“Good teaching is one-fourth preparation and three-fourths pure theatre.” –Gail Godwin
Education is dynamic, diverse, and probably the most fulfilling job I could imagine; the joy of learning, the spontaneity of the constantly changing classroom, and the unique students I will encounter are all facets of the field to which I am most looking forward. Many areas of early childhood education rely on the diversity of the school, children, teachers, and lessons to remain modern and eye-opening—without diversity or, at least, engaging lessons, the classroom I feel would be a very dreary place. Interesting and engaging lessons, along with unique activities, are good ways to promote a love of education in all students, even those “hard to warm” children who may need an extra push. Learning how to teach to different styles of learners and children is another successful way of promoting a love of education. Through engaging lessons, unique activities, and varied teaching techniques I will encourage a classroom that is full of the excitement and magic of learning.
Schools, especially in today’s society, are the core learning centers for children to learn about the social norms and roles they will face in the world. Students learn about themselves through different experiences, in and out of the classroom. Schools, besides housing classrooms for academic education, provide a cultural introspection into the society on a smaller scale. Schools should provide a safe environment for students to learn about themselves, others, and their roles in society; as a student I always loved it when a teacher was able to bring different ideas and cultural roles into the classroom—it was like playing dress up without changing clothes! Knowing that students are willing and capable of understanding others, through cultural role-play, stories, and diverse lessons, shows how the classroom can hold many different roles for a student—the classroom is not just for ABCs anymore! I feel that encouraging diverse learning and understanding is a major role of today’s schools which can only be accomplished through diverse, adaptive teaching methods.
Not only does the school play an important role in education, but the students themselves play a significant role in their own educational careers. Students, at some point in their academic lives, have to learn to be responsible for their educations and guide themselves through life’s unique circumstances and goals. An important part of education relies on students’ previous experiences in the world, without which they would know nothing of social or learning cues. Through different situations, students are able to learn and assess various aspects of their lives and abilities; through differing experiential backgrounds, students learn to process information in their own unique ways and therefore, their abilities change with every situation. Knowing that all children have experienced different situations in their young lives and that it has affected them all in various ways is a very important aspect of teaching. Applying this knowledge to instructional lessons and personal interactions is essential to teaching every child effectively and successfully. Realizing that all children learn in unique ways and at different levels is also another aspect of teaching that must be acknowledged. When I am teaching, I will look for opportunities to teach spontaneous, “teachable moment” lessons while also incorporating assorted techniques which would help students who are on different developmental “levels”. Using the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) as a guide on which to base my lessons and goals, I will plan for differing comprehension levels, word-knowledge, and experiential backgrounds. Through positive, constant encouragement and unique lessons, I will show the students that their goals can be met in interesting and exciting ways.
In relation to the students’ role of self-educating and self-learning, a teacher plays the important role of teacher, coach, and constant encourager. A teacher, after certain grade levels, assumes a different role; for example, a high school teacher does not need to walk through a lesson, step-by-step like a pre-school teacher would with their students, especially if based on the all important factor of prior knowledge. This I feel is an important distinction between the grade-levels of students. Teachers not only teach to instill academic knowledge, they teach to instill knowledge of life, cultural identities, and hopefully, a passion for learning that will last a lifetime. I feel that the most important facet of teaching is the aspect of teaching a child to love learning… but how does a teacher do this? Through interesting, inspiring lessons that promote self-thought, creative work and interactive cooperation between peers, students are given the opportunity to learn to love learning!
As long as there are unique and different learners, there will always be diversity in the classroom; diversity, not only in learning styles, but in race, religion, family structure, the list goes on. With the modern world constantly changing, the school and the classroom represent a model of the world at large. Students create relationships, ideals about the world, and morals based on lessons initiated by the teachers and their peers. With diversity there is a certain level of challenges that must be overcome, first of all centered on the teacher. A teacher should be able to put their ideals about personal/social influences aside when in the classroom and be able to successfully validate and acknowledge those influences in their students. Creating a strong environment where cultural awareness and diversity are revered and positively encouraged through understanding and learning is an important role of the school, teacher, and, of course, parents. To create understanding and acceptance in the classroom, and have it pass into the homes and community, cultural and diverse awareness should be promoted not only through the students, but also family and community relationships.
Along with promoting diverse and cultural awareness through community and familial involvement, basic family involvement is an important aspect in the classroom. Getting parents involved, especially in diverse schools, can sometimes be a challenge; whether due to prior obligations or a stressful home life, teachers should be aware that parents have other important concerns along with their child’s education. Trying to involve parents in programs that promote learning, like a family reading night could facilitate relationships among the parents, teachers, and school. Parent involvement at the school level is just as important as involvement in their children’s lives in the immediate academic levels (ie: involvement in their child’s behavior and school life). Sending notes to the parents (including the positive comments with the negative), conferences, and phone calls home can allow a teacher a better insight into their students’ (and their parents’) lives. Encouraging the children to share their academic work and lessons they found interesting with their parents will also promote family involvement (ie: if the students are having fun in their lessons, shouldn’t we learn about it too?).
Supporting active discussion of the students’ assessments and work in the classroom can also encourage parents to become more engaged in the learning process. The assessment process, in all grade levels, can vary because of academic abilities, but also because of developmental abilities. Knowing how to adapt lessons and assessment for the varying abilities of the student is an important quality that teachers’ should recognize; assessing students in different ways can also help in the process of determining different learning styles or hindrances (ie: using checklists, observations, portfolios, and strong records or notes). All of these different techniques can allow for the varied learning styles and unique qualities in the students of a diverse classroom.
Not only do students need to be aware of the expectations and guidelines of the classroom, but the teacher should as well. Different qualities that I feel a quality early childhood teacher should possess—the patience to work with children in all situations; the charisma to carry out an interactive, interesting, and engaging lesson so that all of the children are ready and willing to learn; the passion to work as hard in the beginning of the year, as at the end; and the commitment to teach and keep learning, even when life can seem discouraging. All of these traits, I feel, signify the all-important aspects of an early childhood teacher; I feel that I possess all of these qualities, especially suited for teaching and working with children of all ages and levels of diversity.
Through engaging lessons, unique activities, and varied teaching techniques I will develop a curriculum that encourages my students to learn and create their own sense of learning style. By encouraging creative thought, along with interesting and diverse lessons, I will promote a room of diversity and cultural understanding. Promoting a love of education is the most important aspect of teaching, along with instilling a strong sense of self and self-learning. Through these techniques, I will create a strong, engaging environment that supports learning, exploring, and, of course, having fun!