All are equals in my classroom. Every idea, suggestion, question and person is welcomed. There is no hierarchy, there is only facilitation. As a teacher, it is my job to model what, how and why to learn. It is not my job to enforce learning. Learning comes naturally when it is given the food for growth.
I strive to encompass three main traits as a teacher: clarity, open mindedness and patience.
These three principles are qualities that I hope for in my own teachers, and for myself in and out of the classroom. Various strategies can be employed to achieve these attributes, but the first requirement is to be mindful of your own behavior, and honest about how it affects others.
Communication is of the utmost importance. I work to create ongoing dialogues with my students, encouraging honest, frank discussion. By engaging students individually, in groups and having students engage one another, a comfortable atmosphere is created. Once students get comfortable with each other, they begin to share their deep thoughts with the class, promoting more real and interesting discussions. Honest discussion is a cornerstone of my teaching method.
The classroom space is somewhat like a performance stage. The students and the teacher are all actors in this space, engaging with one another and exploring concepts collectively. In that space, there is no one way for the classroom to be held. It is important to have a script and goals, but the events that occur in pursuit of those goals should not be precisely predetermined. Students should be guided, not led, to explore the topics and ideas that they are most passionate about. As a teacher, I serve to provide students with resources and direction should they need it.
A multitude of interactions happen simultaneously in the classroom, but that does not mean that the space is chaotic. As a teacher, it is important to model patience. Student discussions need not be rushed. It is okay for students to think for a moment before answering questions and to sometimes allow the pace of the classroom to slow down, providing time to ponder complex ideas. As a teacher, I try to be adaptable and sensitive to the ever-changing environment of the classroom and the needs of individual students.
In the classroom, minds expand if you give them room to grow. As a teacher, I am careful not to put unnecessary limitations on students. It is important to set clear boundaries and communicate expectations effectively, but flexibility should be emphasized alongside these principles. Asking students to suggest topics and activities of interest to them is one way to help nurture growth and engagement. Listening to student opinions and encouraging students to listen to one another also contributes to this vision. Through sharing voices and ideas, students form bonds. When those bonds form, students can help guide one another through new terrains of thought. My job is simply to stand by with a map, making sure no one gets too lost.