Teaching is important to me for a few reasons. Most importantly, I love teaching and I've always wanted to be a teacher. As I went through school, I wanted to grow up and be a teacher of the subjects that I fell in love with. First, I wanted to be an English teacher, then a band teacher, then a French teacher. I am at my best and happiest when I can help someone understand something. There is nothing better than witnessing something “click” for a student. Secondly, teaching is important to me because of the impact that my teachers had on me growing up. I would not be where I am today without some of those teachers that I had while growing up. I hope to create a safe and positive learning environment for my students like my teachers did for me. Finally, teaching is important to me because we are educating future adults. What we teach in our classrooms has an effect on our individual students, and ultimately the society as a whole.
I believe that teaching is about much more than just giving students facts and asking them to memorize them. Teaching is about helping students learn things on their own by asking them questions that help them find the answers for themselves. To me, teaching is about teaching skills and letting students practice them with guidance and independently. As a teacher, I feel that every student has a unique perspective and experience, and unique ideas. I will plan my lessons based on what students already know and what they still need to learn. I want to facilitate students in learning how to express their unique thoughts and ideas beyond facts and memorization. I believe that every student can learn and that every student brings different skills and experiences.
I will focus on determination as an outcome to foster in my students. I want to help students to learn the value of failure and not giving up. I hope to inspire my students to embrace challenges rather than running from challenges.
To achieve my desired outcomes, I will need to create a safe environment in my classroom. I plan to do this by showing respect to students and ensuring that students respect each other. An instructional strategy that encourages respect among peers is cooperative learning. For determination more specifically, my strategy is using a Growth Mindset. For example, when a student says, “I can’t tie my shoes.” I can remind the student that they can’t tie their shoes, yet and that it is something that they will learn. I will encourage mistakes through my language. For example, when a student makes a mistake, I will remind them that, “A mistake means that you are trying.” And when students run into a challenge, I will encourage them to go with the challenge and remind them that, “When it’s hard, that means you’re learning.” This is something that I learned from watching my Host Teacher. I was amazed how the students adapted her phrasing and learned the attitude for trying. I rarely heard sentiments like, “I’m not good at math.” Instead, most students would echo the teacher and say things like, “I don’t know how to do this yet.” This attitude contributed to the students’ determination.
How will I know when my students are showing determination? It will be an “informal assessment” to assess for determination. By listening to my students, I will know whether the student is expressing determination or if they are giving up easily. For the students expressing sentiments like, “I can’t do it. It’s too hard. I don’t know how to do this.” I will know that I need to keep working with them on taking difficulty as a challenge, viewing failure as a learning opportunity, and the idea that everyone can learn.
The characteristic of a positive relationship with students looks like mutual respect. The characteristics of of a positive relationship with families looks like communication and working together. The characteristics of a positive relationship with colleagues looks like being helpful and supportive. I have to make an active effort to make my classroom a safe and comfortable environment for students. I can do this by showing students that I am actively listening to them. This shows respect and builds rapport with students. I can also make sure that I am consistent and fair with my rules and treatment of students.
With families, I can build a positive relationship by clearly communicating. I will reach out to families in the beginning with back to school night and let them know expectations for the class and students. I will make myself available to families and let them know that it is okay to contact me by phone or email with concerns. If families do reach out, I will listen to their concerns and we can work together to help the student.
Finally, with colleagues I can offer help and support. This comes in many forms like giving lesson ideas, activities, and offering advice when asked. Support also comes in many forms. Sometimes, all someone needs is an ear or another perspective on a situation they are dealing with.