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STATEMENT OF INFORMED BELIEFS

Statement of Informed Beliefs Kim Richmond Kae Jensen EDUC 204 Families, Communities, & Culture Tues, Thurs 1-2:15, Fall 2012

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Statement of Informed Beliefs Teachers have a huge impact on a child. As a member of the childs Microsystem, the teacher and the school environment as a whole play a role in socializing the child that could rival the family. In addition to helping the child to socialize within the context of the classroom environment, good teachers also help students to gain self confidence in their own abilities and to develop and foster a love of learning that will benefit them not only in school but in life as a whole. I hope to be such a teacher someday, modeling the attributes I hope to foster in my students by paying special attention to ensure all students can learn, by meeting teacher expectations, knowing the impact of the students social ecology theory on their learning, building instruction around cultural diversity, and building the curriculum for all learners. Students Can Learn All students have individual learning styles. Some students are better at listening and working independently on a task specified by the teacher, other students learn better making the necessary cognitive connection with hands on work, some input in the types of assignments given, and completing them in a group. Knowing the individual learning styles of the students in my classroom will ensure every student has a chance to learn the material. I plan to do this by structuring class time in such a way as to cover the material from several angles giving a student an opportunity to learn using their own strengths. For example, beginning a new concept with a lecture or conversation about the material directed by myself, followed by an activity to complete in groups or alone (letting the students choose which style they prefer), and finishing up with a more hands on version such as a lab set up or computer program. By carefully monitoring each students success with the varying assignments, I will be able to modify the

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curriculum creating a bidirectional environment in which the students have a say in their learning.

Theorist, Howard Gardner, has defined what he calls the multiple intelligences that encompass human capability (Berns, 2007). He has separated them into 8 categories, Logicalmathematical, Linguistic, Bodily-kinesthetic, Musical, Spatial, Interpersonal, Intrapersonal, and Naturalist. By taking differing learning styles into account when building curriculum and activities, I will be better able to ensure all students success. The goal should and will always be to continue modifying what works with new ideas for learning to keep the students challenged and successful. Teachers Expectations Teachers come into the classroom with their own set of experiences and values. Recognizing those values in themselves will help them to ensure they arent passing any biases, gender, cultural, or otherwise, on to the students in their classroom. Many times the teacher isnt even aware they are passing these ingrained beliefs on to their students, setting the students up to achieve what is expected of them. For example, a teacher who believes boys are naturally better at math and girls are naturally better at reading and writing, will tend to present instruction, accept student input, and grade assignments, with that same bias. Perhaps they would call on boys more than girls when working on math problems or have the girls to help the boys with a writing assignment. The result is those girls may come out of that class believing they are never going to be good at math and therefore not try. Brophy and Good put forth their theory of teacher expectations in 1986. They stated that teachers go into a class with a preconceived set of expectations for their students based on

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prior grades, discipline record, or even conversations about particular students with other teachers or administration. They then interact with those students according to those expectations treating them differently resulting in the student reacting to the teacher in a like manner. The outcome of this interaction is that the student will then give their teacher just what is expected of them adjusting their motivations and goals accordingly (Berns 2007). My goal in the classroom will be to use the information given to me regarding individual students past performance to help adjust the curriculum to challenge the student while still setting them up to succeed with goals that are attainable and lots of positive feedback. My goal will always be to change the students perception of themselves and their abilities in a positive way. Students Social Ecology Theory Bronfenbrenners theory of socialization shows the connection of the microsystems with the child and the developmental influences they have. Making strong connections between the student and the material being presented requires the teacher to recognize this and work to incorporate as many of these influences as possible into the curriculum. For example, connecting school with the community by bringing in community leaders to present material or taking advantage of peer relationships to encourage students working together to achieve a goal are ways to enhance the curriculum. These would be examples of the mesosystem of the child. The way a student learns is influenced heavily by their family environment, culture, and the community values as a whole. Knowing what your students particular situation is with regard to these areas will help me as a teacher to modify the instruction accordingly. If, for example, I knew the majority of my students were Jewish, I wouldnt pass out Santa Clause crossword puzzles during the holidays, or if many of my students were from a lower socioeconomic status I wouldnt require they complete computer work at home realizing not all

