One might say that teaching is in my blood. The greatest influence in my choosing to become a teacher was my parents. I am from a family of teachers; my dad is an art teacher and my mom is a special education teacher. They have both taught for more than 20 years. I have been surrounded and immersed in a positive teaching environment my whole life. I can remember growing--up listening to my parents share stories of how their day went and how much they enjoyed, or sometimes not, their students and colleagues. These stories set the foundation for my journey into education.
I did not seriously consider becoming a teacher until two former high school teachers told me that I would make an excellent educator; they told me it was in my genes. The nudge that the teachers gave me came during a difficult time in my life when I was hospitalized for Ulcerative Colitis. During this time of illness, I had a chance to reflect and to realize that my place was in the classroom; so I began working towards where I am today.
There were other learning experiences that occurred while I was in college that further influenced my decision to become a teacher. Some of my best experiences as an educator were while I attended Troy University and was conducting my student teaching. I can remember when my classmates were given their assignments and some were bragging about being placed with mentor teachers who taught advanced courses; I was placed into a regular Physical Science class. I began my internship apprehensive about my placement and with too many misconceptions to go along with it. I will not go into the details about my internship; I will say only that, to this day, it is one of my most cherished teaching experiences and ultimately led me to my current job placement.
I have realized that most of the students that I teach are apprehensive about science. Some students come into class with negative attitudes and proclaim that there is absolutely nothing that I can do to interest them in science; that is until I tell them about blowing up the paint can in class. It means a great deal to me to get my students excited about science. In my short time as a teacher, I have already lost count of how many of my students have told me that I am the best science teacher they have ever had. What validation and what a tremendous compliment!
Personal Philosophy of Education
Being a child of teachers is one thing that I believe makes me an outstanding teacher. I can remember my parents coming home and discussing their day at work while at the dinner table; these discussions were valuable because it gave me a chance to see both viewpoints of education-the student and the teacher. Through these discussions I learned that teachers should set the standards high for their students, but not so high that they are unattainable. I learned that teachers should be a guide for their students through their scholastic experience and that they should be a positive role model, someone who the student will come to in any situation that may arise in their life.
I believe that, in the process of teaching, the students often teach us as much or sometimes even more than we teach them. A teacher today is responsible for many things that were not expected from them in other times in the history of education--keeping up with all of the documentation on students, duties, extracurricular activities, and making sure that each course of study standard is covered. The busy teacher of today's classroom is losing touch with their students and missing opportunities to learn from them and to form relationships with them. Teachers should re-learn the art of just taking time to listen to their students; life is too short and their lives too precious not to relish our time with our students.
Teachers need to be more dynamic in today's modern classroom. Far too often they keep material that they have taught and reuse it year after year with no modifications. When teachers receive new students, the way that they taught the material from the previous semester is already old. I believe the way to solve this problem is for the teacher to foster more dialog and to have patience with the students in class, to find out what interests them, and to modify their teaching style to fit the needs of the students. I can find the rewards of teaching everyday inside and outside of school. I have discovered that I am in a position to help others on a daily basis and this is a very rewarding realization. I have had students thank me for helping them with a hard math formula, or for helping them to finish a report for their driver's-ed class. I have even been thanked for breaking up a fight! The biggest reward for any teacher is when students return to brag about their accomplishments. I am only in my third year of teaching and I already have students coming back and thanking me for helping them through school, bragging about their jobs, and relating their success in college; I have even had a few come back and thank me who I did not even teach, but who I touched as a coach or as senior class sponsor.All of my experiences in life as the son of two educators and as a teacher have given me a unique teaching style. When I am in front of the class, I serve as a leader and a mediator. When I present a topic to the class, I listen to what they have to say about it. The open line of communication that I have with my students tends to generate class discussions and to create a positive learning environment. I also believe that I have a unique gift of patience. Many of the children who I teach are not interested in science or in school. My students are surprised that I do not send them to the office when they act out; I am just patient and show that I am willing to work with them. I set the standards of excellence high in my classes and the students do not realize this because they are busy enjoying science and trying to figure out what is next. By being a positive role model, I ensure that when each student leaves my class some part of them will be better for it.