Teachers have the very important responsibility of shaping the lives of young, impressionable children. With this responsibility comes great pride and joy. Therefore all teachers should strive for what can be considered to be a good teacher. A good teacher can be defined as someone who always pushes students to want to do their best while at the same time trying to make learning interesting as well as creative. A positive or negative influence from a teacher early on in life can have a great effect on the life of a child.
Teachers, especially at the elementary level, must be very creative with their teaching styles. Not every child learns the same way, nor are they interested in the same things. It is difficult to keep the attention of 15-20 children under the age of ten. Classroom setup and design is a good way to get and keep the attention of students. Workstations are a good way to encourage different types of learning. By allowing children a chance to choose which activities they want to participate in, children are taking control of their own education.
At the elementary level, children are always learning and sometimes dont even know it. When I was in kindergarten, I can remember playing at the different stations in the classroom. One station was for gardening and we could plant seeds and check them every day to see how much they had grown. Another station in that classroom that sticks out in my mind is the arts and crafts station. There was a large array of crayons, markers, scissors, construction paper and building materials we could use to make pretty decorations to give to our parents for our homes.
By choosing which station we wanted to work at, we were becoming much more interested in what we were learning because we were doing what we wanted to do, not what we had to do. By setting high standards for a student, the teacher is encouraging the student to do the same and will eventually develop high expectations for him or herself. A teacher who is constantly looking for the best possible work from the child will force the child to try his or her hardest in order to please the teacher. Going along with this idea is the whole idea of the teacher being interested in the subject matter.
If the students know that the subject they are studying is something that greatly interests the teacher, they will be motivated to try their hardest in order to please the teacher. My ninth grade science teacher is the best example of this type of teacher. I was only in her class for about a month or so but it was probably the most interested I have ever been in Science in my entire life. Whenever she would present ideas about prehistoric man, her eyes would light up and she would get so excited and I would be forced to listen to whatever she had to say.
Everyone had told me that she was a hard teacher but I just never saw it that way. She had done her homework so-to-speak and was very knowledgeable about the subject matter. When it came time to write a paper on my particular part of the evolution of man, I found myself trying harder than I ever had. I consider her to be a good teacher because even if she did not care too much about what she was teaching, she presented it in a way that made it seem like it was her life.
This helped me to want to learn because I wanted to make her know that she really made me understand the subject that she had taught. Teachers must be open to many different types of people, ideas and cultures. They also must always try to respect the views of everyone. Children from lots of different backgrounds are going to be together in one classroom. The teacher must learn to incorporate everyones beliefs into the daily curriculum. All students must be aware of the differences in the world around them.
The time in which it is most difficult to handle the differences in cultures is the holiday season. Christian children who celebrate Christmas are always extremely excited for Santa to come to their houses and for all the presents they are going to receive. Teachers are not allowed to celebrate Christmas or any other religious holidays in the classroom without mentioning all of the traditions of the different cultures. It would take far too much time to do an activity that pertains to every religion.
Looking back on my days in elementary school, I can think of all of the things I did in school around Christmas time. Almost every year, as a writing assignment, we wrote a letter to Santa Claus telling him what we were hoping to get on Christmas morning. We made Christmas trees out of egg cartons and ornaments out of construction paper. The teachers were always very sensitive to people who didnt celebrate this holiday. Jewish children made menorahs or stars of David and others made alternative projects.
While trying to be sensitive to the beliefs of children and their parents, teachers also must try not to go overboard in covering the traditions of every religion. A teacher who instills a bad learning experience in a child could scar him or her for life. Teachers have a lot of responsibility and need to make sure that they make learning a positive experience for all. By being sensitive to the needs of everyone and presenting different ways of doing things, it can be possible for everyone to have an equal opportunity to do their best.