- Describe your personal feelings and beliefs about teaching, including your own ideas of what makes you an outstanding teacher. Describe the rewards you find in teaching.
- How are your beliefs about teaching demonstrated in your personal teaching style?
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 things my students will need to know to be successful adults in our society. I am well aware of the heavy burden that all the teachers around the world, myself included, are carrying. We are creating and fostering the next generation of world leaders. Even if I am having a bad day, I just think about the greatness those kids can achieve if I continue to push them. So while I am teaching them the difference between similes and metaphors, I am also teaching them how to work together, how to focus and concentrate, how to think critically, how to be imaginative, how to love reading and learning, how to have self discipline, how to navigate conflict, how to be responsible, and anything else I can manage in the short nine months they have been entrusted to me as my students. Preparing kids for life is my philosophy of education.
My beliefs about education can absolutely be seen in my teaching style. I do not do things for my third graders that they can do for themselves, even if they don’t know it yet. I push my students, hold them accountable, and train them to be responsible. It is not an easy path filled with kittens and rainbows. Learning to be accountable is hard. But together, we take baby steps.
My goal in teaching is not creating a small army of obedient children that just do exactly what I ask, although that would make my job easier. I want my students to be able to think for themselves. What makes me an outstanding teacher is my personal love for learning, enthusiasm for school, and my ability to infect my students with that contagious passion. I want to show them that school isn’t boring and that reading is not just a school assignment. Learning is enlightening and rewarding. Reading is being able to escape into another world. Whether we like it or not, the students are watching us, their teachers. Children are extremely observant. They can tell if we are teaching something just to teach it, going through the motions, or because we truly love it. I am passionate about teaching astronomy and I wouldn’t be surprised if one of my students ended up an astronaut one day. That would be a dream come true for me.
The rewards I find in teaching are not usually immediate. Our society is too enamored with instant gratification; we want it and we want it now! I have to understand that I am working with these eight and nine year olds in a transitional period of their lives. Learning to read becomes reading to learn, parents telling their kids what to do becomes students being accountable for themselves, friendships become even more important and simultaneously more difficult. I don’t always see the results of my efforts in a single short school year. And that’s okay. Don’t get me wrong, it’s amazing to see that light bulb go off when a kiddo I’ve been working with tirelessly finally gets simplifying fractions. Their smile lights up the room and they are so proud of themselves. It’s such a great feeling for them and for me. But I’m in it for the long run.
In the long run, it is my dream to have students come back to me 15 or 20 years down the road and tell me that I had a positive impact on their lives. That would be the ultimate reward. I’m just beginning to get a taste of that having taught for six years. One of our middle school science teachers emailed me the other day. She said that she was teaching her kids about fusion in stars and her students remembered a song I had taught them four years earlier about that topic. That was a positive memory they had held onto from third grade. It seems small, but to me, that feels like a win. That feels like having a real impact.