As a teacher, I still have a lot of room for improvement. There is a lot more to teaching than I realized when I decided to work in education. I am developing my strengths and addressing my weaknesses. My ability to communicate and stay organized was challenged by switching from engineering to education and I grew in the areas of taking initiative and keeping the big picture in mind. There are several specific ways I will make use of the information and resources provided in the Teacher Academy Program. What I have learned will affect my communication and interactions with students in a positive way. Though I have struggled, I still wish to incorporate technology in the management of my classrooms.
Nurturing is my primary teaching personality. I was drawn to teaching because of all the wonderful people I met at discussions of universal human rights. I wanted to serve underrepresented populations in STEM fields because diversity is important for progress. I was also inspired to teach both by great teachers and the few teachers that disappointed me. I wanted to give back to the community.
Teaching a whole class of individuals presented challenges that I never experienced as a tutor. My inexperience with classroom management sometimes made it difficult for students to hear because I had to learn how to teach students to speak at appropriate times at appropriate volume levels and my students kept testing me. I kept class areas for student use organized and teaching was easier when I had students take responsibility for more of the classroom but it took me until the end of my first semester teaching to figure out how to organize teaching resources for myself. I had to learn how to find help for myself and anticipate when students need help. I learned that in teaching there are a lot of details out of my control but I can make a difference when I focus on what I can control.
The Teacher Academy Program has provided many opportunities and resources to reflect on effective teaching. I am going to keep in mind the many examples of good teaching and continue focusing on examples of good teaching to stay inspired and enthusiastic. I am going to be mindful of my wording and tone of voice and remember to give time limits. I will be explicit with expectations and use visual reminders, including a volume meter. I will catch kids being good to create a more positive environment and prepare, prepare, prepare. I will incorporate more movement into my classroom, including walking around as part of participation and transitions. Keeping in mind student interests and strengths is very important to promoting learning.
There are many specific things I can do to communicate more effectively and have more positive interactions with students. Clear expectations and timely feedback helps increase student motivation. I will encourage students to ask questions and make sure my actions back up my words. I can keep a calendar, a student progress chart, and set up other systems of consistent communication so we’re all on the same page. Most importantly, I will model respect for myself and for my students.
Technology has the potential to help me communicate, collaborate, manage information, collect data and problem solve, as long as technology works. In my experience, it is good to have back up activities and learn how to troubleshoot/get help when technology fails. I liked using a smart board and letting students interact with technology. Students could use computers and the Internet to work on research projects. Smart boards or just a projector and a working computer with PowerPoint can be used for Jeopardy! review games. Art projects for math and science content can incorporate audio and visual components. I would like to use clickers to have students participate during lectures but I could have a show of hands or have students write on slips of paper or other options too. There are many low-tech options for when technology fails too.
There are many things I want my students to remember after having spent time in my classroom. I want my students to remember me as a caring adult. I want my students to be able to say they felt encouraged and inspired. I hope to be a positive influence. I want my classroom to be remembered as a safe place full of respect. I’d also like my students to think I knew my stuff and cared enough to prepare. With a combination of all these things students should expect from me as their teacher, I hope I can teach students to believe that they can succeed.
Whatever my students wish to succeed at, I hope I can help encourage and inspire them. Finding the right words and being consistent with my actions is very rewarding. At the same time, I have to make sure not to take students dropping out of school (though I do hope to minimize drop out rates) personally and hope for the best. Perhaps students can find success in other areas of life and finish school later on. I can share stories of overcoming struggles and find examples of successful people that come from similar backgrounds as my students. I think I made the most progress with this goal in my 12th-grade Advisory class though I was sad to see some students drop out.
I want to be a good role model. If I want my students to be on time, they can expect me to be there early. I prefer enforcing rules that I follow myself. I will do my own personal best and expect the same of my students. I must take care of myself so I can better take care of my students and, from experience, I know I can also look for outside sources to help.
I want my classrooms to be areas safe for all kinds of people. Students have trouble learning when they don’t feel safe or respected. This idea goes back to Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs. People need to take care of their basic physiological needs before safety and security, love and belonging, and self-esteem so they can attain self-actualization. There is only so much I can do inside my classroom to overcome what happens outside, but I can take responsibility for what I can do.
I feel as though I have a strong foundation in math and science from engineering but what I know so far is necessary but not sufficient. Keeping myself up-to-date with scientific developments is important. As a teacher, I want to model lifelong learning. I also need to work on pedagogy and breaking down concepts so I can communicate with new learners. As many educators (including Johnson and Tufte) have said, it is very important to prepare, prepare, prepare.
There are so many things I’d like to do as a teacher. In various ways, I want to make a positive impact on the lives of students. Teaching is a noble profession that is in alignment with my values. I hope I can help nurture students in their academic success and in life. With encouragement and inspiration, students can expand their horizons. Safety and respect are essential. Preparation is an important way to show students that I care about them. I hope to be a good teacher and live a good life both in and out of a classroom.