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Learning does not start with planned activities, but at home with students’ families and lived experiences. For this reason, students’ families are welcome and concretely represented in my classroom, and I invite students to share stories and to learn from others by listening. This also reflects my belief that learning is social and interactive. I aim to uncover my students’ interests and questions and use these in activities and inquiry projects that meet the required curriculum outcomes. This student-directed learning increases motivation and makes learning experiences authentic. I know students are learning if they are engaged, asking questions, generating ideas, and making connections to their lives.
Since curriculum is everything that happens in the classroom, students won’t always learn what I think I am teaching them. I must engage in continual critical reflection on the messages I am sending through the hidden and null curricula. I also encourage my students to critically reflect on their learning process by examining their desires for and resistances to learning and “unpacking” these. The learning process is not always positive; part of learning is recognizing discomfort or bumps that challenge our beliefs and working through that discomfort. This means that I cannot always anticipate what knowledge my students will end up with.
Because I believe students are competent and capable, I maintain high expectations for all students and provide high quality materials in the classroom. Building off the natural curiosity students possess, I aim to guide them to ask questions that challenge the status quo and to reveal ways they can use their individual talents and passions to advocate for change. I recognize and celebrate the diversity of my students, and I facilitate open dialogue about similarities and differences to deconstruct stereotypes and create a climate of respect.
I use group work for inquiry processes and project work, which enables students to work in teams toward a common goal, and individual work for skills like reading and writing, which supports students in becoming confident independently. My assessments are more focused on conversation than on giving marks. This enables me to praise students for what they are doing well, to give suggestions for improvement, and to differentiate instruction. Finally, I believe technology is an excellent tool if used in balance, sensible, and sound ways in the classroom.
I believe it is my role to teach in ways that disrupt, challenge, work against, and critique the status quo. To do this, I must question and critically think about my notions of common sense. I aim to teach for equity rather than equality, recognizing the differences between students and that not every students starts from the same starting point. I believe activism is a central part of being a teacher and I want to pass this on to my students by finding ways to encourage them to become critical thinkers and activists. I am committed to learning alongside students and I continually aspire to be an anti-oppressive educator.