I believe that each child is a unique and dynamic individual with his/her own strengths, needs, learning style, and personality. Each child needs and deserves a secure, caring, and inspiring environment in which to blossom and flourish emotionally, intellectually, socially, and physically. It is my desire as an educator to provide my students with the learning environment necessary to motivate and inspire each and every one of them to become to their fullest potential. There are four elements that I believe to be necessary to accomplish these goals, the teacher must (1) function as a facilitator, (2) provide balance and consistency, (3) meet the needs of the students, and (4) acknowledge humanity.
As a teacher my role is to provide my students with the skills needed to succeed. When the teacher assumes the role of a facilitator, providing access to information instead of functioning as the primary source of information, the students will flourish. Creating an environment ripe with opportunities for discovery and exploration – allowing the students to learn at their own pace, generate questions and construct knowledge, while providing hands-on practice of skills in authentic situations – makes learning intriguing and meaningful to the students. Such a carefully planned and constructed learning environment also allows the teacher more time to meet the individual needs of each student.
Equally important to a well-prepared learning environment, to facilitate learning, is providing students with balance and consistency. Young students require a balance between various classroom dimensions, including activities guided by the teacher and independent work, quiet work and active work, gross motor and fine motor activities, and open and closed aspects to the curriculum and classroom materials. Consistency is also a required condition for learner success. Schedules (daily and weekly), the enforcement of classroom rules, and student expectations should not be in flux but remain steadfast. Without a sense of consistency in the classroom, school life would lack the necessary feeling of safety and reliability young children need to focus, to take risks, and to thrive.
If the teacher is to meet the students’ needs, he/she must know and plan for those specific needs. The educator must take a holistic approach to teaching and learning, and plan to cultivate all dimensions of the developing child – moral, social-emotional, physical, creative, psychological, as well as intellectual. Decisions regarding the well-being and education of students must be based on developmentally appropriate practices – knowledge of the students’ age and stage, their individual needs, and their family and cultural background. The implementation of developmentally appropriate practices and holistic teaching requires the teacher to take the time to know and understand the students – through observation, interaction, active listening and involvement.
None of this is possible, nor does it matter, if the teacher does not treat his/her students as human beings. He/she must show students respect and help them develop a deep love and respect for themselves if they are expected to learn and grow, let alone respect others or our world. To accomplish these goals the teacher must model the qualities and temperament he/she wishes the students to demonstrate, show them respect for their time, presence, and effort, take a judicious approach to discipline, have clear and consistent expectations, and allow for open expression.
For myself, teaching is about giving; giving the students support and security, giving them respect and dignity, giving them opportunities to succeed and a quality education, and not only giving them my time and effort but also giving myself. Our society requires its children to not only receive a solid education, but that they are taught by a highly qualified educator who is sensitive to their individual needs and deeply committed to their success. I am such a person and will always strive to do the very best by my students.