I just want to say thank you to all of those who have commented on my posts! It is so wonderful to hear advice from experienced teachers. I am truly learning from each and every comment and feel a little less stressed!
For one of my classes, we were to make a teaching philosophy outlining who we are as a teacher while defining the most important elements of an effective classroom. Here is mine:
I believe education is the foundation of a student’s life that prepares them with the learning skills they will need outside of the classroom. Teachers are the decisive element for their classroom, as well as the one’s who set the tone for how their students approach learning. By opening doors to hands-on and student-centered learning, teachers will instill all of the best qualities in each individual student. My approach to teaching is derived from Jean Piaget’s learning theory of constructivism. Constructivism encourages a learning community where students are actively engaged in the lesson as well as with one another.
Each of my lessons will be standards-based, however, I am always exploring for new ways to teach lessons with a hands-on approach in a way that my students can activate their prior knowledge and begin relating what they are learning to their lives outside of school. When students approach learning in a hands-on fashion, they are not only engaged in the activity, but they are incorporating problem-solving and critical thinking skills. My objective as a teacher is to provide a warm and welcoming atmosphere for my students to learn and grow. I am aware that each student learns differently, and I will make sure that the nature of all learners can thrive in every subject. Therefore, I will be flexible in my curriculum development in order to adhere to the pace at which my students learn.
Not only is the interaction between the students and the lessons important, but the social interaction among students is also imperative to learning. My classroom will be a learning community, where students ask each other questions, test one another, and feed off of one another. By implementing these strategies, students will learn how to interact with their peers, as well as push one another to go past their normal academic limits. These tasks will not only help students grow within the classroom, but it will help them to learn how to deal with social situations outside of the classroom.
An important quality in the general classroom is for all core subjects to be integrated. I believe that Reading, Writing, Science, Social Studies, Art, Drama, Music and Math can all be used together to make learning more engaging for students. By implementing an integrated curriculum students will be able to see the connection between many different subject areas. By using technology and art as a supporting or lead role in my classroom, students can discover new ways to store and share knowledge. This will allow students to see that show that the content is useful across the board. By allowing students to sing during math, research on computers in social studies, and make art for science, they will be more engaged to learn the subjects that might not have first interested them.
Assessment is a very crucial part of an elementary classroom. The assessment strategies I implement will not be traditional and behaviorist, however, they will adhere to the multiple types of intelligence – visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. Assessments will be for all students who learn by doing, while stimulating their thinking using the multiple intelligences. Instead of using traditional worksheets and timed tests, students will assessed by plays, activities, interviews, artwork, and presentations. This type of assessment allows students to express their individual qualities while demonstrating what they have learned.
Classroom and behavior management is extremely significant for any working classroom. Without some form of management, a classroom could be unfocused and take away from the students learning. I plan on having students make the classroom rules at the beginning of the school year -- allowing them to take ownership with the rules and making students more willing to follow them. My behavior management plan is to use the “flip a card” system; however, I plan to use positive reinforcement -- by rewarding the good. By giving a positive response after a wanted, or target, behavior, I will be able to maintain a specific classroom environment. Organization is also a key element in the classroom. Having a structured and well thought-out classroom will allow the students to find the books and supplies they need easily, while also teaching them the importance of organization.
By creating a classroom that is structured, flexible, hands-on and compatible, students will understand what is expected of them and know that they can achieve and be successful. By challenging students with life-long skills, my students will be ready for the world that is around them. I am prepared and ready for the challenges that teachers face today because I know what an impact I can make on the young lives that will shape our future.
Organizers, bins, books, manipulatives...I honestly don't know where to begin when it comes to purchasing materials for my first year of teaching. When you walk through the halls of an elementary school, peeking into each classroom, it is like home-a-rama -- each room is more decorated and organized then the next. In one of my classes, we were to make a budget of all the things we need for our first year of teaching using only $300.00. I had a hard time choosing what was important and what I could get later in my teaching career. This past weekend I made a trip to the local "Teacher Store" just to browse and get myself excited for the years to come. However, I instead left in a panic...there is no way I can buy everything I want for my first year of teaching. I know what I want my classroom to look like, I have visualized it over and over again, and there is NO way I can fill my classroom with all of the best organizers and materials my students need. I have been told to beg, borrow, and steal...to use other teachers' ideas and manipulatives while I slowly build my classroom. I guess I just have the mindset that I want my classroom to be the best my students have ever seen. I know that I need to start planning and purchasing materials and books for my classroom as soon as possible, however, my main concern is which materials are the most important. What are the must haves? I am very aware that it is a slow process to build the perfect classroom with all of the best materials, I just wish i knew where to begin.
As an up-and-coming first year teacher, I have always been concerned about how I am going to run my classroom. How am I going to actually be ready to handle at least 15 students? How will I organize my classroom? How can I handle working with parents when I am only 21? How do I stay prepared throughout the entire first year of school? My "pre-teacher" friends and I have been asking these questions ever since we entered the College of Education. It seemed that everyone gave us the same answer..."Don't worry, I promise you will be ready." It wasn't until this summer that a professor actually gave my friends and I hope. (Don't get me wrong, we have taken some courses that have truly helped us become better teachers, we just didn't know how in the world we would be ready in less than a year.) This summer, my fellow pre-teachers and I are taking a course called Classroom Management. We were all hoping that maybe this class would be different; maybe this class would really give us insight for internship, and hopefully for our first-year of teaching...and that is exactly what it has done. We are given directions on how to prepare a solid resume, how to go through a job interview with ease, how to organize our first classroom, and how to handle the first day of school. The best part about this class is our textbook: The First-Year Teacher's Survival Guide, Ready-to-Use Strategies, Tools & Activities for Meeting the Challenges of Each School Day, by Julia G. Thompson. I HIGHLY recommend it. It's one of those textbooks that you actually enjoy reading, knowing that you are learning something that is not only important for your future career, but gives you insight on many issues that first-year teacher's have to learn the hard way.
The one thing I have learned the most through this textbook is how to prepare for, survive and have a fantastic first day of school. I have always been a planner, making multiple to-do-lists in one day, however, I have always felt a little overwhelmed by how much I would need to prepare for the first day of school. I learned all the aspects of arranging my classroom floor-plan, organizing books and materials, making a first-day-welcome packet, and so much more. Now that I feel more comfortable with what I will be facing throughout my first year of teaching, I am more excited than ever to begin. I just need to get through internship, find a job, and graduate...