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Why do teachers teach? This is a good question that doesn't have a perfect answer; a question that doesn't have just one answer, but multiple. Nevertheless most teachers can find at least one similar answer on their list--wanting to make a positive difference in student's lives. For a teacher to effectively make a difference he or she needs to understand the curriculum content. After fully understanding the curriculum content, proficient teachers then can incorporate strategies such as the integration of new technology, diversified learning activities, and cooperative learning into their everyday lessons.
According to Indiana Professional Teaching Standards for Teachers of Adolescence and Young Adulthood (Indiana Department of Education), standard 4 states, "the teacher of adolescents and young adults understands the interdisciplinary nature of the high school curriculum and relates his/her subject matter to foster well-rounded student learning." Teachers must know and understand what they are teaching. From that knowledge the teacher is able to develop curriculum that address all students' needs and learning styles. It is much easier for a teacher to expand lesson plans and classroom activities when they have a good understanding of the curriculum content. It is also their responsibility to create a learning environment where students are able to expand their pre-existing knowledge. Teachers can then better help students relate concepts and ideas from their class to other classes that will help them in the real world (Shulman, 1987).
Proficient teachers become better teachers by foreseeing difficulties that may arise within the lesson and modify them so all students have a better understanding of the curriculum. Teachers should not just rely on themselves to figure out information needed for their curriculums. According to the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (2002), "Professional teachers wisely enlist the knowledge and expertise of their fellow faculty members in a variety of ways as they seek to provide their students with as rewarding learning experience as possible." Teachers should ask colleagues, parents, and community members about different topics or students in order for optimum learning. If a teacher can bring in a guest speaker or relate information to their community, students will take a lot more knowledge from that lesson. Involving others also allows the teacher to continue to expand their knowledge on certain educational topics.
Indiana Professional Teaching Standards for Teachers of Adolescence and Young Adulthood (Indiana Department of Education), standard 3 states, "the teacher of adolescents and young adults has an understanding of the characteristics of high schools and incorporates this knowledge into the design of educational programs which reflect sound principles of teaching and learning." Teachers must integrate technology every day in lesson plans and teaching strategies. Technology is the gateway to the outside world. Teachers should learn about technology and how to effectively use it in their curriculum because it allows students to obtain knowledge and information that allow them to "explore ideas, acquire and synthesize information, and frame and solve problems" (Darling-Hammond, 1999, Â¶4). Teachers should not limit themselves to just the internet and computer. There is no argument that the web is an amazing type of technology that continues to play a huge role in many people's lives. However, teachers should expand their knowledge in the technology field. They should introduce their students as well as themselves to new classroom technology on a consistent basis. By continuing to introduce new types of technology teachers will only not be providing a more diverse lesson, they will also engage student learning more efficiently. Students want more engaging technology assignments that they can relate to in their real lives (Arafeh & Levin, 2002). "The teacher is a key variable in technology implementation and effectiveness" (Valdez, 2005, Â¶ 26). Proficient teachers use technology effectively and efficiently every day without even thinking about it. It is something that comes natural. These are teachers that seek out technology trainings in order to be able to pull from a variety of methods for each lesson.
No longer is it expected for teachers to have all of the answers. With guidance, students are expected to figure out problems by asking questions, collecting information, and collaborating with their peers. Indiana Professional Teaching Standards for Teachers of Adolescence and Young Adulthood (Indiana Department of Education), standard 5 states, "the teacher of adolescents and young adults understands the teaching/learning research base and employs a variety of instructional strategies, resources, and technologies which advance the learner into high level thinking skills." Proficient teachers must create learning opportunities for every student. Every student will succeed. Teachers steer students in the right direction but all students to own their work. Teachers allow students to take responsibility of their own learning.
There are many learning styles out there, and it is vital teachers learn to incorporate more than one in any given lesson. Not all students learn the same; therefore there must be a variety of learning techniques. Teachers treat students fairly, identifying the individuality that differentiates one student from another and then use these observations in their teachings (NBPTS, 2002). They adjust their practice based on observation and knowledge of their students' interests, abilities, skills, knowledge, family circumstances and peer relationships. An effective teacher will use more than one learning style in order to reach all of the students' learning needs. "Multiple intelligence" is a term Howard Gardner created implying that students can learn and usually fit into one or more learning categories (Gardner, 2009). Teachers should be willing to have a co-worker or other professional come and observe their lesson plans in action. This allows teachers to become increasingly better in problem solving, research, brainstorming, and creating more diversified lessons.
Becoming a teacher takes a degree, but becoming a proficient teacher takes years of dedication and hard work. The teachers that want to make a positive difference in their students lives are the ones that will make sure they fully understand the curriculum content for their class, integrate new technology consistently, and create and change lesson plans in order to meet the needs of all students. These teachers know that curriculum and students are constantly changing and therefore their job is never complete.