I believe that each child is a unique individual who needs a secure, caring, and stimulating atmosphere in which to grow and mature emotionally, intellectually, physically, and socially. It is my desire as a 21st Century educator to help students meet their fullest potential in these areas by providing an environment that is safe, supports risk-taking, and invites a sharing of ideas. There are three elements I believe are conductive to establishing such an environment: (1) the teacher acting as a guide, (2) allowing the child's natural curiosity to direct his/her learning, and (3) promoting respect for all things and people.
A teacher helps children learn to seek knowledge, both individually and collaboratively; they should learn to recognized problems and find solutions. Children need to learn about current events and breakthroughs, as well as the universal lessons that have been taught over the years, in a manner that engages them to continually evolve their minds. Education needs to be able to create well-rounded individuals ready to be an active part in our society. We need to help our students become better global citizens that understand the possibilities of their futures and how to prepare for their lives.
When the teacher's role is to guide, providing access to information rather than acting as the primary source of information, the students' search for knowledge is met as they learn to find answers to their questions. For students to construct knowledge, they need the opportunity to discover for themselves and practice skills in authentic situations. Providing students with access to hands-on activities, while allowing adequate time and space to use materials that reinforce the lessons being studies, creates a learning opportunity for individual discovery and construction of knowledge to occur.
Equally important to self-discovery is having the opportunity to study things that are meaningful and relevant to on'es life and interests. Developing a curriculum around student interests fosters intrinsic motivation and stimulates the passions to learn. One way to take learning in a direction relevant to student interest is to invite student dialogue about the lessons and units of study. Given the opportunity for input, students often generate ideas and set goals that make for much richer activities than I could have created or imagined myself. When students have ownership in the curriculum, they are motivated to work hard and, within proper limits and guided by their teacher, master the skills necessary to reach their goals.
My lesson plans feature individual work, small group activities, critical thinking, active listening, in-depth research, creative learning games, field trips, and diversified speakers and guests. I ask questions that engage both lower and higher order thinking skills and encourage my students to do the same. I believe it is very important to incorporate many teaching techniques in order to engage students' unique learning styles. Combining core subjects with art, music, technology, and physical activity will not only stimulate creativity in my students, but satisfy several learning styles and foster an open learning environment. While exams and quizzes are standard methods to gauge student learning, I prefer authentic assessments, in the form of individual and group projects, to promote the combination of knowledge learned (analysis, synthesis, and evaluation) and creativity.
Students are expected to arrive in the classroom ready to have fun learning. They will be motivated to listen, question, and voice their opinions. It is a joint responsibility between me and my students for them to become active learners, and their efforts in the classroom will ultimately determine how much knowledge they gain. I want my students to achieve a desire to constantly reach for enlightenment and to never stop learning. I do everything in my power to help my students succeed in my classroom. My students deserve to have a teacher that models a desire to learn. Everyone shares the role of teacher and learner.
Helping students to develop a deep love and respect for themselves, others, and their environment occurs through an open sharing of ideas and judicious approach to discipline. When the voice of each student is heard, an environment evolves where students feel free to express themselves. I believe children have greater respect for their teachers, their peers, and the lessons presented when they feel safe and sure of what is expected of them. In setting fair and consistent expectations initially and stating the importance of every activity, students are shown respect for their presence and time. In turn, they learn to respect themselves, others, and their environment. I also believe it is important to teach students to be responsible for themselves, their learning, their choices, and the resulting consequences.
For me, teaching provides an opportunity for continual learning and growth. One of my hopes as an educator is to instill a love of learning in my students, as I share my own passion for learning with them. I feel there is a need for compassionate, strong, and dedicated individuals who are excited about working with children. In our competitive society, it is important for students to not only receive a solid education, but to work with someone who is aware of and sensitive to their individual needs. I am such a person and will always strive to be the best educator that I can be.