Dr. Amanda Winkelsas
B50 Plassmann Hall
I am a teacher. I believe that teachers have the most important role in our society. They have the awesome responsibility of supporting, leading, guiding and coaxing others as they learn. They have the enviable opportunity to see others discover and to see learners embrace new worlds. Being a teacher is a way of thinking about the world. It compels one to view every interaction with an eye towards growth -- of self and others. This is not a simple vocation.
I am a constructivist educator. As a constructivist, I believe that each learner builds his or her own understanding of the world. As Vygotsky proposed, learning is socially constructed, and it is through interactions with others that learning takes place. Students need opportunities to collaborate with each other and with me as they learn and learn to teach. I want my students to become empowered by their own learning and development as teachers. I continuously work to create situations where students can take charge of what they need to learn.
Teaching university students is a continuously challenging situation. My beliefs about teaching and learning in this setting are influenced to a large degree by Piagetian theory. Students must experience disequilibrium and cognitive dissonance in order to learn. Students must have experiences that cause them an acceptable degree of cognitive discomfort, but in situations where they can build relationships between what they already know and the new learning.
As a teacher, I am a learner. I seek challenges; I solve problems. I believe that I must travel alongside my students in the teaching-learning process. I have come to believe that there are no perfect tools and no exclusively "right" ways to teach. I embrace new technologies with an appreciation of the worlds they can help us explore, but I also appreciate traditional techniques.
The educational context specific to a pre-professional undergraduate school in which all students major in education is unique. These students have already made difficult and important life choices. They have chosen the field of education as their career, and thus their study is a recursive activity. Even more importantly, the education about education should be metacognitive. I believe that I have a responsibility to help my students develop as teachers who make a difference, teachers whose classrooms will be healthy, supportive environments in which their own students can grow and learn.
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