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The School
Over the years the role that the school has played in people’s lives has varied. It has also changed

and evolved as often as it must to remain up to date, consistent and effective. Within the book

Foundations of Education (2014), the authors Allan Ornstein and Daniel Levine argue that

education systems throughout the centuries have been catered to what the children required at the

time. One example is within the Chinese education system and how the students focus on

mastery of subjects. The main roles of school in today’s modern world have shifted the focus

from the taught material to more student centered. Of course, the material being taught is

important as is whether the student understands it however, there is more leeway with students.

As mentioned above the Chinese education system focuses on mastery of subjects with high

academic achievement, this would not be successful because students need to be able to socialize

with other students as we as apply what they have learned to their own lives. In most schools in

both New York state and the province of Ontario everyone is welcome no matter their religion,

race or native language. This allows students the opportunity to interact and learn of the various

cultures and differences that make up their community and the world. Through this socialization

students are broadening their understanding and acceptance of others. Philosophers like Jean

Jaques Rousseau (1897), JoHann Pestalozzi (1951) and Jean Piaget (1973) began to introduce the

various stages of children’s development and how these areas need to be catered to within the

school system to ensure students are learning the proper information needed for life (Ornstein &

Levine, 2014). These stages of development are important as each stage caters to a different need

of the child.

A major way that schools have changed is outlined by Ornstein and Levine (2014) when they

state, “children are inherently bad, and teachers need to use corporal punishment to discipline

them” (P. 87). In order to students to succeed throughout school their teachers need to genuinely
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care about the students. They need to take interests in the students’ lives and hobbies. Teachers

need to respect children’s dignity and create pleasant and engaging classrooms. (Ornstein &

Levine, 2014). It is within these spaces that children open up and become actively engaged in

their own learning. I know from personal experience that this is effective. While in elementary

school a teacher took the time to get to know our interests and hobbies. This allowed me to feel

more comfortable and safer within the classroom which in turn led to me becoming more

engaged with the lessons and having a higher academic achievement rate.

The Curriculum

The curriculum is a set of guidelines outlined by the Province, or State officials. These

guidelines determine what must be taught to the specific grades in schools. The Curriculum can

deal with core subjects such as language, math, science, religion, health, etc but is not limited to

them. It also deals with bullying prevention and creating an open and accepting school

community for all. The curriculum outlines principles and criteria that students must meet to

proceed to the next grade level as well as to become a member of the school community. This is

fundamentally important as the curriculum outlines the necessary skills that students will need

and utilize for the remainder of their lives. The Ontario curriculum is very similar to the New

York State curriculum as they both outline that for Literacy students must be able to read, write,

and orally communicate their ideas. The Ontario curriculum (2006) notes that for students to

succeed teachers need to “reflect on and identify student’s strengths and areas of improvement,

as well as, strategies found most helpful before, during and after reading.” (P. 11). The same can

be said for math. Feedback must be provided as to inform students where they should be working

harder to meet what is required of them. The curriculum is a tricky thing as it outlines what

should be taught however there is also censorship located within. Censorship within the
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curriculum is the suppression of ideas and information that certain people, individuals, groups or

government officials find too dangerous to be taught to school children (Ornstein & Levine,

2014). The curriculum needs to be updated with transgender and same-sex families in mind as it

will greatly benefit the students and allow them to grow as people who are more tolerating and

accepting of difference.

Differentiated instruction is something every teacher should consider in relation to the

curriculum. Ornstein and Levine (2014) define Differentiated instructions as “an approach to

designing lessons that address the wide range of differences that exist among students in today’s

classrooms” (P. 410). The curriculum as rigid a document it is allows the teachers some

flexibility when dealing with students requiring Individualized Education Plans (IEPs).

Differentiated instruction is important because these students also need to be considered when

teaching lessons. The lesson must be adapted and/or modified to meet their needs and help them

achieve what is expected as well as to not make them feel excluded in any way.

Learning

Each student has different comprehension and learning levels, and educators must create a

learning environment that allows each individual student to succeed and learn in their own way.

As schools evolve so too does the learning that takes place. Children begin to learn more

advanced concepts earlier and with the growing presence of technology they are doing so with

greater ease. There are many experts in the field of education who have developed theories that

apply to students learning and mental development Some experts I associate my teaching style

with are Howard Gardner and John Dewey.

Howard Gardner (1986) is the creator of the Multiple Intelligence theory. He argues that there

are 8 different intelligences where students can fall, and they are Visual, Linguistic Verbal,
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Mathematical, Music, Intrapersonal, Interpersonal, Bodily Kinesthetic and Naturalistic. These 8

categories show the diverse ways in which a student can learn within a classroom. It is also

important to note that most of these are basic skills (visual, linguistic, bodily kinesthetic) as well

as common core subjects taught within the curriculum of both New York State and the Province

of Ontario.

John Dewey (1909) believes that students learn best when they are using their hands and

physically manipulating materials. Through this a student can learn the skills to succeed in life

by practicing them rather than having them dictated and memorized. key aspects of John

Dewey’s educational theory are that schools should be focused on students achieving the

necessary skills to become successful in life and realizing their full potential themselves rather

than attaining high grades and being able to regurgitate memorized information.

The learner
I am a firm believer that both the classroom and myself are agents of change. I will use my

position as an educator to be a positive influence on students. As an agent of change I want to

help the student strive for greatness and allow them to become agents of change that society will

benefit from. Every day when students walk through the classroom door they are making a

choice to enter a safe and secure learning environment. It is an educator’s duty to ensure that all

students within the class are learning the necessary skills needed for a successful life. These

skills are not just the ones needed to get a respectable job and make money, but rather the skills

that allow for further and more advanced learning in the real world. I want students to take what

they are learning within my classroom and be confident enough to go out into the world and put

it into practice. I want them to be able to relate material taught in school to their everyday lives.

