Why I became an educator:
After pursuing many varied career fields - be they catering, office assistant, financial planning assistant, retail management, etc. ad nauseum – I found that the one component of each that I really enjoyed was the teaching aspect. After teaching the last quarter of a year in a jr. high sub position at a private school, for less money than I had ever made, I realized that this was the career I wanted for myself and was happiest doing. I was making, and continue to make, a difference in the lives of kids who are in one of the hardest transitions in life (jr. high school) and I’ve spent the last eleven years there enjoying every day I have had the privilege of doing so.
My goals for my students:
I want my students to gain some mastery of my content – physical science – but, more importantly, I want them to be better people, more prepared for life and the rigors of higher education, more confident in their abilities to self-motivate studies and master complexity, than they were before having had me. I am proud that my students out performed every other school in our district and every other district in our city on the last several years' CSTs, but I am even more proud that my students come visit and want to tell me about all their achievements years after having had me.
Qualities of an Effective Teacher:
Effective teachers have students who want to learn because they have made their students feel safe, made their lessons interesting and insightful, and then teach them the skills to master their discipline. Such a teacher will be remembered and re-employed. Truly great teachers are loved. They were empathetic, fair, held students to high standards, thought every kid in their room was capable of growth and pushed them to grow, knew their students, knew when to bend the rules and knew when to make them iron clad. They rarely let students know when they were having a bad day because they still had passion for what they were doing that day, with those kids, in that school, with its unique challenges. My students need to be impacted by such a man. I am not yet this man but I am striving to be because I owe it to them. My life is better because of great teachers, coaches, mentors, pastors, friends and family; such gifts oughtn’t be hoarded but, rather, shared.
Means Toward Achieving These Goals
What is Intelligence?
"The seven dimensions of intelligence cluster into two major components. The first component comprising linguistic intelligence, musical intelligence, interpersonal intelligence and intrapersonal intelligence can be interpreted as a soft-skills intelligence factor, while the other component comprising logical/mathematical intelligence, kinesthetic intelligence and spatial/visual intelligence can be interpreted as a quantitative intelligence factor" (Singh, Dash, & Anand, 2011).
How can a teacher help students develop higher order reasoning skills?
Through the use of a host of AVID strategies which make learning modalities (auditory, visual, kinesthetic, and tactile) explicit through testing, applying those preferred means of taking in and processing information to studying and test-taking, and using Cornell note-taking with Costa's Levels of Questioning, students are regularly and rigorously prepared to think and reason at a high level. Inquiry based labs are a further cornerstone to making predictions based on current knowledge, seeing demonstrations of scientific principles in action, and then reflecting on their conceptions or misconceptions to improve their reasoning skills. Lastly, computer based assessments before and after each chapter allow teachers and students to measure their knowledge growth and target areas which need further remediation.
What educational theories do you apply in your teaching?
As noted above, students are regularly involved in hands-on Active Learning through labs. The students are placed in new lab groups 11 times throughout the year so that they learn to work collaboratively with each of their peers and can adequately judge how to adjust their learning to new situations and group dynamics to develop Multiple Intelligences. Further, through knowledge of their individual Learning Modalities, students can engage the multi-formatted lessons given in direct instruction to zero in on the modality that most suits their preferred learning style. In taking Cornell Notes, students are trained to ask Higher Level Questions of the material they are being presented and through the use of summary reflection at the end of every lesson within a chapter, students are engaging both content in a synthesized manner as well as Metacognition. As learning in this environment is built upon prior ideas and possible misconceptions have to be amended or discarded, the learning is Constructivistic. Four projects, two of which are group projects, allow for students to be solely responsible for their learning within a given topic and provided a rubric.