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TEACHING & LEARNING STATEMENT

Amy Yax


NOVEMBER 4, 2014
WAYNE STATE UNIVERSITY
TED 5150
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In order to achieve my goal of being an effective urban educator I apply the
constructivism theory of learning in my teaching. Constructivism is an approach to teaching that
follows the belief that humans create knowledge and meaning from interactions between their
ideas and experiences.
What this means to my teaching is that my classroom will be student centered, not
teacher centered. I will help my students construct meaning by activating and building on prior
knowledge. My classroom will be set up in such a way as to promote an active, social learning
environment and the students will be given plenty of opportunities to work in groups. By
encouraging them to work together I will be enabling them to learn from each other and
helping them to develop group work skills. As their teacher I will guide and support them and
provide plenty of opportunities for them to facilitate their own learning. My students will learn
that I am just one resource from which they can garner learning but that I am not the only
source. I will help them understand how to promote their own learning and what other
resources are available to them. Assessments will be performed through observation,
conferences and daily work. I will implement the use of portfolios in my classroom as a form of
assessment. Students will be allowed to choose what goes into their portfolio. This will give
them a sense of ownership over their work and will allow both the learner, their parents and
myself to really make the connection between learning and assessment.
As an effective urban educator it is important that I am also a reflective teacher. I
believe that this means that I will institute a process of self-observation and self-evaluation. A
reflective teacher looks at what they are doing in the classroom, thinks about why they did it,
and then decides whether or not it worked. I believe that I will do well at reflective teaching
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because it comes naturally to me. One of my strengths is my ability to relate to students and
another is my ability to be flexible. I try to prepare for the eventuality that my lesson plan will
not be a success and yet hope for the best. On the flip side a weakness of mine would be that I
am not afraid to give the students a little extra freedom to explore their learning or try
something new, this approach does not always yield success and sometimes I have to re-
establish limits and boundaries on the fly. Sometimes it is scary to give my students this
freedom, let loose the control many teachers feel they need to keep a firm grasp of but when I
see the kids figure something out on their own, or learn something that I never intended when
designing the project, it makes it totally worth it. I also need to work on my classroom
management techniques.
My first professional development experience was a volunteer position with a 4
th
grade
class at Angell Elementary in Berkley. I learned a lot from that teacher about being flexible.
Sometimes her lesson plans just didnt make the connection with the students that she
expected so she would have to re-evaluate and re-teach. One day while speaking with the
students about their math homework I realized that they were getting the answers wrong
because they were mixing up two different methods of division that they had learned and
applying parts of both. I pointed this out to the teacher and she immediately broke from her
usual daily routine and held a quick mini-lesson where the students were reminded the steps to
each method. This mini-lesson had an immediate effect on their learning.
Currently I am pre-student teaching at Hoover Elementary in Hazel Park in a 3
rd
grade
class. I get a lot more time actually teaching in this experience than in my prior interning
experience. I often feel that I am learning as much from the kids as they are from me. Every day
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I have to adjust what I am doing to get better reactions or edit my techniques because the
students just are not responding the way that I expected them to. I find that the three most
important steps to teaching are to 1) be prepared 2) listen to the students and 3) have a backup
plan. In addition to these internship opportunities I have attended several portfolio building
seminars at Wayne State Universities School of Education.
Teachers must be innovators. They must always be creative and must always be
learning. As an innovative teacher I will offer my students choices. Choice gives the students a
feeling of control over their own education as well as the opportunity to be creative and to
inspire each other. I will use technology to provide my students with access to information and
experts that will both foster and encourage their learning. I want to both build a community of
learners in my classroom as well as make my students feel like global citizens and create
opportunities for them to interact with the real world.
As an innovator I would like to support project based learning. Not only is project based
learning a more enjoyable way to learn but it is more effective. Though these projects my
students will develop skills that will better equip them for todays work environments than drill
and practice lessons ever will. The students will have a greater understanding of the content
being presented, they will learn how to accept responsibility, work as a team, communicate
ideas, solve problems and be innovators themselves.
Lastly, effective urban educators must be committed to diversity. Children deserve to be
treated as individuals. They are each unique, with differing abilities and talents and they each
require and deserve to be taught in a creative and personal manner. Likewise, teachers need to
build authentic relationships with their students. During class discussions I have heard many
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stories of teachers that bonded with their students by creating a personal and fun atmospheres
in their classes. I hope, as an educator, to achieve this level of teaching by providing a safe
environment that supports individuality, creativity and risk-taking as well as the sharing of ideas
both between the students and me as well as with one another.
I believe that teachers must remember that a school is not a factory where identical
copies of a product come rolling off an assembly line and should not be treated as such. Each
child is an individual. They are unique and each has special needs inside and out of the
classroom. I believe that it is the teachers responsibility to identify the needs of his/her
students and strive to meet them. There are four very important ingredients to establishing this
kind of learning environment, (1) establishing an authentic relationship with the students, (2)
taking cues from the students as to what direction lessons should take, (3) flexibility with the
pace of the classroom and (4) advocating a policy of tolerance and respect for all people. By
implementing these four key components teachers will be creating a classroom community
where students feel welcome, accepted and excited to participate.
On a personal level, I hope teaching will provide me with an avenue in which I
experience a lifetime of learning and personal growth. Hopefully I will inspire some of my
students to achieve more in life than they would have without my influence.