I sincerely believe that students learn best when they are genuinely passionate about the content that I present to them. This passion can be fostered in a variety of ways, including the use of exploration and personalized learning, the interweaving of social justice themes throughout instruction, and the creation of a safe, inclusive environment for all learners.
It is so beneficial for students to be able to play with and explore the content that they are learning while they are still young. If given the opportunity, hands on exploration can instill a lifelong love of learning into students’ hearts. Giving students the chance to discover questions and answers for themselves is crucial in instilling this lifelong love. Hands on activities, personalized learning, and field trips can greatly aid in discovery. These mediums allow students to not only seek questions and answers, but also gain knowledge in a pace that fits their personal need. Cooperation amongst students goes hand in hand with personalization and exploration. When students are given the opportunity to discuss their thoughts and ideas with their peers, they learn to think critically about the information that they are encountering, and also learn how to be respectful of the opinions of others. I believe that inquiry and project based learning are both excellent ways for students to take responsibility, investigate content, and cooperate with their peers.
I believe that classrooms serve as a platform to provide students with the education that they will need to not only succeed professionally and academically in years to come, but to grow personally, as well. One aspect of promoting this growth includes instructing my students on social justice issues. Discussing topics like gender, sexuality, and race is often uncomfortable, but they are crucial topics that will be integrated into my instruction in child-friendly ways. As elementary teachers, we are helping to shape our students into the society that they will someday become, so why not shape our students into a society that values all people and their rights? An education that is focused on social justice means an education that is focused on fairness. It means that everyone is getting the education and assistance that they deserve, even though that may look different for each student. When social justice topics are woven throughout instruction, all students are able to feel safe and loved in the classroom.
Creating a safe and loving classroom environment is crucial in ensuring that students feel comfortable learning. In order to ensure that my students feel this way, my classroom and instruction will reflect my social justice beliefs by being one that is inclusive to all. Posters, bulletin boards, books, and lessons will be ones that represent a variety of cultures, languages, families, and beliefs. One of my passions is working with children with disabilities, so it is my belief that students with disabilities should be integrated into the classroom environment, but only as much as they feel comfortable. Adaptations in seating and instruction will be made to fit all abilities and learning styles, and students’ loved ones will be encouraged to participate in our classroom. By acknowledging all students in my classroom and their needs, I believe together my students and I can create an enriching learning experience, and an experience that allows us to grow and learn alongside one another in an exciting and inclusive environment.