I always like to start with the “why” behind my motivations. Why do I teach? To educate children. To provide them with a better a future. To prepare them to become productive citizens who have a passion for other people and believe in their own abilities. My hope is that when they leave my classroom, they are confident learners, who believe they have a future story.
Why do you teach?
I am a teacher. I am passionate about what I do. I impact lives every day. In return, I get to watch my students grow into wonderfully, intelligent, and independent people. Some of my students come into my classroom eager to learn while others take more encouragement. No matter how they start out, I get to see the fruits of my labor transform them into readers, mathematicians, problem solvers, and most importantly confident people who believe in themselves.
I understand the responsibility I have. It’s a big one, and I don’t take it lightly. This brings me back to the ‘why’. Why do we educate children the way we do? This thought governs all the decisions I make in my classroom. The way I answer this question is important. It will determine the decisions I make in planning, which will impact my students personally. I've heard many responses to this question during my teaching career:
- This is how I was told I have to do it.
- We've always done it this way.
- I think it's what's best for kids.
- It keeps my classroom management easier.
- I don't have time to try it another way.
- It's easier to do it this way.
- The kids are better behaved.
- Because they need to know this for the test.
These statements, most commonly, are made about the whole of the class and not the student as an individual. We are all unique, one of a kind; unlike anything else. Although I'm an identical twin, I'm a unique person. I learn in a way that is specifically, unique to me. Things my sister could do to study, didn’t work for me. I had distractions she didn’t have. My mind worked differently, and therefore, I needed to be instructed in a different way.
So, why do I educate children the way I do? This question brings me back to the 'why' behind my motivations. I want my students to know I thought of them, individually, when I planned. I want them to feel they are being instructed in the best possible way for them, not the group as a whole. For each lesson I plan, I think of the small group it's intended for. Why do I want to plan this lesson using this specific pedagogy? What is the reasoning behind the goal I am setting for them. What am I hoping each individual student will gain from the lesson? Is it purposeful learning? I think of their strengths and weaknesses. What do they need to reach their goal and how can I help them achieve it? These are the thoughts that drive my planning...my reflection.
It can no longer be acceptable to base our planning simply on the standards that need to be taught. Yes, we need to know the standards and have guidelines for when they need to be taught, but that's not the end of the planning...it's the beginning of it.
The scope and sequence becomes the 'why' when the student and their needs should be the determining 'why' behind our motivations. What does your student need? How will you instruct them so their need is met? What will you plan? How will you engage them before, during, and after the lesson? Will you allow your reflective practices to guide you, and what will your plan be for the next step in their learning? These are the questions which should provide us the answer to why we do what we do.
Our students are looking to us to support them. To instruct them. To prepare them. They are counting on us to take the time to thoughtfully consider the 'why' behind our preperation. Why are we doing what we do? We do it because we want what is best for our students. We want to provide them with the necessary tools to succeed.