I'm joining Whitney from With love from Texas for a blog hop about our educational beliefs.
I just completed my 21st year of teaching and I haven't actually written these down for a long time. Plus, I am moving from middle school math to 5th grade this year. This is a perfect time for me to take a moment and remind myself what I am doing and why.
Learning should be fun
I started my journey 21 years ago in kindergarten. It was crazy fun! Everyday was seriously fun. We did letter of the week, we cooked weekly, we dressed up, we PLAYED, PLAYED and PLAYED some more. My students learned, they learned a lot. It wasn't the same standards or pressure we put on our kindergartners now, but it was F-U-N. Our standards may be different now, but we should still make sure our students are having fun while learning. I tried super hard to do that the past four years in middle school. Some days it was hard, really hard. I never stopped trying though. I am looking forward to this year in fifth grade. I have spent much of my summer creating learning games and preparing meaningful activities that are fun and educational.
Classrooms should be a safe place
I am not referring to school safety and the things our world these days have made us prepare for. I am talking about building a community within our classroom with the students we see daily. It may be students you have ALL day or students who rotate to you or even those students who spend 50-90 minutes a day in your classroom. No matter the amount of time a student spends with you, they should feel safe in your classroom. They should physically feel safe, but they should also feel safe to make mistakes, try new things and be successful. Teaching middle school math taught me a lot about this the past few years. The majority of people don't like Math and don't think they are good at it. Funny thing is, I am one of those people. I do LOVE teaching it though. I have taught math exclusively for 8 years and one thing I have learned is students are afraid to make mistakes. We must plan accordingly for students to be successful EVERYDAY in our classrooms and feel safe to make mistakes and LEARN from them. Be real with kids and they will feel safe with you.
Every child can learn
I have seen all age groups from Kinder-8th grade in some form in the past 21 years. Small group, intervention, classroom teacher, and tutoring. It's hard, some kids really struggle, but EVERY child can learn and we have to sometimes try magic tricks to get through to some of them. That's our job, our passion. Well, at least it should be.
Teachers MUST meet the needs of their students
I became a mother my third year of teaching. I always loved my students, but when I had my own child, it did change how I viewed my classroom students. I have always thought "treat your students like you want your own child's teacher to treat them". That hasn't always been easy either. I have had some BIG challenges in my teaching career. And I am not just talking about my middle school students. It has been hard some times to reach kids. But, meeting each child's need to learn has been my job and doing whatever it takes to get there has to be my mission.
Then I became the mother of a special needs child 4 years ago when we found out my son was going deaf. Talk about an eye opening experience. My child wasn't getting his accommodations. My child's needs were not being met and he wasn't getting everything he needed to be successful. What he needed was written on paper but it wasn't being followed through. Because I am in the education field, I knew what needed to be done and you can bet this "Mamma Bear" made sure it got done. I have to be my son's biggest advocate, no explanation needed of course. But, it did make me see my students' needs differently too. Was I really meeting their needs? Was I being their advocate? or did I just sign a piece of paper in an ARD or 504 meeting and move on with my day? Again, we MUST meet EACH students need, we MUST!
Together We Are Better
This is not just a cute hashtag created recently. It is TRUTH. I haven't completed the last 21 years on my own. No way. Not even possible. I have had incredible co workers. I have received amazing professional development. I have had some super principals. I have researched lessons on my own. I have created products and found colleagues like me to help me through the hard times. I have social media friends I have never met in person, but they are my "go to" when I am struggling with something. I have a very few people I can vent to when I reach my boiling point. (you gotta have this, but be careful who you trust) We cannot do this on our own. Not everyone's teaching experiences are great. My 18th year was my absolute worst, I actually thought about leaving education all together. Not that I could do anything else except Wal Mart greeting. But, I didn't make it through that year alone. I needed help and I had ask for it. I know I survived because of the support group I reached out to that helped me in all areas. I'm about to start at a new school with a new team. I am only a little nervous because I have done this before. What I do know is, I will build relationships and partnerships and I will not do it alone.
I have really enjoyed writing this all down and contemplating how I can do all of this with another group of students. Teaching is the only thing I have ever done since college and the only thing I ever want to do. I want to make an impact and be impacted.
What about you? Do you know what your educational beliefs are? Have you thought about it recently? If not, I challenge you to take a moment before school starts this year (or if it already has, do it now!) and prepare yourself to fulfill those beliefs this next school year.
Click on over and read about the beliefs of Natalie from Collaborating in Kindergarten.