my parents were thoroughly involved in our education. We were continually reminded at school and at home that our studies were important features of our lives. We were all involved in different sports as well as music. As I matured through elementary, middle school, and high school I was involved in dance, volleyball, basketball, softball, tennis, as well as playing the flute and piano. High school brought many opportunities such as secretary of the class of 2006, secretary of Future Educators of America, Teen Pregnancy Task Force, and Teen Leaders in Action. All of these activities showed me the importance of staying active in my school. Through all of my involvement, my parents taught me the strong belief that school always comes first. I was an active member of National Honor Society/Honor Roll and graduated nineteenth in my class of three hundred and ninety-nine students. I believe I was successful in my academics because of my parent's and teacher's belief in me.

            I have always found myself loving the presence of children. Since I was thirteen I have been babysitting for children. I enjoy caring for and being around children. In high school, I took a parenting class which led me to enroll in an Early Childhood class. The Early Childhood class allowed me to spend time in a first grade classroom observing and learning what teaching was like. Not only did this experience shape me to want to become a teacher but so did my first field experience in a second grade classroom. I was able to work with students one-on-one assisting them with making corrections. Watching students get so excited to learn new things has made me really want to teach elementary age students.

            In my first field experience here at UNI, I had the opportunity to work with a new student that had just moved here from a country near Turkey. He moved to the United States on Sunday and started school on Monday. He did not speak any English and was as scared as could be. I worked with this young boy the moment he stepped in the classroom and by the time I left that very same day he could say his numbers from one to twenty. I also taught him how to say the words plus, minus and equals. The expression on this child’s face made me want to teach more than anything. Teaching this little boy something and watching his excitement to learn really made me want to accomplish that over and over. Watching him progress more and more over the time period I was there was just amazing.
            I have had many large and small group teaching opportunities through UNI's teaching program that have enabled me to work with diversity, management, differentiated instruction, and assessment. I feel confident that my field experiences at UNI have helped me develop into the teacher I am today.

            My goal toward teaching now that I am a graduate from The University of Northern Iowa is to obtain a teaching position that allows me use my talents of being a positive, enthusiastic individual. My future classroom is going to be a very open and harmless environment. I want everyone to feel part of a community and be able to express his/her own opinion. My goal is to have a classroom where I can accommodate student’s individual needs and be a light every child’s eye.

            I want to teach because I believe school is what makes every child who they are. If a student enjoys school, he/she will enjoy life and what life brings them. I want to be a teacher so I can be a positive influence on a child’s life. School is where everyone learns what they need to know about life. I want to be a leading part is teaching children what they need to know. Knowing that you have helped and made a difference in a child’s life is an amazing feeling that I want to continue to do forever.



Philosophy of Education


My philosophy of learning is based on the educational standards. Although I look deeply into putting all of the standards into practice I will go in depth about six of them that I strongly believe to be some of the most important to follow.
STUDENT LEARNING: I believe that to know about how students learn you have to key into how they are developing intellectually, socially, and personally.  Making students feel important and respected in a classroom is essential for establishing an independent, confident student. Having a caring environment and sense of support will help develop a positive social environment for the classroom. I believe to support student learning you need social interactions with positive reinforcement.

DIVERSE LEARNERS: As a teacher I am aware that classrooms have a wide range of individual differences and needs. I display a positive attitude for student differences because I want my students to act in the same manner. I believe that every student has the right to learn and grow from teacher instruction and it is the teacher’s job to cater to and know what works best for each individual student. Having a variety of abilities requires teachers to use differentiated instruction.

INSTRUCTIONAL STRATEGIES: I believe that an effective teacher has multiple strategies to use for instruction. In a successful classroom there will be some direct, indirect, interactive, independent, and experimental instruction. Students need individual time as well as collaborative peer interaction time to learn from one another. Using a variety of strategies allows students to develop interpersonal and intrapersonal skills.

LEARNING ENVIRONMENT/CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT: My belief is that the learning environment sets the stage for how well the students will enjoy and learn from school. A classroom needs to be a positive, respectful, open place for the students to learn. It is the teacher’s job to manage the classroom in a way that allows for student ownership, goal-setting, and responsibility. I believe that expecting students to be responsible individuals will create a great place for cooperation, interaction, and positive learning.

COMMUNICATION: Building a sense of community in the classroom deals with communicating with the students and parents. I believe that both nonverbal and verbal communication is essential in developing positive relationships. Teachers have to be able to communicate good and bad behaviors to the children’s parents. Teachers and parents collaborating positively will show the students appropriate communication skills to use with their classmates and people they meet.


This standard is one that I firmly believe is one of the most important. When teaching you need to take a look at student assessments, interactions, learning, and your own teaching methods and reflect on what is happening. Being a reflective practitioner is needed to evaluate the instruction and then make changes if needed. A reflective practitioner is also someone who seeks professional development in order to learn new teaching strategies. I also believe that my teaching philosophies will change by being a reflective teacher.


Teaching requires attention to many things. The diversity of students requires teachers to make adjustments and modifications to their teaching practices in order to support student learning. Taking into consideration student individualities and differences is very important in order for school to be a place where everyone feels welcome in a positive classroom environment. This environment will take place if you communicate well with your students, parents, colleagues, and community in order to provide the best possible teaching. I predict that my teaching philosophies will grow and change as I plan to seek and participate in many professional development activities offered to me.