Three words, five syllables, 12 phonemes, 4 morphemes: teach, encourage, love; this is the foundation for my teaching philosophy. I believe a positive classroom creates a far more successful learning atmosphere than one which is focused on what not to do. But how can I reach this if I don’t teach my students to be positive; encourage them when they do well; show them I care - about them, their families and the world around me. Being a teacher comes with great responsibility; but I believe in education. I believe academics and learning to be a good person are intertwined. I believe that if I do not daily try to become a better person, then I should be in no position of influence.
I want to teach students how to think, not what to think. I never want learning in my classroom to become a routine of one subject, then the next, lunch, recess, another subject “When do we get to go home?” I want my students to be so excited to learn that they are asking to have lunch in my classroom “Just one more science experiment, Ms. Finney, please!?” I want my students to look forward to school every day, be excited to learn, but not even realize that’s what they are doing. I want my students to form their own opinion, construct their own ideas and verbalize what they believe. Students need to know that it is okay to think differently, it’s okay to believe in what other people don’t; without belief there is no progression. If students don’t believe in themselves they may never reach their fullest potential; and if teachers are not believing in students, how are students ever to believe in themselves?
Listen to the MUSTN’TS, child,
Listen to the DON’TS
Listen to the SHOULDN’TS
The IMPOSSIBLES, the WON’TS
Listen to the NEVER HAVES
Then listen close to me --
Anything can happen, child,
ANYTHING can be.
Shel Silverstein’s Listen to the Mustn’ts
I want my students to believe they are bigger than their dreams. I want to show my students what it means to work hard and to do what you love. There are no shortcuts when it comes to achieving your dreams. I hope to encourage my students to care about themselves, about their communities and about the world. A friend of mine has a saying that has stuck with me - we need to care here, near and far. I want to show my students that they can make a difference and encourage them to work hard to do so. Creating pen pals with students in other states to build writing stamina, while creating life long friendships. Measuring, mixing, counting money and implementing other math skills to hold a bake sale to raise money for a family who may not be able to provide a Thanksgiving meal for their family. Encouraging my students to utilize their molding brains to help their community become a better place because they have the smarts to make a difference.
Rafe Esquith writes in his book Teach Like Your Hair’s on Fire that to create a positive learning environment teachers must “build trust and banish fear”. Students need to feel that I can be trusted, otherwise they will be too scared to show me where they are struggling and will never receive the knowledge to master the topic at hand. After reading Esquith’s book, I began to clearly see the importance of building trust and showing the students that I care, not just about what they are learning, but about their life, my job and their success.
I believe these things not because I am told to, or because they get me anywhere; I have chosen to believe these things because to me, they make sense. To me, these are the things I need to stand by. As a teacher, for about nine months of the year seven hours a day, I will hold the world’s future in my hands, teaching, encouraging and loving every student.