I believe that learning should be holistic, collaborative and inquiry-based. As a teacher, I strive to connect the content of what I am teaching to relevant, real-world examples. This includes making interdisciplinary connections between content areas as well as allowing students the opportunity to create learning and reach conclusions for themselves. I try to use a variety of techniques that model what is happening beyond the classroom walls. Many times this will include collaborative and Web 2.0 tools. I believe that my role as a teacher extends beyond the classroom walls. Students learn as much, if not more, about life and becoming responsible members of communities through community service, expeditions, organized sports and extra-curricular activities.
I believe that the most important thing that I can teach a student is how to learn. While subject specific content is important, it is vital to empower students to become independent learners. This requires me to model and teach specific learning skills such as organization, time management, and self-reflection. I also believe that the concept of the “Digital Native” as espoused by Prensky is one whose time has passed: students are no more innately inclined to be technologically adept than adults and it is necessary to explicitly teach information and digital literacies skills such as effective web searching, validation of sources and appropriate citation. Students must also be taught to recognize their online spaces as an extension of their physical communities and the same rights and responsibilities apply equally to ‘virtual’ and ‘real’ communities.
I believe that all students have the ability to be successful. As a teacher, it is my responsibility to provide every student with pathways to success. I am not a teacher of technology or of mathematics, but one of people. To that end, it is my professional duty to differentiate and scaffold what I am teaching to the best of both my and their abilities. This includes providing students with different approaches to instruction, allowing students to choose their areas of interest, as well as giving students alternative and authentic means for assessment. I firmly believe that students should be given the opportunity to create portfolios of work that show their own personal and academic development, preferably over the years and across the many subject areas as well as incorporating their various extra-curricular interests in and out of school. It is this portfolio that will be most useful when determining the success of each student and not the outcome of an internal or external examination.
I believe that the key to being effective in the classroom is cultivating relationships. To be truly effective in this profession, it is vital that I nurture and maintain relationships with all members of the school community. These relationships must be based on trust, empathy and understanding. Only then can we have a meaningful dialogue with the best interests of the learners at heart.
Finally, I believe that, as a teacher, I am first and foremost a learner. All of my beliefs that I hold for my students apply to me as well. I strive to remain current, connected and balanced in my personal and professional life. My various personal learning networks, whether physical or online (and increasingly a blend of both), allow me to have a continuous dialogue surrounding education, innovative practice, relevant research and sources for inspiration.