A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops. ~Henry Adams

My First Day of School!

Throughout my childhood friends and family would comment that I would grow up to become a teacher. I always loved going to school, in fact there was never a day on which I didn't want to attend school. My love of school combined with my compassion for children were ingredients in their eyes for the making of a wonderful teacher. My mother fondly remembers a time in 2nd Grade when I helped a child in my classroom with a disability. She frequently tells me that she knew from that moment on that I would someday grow up to become a teacher and is so very happy that I have found a career that I will truly love. We are both fond believers of the saying "If you do what you love, you will never work a day in your life". In high school and college, friends and family persisted to compliment my ability to help others, caring nature, and love for children. However, I also felt pressured by my academics to pursue a career in medicine or law, trying to live up to the high standards I had set for myself. It was during my senior year of high school that I decided to take a course entitled Teacher Cadet, in which I worked with a 3rd Grade class during 7th period every day for six weeks. Through this experience I realized that my calling was to teach!

Even before commencing the Masters of Elementary Education program, I was developing views and beliefs about the role of education and teaching. Once in the program, I honed my ideas and beliefs, eventually putting them into practice. My philosophy of teaching is strongly rooted in a lifelong dream that I may kindle a fire and love of learning in every child I touch and help them to become successful adult members of society. This motto is the driving force behind my beliefs about the role of a teacher and the overarching goals of education. As a teacher I believe my role is to engage students in learning so that they become lifelong learners who become drawn into situations where they can learn new things and acquire new knowledge. Another major aspect of my role as a teacher involves my responsibility to help students develop into capable and successful members of society, both socially and academically. Though I have long held many of these aspirations about the role of teaching, I believe that I have been able to more fully develop my teaching pedagogy and have had the opportunity to apply my dreams through coursework and practicum experience in the Masters of Elementary Education program.

It is important to note that my desire to create lifelong learners cannot be made possible without a strong understanding of content knowledge, educational theory, and pedagogy. Without this critical foundation my teaching is entirely meaningless, for a true teacher knows the content thoroughly in order to appropriately relay the information to their students. A feeble understanding of the content knowledge makes one's teaching feeble because effectiveness of teaching is measured not only by student success but by understanding and content expertise of the teacher. I believe that my advanced placement coursework in high school, undergraduate studies, and methods classes in the Masters program have enabled me to develop the content expertise needed to become an effective instructor in the areas of mathematics, social studies, science, and reading/language arts.

Hallway Bulletin Board Celebrating Student Work

I aim to create an environment in the classroom that nurtures the growth of lifelong learners and successful members of society, and this environment will be a cohesive and democratic learning community. The students ought to feel like part of a larger community, in which their individual actions affect the group as a whole. The class will work together to determine a set of classroom rules and consequences with the guidance of the teacher, so that the students feel as though they have a stake in their learning. Climate in the classroom will be a positive one, such that good choice making is positively rewarded and individual and whole class learning is celebrated (see photo to the right). In an effort to create lifelong learners and capable citizens, instructional methods must be tailored to the needs of the students and evoke engagement and enthusiasm about learning. Hence, a mixture of instructional methods is necessary to create an environment that caters to the needs of those who prefer whole group, small group and individual instruction. To encourage inquiry and student investigation small group learning and independent research and investigation will be critical, while whole group instruction will also be useful for to convey the basic level of knowledge and understanding. To foster community a community of children who will grow to become capable adult members of society, group work will be useful to allow students to be accustomed to problem solving with other individuals and functioning in a group of people.

At the end of each day I feel that I find myself reflecting on my actions during the day and it is through this simple reflection that I take the first step at assessing my effectiveness as a teacher. I look over the day’s lessons and happenings, pinpointing what went well and that which could be improved upon. After analyzing my own actions I look to formative and summative assessments, determining how my students reacted and responded to my teaching. I ask myself, did they “get it” or is there something more I can do to help them along the way and nurture their success as students. I always look to my own teaching before jumping to the conclusion that the lack of learning might have been a result of student action, for there is usually an adjustment that can be made to my teaching in an effort to cater to the needs of all my learners.

Students excited to learn in Room 207!

Throughout my practicum and student experiences in the Masters of Education program I certainly developed my pedagogy and teaching skills and further cultivated my beliefs about education. While growing in these domains I learned, perhaps more importantly, how easily I fit into the classroom. It did not take long before I felt right at home with my students and I knew that teaching was the career that I was meant to pursue. I believe it takes a special person to become a teacher and I believe in my heart of hearts that I am that type of person. The connections made with students in Room 207 will forever stay with me throughout my teaching career and I look forward to having the opportunity to make new relationships with each new classroom full of children waiting to learn. The joy of witnessing a child come into your classroom and develop a connection with you and then become engaged and excited to learn is simply priceless. Though it may sound cliche, I believe it entirely "Teaching is all about the kids!"