I am not the same teacher I used to be. When I started, I was very focused on power and control. I assigned loads of homework, dished out huge penalties for late assignments, assigned punishments for rule breaking behavior and averaged my marks to get a final grade. I did some of these things because I was trained to do so in university. However, most of these teaching strategies were being done mindlessly, and like a lot of teachers, I was simply teaching the way I was taught.
This kind of teaching made me miserable, and to be honest, some of my students weren't that happy either. In November 2004, I began my journey towards uprooting some of the most deeply rooted myths that continue to distract people from a love for learning.
Today, my teaching is guided by a handful of principles. I believe:
- Students should experience their successes and failures not as reward and punishment but as information.
- Teachers should be less like judges-in-waiting who do things to students to garnish compliance and more like safe and caring allies where students are provided a learning environment where work with children in an effort to nourish their natural curiosity and desire to learn.
- The best learning environments provide students with the opportunity to construct their own understanding while doing projects that are in a context and for a purpose while interacting with their environment.
My ten years of teaching experience has primarily been spent teaching unconventionally in a "traditional" public middle school. Recently, I have moved to a more unconventional classroom setting; I now teach at the local hospital where we provide short term crisis stabilization and inpatient assessment to children under the age of 18 who present with a wide range of mental health related difficulties.