Teaching is one of the most challenging professions as a teacher impacts the minds of children, and shapes the minds of future generations. As challenging as teaching is, it is also more rewording than words can express. When I feel that I have truly reached a student, or experience that teachable moment when the entire class's eyes light up and students cannot stop themselves from calling out answers and questions, euphoria settles over me and then I know that my hard work and dedication has paid off.
I believe that every child can learn; however, in order for that to happen I, as an educator, need to provide the student with opportunities that allow them to reach their highest potential. From the first day of school, I set clear goals, fair yet rigorous expectations, and consistently followed through routines for my students. I create a positive classroom culture and climate, so as to develop student engagement, create a safe discursive environment and encourage student collaboration and participation. Aside from simply teaching the standards, I guide the students to facilitate authentic, relevant, and in-depth learning through hands-on activities, and family and community involvement. I create an environment that supports individual growth as well as collaborative learning. I understand that each child learns differently and because of that my lessons are designed to provide students the opportunity to learn via multiple means, including activities designed for visual, auditory and kinesthetic learners and that address multiple intelligences. Depending on the activity or concept, my grouping of students is always strategic, either homogenous or heterogeneous grouping. In homogenous grouping the students challenge each other because they are all on similar academic levels, and in heterogeneous grouping the higher functioning students aid their peers, while reinforcing their own expertise in the subject matter. When students work in groups, I provide them with materials, resources, directions and problems to be solved. Furthermore, during group work, I encourage students to build upon their knowledge to infer, draw conclusions and synthesize original arguments.
Moreover, I collaborate with colleagues, families and the community to make learning meaningful to students. Arranging for members from the community to come and speak to the students, whether about the use of drugs, communicable diseases or engineering, builds a connection between what we are learning and real life issues. Working in partnership with my colleagues not only on lesson ideas or classroom strategies but also on identifying students' strengths and challenges, allows me to better assess their needs and create more individualized activities. Technology plays an important part in all children's lives, therefore, I make it my goal to integrate technology into my lessons. My students play educational games, conduct research, create data charts, complete scientific investigations using interactive websites, create profiles and PowerPoint presentations to present their research. When students use an iPad or a Chromebook in class, their learning takes on a different form, some of them no longer are overwhelmed with completing the activity, their stress level decreases and they view learning as playing a game. As a result, the concept is much easier for them to understand and retain. After the completion of an activity, I often hear them say, "that was so easy", and I am thinking, "Great!", while feeling happy inside that they understood a difficult concept because of the extra effort I put into planning my lesson.
Throughout my career, I have always worked on improving my teaching craft. I believe being able to reflect on your own lessons is very important in order to be a successful teacher. If the lesson does not go well, then it is my responsibility to research best practices and strategies, and to keep abreast of new research and information that supports my growth and in turn can help me improve.
The greatest reward in teaching is knowing that you are making a difference, positively shaping a child's mind by being not only their teacher but also their role model, guide and friend. That is what differentiates teachers from true educators - and a true educator is what I strive to be each day I walk into my classroom.