The classroom in which a student is expected to learn must foster these vital skills. Firstly, there must be a firm sense of community between all the students and the teacher. If students are expected to reach their full potential they must have a safe environment that meets their social and emotional needs. The classroom environment should also facilitate creativity and exploration. If you limit curiosity you limit the chance to learn. As one of the greatest teachers of all time would say, “Take chances, make mistakes, get messy!” Yes, Ms. Frizzle may not be a real person, but her words illustrate what is necessary for students to grow without fear of failure and the pressure to perform perfectly.
The impact that teachers have on student success is profound. This impact can be positive, giving students the tools and confidence to tackle new challenges and overcome any obstacle, but this impact can also be harmful. Ineffective teaching can crumple a student’s view of their own potential and allow them to feel that their best will never be good enough so why try. To allow any student to feel incapable is my personal fear and I strive to make sure each of my students sees their potential. As an educator, I spend much of my time reflecting on my teaching, analyzing student achievements, and working to improve my craft so I am best able to reach each and every student.
I am a strong advocate of a rigorous, standards-based curriculum; where achievable goals are clearly defined. In my time as a Team Lead, I got to spearhead curriculum development with a focus on subject integration, not just to develop “units”, but to cultivate an understanding of a meaningful approach to teaching standards based upon Understanding by Design. However, a strong curriculum is simply not enough. It needs to be integrated with strong teaching practices in order to have any meaningful impact on students. An inquiry-based approach to learning and using a classroom workshop model has been the foundation of my curriculum development.
My educational philosophy is not one concrete formula for creating the perfect teacher. It is the idea that every student has potential. It is about not just saying it, but showing it by being caring and compassionate with each unique individual. It is about working collaboratively with students to develop and share knowledge. It is about continually learning and re-learning and not being afraid to change what does not work. It is about showing what an exciting, and interesting place the world is. Ultimately, it is ensuring that every student in my care is provided with the chance to be their best, to feel proud of success, and face challenges without fear.