SIB 1STATEMENT OF INFORMED BELIEFS Statement of Informed Beliefs Essay Mark Boatman Prof. Kae Hamilton EDUC 204 Families, Communities, & Culture TR, 10:00-11:15, Fall 2011
SIB 2STATEMENT OF INFORMED BELIEFSIntroduction A pivotal question in the pursuit of a career in teaching is, ‘why do you want toteach?’ There are many reasons why I want to teach, but explaining previous personalexperiences in my life is a vital component. My background as a student and son to twoparents within the education system, gives me a somewhat unique view into the teachingprofession. It sound cliché, but is important to me to have a profession that can havetangible positive influences on the community as a whole, or even one child. There is nobetter way to benefit society than to teach, and I view teaching as more of a “vocation” thana “job”. The various intrinsic rewards associated with the teaching profession are veryimportant. Camaraderie with fellow teachers, seeing students learn and develop, and alove of working with kids, are all quite valuable to me. The main reason why I want toteach is to be a positive influence in the lives of others, and an innate sense of generativity,in which I can help guide the next generation of leaders. In this essay I will outline mybeliefs on what contributes to effective teaching, including techniques, methods, andapplied theories. These components will be examined in the following five sections: allstudents can learn, teacher’s expectation, student’s social ecology theory, cultural diversityinstruction, and curriculum for all learners.All Students Can Learn I recognize that one component of the classroom, which is common to mostclassrooms, is the presence of a diversity of abilities, both cognitively and socially.Although I believe all children are capable of learning, the main struggle of teaching isbeing able to teach to all levels of students. An effective teacher can tailor instruction so
SIB 3STATEMENT OF INFORMED BELIEFSthe talented students who comprehended the subject matter are engaged, while enhancingproficiency of the students who need more guidance. This is an aspect of teaching that isvery important, so every student has the opportunity and the drive to learn and becomeknowledgeable. Each student has their own unique set of strengths, weaknesses, andcognitive abilities, and through recognition of this fact, it is important to provide an arrayof instruction, presenting subjects in a variety of ways. An effective teacher understands that each student has a combination of uniqueabilities, as it relates to learning. Psychologist Howard Gardner’s theory of multipleintelligences focuses on eight distinct learning capacities to understand how individualstudents learn what they are taught, and as theteacher, how to tailor instruction basedupon those intellectual strengths, weaknesses, and learning styles. Multiple intelligencetheory provides a framework for enhanced classroom instruction, through adaptinglessons to ensure the student’s intellectual needs are fulfilled. Assessing student’s learningstyles and developing individual learning profiles, promotes achievement motivation andempowers all students to succeed (Berns, 2007).Teacher’s Expectations Teachers wear many hats, and students often need them to be more than aninstructor, but often times a counselor, a cheerleader, or a role model; and often times theteacher becomes the student. Although I may pursue teaching a particular subject, and myknowledge of that subject may be great, teaching forces you to be a lifelong learner.Students often ask intriguing questions and may present their own insights, which willcause me to have to dig deeper and expand my knowledge.
SIB 4STATEMENT OF INFORMED BELIEFS One of my goals is to provide a classroom environment where students feelcomfortable and confident when approaching a task. I believe “setting the bar high” andassisting students to meet class expectations is a very important aspect to effectiveteaching. I want to promote a sense of self-efficacy in every student, where they haveconfidence they can achieve a positive outcome in any endeavor they pursue. I would try toaccomplish this by giving encouragement and positive feedback when needed, setting highstandards for students, and evaluating and rewarding progress. This approach of learningby doing, and trial-and-error, leads to discovering new ways to tackle problems. Studentsreact to attitudes about what the teacher expects from them. I believe if I am effective inmy teaching abilities, then all students can succeed, which in turn boosts studentachievement. Basically, the level of high expectations I hold should encourage high levels ofachievement from every student. Theoretical knowledge often aids in effective teaching. In educational psychology,Lev Vygotsky coined the term,zone of proximal development referring to a range oftasks a child cannot yet accomplish on their own, but can when assisted by a more skilledpartner (Berns, 2007). During a lesson if a student is in the zone of proximal development,they are almost able to solve a particular problem, they just need some additional help,cues, or encouragement in remembering certain steps. This is referred to as scaffolding.As a teacher, armed with this theoretical knowledge, you are able to assess what studentsmight need additional help or attention, and begin to remedy the problem throughcollaborative efforts, peer groups, scaffolding, etc. This can also aid the teacher inexamining whether maybe the problem is the lessons are too intricate and difficult, or will
SIB 5STATEMENT OF INFORMED BELIEFSthe students be able to grasp the content with further assistance. Zone of proximaldevelopment pushes the boundaries of a students’ actual level of development towards apotential level that could be achieved when provided with educational support.Student’s Social Ecology The socialization process is all about educating the young, so they can befunctioning, well-rounded members of society. Theorist Urie Bronfenbrenner’sBioecological Model provides a way to explain human development by looking at thevarious factors, both internal and external that affects or influences one’s development.More specifically, the interactions among various environmental factors and the affectthose have on a child’s development throughout time. The model is broken down into fourbasic components: microsystems (relationships with significant others in a small setting,such as family, peers, community, etc.), mesosystems (linkages between microsystems,such as the family and peer group), exosystems (outside influences that affect amicrosystem, such as a parent’s work), and macrosystems (society/subculture to whichyou belong, such as political ideology, ethnicity, religious beliefs, etc.). Microsysteminfluences such as family, peers, and community, have profound effects on thedevelopment of a child, and school is a pivotal cog on the chronosystem of development(Berns, 2007). These factors that influence student learning and how the student perceivesthings and interactions can include: maturation, attentiveness, past experiences,temperament, and emotional development. Teachers also have individual perceptionsbased on similar factors. The important thing is to reflect on those individual perceptions,strengths, and weakness, and to react in an appropriate manner, such as providing
SIB 6STATEMENT OF INFORMED BELIEFSdevelopmental appropriate instruction. One way to do this is to adjust/adapt the level ofinstruction to best fit with the students’ learning needs and abilities. One of the purposes for schools is to promote intellectual development, which leadsdirectly to knowing content matter and information, in relation to a specific field.When Ienter the classroom as a teacher I expect this new found knowledge will allow me to look atthe “whole picture” when dealing with a student. As a teacher you have to realize childrentoday are under immense pressures to succeed, and there are bumps along the way, whichcan affect the whole system.Understanding the connectedness of ecological factors and theoutcomes those have on a child’s development is a hard task because every child acquiresknowledge differently. Acknowledging that each child develops uniquely is a vitalcomponent to being a successful teacher.Cultural Diversity Instruction Children entering a classroom draw upon past experience and influences from thecommunity, family, and peers, in how they perceive others. Teachers need to becognoscente of beliefs and prejudices and display the type of classroom that is welcomingto all, regardless of skin color, gender, orientation, or disability. This type of classroomenvironment promotes positive interactions among people from different backgrounds,which in turn foster positive attitudes among a diverse student population. I believedespite students’ preconceived notions about a particular group or race, enabling childrento have positive experiences with cultural groups other than their own can changeprejudicial attitudes.
