Learning by Deweying
I believe the best teachers are those who admit they have a lot to learn and find themselves enjoying learning alongside their students. As the teacher, I find myself constantly learning alongside my students. I feel strongly that students learn best when the teacher acknowledges and accepts that, while knowledgeable, they do not perceive themselves as the expert. I contend that the best teachers are continuously seeking new knowledge and that the term “expert” should be reserved for a rare few, such as the honorable John Dewey.
In addition to divulging that I admire John Dewey, it is not surprising that I view the world from the perspective of a pragmatist. This pragmatist view ultimately leads to my teaching lens. This philosophy is embedded in the way things work, in light of a changing world. “Pragmatists regard reality as the product of the interaction with an ever-changing environment” (Webb & Metha, 2017, p.59). As a result of this philosophical belief, I conform to the notion that the only constant in life is change, and the quicker you embrace reacting to change, the happier and more successful you’ll be.
My classroom differs from others. In my classroom, students are inquiring minds. Though I believe the role of the teacher is a facilitator who is intended to guide and inspire the learner, students are highly engaged in conversations with about the content. I refuse to lecture. Instead, I tell stories which depict my own teaching and learning experiences, while encouraging students to contribute to the story. I am not a messenger to deliver course content; rather, I engage students in hands-on, collaborative learning experiences. To illustrate, instead of telling my students about a strategy to teach elementary children to learn new vocabulary, my students engage in a “Vocabulary on the Move” game that requires asking peers to describe their unknown word, attached to their forehead, using a variety of context clues. As part of the hands-on learning experiences, I also challenge my students to overcome problem-based learning scenarios. For example, during the iPad workshops, students are given a case study of a future classroom scenario and design a lesson using the most appropriate learning apps.
Newly introduced to EDRE 4450 in fall 2018, preservice teachers participate in a 15-hour partnership with Communities in Schools of North Texas, where they work with a student or small group of students to develop their literacy skills. As a part of this experience, each preservice teacher develops an inquiry within the field of literacy which is tailored to the needs of their individual experience. The end product consists of a literature review, timeline of the experience, diary with data analysis, and a detailed reflection summary.
My goal is to inspire others to love to learn so they may motivate others to recognize learning opportunities in all they do. I work toward this by helping each student capitalize on their potential and by showing students how to be reflective but flexible in their approach to teaching. My goal of teaching reaches far beyond delivering course content, because I aspire to stretch and broaden perspectives that shape someone into becoming the person they aspire to be.