The previous 4 years I have taught as an ESL Tutor and have worked with a wide array of teachers, with various teaching styles. I have seen characteristics of good teachers and those that are not so good. I have observed them carefully and taken notes on what seems to work in the classroom and what clearly does not work. I have seen classrooms that are organized, neat, and colorful, with students’ work hanging around the room and I have been in classrooms where the walls are white, boring and nothing to look at. I have had a lot of time to think about the teacher I want to become, what I want my classroom to look like and what kind of environment I want my classroom to be.
Teaching is full of responsibilities, challenges and frustrations, but on the other hand it can be so exciting and rewarding! I believe one of the most important characteristics of an effective teacher is getting to know the students on a personal level, learning what their likes and dislikes are and to be able to teach them lessons inside the classroom as well as out in the real world. I want to be that teacher that makes a difference in my students’ lives and the one they remember for years to come. I have already seen a difference in my students just by simply telling them that I am here for them and that I care about them. I want them to be able to trust in me and be able to talk to me if someone or something is bothering them. Creating a safe learning environment within my classroom is very important as well. Students need to feel that when they enter OUR classroom that they are going to be safe both physically and emotionally. I have students that are coming from very rough backgrounds, I want them all to be treated equally and be loved not just by me, but also by their classmates.
I am very organized and like to keep the classroom organized as well. I am trying to teach my students organizational skills that they can take with them year after year. By having each of their composition books color-coded, it eases confusion of which journal they should be working in at a particular time. I have arranged the students’ desks into clusters of four and five, with students from each reading group so my higher students can assist my lower students during independent work centers. I feel that the students can learn a lot from each other and this also helps minimize some behavior issues. Keeping an organized classroom with classroom procedures helps my students know what, how, when and where to do something. The students have routines in the classroom that make daily schedules flow more smoothly for both them and me.
Lastly, I believe in teaching content that is meaningful to the students. I want the students to be able to make real-life connections with the subject matter so they understand it better. This can sometimes be a challenge, but when students can link the topics to real-life experiences, it has a better impact on them. Allowing them to turn and talk about those experiences is important too so they develop interactions with other students to formulate ideas and verbalize them with other peers.
As an educator, I believe my teaching styles might change over the years as society and curriculums change, but I want my philosophy of teaching to remain the same. I want to remain the teacher that provides a fun, but safe, environment for each student to grow and prosper.
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