In order to strive to become a natural teacher in an elementary classroom, or any classroom, one must intact a firm philosophy about their teaching method. A good place to start is discipline. How will discipline be enforced? Will my classroom stick to formal and traditional forms of discipline or be more informal? I believe that it is important to start discipline tasks and routines from day one. Children will be in a good rhythm of a morning, afternoon, and end of the day routine within a couple weeks, so why not start right away? Having routines makes it so I won’t have to constantly reprimand my class for not standing in line or sitting in their seats. The students will just know when where and how to do things.
I believe that discipline should never resort to yelling. Yelling will not earn the respect of the student. Although it may earn the attention, it will wear off after a day. When the problem gets out of hand and “working the crowd” isn’t helping, I believe in a one-on-one meeting with the student after class, or before lunch or recess. This creates a teacher-student understanding and bond. When this method is used as opposed to yelling, the teacher can really see into what really may be on the child’s mind. Routines and one-on-one conferences are good discipline strategies, and so is meaning business in a calm manner that doesn’t involve yelling in any situation.
Thoughts I have about students and learning habits today is that they need to be extremely interactive. Kids today have everything at their fingertips. Video games, nintendo, every television station, it’s no wonder they get bored and restless in school. Kids need to be moving, doing more than individual work at their desk. Having hands-on lessons in different parts of the classroom or the school. One of the most important things that contributes to a child’s energy to be interactive is their diet. When elementary children don’t eat in the morning they are sluggish and unwilling to stay on task. One point I would bring up to my school board would be to have a free breakfast program like several schools in the US now days. After students are energized and ready to begin the day, learning activities should be kept hands-on throughout the day, so students aren’t constantly peaking at the clock. Group work, partner reading, and lessons out of the student’s desks keep the class awake and receiving information. I’m also a believer that children not only learn through the teacher, but learn well through each other. This is why I would stress working in partners or groups, and switching those groups around to avoid cliques.
School curriculum is packed full of information, some relevant and some just to meet certain criteria. As teachers it’s our job to get through all of it for standardized state tests, however I believe in reflecting and going more in depth on information that really matters. For example, when studying something like slavery, the memorization of dates and exact places shouldn’t come before the study of the people, families, and culture of that time. Students should invest their learning in something that they will remember when they move on to the middle and high school levels. No student will ever remember that Harriet Tubman died on March 10, 1913. They will however remember that she was a relevant abolitionist and spy during the civil war if the teacher teaches them this through stories and other projects. Teaching children to realize what is relevant is an important teaching strategy as well. When students read a non-fiction or fiction book for example, having them summarize the main points or list off the five most important facts helps them to see the big picture instead of focusing on trivial information.
A hard part about teaching is that all students learn in different ways. It is tough, impossible even to find a strategy that will work for all students in the class. I think learning is best achieved through flexibility of the teacher. Giving options, such as writing a poem or reading a book of poems, helps the student develop into their own learning style. Learning is also best achieved, in my opinion, when students don’t even realize they are learning. A teacher must let the students have fun in the classroom so they enjoy coming to school every morning. If a lesson can be turned into a Jeopardy game or an “around the world” game, it should be. Another key to children retaining information is making that information relevant to their lives, if it doesn’t connect with them or something they may already be familiar with, children won’t care and it won’t be memorable for them. Relating something such as a math lesson to when the student will use it at the grocery store is an example. Students are the most interested when things are about them and their lives
Classroom environment is important in relation to learning and the relationships students create, especially in an elementary classroom. A classroom should feel like a home. Rug time should be the living room of the class, while the science area could be the kitchen. Each student’s desk and locker should be their personal space that they can personalize the way they please. I had a teacher in fifth grade that had us bring in pictures of pets and ourselves with family to put around the room to make it a more intimate environment. This is an idea that I would incorporate into my own classroom environment. A classroom set up should make it easy for students to interact with each other. Instead of desks being in rows, they should be in clusters of four or five. This makes it easy for group work and for working the crowd. Excusing groups for lunch and recess is easier this way as well, it develops into a routine. A classroom should also be organized. Everything should be labeled and have it’s own place. This helps the students get into a rhythm of the class and motivates them to be organized themselves. No child will learn well in a cluttered classroom with a million distractions. They will learn best in a clean, well-kept space.
Is the purpose of school merely to memorize facts, pass standardized tests, and increase graduation rates? In my opinion it’s not. School is important to a child’s development in so many ways. For one, it socializes children into the norms of society. They develop people skills and discover who they are, and even more importantly, who they are not. Through classes, opportunities, sports, and teachers students begin to realize what they may want to do for the rest of their lives. Students figure out what they are good at, or what they aspire to be good at through teachers or coaches. Children become comfortable with their own strengths and weaknesses so they can excel in the real world.School is the guide that makes children into the young adults they are when they graduate. The purpose of school goes far beyond information, it helps better the next generation for the nation.