Tips to Consider: Being a Connected, CConcerned, and Conscientious Educator BY JAYNE CLARE · JUNE 10, 2014 · BLOG · 1 COMMENT

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“Schools need to provide a way of making sure that children are educated at the level that is appropriate for them.”

The quote above was in a piece that appeared in MindShift about the gifted and talented population. For me as a special education teacher, this quote rang true for my students who are at the other end of the spectrum. I am also a parent of children that fall into the G & T category and know first hand how traditional schools struggle to address the needs of these students. Could that mean that even your average student needs special concerns as well? Heck yes, and that is where being a connected, concerned, and conscientious educator comes in.

This is also where respect and professionalism needs to be encouraged and honored in the classroom. Standardized testing that throws all kids into the same pool and tests them without accommodations or differentiation is absurd and anyone with common sense understands this. Rather than rant about the ridiculousness of it all, I would like to share some pointers on how we may be able to overcome this mindset. Here are some tips to consider to being a connected, concerned and conscientious educator:

  1. All children (as well as adults) develop at different rates and this needs to be taken into consideration from day one.
  2. All children deserve the right to a healthy environment in which to grow and play and learn.
  3. Families are changing, these changes in family formation, household structure, work-life balance, and the child must be considered.
  4. Many factors affect children and their behavior, whether it is environmental, context, social grouping, or cultural considerations, they all need to be factored into understanding individuals.
  5. Instruction needs to match tasks, activities, and assessments with your students’ interests, abilities, and learning preferences.
  6. Students learn best when they make connections between the curriculum and their diverse interests and experiences, the greatest learning occurs when students are pushed slightly beyond their comfort level.
  7. Teachers need to provide appropriate levels of challenge for all students, including those who lag behind, those who are advanced, and those who are right in the middle.
  8. Take the time to get to know your students, this time will be well spent and be advantageous in the long run for both you and your students.

Consider all the other factors that contribute to learning and success, from active learning strategies to intrinsic motivation, grit, self-regulation and outside support and encouragement. Also, remember that it does not mean that the brightest stars are better or more likely to become more successful in life than their peers. It is integrity, effort and work ethic that leads you down the path of becoming an accomplished adult!

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One Response to Tips to Consider: Being a Connected, Concerned, and Conscientious Educator

  1. Capitalist frameworks in education drive our meritocratic society with some recognition of factors such as poverty, gender, politics and economic power that effect performance (Apple, 2006; Giroux, 2001; McLaren, 2007). New charter schools are popping up all over the world, universities are going online and free education is a viable option now more than ever with the emergence of Khan Academy, Coursera, Udacity and others. Is this what we want for future students? What this means in the classroom is that for the first and perhaps only time in history, we currently have what Marc Prensky echoed in his excerpt On the Horizon. Where he refers to today’s teachers are “digital immigrants” teaching “digital natives” (2001). These digital immigrants are trying to bridge this divide. And how will the emergence of today’s students begin to educate the next generation? We are now teaching in an educated world of significant change. Bridging the gap between prior learning and academic achievement requires a triangulation of learning evidence often generated by the teacher. In my proposed conceptual framework, we should move away from the thinking of today’s classrooms and teaching style in which the teacher is doing the majority of the work and instead we should involve our students more proactively in the learning process as much as we can. While behind the scenes our creative mastery emerges in dynamic, vibrant innovative experiences for our students. This vision often brings me back to my sporting experiences. As a child, I watched who is now acknowledged as the greatest basketball player in history, Michael Jordan, from his college days at North Carolina and professional career with the Chicago Bulls, it dawned upon me that without the great guidance from his family; Dean Smith and Phil Jackson (his most influential teachers and coaches), Jordan would not come to be ‘Jordan’ without their imprint upon him. It was those significant people in his life and their great guidance, direction and coaching that challenged him, molded him, supported him and gave him the guidance and feedback he needed to become such a great individual. Harnessing greatness in every student is our mission. Each teacher comes with their very own style or “Brand” of teaching that can leave lasting positive or negative impressions on a student. By creating the ideal learning environment for Jordan he was able to excel. This culture instilled character, discipline and a successful lifelong learning pathway. These facilitators developed his learning esteem and cemented the foundation of mastery learning and with this individual greatness was the result.

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