Why I Teach
To make it as simple as possible, “I am a teacher.” I believe that as a teacher, I am in the very business of service. I have been hired by parents to teach their child, and I take this charge very seriously. Parents have given me their trust that as a teacher I will teach their child firm foundational basics, challenging academics, social understanding and skills to understand how to function and work well with others, and finally to find an enthusiasm and love of learning. That is how parents look at my job, and while all that is true, I look at my job in one word, relationships.
Building a relationship with my students is the foundation for how I will know how to best serve them. It takes time to learn about each of my students. It takes time to develop trust with anyone, and with the students that I teach, I develop this with everyday connections for what they like and dislike, what hurts, and helps them, and what makes them enthusiastic about life. I am a firm believer to learn about my students from their parents as well. After all, they know them best. I do my best to communicate frequently with parents so that they can understand what is being taught in my classroom, but it is also to connect to know whom my students are. Again, parents have hired me, and they need to know what my plans are for teaching their children are. “If you have your student’s best interest and direction in mind then you can’t go wrong--Treat each day and each student as if they were gold, and see what your return will be” Diane Silver.
Learning is messy. Learning is the process of active hands on, trial and error, direct instruction, observation, repetition, and “I do, We do, You do” models. Students do best if they feel like they can “get messy” in a safe environment. When I see something that needs to be addressed, I do my best to address it in the moment so the student can see the perspectives and why we are addressing it. Teaching encompasses these relationship building skills along with taking data, analyzing the data, changing / modifying /accommodating instruction and curriculum to fit the needs of the students. Social skill training for my students helps to build on the foundation to help my students have the best success that I can provide. Education is an all-encompassing model and I am responsible for it.
My role as a teacher is to give students (whether they be preschoolers or adults) the tools with which to cultivate their own understanding of knowledge through building this relationship with them. I teach to the needs of each student as best as I am able, so that all learners can feel capable and successful. If I see students slipping, I look at why? That’s when we talk, communicate with parents, and see that through failing, we can gain knowledge to know how to use a new skill or technique to keep improving.
I use curriculum that involves the interests of the children and makes learning relevant to their lives. I incorporate themes, integrated units, projects, group work, individual work, and hands-on learning in order to make children active learners. I adapt, modify, and make other accommodations to the curriculum to ensure that the students are learning because I care for them. Finally, I tie learning into the world community that they are involved in to help students become caring and active members of society, and for the population that I am currently teaching (many have Autism Spectrum Disorder), it is another added element of adaptation to help the students understand their world around them.
I know that I am in the business of changing and influencing lives based on the choices that I make: the choices to work hard and love the students every day. For some students I might be the only positive Adult model they have in their life, and so I work daily to ensure that my classroom is a safe, predictable, and stable environment for them to learn in. Each child is precious, and I do my best to put aside my own thoughts and issues and think of what they need. Teaching is the most powerful job in the world (next to parenting), and I am blessed with the opportunity of changing student’s lives.
In short, I am a TEACHER, and as basic as that philosophy is, it keeps it simple for me to remember one word, relationships. All the planning, analyzing of evidence, changing and adapting, modifying, accommodating, thinking, observing, communicating, means nothing if I haven’t connected or made a relationship with my students. I desire that the students that I teach will reach their potential, they can develop a love of learning, and that they can feel that I cared enough for them to do all that I did for them.