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Throughout my career at Southern Illinois University, my beliefs about education have developed. The beginning of my endeavor in becoming a teacher was characterized by the belief that all students wanted to learn and wanted to come to school. In the beginning of my observations at many local schools, this belief was challenged. As a novice teacher, one of many goals will be to change students' views on education. As Albert Einstein once said, "teaching should be such that what is offered is perceived as a valuable gift and not as a hard duty." This is what I hope to instill in my students. I have the opportunity to affect many children's' lives through teaching and am excited for this opportunity.
Goal of Education
There are many goals of education. When defining what I believe the goals of education are, I think about what I want my students to know and practice years after they have left my classroom. The first goal, and in my mind the most important, is for students to become life-long learners. I hope that I convince my students to question assumptions, evaluate and reflect their own work, make cogent decisions, and think critically. Education is more than instructing students on material they have yet to encounter. Education is intended to enable students to experience and internalize concepts presented. Without education, one could simply read words in a book and recite those words; this does not mean that one has grasped the meaning of those words. Through education one can internalize the words read and apply them to life and other concepts.
Education should encompass many different approaches to enable a child to learn. Also, education should affect all aspects of a child; the physical, intellectual, emotional, and social aspects. The lesson, "Influences on Me" is one example of including these into education. The lesson was part of a cooperative learning unit on substance abuse. Although this was centered on middle school students and societal issues affecting them, it could be done in lower grades. In this lesson, the students were placed into groups of five; each student in the group was given a role that was not to be discussed with the other students. The students began by sitting in a circle; a tray of treats was placed in the center of the circle. Students one, two, and three were given the job of picking up a treat and eating in as slowly as possible; they were then to try and influence the other group members to pick up a treat. The fourth student was to wait two minutes then pick up a treat. The last student was not to pick up a treat under any circumstance. After the students finished, they each shared their role and discussed how it felt having the role. Discussion questions included, how the first three students felt trying to influence the others to take a treat, the fourth student was to express how it felt to give in, and the last was to talk about how it felt to be the only one not to take a treat and how it felt having others try and influence him or her. This lesson addressed the physical aspect of the students because they were up and out of their seats. The students' intellectual needs were met because they were experiencing what influence was and how it affected them. Emotionally, the students expressed how it felt to be influenced or to influence others. Socially, the students were interacting with their peers and addressing a societal concern. This lesson also addresses standard two of the Illinois Professional Teaching Standards; Human Growth and Development.
Role of the Teacher
A teacher possesses many roles in education. There are many duties and responsibilities that a teacher acquires throughout the school day and after school. I believe that in order for a teacher to grow and become the best teacher he or she can, one should attend conferences and seminars on education. Also, another important role of the teacher is to be reflective. Without reflecting on one's teaching and methods, one will not advance students or oneself. An important part of teaching is going back, thinking about what went well or what went bad, and how the students connected and understood. The teacher is also responsible for relating lessons to the students, creating activities that each student can participate in, incorporating the multiple intelligences into instruction, and making a safe learning environment for the students. A teacher also must be a professional; a teacher can achieve this by dressing professionally, having age appropriate activities and instruction, being a positive role model, and many more.
One important role of the teacher is to teach his or her students tolerance and to value the diversity of others. An artifact that I believe meets the Illinois Professional Teaching Standard 3 is, "Women's Suffrage." In this lesson, students learned about women and their fight for the right to vote. The students viewed a short video on the women's fight for the right to vote. The students and I then discussed how the ideals and gender roles have changed since then. Although this lesson focused on one of many different groups of people, I believe the students were able to realize the rights that each person is entitled to. Another artifact that I believe meets the Illinois Professional Teaching Standard 3, is a lesson on the lifecycle of a butterfly. This lesson incorporates many different teaching strategies; including team teaching and co-teaching. The lesson also includes a planning pyramid; this pyramid enables the teacher to plan for what all, most, and a few students will learn. The lesson also incorporated additional aids, as well as, guided and independent practice to assist the students in learning the material. These aids included guided notes and a graphic organizer.
