When reflecting on the type of teacher I want to become, I first reflect on teachers I have had in the past who have shown me both what I want to be and what I definitely do not want to be. Reflecting on all of the teachers I have either had or interacted with, it is easy to distinguish the positive examples from the negative ones based off of the experience I had in their classroom and the relationship they developed with me. Within the classroom, good teachers taught lessons that were engaging and made me excited to learn about the material. Not only did they demonstrate a complete understanding of the material, they also knew how to best teach it. In Stronge’s book, he writes that “teachers who are both experienced and effective are experts who know the content and the students they teach, use efficient planning strategies, practice interactive decision making, and embody effective classroom management skills” (2007). I agree with his perspective both in how to engage students, but also in the importance of ‘knowing the students you teach.’ Another quality I distinctly remember from some of the best teachers I had is that they made sure to get to know me on an individual level so that they could provide lessons aimed at my level of knowledge and understanding. This quality is mentioned in our textbook when Santrock writes that “competent teachers have a good understanding of children’s development and know how to create instruction materials appropriate for their developmental levels” (2011, p.7). Strong and positive teachers stand out not for one distinct characteristic, but instead for their ability to know the material, know the students, and know how to best teach the material to each and every student.
In order to achieve the goals and characteristics identified above, some strengths I have as a teacher are my relational skills and values, my organization and communication skills, and my involvement in the field. With one of my top priorities being knowing the students individually and personally, my relational skills will make conversing and communicating with students come very naturally. When I interned in a second grade class, I enjoyed using time at the beginning and end of the day to talk to students about anything from their families to their sports games and school plays. My organization and communication skills will greatly benefit my teaching both in terms of how I engage with students but also how I plan, maintain, and evaluate my lessons, students’ performance, and the organization of the physical classroom. Lastly, research is an important part of being a knowledgeable and informed teacher, and whether it is in pursuit of an additional degree or involving myself in a research project, those skills will carry over from college into my career in education.
When it comes to improving my skills and teaching abilities, some potential weaknesses I will have to overcome are being proactive in planning as well as my classroom management/discipline techniques. As a teacher, it is crucial that time is spent planning lessons ahead so that there is room to be flexible and adaptable when needed. Unlike habits of college where assignments can be completed closer to the due date, as a teacher I will need to develop better habits of completing work and planning well in advance. Other areas for improvement are in the way I communicate with the class in regards to behavioral issues. As a calm and patient person, it is easy to be less assertive than needed simply because I want to “be nice” to the students. However, from past experience and all that I have learned, it is essential to be assertive and direct when addressing students so that you demand both their attention and respect.
In conclusion, I want to be a teacher whose care for the students shines through all of my lessons, conversations, planning and communication. I want students and parents to know that their whole life is my top-priority and their learning, while just one part, is an important and close second. I want to be dedicated and committed in all that I do so that I am continuously becoming a better teacher and a more involved one. I hope to utilize my strengths to improve in my weaknesses so that I can be a teacher that makes a positive difference in students’ lives, learning and experience in school.