Summing up the Semester

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December 11, 2011 by k. liz

So, I know that I have mentioned on here many times that I am in the midst of a grad degree. Well, I figured I would share with you some of what I have learned this semester as pertains to education. I just finished up a couple of semester-end projects, and here is the conclusion to one of them. I’ve learned a lot this semester, which means that in turn, I have a lot of responsibility ahead of me to be accountable for what I have learned. These are ideas and thoughts that I hope to continue to grow and shape as I teach. I’d love to hear feedback from you all, what do you agree with, what do you disagree with, how are you implementing similar philosophies into your own classroom? Together, we can learn and grow!

Cross-Cultural Perspective Summary:

Through this semester I have had my mind stretched and my thoughts challenged, perhaps more than I would have initially liked. But looking back on the experience, I can see how beneficial it was for me to be confronted with issues that I had never thought critically about before. This course has taught me to examine an issue, ask difficult questions, find a solution, and then discuss that solution and decide whether or not it works. In most cases, I have not come up with a satisfying solution, but in the process I have developed several principles that I hope to incorporate into the classrooms where I teach now and in the future.

  1. Respect each student for who they are. This includes finding out as much as possible about each student. It also includes never diminishing their home culture or language, and never making them feel stupid because of their accent or their ideas. Respecting my students will mean that I treat them like individuals and not like a mass of people that I am responsible for putting information into. I want my classroom to be filled with my students’ ideas and thoughts, not only mine. I want them to feel comfortable to come to school and talk to me about the problems they are facing, and know that I will not laugh at them or dismiss them. I want the respect I give my students to make them feel like they can achieve anything they want. I hope to experiment with democratic classrooms and giving students authority and control over certain aspects of their education. A switch is not going to flip when they exit my classroom that turns them into respectful adults. They need to learn how to respect others from me.
  2. Teach students how to think critically. It is true that I may not always agree with things that my students believe or adhere to. It is not my place to change their mind, but it is my place to challenge their thinking. I want my classroom to be a place where students can explore topics and ask questions. I want them to think hard about the things that they read, and I want them to develop activities that help to incorporate the things they have learned into their lives. I want them to know that learning is a lifelong process, not just something you do at school. I want to see them start incorporating the thinking skills that they use in class to things outside of class. I want them to appreciate reading, to realize all that they can learn from a book, and then to turn that information into something that they can use with their friends and family to demonstrate all that they have learned. More than students that can spit out the information that I have put into them, I want to help develop students who can make their own decisions and explain to you why they believe what they believe.
  3. Never grow content with what you know. I don’t ever want to give up learning how to be a better teacher for my students. I want to constantly be re-evaluating my practices, how I teach, what I teach, and why I teach. I want to pass this evaluating mindset on to my students as well. Some things in life are black and white, and they can be memorized. But those are not the things that are going to change my students’ lives or make them successful in pursuing their dreams. I want my students to realize that because they believe something today, doesn’t mean they are going to believe it for the rest of their lives. I want to teach them to revisit the things that they have learned, to wonder again, to reaffirm or change their position, but to always know that questioning is okay, and that ignorance doesn’t consist of not knowing the answers, but of refusing to ask the questions.

There are so many ways that this course has changed my thinking. In capturing the essence of what it means for my educational practice, these are the philosophies that I hope to incorporate into every lesson. I want to make a difference in my students’ lives by giving them tools to shape their own future, and the confidence to not be shaped by society.

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