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Habit 1

To be thoughtful and caring learner-teachers, open and eager to know and to be known and to respect self and others.

As an elementary educator, it is essential that one goes into the field with the mindset that one must be a learner teacher, but what that truly means is something that I have discovered on my journey over the last four years. Being a learner-teacher is not just about learning new material from books or about your students, it is about synthesizes these two areas together and constantly trying new things.

It has long been said, “You learn something new everyday.” This is probably the most evident in the teaching profession. Techniques for teaching or class discipline that work one day, do not always work two days in a row. An example of this would be the reward system that I had implemented a few weeks into the academic year. I had a trash can in my room and a bucket of wiffle balls. When the students were being exceptionally good, I would add a handful of small wiffle balls into the can. If the students could fill the can by the end of the day, they would get an extra long afternoon recess. If the students were misbehaving, however, I would take balls out of the can. The students would settle even if they saw me heading toward the balls to remove them. This, however, only worked for a short period of time because the class was being punished for the action of only a few students. This was the first of several classroom management techniques that I tried throughout my student teaching semester and it is still not perfected. I have listened to the ideas of my fellow students and have come to realize that every class is different. What works for one classroom will not always work for another. The students differ grade to grade as well as year to year and the beginning of every academic year will be a time to learn about my students and what works for them.

Teachers not only have to learn about their classroom dynamics, they also have to learn about the individual students. Every student is different and reacts differently. As a teacher, there are several students with which I have had to try several different approaches to teach. During the time that I mentored, my mentee was a very visual learner and had trouble understanding the concept of adding on a hundreds chart. In order to accommodate her specific needs, I created a hundreds chart on the floor hundreds-chart-001 where she physically had to jump from one number to the next. I also had to create body signals for her to remember the difference between addition and subtraction. The action for the plus sign books-043 is larger than that of the minus sign books-047, meaning the numbers are getting bigger. To this day, she still will pass me in the hall show me the sign and say, “Plus is bigger, minus is smaller.”

As a beginning teacher, there are is a lot of information that I have learned as a student, but never had to know as a teacher. Before each of my lessons, I had to go and do further research on each topic. The unit that I created was on Patriotism and American Symbols. Most of the symbols I was semi familiar with, but some, like Uncle Sam, I don’t ever remember being taught. These topics I did hours of research on, making sure I checked sources against one another and all the while sharing interesting facts I learned with my boyfriend as he watched football. When it came time to deliver a lesson, I had not only a breadth of knowledge, but also a depth of knowledge and my students loved the interesting facts that I found on some of even the more well-known symbols.

As a student, I also had a thirst for knowledge and a love for problem-solving, which is why being a learner-teacher comes very naturally to me. When faced with a problem in the classroom, I will research as well as try many different methods for solving the problem. My research includes everything from extenuating circumstances, to student reaction and sensitivity, to formal research through education sources. I then compile everything I have learned to create new classroom protocol or a new, engaging and effective lesson for my students. At the end of the day, I feel as though I have learned more than they have.

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