Education is preparation for life
This I believe: education is essential to the survival of humankind. Without education, people cannot build upon the knowledge of previous generations, they are less able to adapt to new situation, and they cannot assess information and situations for accuracy and believability. Without education, people can be continually duped and manipulated and convinced to let things stay the way they are, even if they are close to unbearable. If we ever want our world to get better, we need to have the tools to make the changes ourselves.
Therefore, I believe that we should be using education as preparation for life. Every skill that we teach in school, from literacy to mathematics, critical thinking to conflict resolution, helps give students the tools they'll need to be successful for the rest of their lives. The best place to learn about how to function in a democratic society is in a democratic classroom. When students see the efficacy of what they are learning, they will be much more intrinsically motivated to work hard and take on the learning.
Creating a student-centered, collaborative classroom
I believe that the best classrooms are student-centered, where the teacher is focusing on the students and their needs. In order to create a student-centered classroom, I will need to get to know my students so that I can accurately assess their strengths, needs and interests and then tailor my instruction to them. I will also need to create a strong community of learners that is a safe place for students to work together and collaborate. I will set high expectations for my students because I want them to achieve their highest potential.
I believe there are several important ways that I can help my students reach their potential:
- Create a strong student-teacher and student-student bond by getting to know my students
- Adapt and modify my teaching for multiple intelligences and learning modalities
- Scaffold student learning so that they have all the background knowledge and skills they need to succeed
- Plan interactive and engaging lessons that connect to students' backgrounds and interests
- Integrate literacy across the curriculum
- Integrate technology into the classroom
Respect for diversity
The United States is an increasingly diverse country, and we need to be educating all of our children, regardless of their backgrounds. I will make my classroom an equitable place where all students are welcomed and respected. Some steps to take toward an equitable classroom include:
- Differentiation to meet the needs of all students
- Multicultural teaching that goes beyond heroes and holidays to include other points of view and encourage social change
- Using sheltered instruction to meet the language needs of ELLs
Increasing engagement and critical thinking: A teacher research quest
During my student teaching I conducted a teacher research project. My research addressed the question:
- How can I make student-generated questions a central part of my pedagogy?
Too often, teachers ask all of the questions in the classroom. What if students were encouraged, even taught how, to ask good questions? And what if they were expected to seek the answers for themselves or from their peers, rather than always viewing the teacher as the only authority figure in the room? As part of my research, I also focused on how to use student-generated questions to increase student engagement and critical thinking skills. I wanted students to be asking higher-level questions that required them to dig deeply into a subject and really wrestle with it.