I believe that a well-rounded, rigorous curriculum is the basis to all student growth and learning in this 21st century.
I believe this because (relate to professional experience) as a child the one thing that made me develop into the person I am today, a global citizen, was the well-rounded instruction my parents and teachers gave me. When my teachers presented me with knowledge about the world my thirst for knowledge expanded and the more they asked the more I wanted to learn.
The are many ways that we can create a well-rounded and rigorous curriculum to students. For example having a world to school connection through career days, curriculum grounded in real world applications and a global view of the world. And curriculum, where different cultures are represented and championed, curriculum that challenges students to think critically, creatively, and requires them to collaborate.
I’d like to talk about one of those aspects, which is creating a curriculum that is well rounded in real world applications. A few years ago I was working at a school that was project based. I remember one meeting a had with a child and their parents and in this meeting I remember how the student was explaining what he learned that semester and how he applied it to a real world problem facing the community. What struck me about that meeting was that toward the end the parents turned to me and said that since he had been coming to the school it had been a challenge to get him to go home. That before coming to this school the child would cry because he had to go to school and now he cried because he had to stop learning.
Parent and Community Involvement
I believe that the bond a teacher makes with a parent is a bond that is essential to the success of a child. That when a parent trust a teacher the potential for achievement grows.
I believe this because (relate to professional experience) when I was growing up my mother was always involved in the school community. I remember knowing that my teacher knew my mother very well and that when an issue arose I was not able to play the blame game since my mother had a close personal relationship with my teachers. Still to this day, my mother is still connected to those teachers that I have long forgotten.
There are many ways the community and parents can get involved in our schools. They can serve as PTA members, help in the workroom making copies, volunteer in classrooms to help out teachers, be part committees, be presenters at career day or just come and visit the campus.
I’d like to talk about being part of committees.
Last year when I was the 8th grade teacher I had to be the chaperon of 52 students to a San Francisco trip. Because of some things that were going on in the school I had to be the person in charge of the trip in the last minute. My saviors on this trip were two parents who had been involved in our school since the students were in kindergarten. Because they had been involved in many committees throughout the years the students knew who they were and better yet the parents who were not going knew who they were also. Due to this the trip was a success, and personally it was one of my best experiences ever.
Discipline and School Culture
I believe that that school is the place most students come to feel safe and that it needs to be a place where they feel wanted and welcomed.
I believe this because (relate to professional experience) when I came to this country the neighborhood I lived in was a high crime area where gangs, drugs, guns and violence where always present. But unlike the neighborhood I lived in the school I went to always felt a very loving and safe place.
There are lots of aspects on how to create a positive school culture such as increasing parent involvement, looking at a child as a whole, provide professional development for teachers on restorative practices and looking at discipline action as a moment for growth for the child.
I’d like to talk about one aspect, which is looking as an act of discipline as a moment for growth for the child. A few years ago I was working at a court school when a student of mine was who was around 16 at the time kept continuously cursing throughout the day. I clearly remember having to remind her to “watch her language”. This happened for several years and many people I believe would had given up after a few months but for some reason I knew she could change this habit. At one point I stopped noticing her language and then a few weeks later I heard her utter these words to another student, “hey watch your language” and then turn to me and say “these kids and their cussing”. If I had take a different approach with her the outcome could have been different but I knew that change takes time and that discipline is not about the now but about what happened and about where we want to go.
I believe that technology is the key to solving the issues that face this planet and that students are the innovators who will make this change.
I believe this because (relate to professional experience) I have seen this change and innovation in my lifetime. I remember as a child always wanting a computer and my grandmother providing me one when I turned 12. This gift opened the world to me like nothing else had ever done and provided me with the spark to make a positive change in the world.
There are lots of aspects on how to use technology to create innovators, research projects, pen pals, kick-starter campaigns, 20 Time projects, and project-based learning.
One aspect I would like to discuss is 20 Time Projects. Last year, after telling my students what to do for two years in terms of projects I decided to provide my students a blank slate for their final project with me as their teacher. For this project the only two stipulations were, follow your passion and teach us something (by us I also meant me). With little to no directions from me, my students were able to create projects that ranged from what happened after we die to how music can effect our learning and our moods. What I discovered with those 20 Time projects was that even after spending two years with my students I didn't know them that well and I also learned that their ability to innovate to change to learn and to teach was greater than anything I could imagined.