KSA 1: I know that contextual variables affect teaching and learning. I know how to analyse many variables at one time, and how to respond by making reasoned decisions about my teaching practice and my student’s learning.
As an educator, I struggle with different directives in my teaching. The government directs me to cover x, y and z. Parents have directives on how they feel the school, and ultimately me as a teacher, should be teaching their child. The school division and my school have directives in the form of mission statements. My students have directives in what they bring with them to my classroom, which may will either hinder or help their learning. I have directives in how I feel I should teach. I spent five years at university learning how to be the best educator I could be and I spent a lot of time contemplating what I want for my students; I have my own mission statement.
My educational mission statement is: “I believe in teaching life skills, in conjunction with the curriculum; in a safe, mutually respectful environment, reaching out to all modalities while employing effective classroom management.” I thought long and hard about this statement. I interviewed other teachers (before I became one) and asked them what their philosophy/mission statement was, sadly more often than not they were unable to answer my question. That is one of the reasons I chose to spend a lot of time and thought on my mission statement. Every successful business, sports team and even schools have a mission statement to use as their North Star; to direct them, explain simply what they stand for and are working towards. That is the purpose of my mission statement. It is my rudder when the stormy seas of the school year set in. And right now I am in a squall.
I have a great group of students. They are approximately nine years old, some older and a few younger. This year they have moved into grade four, which is moving up a division and that is a large step in the education world. Grade one to three is described as “learn to read” and four and up is “read to learn.” I am discovering that several of my children are struggling readers, I feel that it is my duty to do something about this. Not only do I have struggling readers, but most of my students lack the ability to problem solve or resolve a conflict on their own. My classroom is full of several very strong willed children, this trait will serve them well in their life, but they must also learn how to get along with others. I find that most of my efforts on a daily basis are helping resolve conflicts and instructing my class on how to better co-exist. This greatly reduces the instruction time I have for prescribed curriculum.
I struggle with what I could be teaching them (life skills), what I should be teaching them (prescribed curriculum), and as I reflect, what would the damages be if I do not give these students what they need right now? As a great educator said the other day, “[Teaching] is about what your students need in that moment.”
This moment my students need for me to recognize and honour their need to share every part of their day with me. I need to listen to their concerns and respond appropriately so that they understand an adult they trust is willing to hear them and help them. My apologies to the powers that be, it looks as though I will not be getting to each and every outcome you have prescribed. The important reason is; I need to teach my students to be responsible citizens and I feel that is more important in this moment in time.
That’s my view from the 86th pew. M.