As I have studied and explored the many pedagogies that come in and out of fashion in education, two have greatly informed my theory of instruction. They reflect what I saw the excellent teachers do and provide me with the foundational skills and attitudes that carry me forward in my studies. I believe a combination of engaged pedagogy and social-epistemic pedagogy has the potential to create dynamic, collaborative classrooms that encourage inquiry, creativity, and empathy in students as they explore and develop their literacy and compositional skills.
I believe students come to my classroom with their own brand of genius, eager to discover what they can accomplish with it. My job is to provide the opportunity. I encourage students’ potential by:
- fostering a safe environment in which to experiment and explore;
- allowing students to guide their own learning through goal-setting, trial and error, and reflection; and
- by modeling, scaffolding, and encouraging the skills students need to become life-long learners.
The most important thing a teacher can do, especially in the early days of the school year, is build a mutually respectful, honest rapport with students based on open communication, an empathetic attitude, and an ethical, democratic classroom routine. I take a holistic approach to classroom management. I ask my students to identify what is most important to them and what they want to achieve, both in my class and in life generally. We work collaboratively to establish behavior rules and routines, and I model these behaviors for my students; together, we ensure that the learning environment is safe and supportive.
I believe in utilizing parents, faculty, and community members to support student journeys. I accomplish this through regular communication via one-on-one student mentoring sessions, weekly updates to a class website, and a monthly newsletter managed by the students. Whenever possible, I hope to invite parents and community members into the classroom to share their expertise and support classroom activities. Students are encouraged to monitor their behavior and progress and make adjustments as necessary with the support of myself, their family, and the school.
I foster personal growth in my students by acting as both a facilitator and a delegator. I believe it is my responsibility to assist students in their learning by empowering them through choice and autonomy. Everyone’s learning journey is different. Through personal goal setting, regular open communication, one-on-one mentoring sessions, and specific feedback, I can assist my students with their individual needs as they grow and develop into mature, capable members of society.
One of the most satisfying aspects of teaching is learning from the students. Finding opportunities for students to share their unique experiences, insights, and talents, not just with me but with their peers, their families, and their community, is one of my personal goals. Language Arts isn’t just about reading dusty old novels and writing dry essays. Language Arts is about the power of words, communication, and presentation. I want my students to find their voices and share their abilities with as broad an audience as possible. I accomplish this through regular communication and goal setting with students, learning and practicing the real-world application of skills within the classroom, and project-based learning that requires collaboration, both with peers and community members.
In choosing to become a teacher, I committed myself and my students to always strive for excellence, to learn and grow continually, and to honestly and ethically work towards the best learning experience I can provide. I approach teaching with an open mind and an open heart. I look forward to the adventure that each new day brings.