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Perspectives on Teaching Paper Kirstin Keller Kansas State University August 30, 2013

I originally envisioned my life as an engineer, computing numbers and mixing chemicals. I followed this dream for two years in college before I finally listened to the network I have built around me I was meant to teach. With everything around me falling into place so nicely, I knew it was my true calling. Not only has teaching become my passion, but my job and my life. As a teacher, I have to consider historical, social, and political foundations of education and how they can impact my decisions and actions as a teacher. My beliefs are that a classroom should focus on three main things: diversity, classroom climate, and effective teaching strategies. To love what I do everyday leads me to know I wont ever have to work a day in my life, and that, to me, is what I was trying to find in all those numbers and chemicals in the first place. I have always been surrounded by diversity but I never knew what it really meant. I understood I had a black cousin, a nephew who was Hispanic, and that most of my family came from Europe. In actuality, diversity is more than that. I learned about the different kinds of diversity: gender, economical, social, special needs, ethnic, cultural, and linguistic. Although these are all different, they have underlying commonalities that can help me understand my students at a deeper level. Through my ESL classes at K-State, I studied the importance of learners of all kinds who differ from one another. I looked at gender diversity and instilling the idea of equitable learning opportunities, regardless of stereotypical reasoning. I discussed economical concerns and the measures that need to be taken for students who have different socioeconomic statuses. Studies show that SES plays a huge factor in a persons social skills, interactions, needs, values, etc. When I understood

that, I knew there were ways to accommodate these varying students, something I will definitely do in my classroom. We would discuss the importance of inclusion and how students with diverse special needs could still thrive in a setting that does not restrict them. This is when I started to understand the importance of setting a student up for success before failures and after failures. Lastly, we discussed students who have cultural and linguistic differences. I know I will have students in my class who are English language learners with varying levels of English proficiency. Like Vygotsky encourages, I will scaffold teaching to make learning relevant in my classroom. Knowing how to scaffold teaching and make learning relevant was a crucial milestone in my teaching experience. But a student who comes into a classroom knowing a different language should not have a focus target on them for just language. Each student has their own story, their own culture. Each student walking into that door has something they can contribute to a successful classroom, whether that be with language, beliefs, customs, traditions, prior experiences, or anything else that makes a person unique. In my classroom, I want students to contribute their culture for these aforementioned reasons. Realizing diversity was more than something simple is what I am continually reminding myself of so I can send every student home learning something that makes them a better student and a better human being. Classroom climate is crucial for a successful classroom. I believe respect is an important virtue to establish, along with what schools call pillars of character or life skills. I believe a caring environment is a key factor in classroom, along with keeping consistency in a classroom. Some students thrive on school being the one

place that is steady in their life. I think it is my job as a teacher to fulfill this to my greatest ability. I think another key factor is class rules. I have learned that positive rules create an environment that reflects the positive attitude, so in turn I will ensure that I have these kinds of rules. Changing rules that say, Do not to Please can make a student feel like they are citizens in the classroom, instead of civilians to a dictator. Along with this, interactions in my classroom will always be positive. With a student spending a majority of their days in the classroom, any hostility that develops will be hard to diminish. A child cannot learn if they are feeling these hostile feelings, according to Krashens affective filter hypothesis explaining that a student has trouble processing information, communicating, or behaving efficiently if their affective filter is high. Dewey discusses the importance of this socialization and the effect it can have on attitudes towards school. Classroom environment will also involve families and the community. Communication between families and support systems is vital to help students set and meet expectations. When parents are active or can even acknowledge their childs education, that child will also find the importance in it. Involvement in the community will be important to show students what is all around us, no matter where you are. Giving back to the community, finding resources in the community, and respecting the community are all things that students need to build their character and learn how to care about the area around them. All in all, a classroom climate should be at the top of any teachers list, and it is definitely at the top of mine.

Effective teaching strategies promote learning of all students. When principles of instruction, strong framework, and curriculum meet, students will succeed. If the instruction is meaningful and purposeful, challenging, active, and integrated, then students are placed in a setting where they can learn to their best ability. Uneducated teachers may dislike writing lesson plans and despise aligning activities with curriculum standards. Something I believe strongly is that any curriculum is a guide and it is a teachers job to adapt to it and make activities relatable to such. Using appropriate strategies can supplement the ideas that are embedded into a curriculum and using tools that students enjoy and manipulate can increase the desire to learn. A student needs to have consistency to succeed and I believe this is true with content. If a student is in fourth grade, I believe they should be learning what every other fourth grader learns (in terms of standards). Kids are sponges, and they figuratively absorb so much when they are young. Cummins Iceberg Theory explains that students do not actually show you everything they know; there is so much to each students base of knowledge. There is so much they can learn that can align with the standards that we use to guide teachings. When I can use books that are relevant and meaningful, use technology that is appropriate, take advantage of time, and let students know what standards and objectives I am covering for the day, I can better fulfill the idea of using a curriculum to its fullest extent. Students should all receive an equal education, but it is up to me as a teacher to provide them appropriate materials and strategies so they can do their part and learn.

I mentioned the advantage of enjoying teaching so much; I will never have to work in my lifetime. By that, I will put effort into it, but it is not considered work if you love what you do. In reality, I will definitely put effort into each day so I can sustain my vision of teaching. Using the historical, social, and political foundations of education, it is easy to pick a few topics that overall effect and influence the way I teach but that alone will not make me a better teacher. To be effective, a teacher needs passion. My biggest belief truly is passion. Passion for understanding and embracing diversity, passion for creating an environment where every student can have a second home, and passion for embracing and exercising a curriculum that benefits the students.