I went into teaching to make a difference in students’ lives. There are a lot of ways I try to accomplish this, the main one being technology. Technology is giving them life skills that they need. Teaching with technology is necessary for students to become successful, functioning adults in today’s world. Helping other teachers by being a technology leader in my school is something I am very passionate about. My goal in teaching is that in 15 or 20 years I will have former students come back to visit me and tell me that I had a positive impact on their lives. That is what I focus on every day as I teach.
The way I see it, I am not just teaching my students about Ancient Rome, Astronomy, and how to do multiplication. I teach life skills. These are skills they need to be successful adults in our society. I am well aware that all the teachers around the world, myself included, are creating and fostering the next generation of world leaders. Even if I am having a bad day, or one of my students is having a bad day, I just think about the greatness they can become if I continue to push them. So while I am teaching them the difference between similes an metaphors, I am really teaching them social skills, how to focus and concentrate, how to think critically, how to be imaginative, how to love reading and learning, how to have self discipline, and how to be responsible.
In addition to life skills, I am teaching my kids technology. I am an instigator of technology change in my school building. I am passionate that we need technology in student hands at every opportunity. This is a growing and learning experience not only for the students, but more so for the teachers. It is no longer acceptable, in my opinion, for a teacher to say, “I’m not good with technology. I can do the same thing with pencil and paper.” These kind of teachers are doing a severe disservice to the students in their classes. They are depriving their kids of opportunities to critically think and problem solve, to have a say in what they learn about, and to glean knowledge of technology tools that they will need to be proficient with in order to be a functioning member of society when they grown up.
In addition to being passionate about teaching with technology and having technology in student hands, I am also passionate about being a technology leader in my school. I sit on the technology sub-committee of the school board. We discuss how technology fits into the big picture of our school. We have also discussed what technology will look like at the high school we are currently building. In a few years we will be filled out as a K-12 charter school. I also lead the teacher technology team at my school and I have hosted multiple technology professional development sessions so that I may be a resource for those teachers. One such workshop I did was how to use Edmodo. I showed teachers how I was using the app to allow my students to have discussions about a specific topic in my classroom and also give quizzes online. Then I helped the teachers get started using Edmodo in their own classrooms.
In many teaching job interviews, administrators ask how we as teachers will address the issue of diversity in our classrooms. To this I reply that diversity does not only have to do with your skin tone and your culture. Every single student is diverse. In any given lesson I might be differentiating my instruction 25 different ways to meet my students’ needs. Every student learns differently and that is what makes teaching a real challenge. Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences really comes into play here. Some kids learn visually and because of that always write directions on the board and I have a bulletin board for every subject area where I post pictures, words, definitions, and charts. Some kids learn verbally, so I am always repeat directions multiple times as well as read aloud scientific content for them to listen to. Some kids learn kinesthetically, and for those students I plan lessons where we are up and moving and re-creating astronomy concepts like revolution and rotation. Each child that comes through my classroom brings with them a completely different set of personal experiences, beliefs, and attitudes towards school that I have to learn and be able to work with. I try very hard to get to know my students so that I am able to teach them how they need to be taught in order for them to be successful. The use of technology makes this process simpler for us as the teacher. There are so many wonderful tools available and more are being created every day. I use the website Moby Max on iPads in my math class. It gives the students a placement test to see where their gaps are and then assigns them lessons to fill in those gaps. Also, for every minute spent learning students earn time to play educational games on the site. They have incorporate differentiation into math and tied in simple extrinsic motivators. Not all of my students enjoy learning in this way, and they all don’t have to use Moby Max, but it is a choice of theirs and it’s one way I cater to my students specific needs.
My teaching beliefs and philosophies come out in every aspect of my teaching. My passion for technology would be evident to anyone who spent 5 minutes in my classroom. The technology motivates my students and it’s teaching them at the same time. You would not believe how fast my students get through their math work in order to play Simple, Physics, an educational game on the iPads. Like the title implies, the game uses basic physics principles and has the students build various objects like a tree house, a river dam, and even a submarine, while still maintaining a building budget and assuring their structures were safe.
