Sunday, June 26, 2011

How do you teach, really?

One day I will be a teacher.

One day, I will have my own classroom full of diverse students.

It’s a thought that both thrills me and terrifies me. As a teacher my biggest fear is that I will fail a child. I want to have a classroom where all of my children experience success. During a time when classroom environments are so diverse, this can be a difficult (but not an impossible) task.

Right now, I’m eager to grasp every resource, every morsel of knowledge on teaching, education, and children. I want to be prepared. I don’t want to go into this profession blind. I’m often found in the schools, observing the administrators, teachers, faculty and the students.

I like to ask in-service teachers what they feel was lacking in their student teaching courses. Or what they wish they knew during their first year of teaching that they were not able to learn from studying the craft.
Most often than naught, the teachers have similar responses. In their own words, they explain that it was difficult to fully understand the theories on education without putting it into practice. “You don’t get it, until you do it”.

I have to agree with them. I often feel the same. I can regurgitate information about the categories of Blooms Taxonomy, but do I really understand what those different learning levels will look like in a Kindergarten classroom setting? While the knowledge, theories, and approaches about education are important to know, it’s very difficult for me to fully connect the theories with reality until I see it in action. Sometimes I feel like my teachers are stuffing my head full of information that I have no idea how to really use. That is until last week.

Last week, I finished a week long “Boot Camp” for one of my courses and for the first time during my studies I felt that I was able to make that connection. The course was about exceptional students and the “Boot Camp” was at a school for students with disabilities. In the mornings my peers and I would go upstairs where we learned about the history, theories, and approaches for teaching students with disabilities. Throughout the day we were able to see those theories and approaches in action as we participated in activities with the students.

One day we learned about theories on behavior and various approaches we can use to help guide students to make the right choices. That afternoon, I observed my instructor putting those approaches in action during an activity with the students. I also had an opportunity to try many of those approaches myself when I was with the children and they worked!

Every day during “Boot Camp” was an “aha” moment for me and because of this course I feel much more confident in my ability to help my future students succeed. We learned about the craft, the techniques were modeled for us, and then we had an opportunity to put those techniques into action.

I understand that the act of teaching is a living, breathing thing. It’s constantly in motion, constantly changing. It’s not something you can perfect through research, but something you must do to master. I hope that my campus provides more opportunities for me to participate in “live” teaching/learning experiences like the EEX “Boot Camp”. Thank you Dr. Grillo and Dr. Hines for being such inspirational educators!

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