To me, relationships mean everything. They make it easy to attend your job every day – they make or break your career. They reduce your stress levels related to your work. They reduce the need for intervention when it comes to classroom management. They allow your students to learn and for you to learn from them. They also create an ideal classroom environment in which the teacher respects the students and vice versa.
The easiest way for a student to learn is through the teacher-student relationship that exists. Without this, for example, students may feel deterred from asking questions, which could lead to misunderstanding of information in my class. Relationships also allow us to learn how each student learns and what needs they may have or do not have.
These relationships are built outside of the classroom environment as well. For me, this looks like coaching. Coaching allows you to further those relationships and creating respect and trust in that teacher-student relationship. This trust and respect are continued through treating students equally. If students do not feel they are being treated equally, it is likely that they turn away from the teacher-student relationship.
Relationships with staff members and parents are also vital to the work environment. Checking in with other staff and making time to visit the staff room are steps to building relationships with those you work with. To build relationships with parents it is key that you have an open-ended communication line, whether it is through email or phone conversations. Ensuring that there are guidelines when building these relationships is important for the longevity of them. Attending school events, coaching, and volunteering for events are some ways to improve these relationships further.
Equality & Inclusion
As mentioned above, it is detrimental to the teacher-student relationship if equality does not exist in the classroom. This is not just treating everyone equally. I believe that this is also being culturally appropriate, culturally aware, and socially aware.
Respect goes a long ways in a classroom setting. Without this respect, the classroom environment can be uncomfortable for some students. It can also make managing a classroom almost impossible. It is important to create this respect and make the teacher-student relationship known from the beginning of the year.
I believe in having all learning needs in one classroom. This promotes learning and allows for opportunity for students with varying needs to learn from each other. I also understand that some students may need more assistance when it comes to their learning. This, along with building relationships, allows for an understanding of those needs. When I understand each student’s needs, I can cater to those needs to ensure each of my students is learning at the proper level and that they can show their understanding of this information in their own way.
I also believe that having an equal and fair chance to prove a student’s understanding is important. For example, allowing students to show their understanding of the given information in a way that best fits their learning needs. This could look like a blog post, a podcast, a letter, an essay, a movie, etc. It is also important for students to be responsible for their own learning. For me, this looks like a learning contract, in which the student’s sign, that includes the student taking responsibility for their learning by choosing their own assessments and weighting of those assessments, writing their goals for their final grade down, and understanding that if they do poorly on an assessment that they will have an opportunity to make up that grade if given the proper time. This also comes with the fact that they must approach me as the teacher to get given the opportunity to be assessed further. With these learning contracts, students know exactly what their role is in their learning and I, as the teacher, can reference the contract frequently to ensure they are on the right path to their goals.
This also means that within the choosing of the weight of their assessments that they are able to choose how they will show their understanding of the learning. This type of notion allows students to feel empowered and successful in reaching their learning goals.
Truth & Reconciliation
Truth and Reconciliation are so important: all people should know and understand what land they stand upon, and that Europeans are, in fact, settlers. With this understanding of truth and reconciliation, we can start taking steps toward healing.
As I am a life-long learner, I have a commitment to unlearning and relearning when it comes to promoting justice and reconciliation. I strive to be in a place of “knowing better and doing better” and be able to use my privilege to bring in proper resources and information. I am committing to creating a space where my students can also unlearn and relearn. These commitments along with my continuation of learning will create an environment and hopefully a sense of community that includes all races and cultures.
The use of Elders in the classroom is a vital resource when speaking of truth and reconciliation. If Elders are used effectively, they can create opportunity for experiential learning. They can also teach students the traditions of Indigenous people and show them how to embrace and indulge in the Indigenous culture.
When applicable and available, students should have the opportunity to attend Treaty Gatherings such as feasts, pipe ceremonies, pow-wows, and other events that celebrate Indigenous culture, so that students can further their learning of Indigenous cultural practices.
Through the use of educational technology, students can remain engaged in a way that increases their learning. This technology goes beyond using Chromebook, iPad, or Google or Microsoft platforms. This includes using different technology to show learning such as a moviemaker app, podcasting, blogging, etc. to improve their learning by being engaged digital citizens.
Ed Tech can create a place where all learners can achieve success, whatever that is defined as within each student. This means providing opportunities catered to each student to show their learning in a way in which they can achieve success. This includes learning how to be a digital citizen and using online platforms safely and effectively both at home and at school.
Due to the nature of my post-secondary learnings and the length of time spent in university, I consider myself to be a lifelong learner. This translates into the teaching career because there are endless opportunities to further your knowledge throughout a school year. I find it extremely valuable to not only be brought up-to-date on information regarding my subject areas, but to also have opportunities to network with other teachers that teach the same subjects and learn from those in different subject areas. I will always take advantage of the opportunity to unlearn, learn, and relearn in the way that I teach in order to be the best version of myself for my students.