Posted on December 14, 2009
Becoming the Best Teacher Possible
Just over a year ago I decided that I wanted to become a teacher. I decided that I wanted to make an impact in the world. I never really considered teaching as my career until this point, largely because my teachers weren’t very exciting and I had no desire to be like them. I then realized that I could be better than they were. Since I chose education as my desired career path and started education specific school, my ideas regarding teaching have changed immensely. I have now started to establish my own thoughts and beliefs about how schools should appear and how I would like to teach in the future. In this paper, I will discuss my current thoughts about education and how I plan to become a teaching professional by the time I graduate from the Faculty of Education.
My concept of an ideal school has is the product of many experiences, both good and bad, as a student. My ideal school system incorporates technology in such a way that enhances every student’s learning. Most importantly, the school trains students how to use technology in their everyday life. This does not end with technology; students will be prepared to handle real world problems. Math and biology do not necessarily provide students with the ability to perform as functioning people in today’s society. I believe that students need to learn skills that will get them through their everyday life. Skills like CRP, healthy cooking, changing car tires, budgeting, and many others are essential for students to lead positive lives. I am willing to bet that the majority of students who currently graduate from high school, even with exceptional grades, do not know how to do all of these tasks. By providing students with these practical life skills, we are promoting them to lead a healthy lifestyle in the future. Additionally, in order to complete this promotion of healthy lifestyles for students, physical activity time for students must also be increased immensely. It is no secret that the cases of obesity are increasing, especially in the younger population. Students need to be shown that physical activity can be fun and they need to be shown how to do it properly. If we can make physical activity a habit for students by the time they graduate, I think that they will continue to be active for the duration of their lives. I am a strong believer that a healthy body leads to a healthy mind. furthermore, I think that school’s need to make a better effort with regards to inclusive education and I think that it will be up to teachers to ensure that this happens. Teachers need to do more than simply go through the motions of inclusive education. They need to make sure they are being truly inclusive and differentiating their teaching for all students. If teachers can succeed at this difficult task, every student, disabled or not, will benefit.
The concept of an ideal school that I have developed is quite different than the school I attended. My teachers did not seem to have a desire to be there most days. In turn, this gave me very little motivation to be there myself. When I teach, I will do everything I can to be enthusiastic and excited that I am at the school. I do not think this will be very hard because I am already anxious to begin teaching. The school I went to attempted to be inclusive, but in my opinion, did not put forth a strong effort. My younger brother, Kent, is profoundly deaf and his experience of high school has been a polar opposite when compared to mine. Kent participates in the regular classroom for some classes, however, he is unwillingly sent to a separate room to work with a teaching assistant on a regular basis. I do not think they are doing a very good job at inclusive education, for Kent or for any of the other students. This needs to change in all schools and I feel that is it unacceptable for schools to not be as inclusive as they can be.
I did not grow up in a diverse community. My town has a population of approximately 250 people and my school had just over 120 students who came from three surrounding communities. When I moved to a larger city, I suffered from culture shock at the university because I had never been around anyone who was not white and Canadian. I was not prepared for this and I am quite disappointed that I did not learn more about other cultures and how different the world was outside of my hometown. My teachers and my school did not prepare me to live anywhere besides the small town I grew up in. Also, when I graduated from high school, I was completely computer illiterate. Since I have moved away, I have had to dedicate a large amount of time and effort to get myself to the point where I can efficiently use technology. I wish that they would have understood the need for technology literacy skills when I was a student so I could have learned how to use them while I was still in school. I must do a better job than my teachers did to prepare my students to live in the world of today.
When students are completed with their education in my ideal school system they will be prepared for world they live in. They will have the knowledge and skills to allow them to live long, healthy lives and be productive members of society. Not only will they be proficient in their core subjects, like Math, Science and English, but also in hands on, real life skills. When I graduated from high school, I was not prepared to live in the real world. I feel that the current education system mostly teaches students subject matter and ignores how it relates to the real world. When I teach, I will put forth every effort possible to ensure students understand the big picture about what their learning and how it relates to everyday life.
Since I decided that I wanted to become a teacher, many things in my life have changed. I have started observing children more than ever before and I have begun looking at the tools I use on a daily basis and have started to consider how they could be used in a classroom. I have become much more critical of my university professors and dissect their lectures in my mind and try to learn from them. I make mental notes of both the good and the bad aspects and am slowly beginning to develop an idea of how I am going to teach in the future. Now, I look for any chance I can to share my knowledge with others and I jump at any opportunity to learn something that I feel will benefit me or my students in the future. The decision to become a teacher has already changed my life and how I plan to live my life in the future.
