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The idea that students learn by doing stretches far beyond an age-old saying. Educators must experience the implications this philosophy provides the math classroom before teaching transformation becomes a possibility. The importance of this idea is that it switches the focus from lecture time, to the student work. This teaching philosophy would suggest that class time is being wasted until every student is given an opportunity to complete a math problem. Therefore, class time is refocused from teacher time to student time.
The benefits of students learning by doing cannot stop with simply more time to blindly work numerous problems. This period of the class meeting should provide all students an opportunity to be successful in the math classroom. This is achieved by first building on strengths. The effective educator must meet all students at their current academic level, and scaffold to new challenging content. Scaffolding is most successful when explicit instruction is used. Explicit instruction slowly relinquishes the learning responsibility from the teacher to the student. Explicit instruction contains four steps: (1) the teacher independently completes a problem; (2) the class completes a similar problem with the teacher guidance; (3) student completes problem with shoulder partner; (4) student completes problem independently. Explicit instruction has provided each student with opportunities for success alongside a chance to positively contribute within the academic environment.
Once students are given opportunity to practice math, my next priority becomes providing immediate and constant feedback to my students. This is best completed by formative assessment. Formative assessment is an important aspect of my classroom as it drives every phase of instruction. To support this, Dr. Kenneth Henson, a leader in education planning, believes that the rate at which students learn will double when formative assessment is used effectively (Henson, 2010). My most common method of providing such assessment is through questioning. Effective questioning provides the quickest method of determining a students current thoughts and ideas about a problem. Students must be able to answer â€œwhy?â€
As student activities shift to independent practice, formative assessment does not stop; I immediately transition to incorporating student face-time. My goal is to spend some period of time, with every student, everyday. This time allows me to correct mistakes and redirect conceptual understanding with the student, thus allowing more opportunities to assess student learning. The more assessment feedback I receive from my students, the more information I am provided to make future decisions regarding instruction.
My previously mentioned teaching philosophy goals will not be reached if control of the classroom is not first accomplished. I set a high standard in all areas of my classroom, specifically, classroom management and student achievement. To achieve a high standard of management, classroom procedures dominate my classroom. Procedures are practiced and consistently enforced until every student is aware of the expectations set forth in my room. Anytime a student does not follow procedure, he/she is asked to back-up and try again. Incorporating rigorous standards for behavior in the classroom has double fold the effort in exchange for a distraction free learning environment.
The structure provided through management procedures will also provide the social and emotional growth needed to produce productive citizens. In my classroom, students will learn responsibility. All adolescents will be held accountable for their educational goals and actions. An internal locus of control will be modeled in the classroom and expected from every student. Together, we will strive daily to be the best we can be, as individuals and citizens.
Beyond procedures, helpful in effectively managing a classroom is having healthy teacher-student relationships. Students must be treated with respect as individuals. I strive to build upon and improve relationships daily. Communicating with any student is meaningless until that student first understands the teacher cares. I communicate this message to my students daily with conversations that center that studentâ€™s interests and talents. Beyond the day-to-day classroom, my favorite method of building relationships is being present at any and all extracurricular activities my students may participate in. Such diligent investment into studentsâ€™ lives has helped produce a perform-based classroom environment. Students now work hard for the approval of their teacher.
In conclusion, the notion that any student can learn, and that it requires an effective teach to make it happen, drives the principles embedded in my teaching philosophy. This combined effort has helped numerous students close achievement gaps this school year. Twenty to thirty percent of my students began the year struggling in math. A combination of ample time to practice math, assessment driven instruction, and rigorous management standards has helped transform these students. Test scores have increased twenty to forty percent and once timid students are now excited to contribute in the math classroom. I cannot stop accommodating instruction and assessment until all learners have been reached. As an educator this is my ultimate goal, not all students learn the same way, but I earnestly believe, all students can learn.