I work very hard throughout the school year to create a comfortable and safe classroom climate. As a teacher, I need to know about students’ backgrounds and personal beliefs before I can teach and differentiate for them effectively. Students need to feel comfortable in school before they will show this side of themselves and, to quote Ms. Frizzle, take chances, make mistakes, and get messy. My students and I have a lot of discussion in class about respect and what it means to respect their technology, their teachers, their classmates, and themselves. Here, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs becomes evident. Working at an upper-middle class school I don’t often have issues with students whose physiological or safety needs are not being met. However, with some of my students I do struggle with helping them in belongingness and making friends. This is where my comfortable class climate becomes so crucial. If this step isn’t in place there is no way I am going to be able to build my students’ self esteem enough to get to the creativity and problem solving they reach in the top self- actualization step of Maslow’s pyramid.
I firmly believe that teachers need to be life long learners. I love to learn new things and I am always on a path to gain new knowledge about teaching and about any topic that interests me. A lot of times those topics are technology related because technology is such a prevalent part of our society and our education system right now. All of my free time is spent reading professional texts to make myself a better teacher, non-fiction texts about topics I am interested in, and reading just for fun to expand my imagination. I model my love of reading, learning, and technology for my students every day. I am always looking for new professional development opportunities, whether that is conferences to attend, weekend classes, or this instructional technology masters program. Also, I am always asking for help. I truly believe that two heads are better than one. The four teachers on my grade level team can come up with better lessons and ideas than I could by myself. I also collaborate closely with a fourth grade teacher at my school on technology matters. He and I are currently working to get an iPad pilot at our school so we could have 1:1 iPads in our two classrooms. Our intent behind this is to be able to show other teachers, especially other teachers at our school, what can be done with iPads in the classroom.
Technology has always been a topic of interest for me. I have always been intrigued by the new developments the field has made and how I could implement those ideas into my classroom. At the school I currently work at, we have a full time technology director and I have really enjoyed getting to work with her and help her implement all of our technology resources throughout the school. Because I have been working so closely with our technology specialist, many other teachers now come to me with technology questions they have. I really enjoy getting to be a resource for those teachers. Growing my knowledge of technology will only help me be a better resource to them in the future.
My professional goal this year is to increase student engagement in my classroom, and increase my recognition of student engagement by using technology in new and innovative ways. Additionally, I want to gather information of how to think about technology in different ways and be able to share it with the other teachers at my school. One of the ways I am doing this is by using Bloom’s Taxonomy. The taxonomy itself is immensely helpful in creating more engaging lessons and getting my students to think deeper. However, I have also started researching the revised Digital Bloom’s Taxonomy. It is important to incorporate technology into everything we do in education and this area is not an exception. This is not only my personal teaching goal this year, it is also my administrator evaluation goal. So I will be meeting with my administration throughout the year to discuss how I am working towards this goal. My indication that I am achieving this goal is that I will receive marks from my administrator of Satisfactory or Very Good in the Student Engagement category on my evaluation rubric. I will also be sharing what I learn with my school technology team at our meetings every month.
Armstrong, T. (2009). Multiple intelligence in the classroom (3rd ed.). Retrieved fromhttp://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=zCdxFRFmXpQC&oi=fnd&pg=PR7&dq=multiple+intelligences&ots=g9AqeCua
Bloom’s digital taxonomy wheel. (n.d.). Retrieved March 11, 2014, from Edutechalogy website:http://eductechalogy.org/swfapp/blooms/wheel/engage.swf
Gardner, H. (1999). Intelligence reframed. Retrieved from http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=nOHsjJZB0J8C&oi=fnd&pg=PR9&dq=multiple+intelligences&ots=6pRL022h1w&sig=vWImJ-i3Ud
Green, C. D. (2000, August). A theory of human motivation. Retrieved March 11, 2014, from Classics in the History of Psychology website:http://psychclassics.yorku.ca/Maslow/motivation.htm