I model what I teach. I believe that building a close community of learners is the necessary setting for high student achievement.
Key to hooking students into learning is the ability to genuinely engage them personally, getting to know their interests and motivations. The path to this end as the teacher is to balance a demand for rigor and in-depth content knowledge, with an opportunity for mastery and the ability to practice until the knowledge is attained.
I practice personal transparency along with humor. I believe we all bring something to the table and I will learn from my students along the way.
Technology is infused in my teaching and embedded into all of my classes. It helps simplify, clarify, reiterate expectations (syllabi, assignment guidelines, class power points), expand on the topic (additional websites and resources, current research), assess (online quizzes), and provides students with immediate feedback on their efforts.
My passion for education and what I teach helps me to engage others into listening a while longer. I encourage discussion and questions and do not shy from discussing current educational issues. The ideal of the practitioner/scholar is one that I aspire to emulate. Simultaneously I believe we must equip our students with the ability to make sound decisions and think critically, as the population they serve is changing rapidly.
To this end we must help them reach beyond practice and skill building to grasp the importance of theoretical work found in current research dealing with complex issues (Dewey, 1904). Additionally preparing them for the research to practice gap and dysfunction currently found in the field will help retain them in the field.
Schools embody society’s multiple facets and our educational system is experiencing much turbulence. In this age of increased accountability it is important to preserve the ideal of social justice, understanding that schools and the teachers can become the conduit for transformation (Aronowitz & Giroux, 1987).
Ethics and heart are vital components of the teacher toolkit, and a cooperative, fully inclusive, and democratic classroom is at the core of the change. Since the students we serve in public schools will only increase in diversity (ability, color, culture, language, resources) it is important to help future teachers recognize their own culture and biases, as well as fuel their desire to better meet the needs of students of difference.
I am always interested in challenging students to question and research areas they might be interested in, encouraging their affiliation to professional organizations. I have been instrumental in starting a new chapter of the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) on campus, and have co-presented with students at state and national conferences at least three times (CEC -11, NAME-10/11).
I feel a sense of urgency in my role as a teacher-educator. We desperately need more talented teachers able to respond and challenge the needs of the students they serve as during these tumultuous times.
Contrary to popular belief, teaching is not for the faint of heart.
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