Thoughts on Teaching and Teachers

Every person I work with knows something better than me. My job is to listen long enough to find it and use it. – Jack Nichols

Teachers are exceptional people. Each day they walk into a classroom and are surround by young minds who are there to learn, minds that are shaped and influenced by what is taught to them. Students are presented challenges, opportunities and experiences in classrooms and school settings that play a role in who they are and the people they will one day become.

I think teachers are:

educators  … learners … leaders … strong … caring … compassionate … responsible … adaptable … dedicated … hard workers … inspired … motivated … passionate … committed to learning … someone to talk to … someone to depend on … someone who will help you … someone who believes in you. Teachers are people too.

My 3rd year teaching philosophy is still relevant in regards to the teacher I am today. However I have had many experiences over the past year that have made me view aspects of teaching and students differently – being in a classroom and working with students is a lot different and more rewarding than just simply sitting in a classroom.

I truly believe that students are resilient – this past semester I was partnered with a student where we worked on literacy. Regardless of his past and his current school situation, he read books with me, he wrote sentences, he created maps, he communicated with me the many things that he knew. My role as a teacher became the role of a learner – together we learned about Saskatchewan and its land and resources and he shared with me new ideas and knowledge that he could personally relate to.

  • I developed a relationship with this student – one where he trusted me and I him, where we felt comfortable with each other, and where we were both not perfect and it was okay to say “I don’t know, let’s figure it out together”.
  • Students will come with backgrounds and needs – we have to find ways to connect and ways to allow them to feel success.
  • I was reminded that lesson plans don’t have to go as planned, that I can be flexible and everything will still be finished in the end.
  • I realised that brain breaks are important, lessons can be fun and students will still learn, engagement is key.
  • I have also seen and the benefits of incorporating and drawing on a your student’s “funds of knowledge“.
  • I believe in authentic assessment, creating meaningful tasks, and assessing students on what I have taught them.
  • I believe in service learning.

 

All of these can be applied to classrooms as well. When given the chance any student can learn and it is important to set high expectations for students to reach for.

During internship I was part of a team of teachers. I was working among and alongside teachers who were doing marvellous work with their students. I worked with, observed, and learned from a wonderful co-operating teacher who challenged my ways of thinking, my ways in designing lessons and who pushed me outside my comfort zone. Planning units is not easy – there are so many resources, topics, lesson ideas, projects, and tools that can all be incorporated into a unit – it is hard to narrow things down. Lesson and unit planning can take as much time as I want to put into it, however, the more I put into it, the more my students will get out of it. There were lessons that worked, lessons that could have gone better, lessons where the students were engaged and lessons that were not engaging at all. This experience taught me and made me realize some important things:

  • I can teach my students even though I am a quiet person.
  • The school staff members – teachers, administrators, custodians, support staff – are all there for one another and are committed to teaching and learning. It is a good thing if you are able to turn to them for help and guidance and if you can offer them the same.
  • It’s okay to ask for help – as a teacher and for students to do so as well.
  • Never doubt your students.
  • Have high expectations and expect greatness from all of the students in your class.
  • Hands on and engaging lessons get you further with students then does taking notes and listening to long talks.
  • Incorporate technology into your classrooms and watch what your students can show you, create and learn.

 

Technology needs to be in classrooms. There are hundreds of tools out there that can allow students to create, share, remix, collaborate and produce. Allowing students to use technology can allow them to express their understanding in ways other than through a test, or through paper and pencils. I feel that when teachers model appropriate use of technology tools in the classroom, students will be able to do so as well. Technology is all around us and our students, just as social media is. Using tools like Twitter, Edmodo, Google Docs, WordPress, YouTube and Skype can enhance learning and can allow for greater communication and collaboration with others from around the world. As teachers, we need to encourage learning and does not only happen in the classroom, it happens: through the internet, outdoors, in the community, at home and through almost any experience our students will have.

As teachers, we don’t know who our students will go onto become which is why we should present them with a variety of experiences, topics, tools and skills that will allow them to go on and do great things.  I hope to be a teacher who:

inspires … adapts … differentiates … is understanding … expects great things … sees potential … promotes learning … uses technology … build relationships with my students … allows for collaboration … learns … allows all students to feel success … uses authentic assessment … promotes literacy … includes brain breaks throughout the day … is able to support my students and fellow staff members … is committed to learning … wants to see my students grow … is passionate … is motivated … encourages everyone … is a facilitator for learning and not the only one with knowledge … welcomes and supports all students … integrates social justice in the classroom … is flexible … has fun … is dedicated and passionate.

The lists go on and there is so much to talk about. My thoughts on teaching and teachers is changing and changes each time I experience and learn more. One thing that I know for sure is this is where I am at right now.

Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow. – Anthony J. D’Angelo

 

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