When people ask me why I enjoy teaching so much the answer is simple; it is the students. Each child that walks into the classroom embodies unique characteristics, a desire to do well, and possesses an individual perspective on the world. As I get to know each student throughout the school year, it is highly enjoyable to learn about each child and what motivates and inspires each one of them.
Teaching is a complex process. Teachers are regularly tasked with reflecting and revising their practices, differentiating methods and approaches, adapting instruction to include different learning styles, creating a safe environment where students feel comfortable and want to take risks, modeling positive attitudes about learning and demonstrating how exciting and meaningful learning can be through authentic instruction. It is easy to get caught up in the ‘what and how’ and overlook the simple fact that education is about one student at a time.
Understanding that each student is unique, I have focused a great deal on technology. When executed meaningfully and purposely, technology can support students to personalize their learning and help students become producers within their own education and not just consumers.
However to help students become strategic and lifelong learners, it is crucial that students collaborate, problem solve, engage with manipulatives, and knowingly reflect upon their learning – with and without technology. For instance, within my MakerSpaces, students are tasked with no-device challenges, such as building a bridge that can support two books or creating a catapult with just a handful of materials. When mistakes are made, students learn that these are an integral part of the learning process and perseverance is key.
When thinking about education, it is my belief that a community needs to be developed and nurtured to include parents. Consistent communication is important through blogs, phone calls, and conferences. As digital portfolios become the norm, gone are the days of ‘How was school today’ as parents can sit with their child and see first hand what they accomplished in school that day.
Teaching in California for five years and for seven internationally, I have developed a multicultural and global understanding. With this insight, I am able to provide a safe, engaging classroom environment where students feel confident taking risks and develop a lifelong love of learning.