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Sunday, March 6, 2011

Teachology

*~Disclaimer~*I know there are so many arguments that can be made on the following topics and so many issues that I know nothing about-I'm just writing about how I would like to see things be in a "perfect" world.

Circumstances over the past 11 months or so have helped affirm the teaching philosophy I have developed in my 6 years of being a special education teacher.  While I'm not going to elaborate on these circumstances, I am going to share my thoughts on what I personally believe to be best for students and how these beliefs are being challenged all over our nation.

I will start with two words that make many faces cringe with discouragement these days...budget cuts.  The economic crisis our nation is in is taking a toll on all areas of life. It would be ignorant to believe that schools should see none of the cuts.  My mind is blank on how to make the astronomical cuts that were thrown at education, but it would be nice to find a way to cut back without taking away from the kids.  Many schools have made these cuts by cutting special programs such as music and art education.  Some schools have made cuts through attrition and lay offs of staff.  Others have gone to extremes of closing buildings and consolidating more students into fewer school buildings.  It is sad to see public education go through such changes.  Teachers now have larger class sizes, smaller classrooms, longer work hours, and less resources.  How is any of this fair to our students?

 My belief is that kids need space to learn.  They need a large area to feel free to get up and move around when they need.  Students should have quiet areas of the classroom where they can go to read or take a break and areas where they can go to discuss and work together.  Classrooms should have windows that allow natural sunlight and breeze to come in to aide in keeping kids alert and in high spirits.  Buildings should be clean, well kept, and updated.  Ceiling tiles should not be falling in, mold should not be growing, and the furnace/air conditioner should be adequately functioning at all times to ensure comfortable temperatures in all classrooms.

Students should be given the opportunity to explore the arts and excel in them just as they would with math or science.  These programs should not be looked at as unimportant or second best.  Specials teachers should not be pushed out of daily school routines.  They deserve a classroom, a time to plan and prepare, and consideration and respect of all other teachers, administrators and parents. 

Students who are high achievers deserve to be challenged daily.  They should be given the opportunity to explore more in depth into concepts and complete projects to show their knowledge.  Teachers should give these students problems to investigate and delve into to find the solutions.  These students should not be required to go at the pace of the class.  They should be encouraged to charge ahead and shine.  On the other hand, students who find learning to be a struggle and have disabilities that hinder the learning process should be given the same opportunities as their peers.  They should have access to the general education classroom with as many extra supports as they need.  Rather than feel flustered and overtaken by student with special learning needs, teachers should be encouraged to take classes on teaching styles that help aide student learning. Teacher's should not feel conquered when working with a student with special needs and should keep on digging until they figure out how the students learn best. 

Finally, my belief is that students need to have a relationship with the teachers they are around each day.  Teachers need to take time to get to know each student so that the student feels safe at school.  Students can give teachers incredible insight into what their strengths, weaknesses, and interests are.  Teacher's can use this information to TEACH the students in a VARIETY of ways.  I don't believe that students should be sitting in desks all day.  They need to be on the floor, in the library, outside, in the hall, in small groups, one on one with a teacher and their hands should be exploring, creating, and dissecting.  They should be watching, doing, seeing, and trying.  Teachers can make this happen by getting to know the students and bringing the lessons to life for each kid based on the background knowledge they have gained through the relationships.

I could go on and on but the run on sentences need to stop now.  Basically my teaching philosophy is to...

"Teach like the world depends on it"

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