There are many experiences that I plan to provide for my students. I believe that teaching is not just instructing students how to read, write, add, subtract, etc. I believe that it is also the teachers' responsibility to teach students their roles in society, their community, and character traits. A teacher may teach these concepts in many different ways. More importantly, it is essential for students to be able to experience what they are learning. It would be wonderful if budgets were not an issue, this way students would be able to have firsthand experiences of many different events, concepts, people. One way to give the students these experiences is through picture books. The artifact, "The Wall" is one example of how to do this. This lesson was focused on Veterans Day. The students were read The Wall by Eve Bunting; this enabled the students to experience how it felt, from a young boy's perspective, to visit the Vietnam Memorial Wall.
There are many things that I want to be to my students. When reflecting on what it means to be a teacher and synonyms for a teacher the words, leader, coach, mentor, and scholar come to my mind. I believe that I am the student's leader. I believe that I am their leader because the students are dependent upon me to teach and guide them throughout the year. Also, the students will respect me as their leader, as I will respect them as learners.
As a teacher, I will also be the student's coach. A coach is someone who prepares his or her players through practice. Through guidance and preparation from the coach, the players are prepared for the game. Prior to the game, the players learn new skills and practice these skills. After the game, the coach reviews what the team did well and what needs more practice. The team then works on their weaknesses. This is similar to a classroom. The teacher prepares the students through teaching those skills and concepts, the students then demonstrate those skills in a formal or informal evaluation. The teacher then reviews the students' knowledge and skills and determines what the students need to work on.
I also hope to be a mentor to the students. The experiences and knowledge that I have to share with the students enables me to be their mentor. I believe that part of being a mentor or creating a classroom environment that the students feel comfortable in. I hope to create a classroom where the students feel their thoughts and ideas are valued. Also, I hope to create a place where students feel comfortable in expressing themselves. Being a mentor to my students also means that I will make myself available to my students for advice, questions, and/or concerns. I want my students to feel like they can talk to me about their thoughts and feelings. Although I do realize that the guidance counselor also has a significant role in this.
I believe myself to be a scholar, too. It is important to become educated in one's field. To become a scholar in education, one must keep current with technology, methods, and content. Also, continuing ones education is important in becoming a scholar; this can be done through taking classes, attending conferences, or communicating with experienced teachers. Also, as a mentor I hope to get to know and understand my students and their needs.
Role of Students
A student has the most influence on his or her education. I believe that a student's role is dependent upon a teacher's effectiveness and encouragement. There will be a few students that are self-motivated and do everything the teacher asks for, but there will also be students that will have to be motivated by the teacher. It is the student that decides to put forth the effort and become a high achiever. The teacher can attempt to motivate a student, but it is also the important to enable the student to become responsible for one's learning. The teacher also should teach students new techniques and strategies for mastering new material and skills.
The student, as he or she gets elder, should begin to set goals for him or herself. Setting goals in an important part of education, through goal setting, a student can begin to push oneself to achieve the goal. I believe that in order for students to be able to set goals, be active learners and participants in the classroom, the teacher must set the groundwork. The teacher sets the groundwork by implementing a classroom management plan that enables one to teach and the students to participate and learn.
The classroom learning environment is imperative for student success. Through creating an effective classroom management plan, the students can have the structure and order necessary to achieve and participate in class. The artifact that I have chosen to fulfill the requirements of the Illinois Professional Teaching Standard five is my classroom management plan. My management plan was modeled after Barbara Coloroso, Fred Jones, and William Glasser. I believe that in order for the students to become responsible for ones learning, one should first become responsible for one's behavior. Prior to creating my management plan, I had viewed Barbara Coloroso's philosophy as realistic and simplistic. I agree with her aspect on rewards and punishments; I believe that students should not be rewarded with tangible objects. Being rewarded with such things can only lead to one becoming dependent upon these objects to participate. When creating my plan I was observing an 8th grade class and each time the students were instructed to complete something, there response was, "what do we get for doing this?" The responses of the students made me want to create an environment in which the students wanted to participate and do their work to gain knowledge. I believe that I can create this environment in my classroom my implementing my classroom management plan.
