So for a Professional Development activity we were suppose to read two articles about believing in students and the correlation to achievement and then do a self reflection. I came up with a three page dissertation on my belief in my students. Haha, can we say OVER ACHIEVER…. Brown noser right here…
Any-who, it’s posted below if you have 15 minutes to kill with nothing better to do… Yes, I’m an over-sharer….
I truly believe in all of my students. Being a teacher with extremely high expectations of my student’s means that sometimes I question myself, or my severity with my students and the rigors I expect from them. But without these expectations, there can be chaos and uncertainty. Having a clear plan in mind for your students can be the difference between success and failure. All students have the opportunity to succeed, but they must be made to realize that with all good things, it will take hard work and perseverance.
Each of my students is expected to have clear organization and responsibility where their educational experience is concerned. Teaching students that they have control over their success in the classroom can be difficult and sometimes feel like you are pulling teeth. However, teaching students good organizational habits and responsibility can be the key to their success.
My students are expected to write all assignments down in their assignment planner each day and have it signed by a parent before returning to school the next day. Ideally, students will make check boxes next to their assignments and check off work as it is done. This way at the end of the day they will know what work and supplies will be needed to finish the days work. Students have binders that are organized and labeled so there is no question as to where things can be placed or found for easy access. They keep their planner in the front and have an Unfinished Work/Take Home Folder for any assignments incomplete; they also have an ELA (Reading, English, and Spelling) folder, math folder, science folder, and social studies folder. Any papers that have been returned graded or done together in class should go in these folders until their next test. That way they have resources to study and review from if needed.
Students are given homework folders on Monday with the week’s assignments. I discuss with students the various ways they can go about organizing their time to complete these assignments throughout the week, and also stress that it is their responsibility to find the best way that works for them. We also discuss the other activities that they should be working on daily or weekly, such as studying for spelling tests, reading, and practicing math facts.
Students also have Friday Folders they take home at the end of each week that contain all graded papers, along with a weekly record sheet that they must fill out telling how many “D” and “F” papers they have. I allow my student the opportunity to correct any “D” or “F” papers and turn them in for additional credit. I will take the two grades (the original and the new grade after corrections) and average them together for their new grade. This activity is two-fold in that they have the opportunity to raise their grade, but more importantly have the opportunity to go back and re-learn what they may have missed before. They can ask questions before correcting and even have a parent or older sibling help them out, thus giving them further ways to enhance their learning experiences and problem solve on their own.
All of these strategies allow students to take the, “its too hard” aspect out of education to teach them that good organization and time management is half of the battle. There is no excuse in my classroom for not asking for help. All students know that if they don’t understand one of the weekly homework assignments, it is their responsibility to go over the assignments early in the week so anything not understood can be brought back to class and questions can be asked and answered. “I didn’t understand” is not a viable excuse because they had the opportunity to be proactive in asking questions and planning ahead.
I also expect my students to write in complete sentences with punctuation and capitalization. They understand a strong sentence has at least 7-10 words, uses colorful words, adjectives, adverbs, and even sometimes, figurative language. Paragraphs are at least 3-5 sentences long and restate a question or have a topic sentence.
If I were to tell my students they didn’t have to do these things, it would be the same as telling them they can be lazy, and in the real world that’s not an option if you want to be successful or if you want to follow your passion.
I know for a fact that teaching is my passion. It can be incredibly hard, and many people demean our profession, but I truly love what I do and I wake up each morning excited to get to work and educate my students. When I began college, under no uncertain terms did I want to become a teacher. I wanted to do something great, and important, and to make a difference in the world. But as my college education wore on, I began to see it was a calling for me. I couldn’t deny my love of children and my love of life long learning. As I began to teach, I began to see that I WAS making a difference in the world. Maybe not in the global mindset that I had anticipated, but I believe that’s part of growing up. Realizing that making a difference is helping one person at a time, taking time to talk to someone and let him or her know you care for him or her, or telling him or her you believe in him or her. Teaching must be an extremely selfless act in that the teacher gets very little in return, but sharing in the achievements and goal setting of your students can be rewarding in itself.
I have spent more than 10 years in and out of various professions. Some have been in an educational setting and some not. But I have realized through my own personal struggles and questioning my purpose and direction in my professional life, that the struggle and patience I have to go through to find a long term teaching position is completely worth it to me. I have waited for a job-teaching full time in a self-contained classroom for more than 5 years, and I couldn’t be happier just to have this job. It’s hard and there are good days and bad days, and I question myself, and get frustrated with the paperwork and multitude of items on a teacher’s plate, but I wouldn’t change where I am right now for the world. It’s what I’m called to do and I will continue to do it.
The final question is where do I go from here. My answer is that I continue to do what I am doing and hold my students and myself to the high standards I have set for them and myself. If I do not demand these things of my students and myself then I am doing a disservice to us both. I said before that sometimes I feel as if I expect too much from my students or I’m too hard on them, but teaching is not necessarily a warm fuzzy experience with hugs and high fives all of the time. Sometimes it’s tough love and showing students I expect more of them. Sometimes it’s taking away the extra activity or outside time in order for students to complete an assignment that wasn’t completed the night before. And sometimes its making them walk up and down the hall until they can do it correctly, because I want to teach them dignity and pride in themselves. I am changing the world, one student at a time. I am shaping a future that I will be proud to live in with adults who take responsibility and demand the same of others. I teach.
Maybe the question is… Do you believe in me?