A bit about me…

I am currently a junior at the University of South Alabama. I am double-majoring in secondary education and social sciences, as well as minoring in psychology. I have a passion for helping people and from a very young age have known that I wanted to become a teacher. I graduated within the top four percent of my class at Gloucester High School in Gloucester, VA. I currently hold a 4.0 GPA at South and have made the president’s list each semester I have been enrolled. I also work extensively to fully pay my tuition and living expenses. I am highly motivated and believe I am a unique applicant for any teaching position.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Creating a memorable educational experience

I am 27 years old and I have been a student for 15+ of those and counting. I have had more teachers in my lifetime than I can remember. However, they all fall into 2 categories. There are the teachers who I would not recognize if I passed them on the street. Then, there are the teachers whose classes have had a lasting effect on me and I remember vividly. For my students, I will strive to be a part of the second category.

My favorite teacher in high school was Ms. Fahrion, despite the fact that she taught my least favorite subject, English. She was highly creative and tried to make her classroom fun as well as informative. She also took an interest in her students outside of the classroom and helped me deal with many personal issues that I had. She encouraged me to sign up for her creative writing class, which gave me an outlet to express myself. Even now, 9 years later, I remember her class as having a positive effect on my life.

I believe the best complement you can receive as a teacher is for a former student to approach you and tell you that you really had a hand in shaping their future. I am entering the teaching field because I truly want to help people and have a profound effect on others. I believe to become a memorable teacher, not only do you need to stand apart, but also put forth the effort necessary to really help the students that need it.

Not being afraid to try new things in the classroom

I love to travel and try exotic foods. I will try anything that is not harmful or illegal at least once. I believe that life is about experiencing as much as you can. I plan to transfer that philosophy to the classroom.

I am very fascinated by how other people approach the same task I am working on differently than I would. I want to learn from other teachers and see for myself what works. Whether it is a new technology, teaching technique, or assignment I am willing to consider it. Many teachers teach like it is still 1950 and are oblivious to modern life. The world is rapidly changing and we as teachers need to have the ability to change with it.

Staying on top of the latest technology

I have been a proponent of technology in the classroom for a long time. This was actually the basis of my senior project in high school, when I analyzed such revolutionary (at the time) items as projected Powerpoint lectures and classroom web pages. That was 2000, and technology has increased dramatically since then. I am constantly discovering new things that can be used to improve a child's learning experience.

My two favorite methods continue to be those that I advocated 9 years ago. I believe Powerpoint is a very useful tool to convey key lecture points and show pertinent visuals. The college courses I have taken in which it has been utilized have been the clearest and easiest for me to understand. I believe a classroom web page is also important to provide resources for students and parents alike. Practice quizzes, helpful links, and classroom policies can be viewed at any time. As technology continues to grow, I may incorporate additional digital media such as blogs, podcasts, and social networking sites.

As the whole world progresses, we cannot afford to remain in the past.

Learning along with my students

I don't know everything.

I am not afraid to admit that. Actually, the things I don't know are exponentially larger than what I do know. And that is true for everybody on the face of this Earth.

So why do most people have such a hard time admitting it? I want to learn from my students just as they learn from me. If a student asks me a question that I don't know the answer to, I want to look it up and find out for both the student's benefit and my own. I want for my students to engage in active conversations about the subject at hand and teach me things I don't already know.

But so many people are stubborn... and conceited... and think there is nothing more they need to know. Unfortunately, some of these people are teachers. I hope to always remain humble and never satisfy my natural curiosity.

Designing a relevant curriculum

One of the main questions I have often asked as a student is "How does the information I am learning apply to my life?" Many things we are required to take in school seem superfluous and often unnecessary. I believe that a student's motivation suffers when he sees no practical application for what he is being taught.

As a teacher, I plan to highlight the useful qualities of the subject I am teaching. For a history class, it may involve discussing the consequences and perspectives that certain events have caused. How have these events affected the modern world and what have they taught us? Rather than simply memorizing facts, a student needs to understand WHY they need to learn them.

Encouraging creativity

Creativity is a skill that we often lose later in life as it takes a back seat to memorization and efficiency. I believe, however, that it is one of the most important personality traits and should be encouraged and nourished. I want to challenge my students to think outside the box and generate unique ideas. I want to assign projects that reinforce classroom concepts while also requiring them to create something original. But most of all, I want my students to value their own creative side as a tool they can use in life.

I am a huge proponent of active learning. I believe that children should be taking a dynamic role in their learning rather than just listening and watching. Knowledge of the material is strengthened when a student approaches it hands-on.

Besides, why should art teachers have all the fun?