I also believe that students should take responsibility in their behavior. Classrooms are often plagued by disruptive behavior and reluctant learners. I believe that the students and teacher should have an understanding of what is expected of one another. My management planned was designed to enable students to gain responsibilities for good behavior and lose responsibilities for unacceptable behavior. Through classroom jobs and the classroom monetary system, students can gain responsibility for their actions.
I hope to create a classroom environment that is understanding of others, enables the students to learn and understand. I believe that my classroom management plan will create such an atmosphere. I believe that in order for students to learn the classroom must be structured, organized, and under control.
Role of Family, Community Members, and Other Professionals
A school has a large role in a society. A school prepares the young members of the community to become ready for the society in which they live. It is the responsibility of the school to give the students of that community a proper education. The students are expected to leave the school ready for the next challenge. The community members also have a role in the school. The school board is responsible for hiring highly qualified teachers; the members siting on this bored are members of the community.
There are many benefits that can be achieved through collaborating with parents, community members, and other professionals. It is important to have collaborative relationship with the student's parent/guardian; this will enable the teacher to gain an understanding of the child. It is also important to have a collaborative relationship with the community members. Many of these members could be primary sources of information. Community professionals also can bring new experiences to the students.
I believe that many community members are primary sources of information. Community members can give first hand experiences of historical events; such as veterans. Community members also take part in raising money for the school, voting on school board initiatives, and creating a community that is safe for the children.
Professionals are important to our schools as well. Professionals can bring new experiences to our children. Some communities have small clinics or one close by, this would enable the teacher to invite one to come to the class and discuss healthy habits during flu season. Also, many professionals could give students a firsthand experience of a concept. For instance, in the town I grew up in, each second grade class took a trip to the local post office to discover how the postal service operated. Business owners could also lend such opportunities to children.
My belief is that a good parent-teacher relationship is key for school success. I will communicate with the parents/guardians through newsletters, notes, and telephone calls. This will enable the parents and I to communicate about their child's progress throughout the year. The newsletter will describe the upcoming week's activities, events, and other important information. Collaborative Relationships, standard nine of the Illinois Professional Teaching Standards concentrates on constructing relationships with parents/guardians. I believe that my classroom management plan fulfills the requirements for standard nine because my plan implements many ways in which I will communicate with parents/guardians.
Learning and Instruction
There are many different strategies/methods that can be utilized in teaching. One strategy or method does not necessarily fit each lesson or student. When deciding how to teach a lesson, I review how I have previously taught as well as think about how the students responded to my methods. It is important to think about how the students learn best and use a variety of strategies to reach the students. I also plan to use research and strategies suggested by other teachers.
For each grade level there is certain content that students should master, district and state standards set what students need to know and be able to do. The standards are the groundwork for what students should know and be able to do. However there are other concepts that students should master as well. There are many activities, assignments, and strategies to help students meet learning outcomes. One artifact that displays the activities, assignments, and strategies that I use is my planbook. My planbook is comprised of many different works that I have done throughout my observations and classes. This artifact has met the Illinois Teaching Standard number four.
Assessment is essential for monitoring a student's progress and mastery of content. Assessment enables the teacher and student to see the progress and work of the student. Furthermore, assessment enables the teacher to evaluate his or her effectiveness. Assessment also assists the teacher in determining what content and skills the students have mastered and what needs to be retaught.
Teaching comes with many responsibilities. These responsibilities are important to the success of the students. I believe that through education a student may achieve what he or she dreams of achieving. I hope to give my students the experiences, knowledge, and skills to achieve their dreams.