I have always felt that being an educator was a multifaceted job. My main job as a social studies educator is to help young people understand the world around them enough to make well-informed choices that help to encourage acceptance, diversity, and good citizenship in their communities. In addition to that, I am also a mentor who helps students navigate through their problems or a protector who is determined to maintain the well-being of my students. But the main job of my students; To allow me to earn their trust, and demonstrate that their knowledge transcends outside of the classroom.
When it comes to education, I take a cognitive approach to teaching and align myself with Piaget. By allowing my students to reference from their own experiences, this allows students the ability to create their meaning. Piaget’s theory of Cognitive Development tells us the best way to understand the reasoning of adolescents is to see things from their perspective and that adolescents are actively building knowledge about their worlds.
A colleague of mine had once advised me that student engagement is directly related to the relevance of the material to students’ lives. This is a statement that I fully agree with since many students struggle to relate the past to the present. As an educator, I recognize this and plan to apply this to my classroom by making sure that all of my students feel represented in the content I am teaching. More specifically, I think it is important to highlight different cultures and communities so that all students feel represented, and respected. When teaching about something in the past, I must find a modern parallel when possible. For example, if teaching about WW2, and the genocide of mainly Jewish people, I could relate this to the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.
As the person of main authority in the classroom, it is important to me, and my students that I create a sense of community and belonging in my classroom. One way to this is to have students in each class help create a set of reasonable rules and expectations. When students feel involved in the process of setting expectations, the hope is that they will feel more connected not only to myself but their classroom peers.
As a teacher, I want to create a respectful community of students in my classroom, not only to other students but with myself as well. I have found the best way to earn the trust of your students is by showing your learners that you respect them. I feel fortunate to have had the relationships I did with former students and I built these relationships by joking with my students, showing interest in their interest, and demonstrating to my students that I genuinely care about their well beings. I used to ask my students how their sports games went, what their weekend plans were, or asking them about family traditions around the holidays. By developing these relationships, it creates a more intimate classroom atmosphere when teaching. As I understand my students better, I can use this to appreciate their perspectives and navigate where they create their meaning from. My main goal as a teacher is to understand my students so that I can mold myself to their needs. In the end, everything I do is for the benefit of my students.