“If a seed of a lettuce will not grow, we do not blame the lettuce. Instead, the fault lies with us for not having nourished the seed properly.” – Buddhist proverb
As an educator, I aim to instill a love of learning in my students, and to prepare them for the world in which they live. I realize I am only one of the many influences in these students’ lives, but I believe I can make a positive contribution, not only to their education, but to their social, civic, and personal lives.
This contribution begins with me: I strive to embody for my students the qualities I wish for in them. I strive to be caring, tolerant, respectful, open- minded, honest, and truly interested in continuing to develop and learn, and not only in the classroom. I strive to create a warm, inviting environment where students know that they are respected and cared for. My classroom is a safe place for young people, in a wonderfully awkward stage of their life, to grow and develop, learn more about themselves and the world around them, and work to become conscientious, environmentally aware and knowledgeable global citizens.
As a teacher I have an important role in the classroom, but I like to see myself as more of a facilitator than a director in the learning process. I develop curriculum that provides the students opportunities to explore, create, and collaborate. These experiences are most meaningful when built on students’ past knowledge and experiences, and fueled by students’ innate desire to learn more about the world around them. It is through these authentic learning experiences, in which students capitalize on their developing skills to acquire knowledge, that they make meaningful connections to the material and the wider implications of these lessons.
Technology creates a bridge from our classroom to the world beyond: My students are most engaged when they know that they are creating for a global audience, and enjoy learning and creating through technology even in the simplest of activities. I often find myself in awe of the incredible ability my students have in using technology to gather and organize information and demonstrate their learning. As an Apple Distinguished Educator I am a part of a global network of educators who create and share these great successes (and sometimes failures!).
Although middle school is the time when students tend to push their parents away, I feel it is important to involve the supportive adults at home in the learning journey. I encourage personal contact, I maintain a blog for general news, and I make all of my courses available online. I invite parents to actively participate in their child’s learning by sharing their own experiences and knowledge, while also trying to help them to understand when they need to let go and let their child have their own experiences. Middle school can be an incredibly difficult time for some, but with open communication and clear expectations my students and their parents know that have the support that they need.
I am honored to be a part of the lives of many young individuals and it is my hope that with me as their teacher they will get a lot more than just the content of my courses- I hope I am helping to shape responsible world citizens who are able to solve problems, adapt to new situations, and creatively respond to unfolding events. I hope, by my example, that they learn to care for themselves, for others, and the world in which they live.