I believe that every student, regardless of their differing abilities, their cultural or socioeconomic background should be included in the curriculum and the classroom environment. Inclusion in education and in my classroom speaks to the greater issue of social justice. Each child that walks through my door is a unique individual who comes from different environments with distinct cultures that have influenced the child’s development, growth, and the lens at which they look at the world. No two students will ever be the same and thus I believe it is important to acknowledge this and create a supportive and open dialogue and environment for learning.
I believe that teachers should use scaffolding to support students’ growth and movement through, what Vygotsky calls, their zone of proximal development. Such scaffolding allows teachers to continuously adjust their levels of support in response to student progress. Effective scaffolding for individual students is best achieved through creating authentic and creative assessments. In turn, students will have a sense of agency and empowerment in the learning process and I am acknowledging that my classroom is diverse but the environment in which we work is inclusive. I believe in a learning environment that is natural and constructed by the students’ collaborative and collective abilities. When possible, outdoor spaces for learning are incorporated throughout my units of study.
I believe in unity through diversity. As our world continues to grow and our lives merge, our communities and classrooms are quickly becoming much more globalized, and thus much more diverse. Our diverse classrooms are an example of how similar we are as human beings. No matter our religious beliefs, our socioeconomic or cultural background, our different abilities cognitively or otherwise; we are all connected by our humanness, and to the environments we inhabit. I believe it is important to develop awareness of the differences between us, rather than trying to eliminate them. From this, the students will come to understand the oneness of our world; the interconnectedness of all beings. Once students become sensitive to the connectedness of all things, their interactions with one another and the environment can be done with respect and compassion. Students in my classroom are often given a choice when choosing partners or groups, but are encouraged to interact with peers from different cultures to broaden their cultural perspectives. I believe it is important to create a classroom that gives all students a voice, as it is imperative to encourage understanding and acceptance of our differences as students and as people.
I believe in the importance of teaching the whole child; as Jiddu Krishnamurti defined it “Integrated intelligence.” Krishnamurti believed that, “The highest function of education is to bring about an integrated individual who is capable of dealing with life as a whole.” Thus, I believe that education is not only the mere imparting of knowledge, but a successful educator fosters the social and emotional wellness of all students, and values inquiring minds within those students. It is my goal as an educator to establish and maintain a climate of openness and mindfulness, in which students feel safe, encouraged, and stimulated in the classroom. I believe, my role in the classroom is that of an educational facilitator within an environment of active learning. Ultimately, the classroom focus shifts from teaching to learning. I believe that self-regulation is important for student learning and success. Contemporary learning theorist, Albert Bandura suggests that an individual’s ability to successfully conduct the self-regulation process greatly influences success in learning. I believe that educators should facilitate all students abilities to self-monitor and make choices concerning their learning and development. Students can be introduced to short mindfulness breathing techniques and sometimes stretching techniques that are meant to help create healthy habits of processing and dealing with thoughts and emotions. Students, in turn, will feel empowered to take control of their thoughts and emotions, which will positively reflect on their learning and individual growth, towards becoming the finest that they can be.
Teachers should strive for meaningful collaboration and teamwork with colleagues, with parents and with the greater school community. I believe communication between school and the greater community is essential to managing parents’ understanding and expectations of what occurs within the walls of the school, and how it will benefit and propel student learning and growth. Collaboration among colleagues increases efficiency and effectiveness through the sharing of best practices and knowledge of individual student learning. It further helps to create cohesiveness within a school in regards to expectations for student behavior, their work, and their social interactions. Schools, staff, and parents working synergistically contribute to school wide and community harmony.