Thursday, March 26, 2015

Day 98- Living "Teacher"

This is part of the series Living Words.

The second word I will be looking at is "teacher". I am not going to go into too much detail regarding my history (at least not at this moment) so to keep it short this is my second year teaching in a pre-k classroom. I can reflect back from my first year and see changes that I have made as well as aspects that are still the same and aspects that I would like to change about myself in relation to being a teacher.
The main point I am opening right now in regards to being a teacher is the relationship between teachers and students throughout the school day. I think that teachers often (especially new teachers) find themselves in a position of authority as they are responsible for managing the classroom as well as delivering lessons and how a lesson is presented to the students. I would say that I have become aware of the relationship between managing, lessons and presentation and how lack of keeping these three aspects as a teacher effectively working together can create a state of authority over the children as an outflow. Because at the end of the day as a teacher I have to have thought a lesson and managed a classroom in "good" behavior". Of course it is not all black and white as to everything there are multiple dimensions of looking and dissecting things but there is always a base, starting point.

So when I recently applied for a position in a school there was a question I had to answer in my application. The first time I filled out this question which was 2 years ago when I was applying for a school district (applications for school districts vary but have similar questions) my answer was very mechanical because I did not know how to respond to it other than the obvious things that are expected out of a teacher. There was no a touch of myself within my answer. So this time around I reflected on myself as a teacher and what I have learned from the students, my behavior and their behavior and wrote a different response. As first I had a resistance because within me I knew I had to change my starting point of what I saw as a teacher to who I want to express myself as a teacher.

Question: "Describe the skills or attributes you believe are necessary to be an outstanding teacher"

My Answer: "An outstanding teacher stands as an example for the students. She/He is able to connect to each child in the classroom, to build a safe and respectful relationship with each student, to understand their needs, to recognize their achievements, to provide students with opportunities for self development and self responsibility, to provide materials that engage students in learning, to make learning fun. She/He allows students to have a voice within the classroom through guidance and respect."

So when writing about the word teacher and how I want to live it/be it/express it I can see a little "flame" within me waiting to grow and expand.
I see me in a classroom with that I have set up to be functional in regards to being a child as if I was the child and what would I like my classroom environment to have. So when bringing in materials or setting up dramatic play, writing center and so on, I for a moment want to place myself in the shoes of the students who will be interacting with the classroom environment and make sure that I will enjoy it, that I will be creating my play. Because I can recall the games my brother and I played when we were little and how we created our own playful environment with the toys we had.
As a teacher I see myself carrying out a lesson that is interactive, that makes "me as a child" want to participate, to get creative, to expand what I already know and incorporate what I am learning now. And within that play/interactive lesson there is a sense of satisfaction on both ends- the teacher and the student and there is no need for "disciplining"/ "forcing".
I want to solve problems that arise between students with teach them to understand themselves and the other and within that building the ability to problem solve independently.
I don't want to teach with fear tactics, times outs and punishments. I want my students to understand consequence so that they make the choice not to do something that was not safe or disrespectful. I want my students to know that they can always come and talk to me and that we will be able to discuss solutions and even those moments can be teachable.
This year I have put a lot of effort on how I carry out my lesson plans. I know I can do better of course if I expanded my resources and ideas but that is why it is a reflective learning process. I have also placed a lot of effort on how I approach students when there is a behavioral problem. I am reflecting on my reactions, their reactions and I am seeing of ways that will cause the least stress on myself and the students and still be able to look for a solution to the problem. I have began talking more to them, pulling them to the side one on one, or sometimes within a group talk. I am experiment currently with this method. And it may not always work of course as it will take time to be established and I am not the only teacher they have throughout the day time.

Some ways to sound out the word teacher:
tea-share (as in sitting down having tea and enjoying our time)
te-acher (as in hurting, being in pain)
te-chair (as in sitting in the chair)
teach/preach/bridge

Redefinition: Teacher- a person who is here standing as an example/role model to show others how to be effective within the world and physical reality by presenting information and showing how it is practically applied.

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