I have come to the realization that I do not know everything, like I had always thought when I was a student. I always felt I knew more than my teachers. I am not exactly sure why I did, but perhaps I was just disappointed with how they presented the content. I have learned many things about math and the sciences through university, most of which I am sure I will never use as a teacher. However, I think that the biggest thing that I have learned from these university classes is how to study and learn on my own. From what I have heard from other teachers, I will likely have to do this often while trying to prepare my lessons. I have also learned how to be a critical thinker. This new skill has completely changed how I approach everything I encounter. Now, I am no longer afraid to challenge what I am being told and dig deeper into topics that I do not completely understand. This is one skill that I think is essential to share with my students.
Perhaps the most important thing that I have learned so far has been through my field experiences in ECS 100 and my mentorships in ECMP 355. I have learned that I have the power to make a difference in a student’s life. Until this year, I had no idea that I could impact anyone’s learning. Through these experiences, I was able to connect with students and further their learning and that was a powerful experience. I taught students how to spell, to find the circumference of circles, and how to play dodge ball. I had no idea that I could teach anyone anything and this has really inspired me to be the best that I can. I want to continue making these differences in students’ lives for the entirety of my career.
I have also come to realize that being an effective teacher will not depend so much what I know, but rather how effectively I can share information with students. I have had teachers who were absolutely brilliant in the subjects that they taught, however, they could not relate the material to the students. I think that good teachers have the ability to make learning fun, exciting, and interesting for their students. This is the skill that I am looking to improve most upon over the next two and a half years as a university student and before I graduate and become a teacher. Once I graduate, I will always be striving to improve upon this. I want to provide the best experience possible for my students and this, in my opinion, will be the most effective way to accomplish this goal.
I also believe that I need to further my skills with technology and the use of resources. If I were to being teaching today, I do not feel confident that I would know how to use a SMART Board effectively or how to teach my students how to use technology productively. Luckily, ECMP 355 has pushed me to realize how important technology has become in our society and that there is plenty of room to incorporate it into the classroom. By the time I graduate, I hope to have mastered using SMART Boards, use social networking tools like Facebook and Twitter to further connect with my students and other teachers around the world, and to be capable of showing my students how to safely and effectively use technology outside of a school setting. I will give my students the assets and skills they need to succeed with technology outside of their school.
I will always strive to develop myself further as a teaching professional. I know that I have a long way to go before I step into a classroom as the teacher. One way I have already begun to develop myself professionally is by creating and maintaining a weblog. I had initially created it for ECMP 355 but will continue it in the future for personal professional development. It has challenged me to observe everything I see and reflect upon it. For example, during our lecture about writing and academic honesty for ECS 100, I noticed that our presenter did not cite his sources on the handouts he had provided us with. I found this very frustrating being a student who would get expelled for doing the same thing. I made a post on my weblog about this and had some very deep, insightful responses to my post. These responses furthered my understanding of the situation and gave me the confidence to address my professors about the issue. Additionally, when have I posted some work that I had created, I get incredible feedback from other teachers and professionals who want to help me get better in the future. In ECMP 355, I created a math problem in the form of a video and a teacher who develops curriculum for Google found it and reviewed it, providing me with comments and suggestions that I will take with me for the rest of my life. These responses are directed entirely towards me, and help me, as an individual, strive to improve my work for the next time I publish it. I plan to continue blogging for my entire career in an effort to improve upon the quality of work I produce.
I think that the best way for me to become the teacher I want to become will be to teach. It sounds very simple, but I think that firsthand experience will provide me with the skills to be a great teacher. I will take advantage of every opportunity I have to go into a school. In my future field experiences, I will not just sit in the corner and observe. I plan to interact with the students and the staff and expand my knowledge of how the school and its classrooms function. By doing this, I will unquestionably begin to learn how to act as a teacher and how to interact appropriately and effectively with my students and future colleagues.
In the upcoming years, prior to me graduating from the Faculty of Education, I plan to absorb as much information pertaining to teaching as possible. If I want to be the best at what I do, I need to give myself the resources and knowledge to do so. I will no longer simply sit in class doodling on a piece of paper because that will not help me develop into a professional. I need to be attentive and continue to think critically about everything I learn. While I learn as much as possible, I will also share my new knowledge and my thoughts with others. I think that this will help me develop my thoughts even further and consider other aspects of things that I learn. Over the next few years, leading into my graduation, I plan to learn and teach with every opportunity I have. If I can do this successfully, I believe that I will set myself up to be the best teacher possible for my students.
I understand that I have many things to learn and skills to acquire before I can become an effective teacher. I hope that one day I can provide my students with the education I described in my ideal school system. Until I do, I will constantly strive to develop myself as a professional so I can have the ability to provide my students with this ideal education. I will develop myself by constantly reflecting through my blog and continue to critically analyze everything I encounter in my life. I will give my students the knowledge and tools to perform in their everyday life, not just final exams. I will continue to develop myself into a lifelong learner and teacher and share my newly found thirst for knowledge with my students. I have two and a half years to do this before I become a teacher and start having the opportunity to change my students’ lives. If I can do all of these things, I will be the best teacher possible.