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students have that technology available. The community also plays a role in what is expected of the teacher and the student. Not only do the community leaders decide who is qualified to teach, such as setting educational requirements, but also what the curriculum will be and how many hours the student will spend in class mastering that curriculum. Consider a very rural community made up of mostly agricultural families. The schools in that area may have a calendar that accounts for students needing to help out their families during the harvest season while that might not be the case in a more urban school district. This should all be taken into account when helping students to make necessary connections with their school work. As many concepts as can be tied into that students community values and cultural identities the stronger the connection will be for them. Cultural Diversity Instruction In most classrooms across the country today, the population of students is culturally diverse. In the past, however, the cultural differences were all but ignored focusing on the American Race as put forth by Cubberley in 1919. He supported a system of Cultural Assimilation which advocated an intense effort to Americanize the children of immigrants (Berns 2007). In contrast, todays classrooms are moving toward a system of Cultural Pluralism whereby students of different cultural backgrounds can foster a respect for each others diversity. While working for the Boise School District, I had the opportunity to work with students of widely diverse backgrounds. What I found was that students were more apt to accept students from different cultures than their own once they had the opportunity to learn about that culture. Using these differences as an educational tool in the classroom benefits both the instruction being given and the acceptance the students have of one another. My goal, given the ethnicity of

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the student population in the valley, is to study Spanish so as to have the ability to help those students who speak Spanish better understand the class work but also to impart a respect by me, the teacher, for their culture which hopefully will improve their over-all self-concept. Curriculum for all Learners My goal as a teacher, and in my opinion, the goal of all teachers, should be to structure the curriculum to the students. To do this considerable effort must be given to evaluate the comprehension of each student on an individual basis and find creative avenues to engage every student in the learning process. Planning the instruction and delivery of the curriculum will be crucial in time management and student engagement. Poor planning can create gaps in instruction and loss of student concentration. As a new teacher this will be one of the most difficult things to master. The delivery of the material is important in engaging the students also. To ensure I am reaching every student, I will work to involve the students by asking leading questions, encouraging responses, and praising attempts at questions even if they are wrong. Students are more willing to include themselves in a classroom conversation if they know they will not be ridiculed for their responses. Assessments are more than a test at the end of a chapter. While it is necessary to assess students in this manner, for example with regard to Standardized Tests, assessments can be used at all steps in the learning process. The key is to use the information gained from the assessments given to continually adjust the speed or style of instruction ensuring all students are learning. I will try to use self-evaluations with students regularly to address how well students are learning the material. For example, having students write a couple of sentences at the end of every class explaining what they believe to be the most important topics covered in that lesson.

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By doing this I can then evaluate what material needs to be covered again, possibly in another way, and which students are falling behind. Once I know where the students are in their understanding of the material, I would continue the instruction in groups. Paring students with others at the same level of understanding would enable me to then customize the activities to either reinforce what they didnt get or expand on it. This teaching method has been in place at Mesquite Elementary School in Tucson, Arizona since 2002 and has resulted in that school jumping from a preforming school to an excelling school in one year with the implementation of Reteach and Enrich (R&E) (Nobori, 2011). To be effective, teachers must know where their own biases are and work to overcome them, assess not only the students progress but also their own delivery methods and the role they play in the students success, and always keep in mind the individual students social ecology when it comes to their learning and abilities. Effective teachers make a huge impact on their students for years to come. Everyone can remember that teacher that really made those connections for them. I want to be one of those teachers. I want to spark a love of learning and a sense of empowerment for those I teach. Most importantly I want to be the kind of teacher who is caring and approachable, a mentor to my students while still maintaining the role of authority. Through careful planning and regular assessment I plan to make a difference for the next generation of students by teaching.

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Works Cited Berns, R. M. (2007). Child, Family, School, Community socialization and support. Belmont, CA: Thompson Learning, Inc. Nobori, M. (2011, August 29). 5 Strateies to Ensure Student Learning. Retrieved November 30, 2012, from edutopia: http://www.edutopia.org/stw-differentiated-instruction-budgetassessment-how-to