I choose to teach in a variety of ways to help facilitate the many different types of learning that my students may have. I believe that I am a tool to help children reach their highest potential, and will therefore do everything in my power to help my students succeed. Not only do I want to help children, but I feel that they have a sense of love, acceptance, and a curiosity that can push them to be whoever they choose, and I can learn from each of them. It is important that as a teacher, I constantly care for each of my students and express the love that I have for them. Children in third grade often thrive on love and enthusiasm, and as a teacher, I must provide that. It is also important as a teacher that I continue to learn throughout my life, changing and growing my ideas, philosophies, and techniques, adapting to new situations and a variety of students.
I have come to realize that an important aspect of the classroom is, in fact, the parents and community. I have yet to meet a parent who does not want their child to do well. By inviting and encouraging parents to come into the classroom, I not only allow parents opportunities to take part in their student’s learning, but I allow myself an opportunity to learn from comments and suggestions that these parents might have. It is also important to realize that as a teacher, both my students and their parents will come from very diverse backgrounds. I feel that by incorporating community into the classroom through service projects, community garden, field trips, parent teacher nights, and so on, I will be taking parts of my student’s lives outside of class and bring them into the classroom to allow students and myself to become more familiar and aware of whom we truly are.
It is important to address the fact that community should also be involved in what the district and state decides to teach these students and surround them with each day. I, therefore, also become an activist in the community. Being an activist or ally means that I help make parents and community aware of laws, what happens in schools and classrooms, and will also be available to translate for Spanish speaking parents, have parent tutor nights to help families become engaged and understand material being taught to their children. Allowing families the opportunity to become involved in all parts of the education system is powerful thing I can do for my students and their parents, and I feel it will only help my students more. I encourage diversity in my classroom. My students not only learn of their culture and ethnicity, but of the cultures and ethnicities of their fellow students. I also support conversations about differences in my classroom, having courageous conversations on a continual basis, to help my students understand that we are all different and different is good (Singleton, 2008, p. 19). Children at this age are often so accepting and caring toward others, and that is an important quality to draw out during this time. The atmosphere of my classroom is one where we not only accept others, but we choose to learn from them, incorporating parts of each other into our knowledge.
I believe in the progressivism or constructivism philosophy of education (Woolfolk, 2010, p. 310). This means that I feel my students learn best with a hands on approach, constructing their own knowledge using authentic tasks. It is important to help my students relate what they are learning to what they know. As Piaget explains, third grade is the time when it becomes very important for children to use on hands thinking. This is a time when children begin to realize that elements can be changed and still conserve many of their original characteristics (Woolfolk, 2010, p. 35). This is a pertinent time when students must explore for themselves the way things work to have a true understanding of what it means. I often use group work in my classrooms to take my students from their zone of proximal development, through scaffolding off of each other and myself, to gain true mastery of knowledge and skills (Woolfolk, 2010, p. 18). Group work is also great way to promote inclusion in the class, allowing students to help each other in areas where it is necessary.
I feel that my classroom is place where all students should be given the best education possible. I support a fully inclusive classroom, and often invite the support of other general education and special education teachers into the class in an effort to help each student learn, grow, and understand other’s needs, as each one of them will have needs that must be met. Technology can be one of the most useful tools to use when trying to integrate inclusion. When I speak of inclusion, I mean including all students, even those with special needs. By using technology such as computers, smart boards, and microphones, I have come up with an entirely new way for so many students who struggle with things like writing and hearing to use their skills and knowledge in ways that may not have previously been possible.
I will also use technology for every student, allowing them time to become familiar with computers, and creating assignments that they may use technology with. I have created a classroom website made for both parents and students to update them on current assignments, announcements, supplies, and links that may be useful in my class. As it is always important, I will continue to create each lesson plan and assignment keeping the core curriculum in mind. I will use resources such as UEN.org, my colleagues, and other resources online and through the school to assure myself that I am meeting needs that need to be met. It is also important for me to explore for new ways to adapt lessons, finding new resources and ways of teaching that will help them multiple intelligences and learners in my class.
To ensure that my students are learning, it is necessary that I also continually assess my students on what is being taught. I think that a great way to assess my students is through class discussions. This is a type of formative assessment that helps me know what students are picking up on and what needs to be covered in more depth. Other great formative assessments are things such as goals, learning centers and reading groups. I can then assess students through individual and group projects, and tests that require them to integrate application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation according to Bloom’s Taxonomy (“Pearson Custom,” 2008, p. 113). One thing that is important when using summative assessment in the way of projects and portfolios is to make sure I give my students guidelines to follow so that they are aware of what I expect them to have learned and demonstrate. I can do this by giving them checklists and rubrics, which will be given to each student in person, and will also be available on the classroom website to reference back to.
Pearson Custom Education. (2008). Educational Psychology 3140: Using Technology in Diverse Classrooms. Boston Massachusetts: Pearson Publishing Company.
Singleton, G.E., & Hays, C. (2008). Beginning Courageous Conversations about Race. In M. Pollock (ED.), Everyday Antiracism: Getting Real About Race In School, (p. 18-23). New York: The New York Press.
Woolfolk, A. (2010).Educational Psychology (11th ed.). New York: Pearson Education.