In the following posts on this blog I put forth some ideas and concepts that I hope to adopt in my future teaching. The ideas and concepts have arisen from class discussions, readings and stories shared by teachers. When thinking back to my experience of being a student, many of the following concepts led to my educational experience being a fairly positive and enjoyable one. By implementing these concepts into my teaching I hope to help shape a positive educational experience for my students.
The most effective teachers I have been taught by designed lessons and activities so that we as students would be engaged in the learning process. As Paulo Freire (1993) and Cambourne (1995) suggested, students need to be given an active role in their learning, they can not simply be fed information, they need a chance to figure things out for themselves. Students can be better engaged in learning activities that are centred around topics relevant to them. In this image, the students are exploring oysters, how relevant would it be to teach students about oysters in Alberta vs. the coast of British Columbia where they would likely encounter them more often? As a teacher it will be important to consider how topics can be made relevant to the particular students of a class.
This Ted talk by Rita Pierson touched upon some aspects of teaching that I believe are central in becoming an effective teacher. She mentioned that to foster an environment in which students can learn, the teacher must create a sense of connectedness with them. Van Manen (1991) also mentioned the importance of this concept. He explained that it created a distance between the teacher and the students when the teacher tells the students “I want you to…” and the distance between the students and teacher can be avoided with simply saying “Now, let’s…”. Rita Pierson emphasizes that as a teacher, when you can create a connection with your students the opportunity to develop relationships with them exists. I have been fortunate enough to have had teachers who were extremely influential to me, now as a teacher my hope is to be a meaningful figure in my students’ lives.
As Van Manen (1991) addressed, it is important to consider who each child is in your classroom and “always be attentive to the uniqueness of the child” (p.40). In order to make lessons relevant and of interest to every student in the class it will be important to make an attempt to get to know a little bit about their backgrounds, interests, etc. Maxine Greene’s (1993) ideas that differences in the classroom should be embraced and not ignored is something that I hope to be able to do as a teacher, but I know it will not be easy. When I was in elementary school I can remember having class multi cultural days where we would each bring a food of some kind that was traditional to each of our heritages. At this point though, I am not really familiar with too many other ways in which uniqueness and diversity can be embraced in a classroom so I am looking forward to gaining some more ideas as to how it can be done. My field experience will likely provide me with some more exposure to how diversity and uniqueness can be handled in classrooms.
I really like this point that Van Manen (1991) made, because as a learner the lessons are much more enjoyable if they relate to you and are relevant. From the side of the teacher, you must consider your students and their backgrounds so that you can create a lesson that will be interesting and relevant to them. Keeping students engaged in their work is a common theme that has arisen often in my education courses and it is well known that students will be more engaged in topics they can relate to and are interested in.
The words I used to create this word cloud are some of the core traits I want to have as future teacher. Readings I have done of Max Van Manen’s (1991), William Ayers’ (2001) and Maxine Greene’s (1993) work have all expressed the importance of these traits in a good, effective teacher. While I do not have all of these features yet, as I gain more experience in teaching roles I believe they will develop. From class discussions, teacher’s stories and readings I have done, I have realized the need for a teacher to be an improviser is huge. That is one trait I will definitely need to work on developing further as I am someone who pre-plans everything, but when teaching you cannot prepare for every possible circumstance so you must be ready to adapt on the fly.
This article got me thinking about the impact my level of respect for certain teachers had on my learning. Throughout many readings I have done in my education classes, there seems to be an underlying theme of teacher respect. How to teach and act in a way that your students will respect you and how to make students feel that you respect them. Max Van Manen (1991) shared some of the various elements of pedagogical tact that teachers should have to be effective. I believe that by demonstrating those elements of pedagogical tact (understanding, listening, improvising, patience, connectivity to the students, etc.) in a classroom it makes it easy for the students to adopt a sense of respect for the teacher which in turn creates an environment for effective learning to occur. Thinking back through my experience as a learner, the teachers I respected the most all displayed those qualities consistently.