Monday, September 17, 2012

When I'm a Teacher...

I wrote this for one of my practicum classes this semester in response to what kind of teacher I want to be, and what 4 things I find particularly important to meeting this goal. I think it is good to reflect on where I am now and where I am trying to end up. :)
Meagan Jardine
El Ed 321
Professor Korth
September 18, 2012

Becoming a Teacher

            Throughout the course of the Elementary Education program I feel that I have learned a lot about myself and my beliefs about teaching. I have grown immensely, and learned so many things about how to become a caring and effective professional. Some of the traits that stick out to me as particularly imperative that a teacher exhibit include: Christ-centered teaching, patience, a passion for learning, and maintaining a positive attitude about life in general.

            I think that the single most important aspect that I can hold in the forefront of my teaching is that of having a Christ-centered classroom. I do not mean this in the sense that religion will be prevalent in my teaching, just that I want to always have the spirit with me, and that I can only be fully effective when I remember to do so. I want to teach with the attitude that each student in my class is a child of God. I know there will be times where I will be frustrated or feel inadequate, but at times like these I just need to remember what a divine responsibility I am being entrusted with (educating His precious children), and that the Savior knows my capabilities better than I do. When I remember and invite Christ into my classroom, then I will be reminded that I can also lean on him for strength. I definitely plan on praying for inspiration and guidance to meet each individual child’s needs, as well as those of the class as a whole. I don’t know how I would survive, let alone thrive in this profession without the knowledge that Christ is there to guide me through.

I feel like one thing in particular that it would be beneficial for me to work on is developing more patience. This has never been my strongest virtue, and it is something that I am constantly reminded that I need to work on. I think that it will be good for me to remind myself consistently that children do need extra help and scaffolding, as well as repeated directions – sometimes many more times than we, the teachers, feel like they need to be given. Instead of getting frustrated, I want to be able to remind myself that children simply cannot be expected to perform at the same level as adults. They are capable of amazing things, but if we have unrealistic expectations, then we are going to quickly become discouraged and impatient. It is important to remember that each child has their own individual strengths and weaknesses, and that we need to tailor our teaching to those specific needs. I know that there will be plenty of moments where my future students will try my patience, and push me to my limits, but I hope to be able to control my emotions and respond lovingly, or at least calmly, rather than losing my patience or snapping at them. I do not want to ever make my students feel like I do not care for them, or that I do not believe that they can succeed and thrive.

One thing that I think it is very important for a teacher to exhibit for her students is a deep passion for learning. I think that a teacher needs to be passionate about what she does in order to effectively reach out to her students. Unless it is evident to the students that you love learning and that you love teaching, then they will not feel the need to soak in the messages you are trying to portray. I have had teachers before, even here in college, whom I can tell are not passionate about what they are doing. This can be very frustrating for the students, because when the teacher is not excited about the material, then it is really hard for the students to feel motivated to learn it. I want to show my future students that learning is exciting, and that there is a whole world of knowledge out there to discover and explore. I want to motivate my students to learn for fun, and for their own benefit, not just for a grade. I want to inspire a curiosity in my students that will not be satisfied simply by doing the bare minimum to complete an assignment. I want them to want to learn. That, I think, is the mark of an effective teacher.

            Another concept that I have been hearing a lot about lately, and which I think goes right along with passion for learning is the trait of optimism. I think that this is an essential characteristic for teachers to display for their students. When a teacher promotes optimism about school work and their students’ abilities, as well as just a good attitude in general, it can be incredibly effective in promoting a love of school and of learning in their students. I think that this is also helpful in fostering a positive self-efficacy in their students, as the students are constantly encouraged to look on the bright side and recognize what they are capable of accomplishing. I have noticed over the years that if the teacher is in a bad mood, or loses their temper with even one person, then the whole class feels it. It reflects negatively on everyone. I think that it is very important for the teacher to always have a good attitude and to try to encourage this in their students as well. I want to always portray to my students that I think life is wonderful; and even when it is hard, we are lucky to be living each day. I want to show my students that they are capable of doing hard things, and that they do have the strength to overcome life’s challenges.

            As I get closer to completing the program and becoming a professional, I am constantly encouraged to reflect on my beliefs and values pertaining to practices in education. I think that my eyes have really been widened about what types of traits I need to embody in myself before I can become an effective teacher. Those that I have found most important are always remembering Christ, and relying on His guidance, developing patience, displaying a passion for learning, and always encouraging my students to have a positive attitude about life. I believe that if I remember these things and apply them to my future classroom that I can be successful and inspire my students to accomplish great things.

♥, Meagan