I believe that the foundation for successful teaching is built on explicit instruction. Explicit instruction is direct, purposeful, engaging and targeted instruction. Although inquiry and problem-based lessons help spark creativity and interest, there is always a need for the direct instruction that comes along with it. Inquiry, creativity, and collaboration co-exist with explicit instruction as the pillars. Without the foundation, the pillars will not stand. Without the pillars, the structure will never grow.
I try to be aware of different ways to teach each subject area, and strive to figure out what works best for my individual students. I believe that nearly all children have the ability to thrive in the general education classroom, and respond to interventions that are targeted and consistent. I look at response to intervention and not the failure to respond as an indicator of concern. It is not the failure that determines the deficit; it is the response to appropriate intervention and instructional practices inside the general education classroom. This information then leads to better teaching for that student.
Reflection is also critical for strong teaching. Every lesson, every moment and every step of my career deserves reflection. I reflect on lessons I teach, plans I make and assessments I am giving. Reflection allows me to take a step back and ask questions about what I did right and what I still need to work on. Teachers are never done learning about how they teach, and reflection helps us to tailor our learning in the best way possible.
As a teacher, I see many different sets of eyes. Every set is different. They are blue, green, hazel and brown. What most teachers fail to see is that some of them are looking, but they are not “seeing”. They tell them to look harder, try harder and do better. This practice kills their passion for knowledge and understanding. I believe that it is my job to be responsible for the learning of every student in my classroom. Student learning happens when good instruction, positive classroom culture and reflective practices live simultaneously inside the classroom. I also feel that I am responsible for tracking learning and responding with interventions or extensions that are appropriate for each individual student. Sometimes this consists of getting other team members together (nurse, social worker, reading specialist etc.) and developing a plan. Other times it means backing away and allowing a group of students to discuss a book they are reading on their own. The most important part of student learning is that it happens for each student in their own way and at their own pace.
It is my belief that the goal of education is to give our students the basic skills they need in order to be successful in any path they choose. This includes character, technology and core skills. I try to give my students opportunities to strengthen critical skill sets that will help them contribute to the world in a global manner. I strive to work on critical thinking, creativity, collaboration and problem solving skills throughout the school year. I try to go beyond the standards to make them applicable to the real world in which our students will reside when exiting our care. Education should set students up to be college, career and citizen ready.