Former Social Science Department Chair, College Counselor and AP American History, AP Political Science and AP English Language, High School Social Science and Literature instructor at Sts Peter and Paul School, St Thomas USVI. Conducted specialized classes as required for students and teachers, such as Java Programming and Projects in Digital Media and created virtual classrooms which took advantage of Google Sites, Google Docs and available BBS hosting. As College Advisor, students achieved a 98% college placement rate, generating over $750,000 in scholarship monies over the last 3 years.
A good teacher is first and foremost a role model for students. All other elements of the instructional process branch from this single act. Expecting students to come to class on time, to be prepared, to complete assignments, to participate in discussions, to completely embrace their own roles as both learners and peer-educators requires the teacher to embrace and live these roles as well. For me, this means I ask students to do nothing that I do not do myself - from being to class on time, working with other teachers, to taking outside classes to further my own teaching abilities and interests. For students to appreciate learning as a life-long process the teacher must reflect it and be an open book for students to read from.
In the classroom the teacher, in addition to being an educator, must be an actor, a politician, a statistician, a counselor, a librarian – a myriad of careers rolled up in a single individual who must often change roles in an instant. In addition, I believe a good teacher is a student of their students. Through observation and interaction a good teacher is constantly learning about the personalities that inhabit their classroom, monitoring how their students are growing and changing in response to their classroom learning, their personal growth and their interactions with the world outside of school. Being aware of changes in students as they stretch their academic and personal sinews permits the teacher to keep the class pertinent to the student’s learning needs. For a teacher, our students are our greatest tool for remaining current in the technologies and influential cultural transformations that occur on practically a daily basis. To not recognize and address the continuous changes occurring within and around our students makes for a stagnant classroom in which no growth occurs for either the teacher or the student.
The world of today is steeped in technology and the role of “educator” no longer strictly refers to a person standing before a classroom of students. For many, an education is increasingly provided by computers and software packages. But even so, teachers cannot be so easily replaced. The notion that the virtual can replace the physical is illogical and against what is known about human learning. Technology is a tool in the hands of a teacher and I use technology to meet the learning needs of individual students, recognizing that it is not the ideal learning tool for all. Some students will never succeed based on an internet photograph of Paris or a virtual laboratory experiment. For those students, technology is a barrier and I am the guide for hands and minds to make the connections for learning.
As an educator I believe that no single philosophy of education represents the final word on the teaching process. Just as two minds really don’t think alike, no educational philosophy can meet the needs of every student. This requires a teacher to possess a flexibility of mind and a willingness to change and adapt throughout their lives. To meet the needs of students a teacher must often be an expert, a manager, a facilitator, a provocateur, and all in a single class period. Just as there is no single ideal student there can be no single ideal educational philosophy for dealing with students, only a toolkit from which the educator draws to meet student needs.
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