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BELIEF STATEMENTS ABOUT
TEACHING AND LEARNING

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"Schools are the conscious embodiment of the way we want our next generation to understand their world and their place in it.  It calls upon our most critical faculties to sort out what that message ought to be and how the teachers who represent the public in this enterprise can emobody such ideals.  If mutual respect is the bedrock condition necessary for a healthy democracy, then it must be the foundation of schooling."

~ Deborah Meier, The Power of Their Ideas

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  1. Teachers must create a positive classroom climate that will foster respect, participation, dignity, and trust.

Teachers must devote ample time to developing the relationships within the classroom in order to foster an environment in which students feel comfortable exchanging ideas and becoming involved in the learning process.  To do this, teachers must actively demonstrate the value she sees in each student’s ideas and encourage students to respect the perspectives of others.  In treating each student with respect and by maintaining mutual respect between students, a classroom feeling of dignity and trust will ensue, resulting in greater student participation.

 

  1. Every student has a different learning style.

Differences in academic ability, background experience, motivation, values, attitude, and culture will have important influences on students’ learning.  As a result, it is my responsibility to utilize various teaching strategies in an effort to reach each student.  Employing different teaching models will provide my students with multiple means of learning.  I must remain conscious of my students’ diverse learning styles and refrain from teaching with methods that only benefit those learners whose styles reflect my own. 

 

  1. Students must be engaged in learning; Enthusiasm is contagious. 

According to research such as Gad Yair’s Educational Battlefields in America: The Tug-of-War over Students’ Engagement with Instruction (2000), findings suggest that teachers need to work extra hard to ensure that instruction is challenging, relevant, student-centered, and academically demanding in order to deter alienating influences from impeding student learning.  With the growing number of non-classroom influencers in students’ lives, it is my responsibility to foster lessons that keep students actively engaged.  Creating an environment that causes students to be passive bystanders in unacceptable and detrimental to student learning.  In order to engage students, I will strive to creatively design lesson plans that implement student-directed learning – such as group work, presentations, and discussions – rather than teacher-directed learning – such as lectures.  I also firmly believe that enthusiasm is contagious, and that students are most engaged in learning when the teacher is enthusiastic about the material at hand.  I will strive to be enthusiastic in my presentation of material, and will use humor and a positive attitude to evoke similar demeanors from my students. 

 

4.   Reflection should be an integral component in my development as a teacher. 

 

I have an obligation to my students and my profession to continuously evaluate and assess my effectiveness as a teacher.  Reflection on lessons, strategies, and classroom situations will only improve my teaching in the future.  As an educator, I have a responsibility to seek out the advice of my supervisors and colleagues, to evaluate lessons’ effectiveness, and to learn from those with greater experience in my profession.  Additionally, I should remain current on research within the field, and strive to implement newfound strategies and heed findings that might change my teaching strategies.

 

  1. Classroom management should be preventative, not reactive.

Classroom management is of utmost importance to the learning process.  A clearly defined plan should be developed with the students’ input (as suggested by Gordon in his Discipline as Self-Control) so that the needs of both the teacher and students are met (Charles, 2005).  Teachers should strive to be fair and consistent in implementing disciplinary actions.  As Barbara Coloroso advocates in her Inner Discipline model, teachers must help misbehaving students see what they have done wrong and present them with ownership of the problem, rather than merely implementing punitive actions (ibid).  Teachers must acknowledge that their job is not only to teach subject matter, but also to teach students how to behave appropriately and to solve problems.  Teachers must convey a sentiment of caring and nurturing with students and at all times preserve student dignity.  As Curwin and Mendler advocate in Discipline with Dignity, I strongly believe that oftentimes at-risk students have lost hope in learning and act inappropriately because they would rather be seen as choosing not to learn rather than unable to learn (ibid).  It is the teacher’s responsibility then, to do what she can to instill a sense of hope by encouraging these students and creating lessons in which they can succeed.  I also believe that a large part of classroom management is fostering an environment in which students feel valued and liked by the teacher.  Fostering personal relationships with students – finding out about personal interests, expressing individual concern or appreciation, greeting students as they enter the classroom (as suggested by Lee and Marlene Canter’s Assertive Discipline) – will create a positive relationship between students and the teacher  (ibid).  It is my belief that students are less likely to act inappropriately when they respect and like the teacher.  Furthermore, as Fred Jones suggests in his Positive Classroom Discipline, facial expressions and body language are extremely influential in classroom management, and can oftentimes be enough to deter misbehavior (ibid).

 

Works cited:

 

Charles, C.M.  (2005). Building Classroom Discipline.  Boston: Pearson Education, Inc. 

 

Yair, G.  (2000). Educational Battlefields in America: The Tug-of-War over Students’ Engagement with Instruction.  Sociology of Education, 73 (4), 247-269. 

 


Abigail Hunting * 2421 Falls Place Court, Falls Church, VA  22043 * (860) 214-7908