My Own Slice of Life on Being an Effective Teacher
I have been thinking about the basics of being an effective teacher. Before you can start teaching math or reading, I think it is so important to set up your classroom and put together a unique style of learning for you and your learners. Every classroom has a certain “feel” to it and like most teachers I always wanted my classroom to feel warm and welcoming. I knew that decorating my room would add to the atmosphere but there was something else that I wanted to achieve before any lessons were taught. I have always wanted an environment conducive for interaction; interaction with students, interaction with the teacher, interaction with books, verbal interaction, nonverbal interaction, enthusiastic interaction, wondering interaction, all kinds of interaction!
Included in my vision of an interactive classroom was the idea of respectful exchanges that became customary as natural reactions for the students and their teacher. The set up for this part of my vision had to begin on day one and remain a constant as the year progressed. This is really something that I feel passionate about and therefore not something I am willing to let slide under any circumstances. My teaching philosophy includes the notion that children and adults inside of my classroom’s four walls will speak in a respectful tone at all times. Yelling, tattling, name calling, and laughing at people will not be tolerated. Instead, saying please and thank you, offering a helping hand, and walking away to cool off when a situation gets heated are strategies implemented in my plans in the beginning of the school year. The idea of respect is discussed on a regular basis and a reminder is given to all students who stray from our plan to interact in a respectful manner. There are times when I ask students why they are yelling when I am talking in a calm and respectful voice. They always have to stop to think and restart their sentence with a more composed tone of voice.
Modeling is a huge part of teaching respectful interacting. Sometimes it feels like no one is watching me when I am teaching the lesson I had planned to be the best lesson of my life. I have looked out into the sea of children and not one pair of eyes was on me. But as soon as the reading teacher walks into my classroom, a dear friend of mine, all eyes are on us. Everyone is watching as I interact with another adult. Everyone is noticing how I listen when she talks and how our voices are friendly in nature at all times. They might not be able to hear what we are saying over the buzz of the soft music playing in the background or over the three students on the carpet reading together, but they are watching us. There have been several times during a class led conversation on respect that I have heard students comment on how they observed the teachers talking during recess or at lunch. We, as teachers, are modeling and we have to be aware that the kids are watching. I really believe that it is just little things that can add to the development of a respectful environment in classrooms and those little things, like modeling, lead to what I believe to be the greatest learning experiences.
Many ideas for great lessons or beautiful bulletin boards come to me in the middle of the night in a dream or when I cannot fall asleep. I am sure that all teachers have had those. However, most of the ideas I have had that made me a better a teacher came to me as I observed children in my classroom. I even find myself using ideas that my very young niece has taught me without even knowing she has done so. I didn’t even know at the time that she had taught me such a valuable lesson on how children think and how they want to share their thoughts with you. I could not have come up with so many of these ideas on my own. I needed the inspiration and creative young minds that I have been so privileged to work with over the past few years to really improve my style of teaching and develop my own unique classroom environment. These ideas have helped me to design my own respectful, interactive classroom and establish my own unique style of being the teacher I always dreamed to be. I consider myself very lucky to have a job where I can continue tweaking and refining as I learn and grow.