"Treat people as if they were what they ought to be and you help them become what they are capable of being" - Johann Wolfgang Goethe
When I was a young high school student, the biology teacher lead us out of the classroom, went down to the river next to our school, and let us explore the “weeds” growing here, finding out about their parts and names and traditional medicinal uses, and later instructed us to create an herbarium with the pressed plants. He could have shown us pictures in a book, but instead he encouraged us to create a book. This teacher went above and beyond with a “real life”, hands-on, foot-on, minds-on lesson, relevant for all of us, engaging all different kinds of learners, incorporating arts and medicine and history in the science content. I want to be such a teacher that can move and inspire children, and instill a love for learning and science in them.
My classroom is a lively environment where students often work collaboratively in groups in engaging, relevant, and real world related projects. My instruction is student-centered, consisting of many hands-on (and minds-on) lab or manipulative activities. Students actually see and touch the materials (or models of it) they are studying. My teaching style goes hand in hand with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), and have earlier been explored by the progressivist educator John Dewey. Dewey supports inquiry driven instruction, where students construct meaning for content themselves. In activities that stimulate their curiosity, and give them a chance for inquiry and experimenting, they can find answers to their questions themselves or in cooperative groups. As teacher I have to guide the activities so that the learning is effective. I have found that for example making and presenting posters about a self-researched project is a great way to engage every single student and to give them an outlet for personal expression. Constructing knowledge on their own and in collaborative groups gives their learning a new meaning, and makes the students connect better to the results. This also trains critical thinking and team working skills, two essential demands of our 21st century society and our highly skilled, technical job world.
I firmly belief that every kid wants to succeed and wants to learn. Every student has a potential that is probably much higher then they are aware of themselves. As teacher I have the chance to create the self belief and capability in a young person to achieve that highest possible potential. If I can take away any misconceptions that students may bring into the classroom about themselves or the subject to be taught, and encourage them to believe and invest in their capabilities, then successful learning can take place. By establishing personal relationships with my students, learning about their culture, their goals, and their interests, as well as their learning preferences, I can give every student the chance to perform to their best, and I will not expect anything less then that. I will set and maintain high expectations for every one of them, as well as for myself, and set an example for them.
I will always pay close attention to students with special learning circumstances, like English language learners, or students with specific challenges, and do my very best to give them the learning experience they need to succeed. I will apply my knowledge of SDAIE strategies, which for example include many visual aids and vocabulary support.
To make learning in my class meaningful and effective, I need to make sure I provide an emotionally and physically safe environment for all my students where they feel welcome and recognized and know they can learn and succeed. To ensure this, we have to create a positive classroom community. Students and teacher will get to know each other, and we will develop our classroom contract collaboratively. Clear expectations and guidelines will be set for the students. They have to play their part to keep this environment working. If some students need more personal guidance then I will address that.
As a teacher I stand in front of my classroom every day as the example of what I expect from them. I will display professionalism at all times, maintaining a calm and respectful attitude and guide their learning in the most effective way.
“The biggest human temptation is to settle for too little”, says Thomas Merton. As a teacher, I will always strive to engage my students and encourage them to learn to their best potential, and never “settle for too little”.