Twenty five years of teaching experiences have led me to a deeper understanding of what my craft is about. Herein is the essence of my understanding of good teaching.
I believe it is a teacher's responsibility to establish a personal rapport before learning begins. Understanding that the emotional load a student carries correlates directly to their ability to learn and that enjoyment stimulates learning, most especially in children, I strive to create a safe, humorful classroom. When student's minds are open and their hearts are excited, knowledge is gained with less effort. It is my enthusiasm and skill that set the tone for a productive and positive learning environment. I believe that one of the fundamental obligations of the teacher is to demonstrate civility and graciousness...especially at the most trying moments. In addition, it is the teacher's role to foster the discipline that is needed for learning. Every child can learn. I believe the teacher must take responsibility for the learning environment and for addressing the needs of every child.
Instruction is inspiring when it is current and connects to the children's lives. I strive to lay a foundation of understanding and then make connections to the human world, their world. When students are taught to recognize systems and patterns it leads to discovery and understanding across all disciplines. Genetics connects to evolution, cells to chemistry, and ecological processes to our daily lives, all of which beg for deeper exploration. Instruction must be dynamic, alive, and show the interrelatedness of phenomena.
A student's learning is optimized in a classroom with high standards and well-defined structure. Although initially more teacher-centered in my approach to instruction, moving into the younger grades has led me to discover that an ideal classroom is a phenomena based, student-centered, collaborative environment supported by a strong understanding of content. Although content needs to be taught and may be passed on directly, if something has a logical structure, I don't have to explain it. With careful planning, I can let them discover it. It is my role to then guide the students to make connections between their current understanding and their new discoveries.
"Teaching is a civic - meaning moral - undertaking". An appreciation for life, the students own life as well as the lives of all living things, is a message that is implicit in my instruction.