Going through some of the documents I’ve produced through my grad program and thought I should add this in to my side panel. Take a read:
Great writers are often great critical thinkers. If there is any wish to grant the students of the upcoming future it is that they develop the intellect and the ability to communicate those thoughts in every way they need. As a burgeoning high school English teacher, instilling in students the rhetorical and writing skills they need to question, converse, and consider all of the issues of their time is a duty I would treat with honor.
In crafting such students, I find it important to maximize potential learning opportunities by using a multi-dimensional approach that engages all students. In order to do so, it is critical to tailor approaches to a specific class. Finding the correct mesh of visual, auditory, kinesthetic, or written activity begins and ends with understanding how the students of the class learn. It would be my day one priority to analyze students through assessment tests as a means of determining the best teaching path for a class.
Going with such a class-specific approach means being well versed in teaching strategies and open to experimenting with new or odd combinations. Because of which, it’s important to consider core traits that would allow myself to influence whatever potential plans I may implement throughout the course of the class. One of those traits is teaching with a degree of humor. There is a great article by Ron Deiter, titled, “The Use of Humor as a Teaching Tool in the College Classroom” that grasps how I would engage with students while adapting lesson plans to meet their learning styles. Deiter writes: “The use of humor in the classroom can help to create a more positive learning environment by breaking down barriers to communication between the professor and the student… Humor builds rapport between the students and the teacher” (22-23). Uncovering a student’s trust is the first step in understanding who they are and how they learn. The second step is to utilize the things they do: social media. There is a great article by Niall McCarroll and Kevin Curran in the International Journal of Innovation in the Digital Economy simply titled “Social Networking in Education” in which they identify how the core principles behind social media translate into education. McCarroll and Curran assert: “In an open-source culture, creativity becomes a shared experience. The sharing of online communal spaces and peer-to-peer communication is a “massive part of what excites young people and therefore should contribute to users’ persistence and motivation to learn” (Mason & Rennie, 2007).” (4). In Assigning, Responding, Evaluating: A Writing Teacher’s Guide, Edward M. White and Cassie A. Wright also praise the usage of digital technologies in teaching writing. White and Wright suggest ideas like “working in groups to redesign existing media,” (15) talking about copyright (17), and considering the effectiveness of certain search engines (35) all as ways of instructing writing, and guiding collaboration and pre-writing. If, as a teacher, I can utilize a space the students are comfortable using, half the battle of getting them to a place, or mindset, to learn is already won.
My greatest asset in any situation is my ability emotional intelligence. Empathy and emotional regulation are traits that this world, let alone the teaching profession, are in dire need of prioritizing value upon. Given the societal realities of the world, being an empathetic person and being able to control one’s emotions is something that kids need from their teachers and teachers need to instill in their kids. The thought has been recently echoed in a Huffington Post article where 2016 National Teacher of the Year Jahana Hayes said she tells her students: “You have this knowledge and information, how can you use it to improve the human condition?” (Klein). Asking students to consider the subject beyond the test is something that’s important to do.
While I have limited teaching experience to this point, I have spent a great deal of time among high school aged students as a coach and I remember the most effective high school teachers that left lasting impacts on me. All of them cared about me as a person. While they were willing to do the work in order to get me to understand whatever the subject may have been, the subject was always being taught by a person I knew I could trust. Getting a student to value your thoughts, something that I find important in the beginning of my own teaching journey, is something so many people taught me at an early age.
Deiter, Ron. “The Use of Humor as a Teaching Tool in the College Classroom.” North American College Teachers Association Journal (June 2000). 22-23. Web.
Klein, Rebecca. “We Need To Teach Kids Empathy, Says National Teacher Of The Year.” The Huffington Post. 4/28/2016.
McCarrol, Niall and Curran, Kevin. “Social Networking in Education.” International Journal of Innovation in the Digital Economy. 4(1), 1-15, January-March 2013. Web.
White, Edward M., Wright, Cassie A. Assigning, Responding, Evaluating: A Writing Teacher’s Guide, 5th Edition. Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2015-04-01. VitalSource Bookshelf Online.