SIB 7STATEMENT OF INFORMED BELIEFS Although many argue against the notion of cultural pluralism, I believe thisapproach to be the most beneficial for all students. This approach to diversity emphasizesmutual appreciation and understanding of various cultures. Unfortunately there are someaspects of cultural assimilation in our schools today. Cultural assimilation is a processthat pushes minority culture towards assimilating into the larger more dominant culture. Idon’t believe in a hierarchy of cultures, where one culture is better or dominant overanother. This does not promote equality and is simply not true. I hope to work at a school that is diverse in its ethnic and cultural heritage, andworks hard with families and other groups for community improvement. I think teachersshould strive to embrace cultural relativism, meaning that every subculture has its ownidentity that contributes to society as a whole, and we should try to embrace andunderstand various cultural differences as worthwhile.One way a teacher can enact thisphilosophy is by utilizing assigned group work. If you allow the students to always picktheir own groups, friends usually link up with friends, the genders usually seek out those ofthe same gender, and there can also be exclusion based on race. However, if youintentionally place people into groups to achieve a certain goal or complete an assignment,then students are able to interact and work towards a common goal, while getting to knowsomeone new.Curriculum For All Learners Probably the most important aspect of teaching is reflecting on what works well inthe classroom, or more importantly how to improve instruction. It is important to gaugethrough interaction with the student’s whether a particular lesson is working and whether
SIB 8STATEMENT OF INFORMED BELIEFSthey are grasping the content. Also, teachers must understand the content of the schoolcurriculum that pupils are expected to know. I will strive to apply pedagogical contentknowledge to recognize common misunderstandings students may make in learning newconcepts and to know how to overcome those errors in thinking (Cooper& Ryan, 2010). Although structured instruction and classroom rules are very important tomaintaining an orderly classroom, I tend to fall into the learner-directed camp, whichemphasizes learning activities that emerge from individual interest, propped up by teacherguidance (Berns, 2007). I believe curriculum isn’t hampered by, but rather is supportedand reinforced by student exploration and discovery. This process is known asconstructivism, where the teacher scaffolds, or supports, the child’s initiated learning viaappropriate curriculum. However, I don’t believe learner-directed and teacher-directedteaching approaches are mutually exclusive. I plan on using a mix of both methods ofinstruction, where appropriate. Within the learner-directed model is cognitively orientedcurriculum, which builds upon Piaget’s theory of cognitive development and applies itto an educational program. This theory focuses on applying previous learned experiencesto new life experiences with the goal of furthering knowledge (Berns, 2007). Although I am not a big fan of standardized test, I may not have a choice. I find thatteachers are forced to spend so much time teaching to the test, rather than teaching whatmay be the most important, engaging information. I fear standardized tests are leading todisinterested students, and are being used more for teacher assessment than studentassessment. I favor authentic assessment that involves performance based testing andfocuses on how a student applies knowledge rather than how they store it in their minds.
SIB 9STATEMENT OF INFORMED BELIEFSAs educators we should use assessments that measure comprehension and critical thinkingskills, rather than just choosing the correct answer on a multiple choice test. It is alsoimportant to provide adequate feedback, both positive and negative, so that studentsknow where they stand, what they do well, and how they can improve.Conclusion In conclusion I have outlined many aspects of my teaching philosophy, which Ibelieve will start me on a path to becoming an effective teacher. In my classroom I want toencourage students to become actively involved in constructing their own learning,through purposeful teaching and students learning to think for themselves. In classroomstoday it can be dangerous to focus solely on what is being taught. I think a much moreconstructive approach to teaching is to focus on how information is being taught.
SIB 10STATEMENT OF INFORMED BELIEFS ReferencesBerns, R.M. (2007). Child, family, school community: Socialization and support (8th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning, Inc.Cooper, J.M. & Ryan, K. (2010). Those Who Can, Teach (12th ed.). Boston, MA: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning, Inc.