Every student who steps foot within a classroom is unique. Their cultural background whether it

be Italian, Indian, Asian Middle Eastern and the way they learn makes them unique individuals.
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Blooms Taxonomy touches upon the theory that education and knowledge is hierarchical and to

reach and succeed at the next level there needs to be some pre-existing knowledge to build off of.

This is important because as students make their way through the various grades, each subject in

the upper grades relies on a pre-existing knowledge that should be taught in the grade prior. For

instance, in grade 2 math you would need to have a good grasp of addition and subtraction to

fully understand the new concepts being taught.

Assessment
Within Ontario there are various forms of assessment that can be utilized to evaluate students

such as formal and informal classroom observations, discussions, tests, homework, essays, group

work, projects, peer and self-assessments and reflections (Ontario Ministry of Education, 2010).

These methods are effective methods for evaluating students however it depends on the student.

For instance, giving homework is an effective way to ensure students practice and understand the

material taught during the day but there are always a select few of student who don’t complete

the homework. They could be the kids within the class who aren’t challenged enough, ones who

are extremely involved in community activities, or kids who don’t understand the material and

can’t get help with it at home. This is where alternative methods of evaluation must be applied

such as class discussions which will allow struggling students the chance to listen to how others

solved a problem or arrived at an answer. Group work will also allow them to see how a task can

be competed in a way that works best for them. Teachers need to be flexible with the evaluation

methods and remember that one method may not be a suitable for all students. It is also

important to note that teachers need to provide clear and valuable feedback to students, as well as

clear and instructive learning criteria and goals. Students need to know what is expected of them

for assignments and the teacher needs to provide clear instructions on how to achieve the goal of
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completing the assignment. When students require parents help with assignments the criteria

should be outlined for parents to ensure help can be provided.

Benchmarks are important to consider when evaluating students. Students need to meet these

requirements for the teacher to know they are teaching properly and the student has learned what

is required. An example of this would be in math. By grade two students are taught addition,

subtraction, multiplication and division. They are expected to have mastered these simple math

functions by the end of the school year to move on and complete more complex math functions

in the third grade. They are also expected to know how to categorize using Venn Diagrams, and

create several types of graphs.

Classroom Management
Classroom management is a very important thing that must not be overlooked by teachers. As

outlined by Carolyn Evertson (1994) classroom management deals with “essential features of

classroom organization, management and discipline” (P. 1) Classroom management not only

deals with how you control your class but also how the desks are organized, where the students

put their finished/unfinished work, and how inviting and friendly the class appears. These are all

important things for teachers to consider. I am a strong believe that the more inviting and safe a

classroom appears to the students the more engaged, eager and willing to learn the students

become. As a teacher it is my goal to ensure that students are included in all decisions that occur

within the classroom. They are the ones who will be spending 10 months of the year there and

should have a fair say in the rules. Including students in the rule and decision-making processes

allows them to develop a sense of responsibility and accountability as well. Since they are the

ones who created the classroom rules and consequences they are more inclined to follow them.

When one or all neglect to follow the rules, they need to understand that they must be

accountable for their actions. Educational theorist B.F. Skinner’s theory is best suited to help
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understand how classroom management can be accomplished. When students follow the rules

laid out they’re rewarded and vice versa if they break the rules. As an educator it is important for

us to teach children consequences for their actions. This is a trait the will use for the rest of their

lives.

The Teacher
Teachers are very important individuals within society. On a regular basis a teacher needs to

ensure that students are learning the appropriate material needed for success as well as ensure

that a student’s mental development is occurring at the proper rate. It is also important to

recognize teacher student relationships. When teachers have a class of 20 students they need to

ensure that they build strong relationships of trust and treat all students equally. As educators we

have the privilege of working with all types of children. A classroom could be made up of

children from various ethnicities and races and you could even have students with disabilities. It

is our job as educators to be culturally responsive while teaching which implies that our lessons

apply and are inclusive to all or as many students as possible. Michael Vavrus (2008) states

teachers should “strive to increase the engagement and motivation of students of color” (P. 49).

Students from various cultures need to be able to relate to what is being taught and become

engaged with it. Vavrus also outlines that a teacher must “Acknowledge and infuse the culture of

such students into the school curriculum and makes meaningful connections with the community

cultures” (P. 49). Teachers must find ways to teach how these diverse cultures connect with the

dominant ones found within the community around the school.

Another primary role of a teacher is to instill the notion of life-long learning within students.

As human beings we are constantly taking in new knowledge and using it to help us progress as a

species as well as individuals. This notion of life-long learning doesn’t exempt teachers.
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Teachers are required in both Ontario and the state of New York to attend regular Professional

Development programs. These programs give training and instruction to teachers about specific

things like dealing with students with disabilities, bullying, etc. These professional development

programs also let teachers know that they are not alone in their teaching. Teachers should be in

constant communication with each other, parents, and others within the community. Students

learn at home through example of parents as well as what they see within their community. A

very important document that everyone should be aware of is the No Child Left Behind Act

(NCLB). This document outlines that children no matter their disability, or academic standing

will receive help from the school and teachers to hopefully get them to the level or close to the

level they should be, as well as to aid those who require it. (Ornstein & Levine, 2014). This

document is critical to teachers and education because a child who is struggling, has a disability

or comes from a lower SES should not be overlooked. They should be given the help they need

to succeed. It is my hope that as a teacher I will enrich the lives of those I teach. I hope that I

will instill in them the notion to continue learning and pursue careers that will make the world a

better place for them.