Students are the starting point and at the center of everything I do as an educator. I want them to strive and reach for greatness, and I model this in my work ethic and in my own drive to succeed. To be effective, I believe that when my students become confused and begin to struggle, it is my professional responsibility to intervene, redirect, re-frame or sometimes just nudge them in another direction. My role is to model, demonstrate, stimulate, and monitor thinking in its many forms. I adjust and vary my approaches to ensure students connect with key concepts and essential skills. Understanding who my students are as learners is the key to differentiation and accelerating learning. Determining patterns of thinking informs my teaching, and enables me to match approaches to individual students. Formative and summative assessment combined with simply listening and watching are driving forces. I want to identify the kind of constructive feedback needed to address a breakdown in understanding in order to elevate and advance their abilities.
I think technology makes a difference in the connections students make to information and ideas, to one another, and to global audiences. It magnifies their interest and adds critical dimensions to the learning process. It is a natural ‘language’ of learning for our digital natives, where they can drive the learning process. It deepens and expands collaboration, communication, and creation. I think enduring understandings that have leverage in other disciplines and situations are an outcome of creating original learning products. Technology is essential to creative expression, and digital tools offer natural differentiation for a range of styles, and abilities. I believe that continuously expanding my knowledge of rapidly changing technologies allows me to create learning experiences that are more interactive, meaningful, challenging and relevant for my students.
I believe students must become effective communicators who can express themselves with clarity and persuasiveness through writing and speaking, as well as in multi-sensory digital mediums. Students therefore need a spectrum of literacy skills as 21st learners. Global and digital citizenship are 21st century requirements. Developing questions, critically reading and evaluating sources, note-taking and summarization, citing sources, and understanding how to avoid plagiarism all ensure students are better able to access subject area content across the curriculum. When students grasp these skills, they are empowered.
I want students to feel responsible for their own learning and to invest personally. Their work should feel important and worthwhile. I encourage and celebrate effort, persistence, and mutual respect. I communicate that I care about my students as learners and human beings. I understand how to make learning happen and how to create the conditions for a range of interactions with content. I design my instruction with the end result in mind--the skills, knowledge, and strategies my students need. New knowledge will develop from reading, questioning, and collaborative discussions. Opportunities to research, analyze, problem-solve and make connections to new perspectives also are important.
Just as I want my students to share their knowledge and respond constructively to one another’s ideas, I expect the very same of myself and of my colleagues. Learning with and from each other is not optional. It is essential. Reflecting on my successes and challenges helps me to improve. Reflecting and collaborating around best practices and resources with my colleagues and school community makes all of us better. Creating and sustaining connections to other educators locally and globally provides pathways to continuous professional improvement. Rich learning of the highest quality for my students is always the desired end result.