There are going to be many values and beliefs within this classroom, including my own. These personal influences may bring bias/es into the classroom which does not promote a truly cultural responsive atmosphere; which is why it is important as the teacher to keep an open heart and mind. In doing this I can model to students how to be accepting of all individuals by showing respect and compassion throughout our day and paying special attention during circle time. During our morning circle time, we will have the opportunity to listen to our peers and learn about what makes them unique and celebrate those things that set us apart.
Each student is unique in their own way and that doesn’t exclude the way they learn. I use a student-centered learning environment as my method of teaching to include multiple ways of learning. For example, by providing choice in the classroom it boosts engagement while avoiding apathy (Anderson, 2016). Another way would be to have multisensory options available for students to choose how they portray their understanding. Having a safe space to share our thoughts and feelings like a circle each morning as well as having a student-centered learning environment will leave my students feeling valued and understood.
Becoming a teacher was never my first career choice. I had become a photographer and the dream to build my own business was in the works. I jumped around focusing on different types of subjects until I finally found my niche, families. I was at a workshop for family photography when the instructor asked us to reflect on what family means to us. Instantly children flooded my mind. Even though I had avoided becoming a teacher, I always found myself in some sort of role with kids. Others who have observed me mention that I connect well with kids and that is why I have followed this path to become a teacher. It’s the connection. I have an enormous amount of compassion and empathy for children with the passion to be their advocate.
Being able to relate to these kids that come into our lives has been a strength of mine before I even knew it. It has been the reason I am where I am today and it is the reason for all of the changes I hope to make. My biggest intention is to make a difference in the lives that I am fortunate to be apart of. I don’t want to be just a teacher to my students, I want to be their cheerleader, their rock, and their endless supporter.
When I first started this class I wasn’t exactly sure what lessons were going to impact me the most, the ones that would help change my perspective. And now at the end, I can say they all definitely have. However, there are a few that stand out to me the most. I saw myself grow in many ways during this course, for instance, learning about the health of children and how we can provide equitable information to them without offending their lifestyle. I had never thought of the reason why families in poverty didn’t eat “healthy”, this was one of the most eye-opening lessons learned in this class. Knowing now that there are different ways to approach being healthy in your classroom has encouraged me to implement these ideas more so. I want to give choices to my students to provide a healthy lifestyle while also being cognizant of their at-home life.
Parenting is as unique as children and I have always known that they differ family-to-family, but I never thought of how they would affect my classroom. Because I grew up with a very Authoritative parenting style I have noticed that I teach in that same manner. However, it needs to be noted that not every child has been taught the way I was, which is why I need to leave room for grace as well as learn how my students will best receive the information I am trying to provide if my original way is not working.
Lastly, the lessons we learned on childhood trauma was challenging for me. During this lesson, I was struggling with my own thoughts and emotions that arose from the readings and discussions we had. Trauma has been apart of my life for as long as I can remember and within the last few years, my childhood trauma has been surfacing slowly. It was overwhelming and a very uneasy feeling, going through this lesson, but I needed it. I needed to feel what I was feeling in order to understand the work I need to do for myself before I can help those who have experienced traumas of their own. I have always known that you need to help yourself before you help others, but for some reason, I never thought I had trauma. I had always shoved it to the side and ignored it rather than facing it. Because I am learning this now, I know it will greatly help me in my future classroom. I will be able to empathize with my students as well as provide tools such a journal for students to release their big feelings in a healthy way. The ways that I learn to handle my trauma can be tools I provide my class to handle their own.
Anderson, M. (2016). Learning to choose, choosing to learn: the key to student motivation & achievement. Alexandria, VA: ASCD