I believe that a teacher should value, appreciate, and celebrate the uniqueness of each student’s personality, culture, and learning style by getting to know them as individuals. The time spent building these vital and empowering relationships is key in allowing children to grow as learners and as the adults they will soon be.
Along with building relationships with students, parents should not be discounted. Having a positive connection with family is extremely important in building a foundation for student growth. In our classroom, we establish norms about what is and is not acceptable. The expectation is that we will do our best to resolve differences in a kind and compassionate manner, resulting in a safe and trusting environment for social, emotional, and academic success.
I strive to create a culturally competent classroom that honors, recognizes, and respects each and every culture. While many of my students’ cultures and backgrounds do not necessarily echo my own, we all share the experience of learning, thinking, and collaborating. Every learner is unique and comes to us with a plethora of experiences, both positive and negative. As educators, we need to be able to allow students to have a voice, and we need to listen to what they are saying.
I believe that every child deserves a quality education. Learning should be student-centered and teacher facilitated. As educators, we may not always be able to choose what we teach, but we can allow students a choice in how they learn. Giving a choice to students cultivates true engagement and encourages motivation and commitment.
Teachers should foster a sense of self-efficacy in all students. Perseverance is paramount to academic achievement. Students need to learn to push past their limitations and discover that making mistakes and experiencing failure is a part of learning. I tell my students that we can learn from our mistakes, that we will “fail better” the next time we try something, but that we can never stop trying if we are to be successful.
Today’s students are 21st century thinkers and learners. They are learning to be problem solvers who not only look for solutions, but must be able to anticipate the challenge to begin with. They need to learn authentically, and be able to transfer this learning to the future workplace in an increasingly complex world. There is no more teaching “old school.” Students today do not gain knowledge from assignments that involve worksheets or answering low-level comprehension questions. They need to be allowed to practice collaboration skills, develop innovative ideas, communicate to a genuine audience with diverse perspectives, and ask critical questions and evaluate the answers.
Teaching with technology is a must. Many teachers I know do not want to use technology in their classrooms for fear of ceding control to their students. Educators should embrace technological applications in the classroom and use them as a way to gain knowledge and bond with their students. Technology should be a teacher’s best friend, not an arch-nemesis. If we are educating 21st century learners, we need to become 21st century teachers.
Educating readers and writers can be a challenge. However, if they are encouraged to read, write, argue, and defend their viewpoints authentically on a daily basis, they will learn to be critical thinkers and compassionate, literate human beings. They will progress academically and they will demonstrate success on standardized assessments.
Finally, our kids need to know how to be life-long learners. The purpose of education, according to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, “… is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically.*”
This is my goal as an educator.
Bibliography: “The purpose of education.” n.d. Web. 1 Apr. 2016. In-line Citation: (“The Purpose of Education”)