of Michelle Johnson
“Teachers open the door. You enter yourself.” – Chinese Proverb
What an enormous and sometimes daunting task for teachers to undertake: to be largely responsible for leading children, our students, to the doors of academic advancement and the thresholds of emotional and social well being. Yet,as teachers, we undertake this task wholeheartedly and to the utmost of our ability.
The goal of education is to enhance a person’s quality of life through the search for knowledge and the development of skills. I believe the education system should provide students with the challenges and motivations that inspire them to not only reach for the answers but to yearn for the processes behind them. They need to be provided with the tools necessary to address whatever life throws at them whether it is a math equation, a bad jump shot, or a bully on the playground. Life is not always black and white, right or wrong. Therefore, learners are encouraged to develop skills to help analyze, hypothesize and form solutions that help them deal with life’s struggles in a way that allows coexistence with their basic thoughts and beliefs.
As a teacher, it is my challenge to provide the knowledge and enticement that my students need to step on the path and walk toward the door. To encourage individuals to start the journey, I must provide hands-on activities, interesting subjects and tasks, and variety in my presentation. Variety is what keeps us fresh and excited about teaching. I enjoy crawling around on the floor, joining in on a game of tag and getting my hands dirty during a messy science experiment. Keeping interest and participation high helps students stay focused on the content thus making retention of knowledge higher. The true test is if the knowledge one acquires can be applied to a practical application.
A hands-on classroom produces exciting results. Conducting experiments, working in groups, and sharing what has been learned with each other produces a favorable learning environment. In a hands-on classroom there is noticeable and positive energy in the air from students who have just made a discovery or from one friend helping out another.
Movement and freedom in a hands-on classroom can be challenging, but if the activities are well planned and the students are involved, discipline becomes a minor issue. In fact, engaged and interested students are less likely to exhibit inappropriate behavior. Self-monitoring is a very important skill and one I try to foster as an educator with a hands-on approach. My students must have a clear understanding of the rules of the classroom and the goals for their achievement. I expect mystudents to conduct themselves with the utmost respect toward others and more importantly toward themselves.
In turn, my students deserve my respect, attention and dedication. While I encourage them to grow academically, emotionally and socially, I must push myself to grow in these areas as well. As my students and I travel through the school year, it is my desire that we all reach the door, hold hands with each other, enter and celebrate our achievements together.