Differentiation and a student-centered classroom
Every student deserves the chance to be successful and to work an environment that not only pushes him to his full potential, but helps him realize how he can push himself to his full potential. My students receive individualized instruction within the parameters of my standards based on their own interests. No one student must complete a task in the same way as another student. It is more important for me to help a student create and learn how to find his own knowledge as it is to pass along knowledge. Students in my classroom are actively engaged in the discovery process. This helps them not only within my content area (social studies), but within the context of being a lifelong learner. It is important to me to help students achieve their highest level of readiness for whatever path they may choose in life.
Flexibility and Creativity
Because students do not all learn the same way, it is important to me to be flexible and creative. Discovering a students’ passion and using that to help teach my skills and content are essential to a successful classroom. In addition to helping a student learn, it is important to understand how the students are learning. Formative assessment plays a key role in my instruction. It’s important to be flexible within assessments and instruction based on results of formative assessment. A low score means I ask “How can I help you understand this better?”, not “Why didn’t you study more?”.
Trying something new and not being afraid to make a mistake (and learn from it) are qualities that I try to model for my students and build into their coursework.
Being Collaborative and Global
Collaboration amongst students is essential to their learning. They can learn as much from each other as they can from me. Interpersonal skills are a key component to future success, and accountability, communication, and responsibility to a group of peers are life lessons that I make sure to include in my curriculum. I follow these same guidelines in my own personal and professional life. I have never stopped learning from my peers and often find my Twitter PLN to be my best resource. My students being actively involved in collaborative work in the classroom and my being actively involved in collaborative work outside the classroom are necessary ingredients to a successful classroom. It is important to remember that in an ever “flattening” world, collaboration should be global, not just local. The term “flattening” is thrown around a lot, but breaking outside the classroom walls is an important part of the learning experience that I try to offer my students as often as possible.