I believe that to teach is to change the world, one student at a time. A good teacher establishes relationships with students, facilitates their knowledge acquisition and works together with everyone in the class to create an environment of mutual respect. Reaching an entire class of university students who then go on to set the world on fire in their teaching career has the ability to reach huge numbers and thus change the world.
I believe that there are two primary purposes of education. First, we need to teach our students to become creative, independent thinkers. By creating independent thinkers, students will be able to solve the problems they encounter in their professional career. Second, it is imperative to promote life-long learning. Because learning is part of the growth process, I need to encourage everyone to keep learning throughout his or her lifetime. Not only is this important for my students, but for me as well. To this end, I am continually reading books and attending workshops to improve my teaching and increase my knowledge. I believe that knowledge gives students the ability to understand oneself and the world in which they live. Once the knowledge is acquired, the students are able to transform it to enrich their lives as well as the lives of others in their community.
It is imperative that students recognize that different is not deficient and that they are part of a multicultural community. I believe that equality starts with an equal education for everyone, no matter the color of skin or the situation to which they were born. I firmly believe that nothing should be a barrier to a good education, and I do not believe we can stop fighting for equality until we have equal results for all, not just equal opportunity. It is my responsibility as a teacher to equip my students with the skills they need to develop into adults with a code of ethics and principles. Additionally, it is important to help them recognize that their actions influence the quality of the lives all around them, especially with their future profession as a teacher.
As a teacher, it is important to understand how to plan instruction to meet the needs of individual students, the class as a whole, as well as to satisfy the requirements put forth in the curriculum standards. Because a variety of learning styles are generally represented in my classes, I routinely begin the semester the students writing an autobiography of their past educational experiences which provides me with the framework to determine which of the research-based strategies would be most effective in meeting their needs. Learning experiences include case studies, problem based learning, debates, peer teaching, and presentations to name a few. I also am cognizant that what worked with one class may not necessarily work with another group, so I tailor my classes accordingly.
In my classroom, you will encounter students doing various exercises that are selected by me after learning about my students and how they learn best. When possible, the room is set up in a circle so everyone, including myself, is seen as an equal participant. Instead of relying on lectures alone, my class is centered around interactive discussions. Students are asked to come to class with at least one discussion question or comment to start our discussions. They are also asked to post comments on Blackboard and respond to their classmates, which builds a sense of intellectual community between the students and myself. I also like to have students complete assignments that improve their critical thinking skills, such as analyzing a school district website to determine the strength of their school, parent and community partnerships. I plan and implement lessons that clearly identify the objective(s), select strategies for effective student engagement, and plan for assessment options to ensure students have mastered the objectives.
Evidence of student learning comes in many forms in my classroom. Informal measures, such as quick-writes that don’t affect the grade, are used frequently so I can determine what my students understand and if there are any holes in their knowledge. Another ungraded measure is the use of the think, pair, share method where a question is asked and students are asked to first think about their response, then share with a partner and finally as a whole group. While I occasionally use traditional tests, when possible I like to assess students in a more authentic manner. For example, in the assessment class students have a mock parent teacher conference where they have to explain to a parent their child’s standardized test report. Because I believe students learn just as much from their mistakes as from their successes, I frequently ask students to resubmit work that is not completed at a level that meets mastery. My expectations for all students are high and I expect them to rise to the occasion.
Following these principles has allowed me to make connections with my students, equip them with problem solving skills and help them gain the metacognition needed to become life-long learners, which ultimately connects them to their passion. Just as I strive to change the world with my teaching, my ultimate goal is for the pre-service teachers to leave my classes equipped to inspire the next great generation.