Assignment 1: Part A
‘The Teacher I Aspire to Be’
I aspire to be supportive, encouraging and fair. These are beliefs I have experienced myself during the time I was a student, as well as witnessing first hand from an adult perspective whilst working in a primary school in London, UK. I have fond memories of teachers who have supported and encouraged me when I was off track. They took the time and made the effort to help me see where I had gone wrong and assisted me in coming up with solutions to get things right. I also respected my teachers a whole lot more when they were consistent and fair, and treated everybody the same. These are experiences and memories I value and still look back on today. They are a big part of the reason why I aspire to be a supportive, encouraging and fair teacher. These aspirations, amongst others I hold, link in with the vision and values found in the New Zealand Curriculum document and will be discussed in the following paragraphs.
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Through being supportive and encouraging, I aspire to aid in the development of “confident, connected, actively involved, and lifelong learners” (Ministry of Education [MOE], 2007, p. 8). I aspire to be a teacher who provides an environment where expectations are high, but it is safe to fail and safe to make mistakes. Fraser (2015) talks about developing an atmosphere in the classroom of a safe place to take risks. Where peers are respected, and everyone has their right to share an idea. However, using critical thinking, ideas presented can be challenged. How might this look in the classroom? An example may be of a student presenting an idea (no judgement on right or wrong) and as the teacher, modelling the ABC system for students to ‘agree, build on or challenge’ this idea and allowing enough practice throughout the year to improve on this skill (Goodrich, 2014). Fraser (2015) states that “for many students who have experienced repeated failure, praise and verbal encouragement can have little, if any, influence” (p. 14). Words can fail to hold the meaning we as teachers want them to. An example of an effective way to support and encourage students is through scaffolding their learning so that they have ample opportunities for success. Instead of using generic praise such as ‘well done’ or ‘you can do this’, using specific feedback of what the student did well, with recommendations for improvement or identifying areas of expertise of struggling students and allowing opportunities for this to be used in the classroom (Fraser, 2015).
I aspire to be fair. Sanger and Osguthorpe (2011) advocate that education serves much more than just academic achievement and that contributions from teachers to the moral life of the classroom are critical to students lives and to society. With this is mind, I believe children deserve fairness. They deserve to be treated the same and hopefully through this they will learn and treat others how they are treated. Fraser (2015) discusses in her chapter on developing classroom culture that we need to be aware of how our impressions, thoughts and expectations come across. We may subconsciously warm to students who are like us and respond positively to us. And may be less encouraging to others. This could come across in how we reprimand specific actions/behaviours. Does the class know what to expect, and what happens when lines are crossed? Are consequences fair, are they followed through in the same manner for each student, regardless of how we feel towards them. We can develop the morals and values of our students, such as integrity, through modelling and demonstrating honesty and accountability and having these same expectations of our students (MOE, 2007). One way of building this in the classroom could be through roleplay. For example; introducing a scenario, having students split into small groups and acting out said scenario with both positive and negative actions, demonstrating taking ownership and accountability. Then noticing how this makes us feel through small group/class discussion. We can emphasise that even we as teachers make mistakes, and instead of shying away from this fact, we can accept it, apologise if need be and do our best to learn from each experience so that we are less likely to repeat it.
This year, I will use my practicum time and base school days to observe how being supportive and encouraging is being used in the classroom. I will discuss with my associate teachers how they support and encourage and watch for techniques being put into practice. I will also discuss and ask questions of how they go about being fair in the classroom setting and any barriers that may make this difficult.
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I thoroughly enjoyed my Primary School experience. I was excited to arrive each day and I have many fond memories of school trips, playground antics and of learning in the classroom. I aspire to be a part of this experience for the generations to come. I believe in and strongly support the vision and values stated by the Ministry of Education. Through linking what I value with how I act and teach, alongside the vision and values found in the New Zealand Curriculum. I aim to support and encourage in a way that builds confidence, connections with other, keeps everyone actively involved, and leads to lifelong learning (MOE, 2007). I struggled with the concept of failure throughout school, more so as I got older. I took it personally and linked being successful with my self-worth. Through being supportive, encouraging and fair, I aspire for students to value excellence through high expectations and perseverance. Where failing and making mistakes are welcome and understood as an important part of the learning process. I want students to believe in themselves, to respect themselves and others, and to feel that they are treated fairly (MOE, 2007). This is the teacher I aspire to be.
- Fraser, D. (2015). Developing classroom culture: Creating a climate for learning. In D. Fraser, & M. Hill (5th Eds.), The professional practice of teaching in New Zealand (pp. 1-22). South Melbourne, Vic: Cengage Learning.
- Goodrich, J. (2014, May 21). Agree, Build Challenge (ABC) Questioning [Blog Post]. Retrieved from https://thecpdparadox.wordpress.com/2014/05/21/agree-build-challenge-abc-questioning-1/
- Ministry of Education. (2007). The New Zealand curriculum. Wellington, New Zealand: Learning Media.
- Sanger, M. N., & Osguthorpe, R. D. (2011). Teacher Education, Preservice Teacher Beliefs, and the Moral Work of Teaching. Teaching and Teacher Education: An International Journal of Research and Studies, 27(3), 569-578. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tate.2010.10.011