July 27, 2014

My Beliefs on Education

I'm linking up with my good friend, The Primary Gal, to share my beliefs on education.  

When I think about what I believe are the important aspects of education, I have to reflect on how I have evolved as an educator over my eight years in the classroom.  I'm 100% sure that I would cringe if I walked into my classroom from eight years ago.  Not only was my room a hot mess, with no real organization system, no cute decorations, and a classroom management system that was all over the place, but my teaching has made a 180 degree shift.  I think back to my first year of teaching, and am so thankful for all I have learned over the years.

First year teachers:  Don't fret.  It gets so much better. :)

It's no secret that I adore my job.  I take that back:  The majority of days, I don't feel like it's a job.  I feel immensely blessed that I get to make a difference in the lives of children and families each and every day.  While teaching can be extremely stressful, 99% of the time it's not the kids who make it that way.  Government and district requirements and expectations, poverty, and peer stresses almost always are the culprits when it comes to making my head spin.

I'll say it again:  It's almost never the kids.

Even when it is the kids, you can get through to them.  They just want love, acceptance, and support.

I could keep going on this topic, but I will spare you my soapbox. :)

In education, I believe that there are five fundamental beliefs that define my stance on education.  

1.  It's all about the relationship.
My school has been reading Teaching with Intention by Debbie Miller for our summer book study.  While this book isn't necessarily about the student/teacher relationship, it talks in depth about setting aside time to confer with each student often.  In doing this, teachers will always develop relationships with their students.

I love reading articles and blog posts about teaching.  Earlier this week, I came across this blog post from a parent's perspective.  Making your students and families feel special is so important.

I Don't Think Teachers Know What They Are Doing by Women With Worth

Over the years, I have developed relationships with families that have stood the test of time.  Some of my greatest friendships have developed because of having their children in my classroom.  At the beginning of this school year, I received a package in interoffice mail from the middle school.  A handful of sixth grade students had written heartfelt letters to someone who had impacted their lives.  As I sat there sobbing that these special students I had six years prior had written to me, I realized that the relationships don't end when they leave your classroom.  Make an investment in them, and they will always be part of your life.

2.  YOU are the best resource in your classroom.
I am not afraid to voice my opinion on curriculum choices the government pushes and districts adopt.  To be blunt, I despise textbooks.  It has taken time; I was once a teacher who used textbooks as the Bible of the classroom.  Over the years, as I gained confidence in my teaching, I have realized that I can teach my students 1000000000000 times better than a textbook.  With the technology tools available and a multitude of learning styles that need to be met, we can teach circles around any textbook.  Do I have a problem with using it as a resource?  No.  I use my textbooks at times (especially math) as a resource.  Do I follow it just as the teacher's edition tells me to?  I would rather eat dirt.

With the revolution of Teachers Pay Teachers and teaching blogs and websites, I am thrilled to see teachers everywhere breaking those barriers and finding the BEST resources to teach their students concepts and skills.  Keep on truckin', because you are doing amazing things!

3.  My best teaching happens when students are collaborating, communicating, and creating.
 While I wasn't in Vegas this summer, I did have the amazing opportunity to attend ISTE (International Society for Technology Education) in Atlanta, Georgia (Hotlanta, as my children have called it all summer).

Wouldn't you know, but the biggest takeaway from this conference had little to do with technology.  It had everything to do with giving students the chance to collaborate, communicate, and create.

I have touched on the Project-Based Learning that has happened in my classroom.  This year, I am expanding big time on PBL in my classroom.  I believe that students are invested in this type of learning.  While basic skills still need to be taught, the skills of working with other students, researching, the process of creating a product, and sharing their final product with an audience teaches them just as much if not more.  Students truly guide this type of learning.  It's amazing to sit back and watch these tiny little people take the reigns.  Allowing them to show their genius is the most refreshing thing I've encountered as an educator.

4.  Testing should guide instruction, not dominate it.
Let me preface this by saying I think assessment is necessary.  I assess my students daily, even if they have no clue they are being assessed.

However, I think requiring such high stakes testing at young ages is ridiculous.  I think our government has gotten so off track in mandating this or that in education, that they have forgotten who it truly effects:  Children.

Assessments contain valuable data that should guide our instruction.  We should use the data, but we shouldn't allow the assessments to dominate our teaching.

5.  Risk taking is always, always worth it.
Taking risks can be scary, especially when you have 20+ kiddos looking at you to find out what to do.   I hate to admit this, but I am the world's worst at keeping a lesson plan book.  Sure, I turn in weekly plans to my principal, but I can almost guarantee that at some point in the week, we will be totally off what I had planned to do.  Maybe a lesson flopped, showing me that my students need to learn the material a different way.  Maybe I found an even better lesson while surfing Pinterest the night before.  Maybe Cara Carroll or Deanna Jump just posted their new unit, and I just have to use it.

My point is that I'm not married to my plans for the week.  Plans change.  I'm always going to trust my gut when it comes to my students.

I ran across this on Pinterest a while back, and it instantly became my all-time favorite.

Don't be afraid to take risks.  Some of the best learning comes when you step out of the box.

Make sure to link up with The Primary Gal for your chance to win a $50 TPT gift card!


  1. I love love LOVE this! You're kids are so lucky to have you!!

    <3 Marissa
    First Grade STARS

  2. Awesome thoughts!!! I feel the collaboration and Ideas I get from teachers via blogs, instagram, or Facebook pushes me to change things constantly to make my teaching better....and well isn't that what it is all about! Thanks for sharing!!

  3. Wow! I enjoyed reading this. I especially like what you said about relationships with students and families. Thanks for all your thoughts!