On my very first day of pre-internship I came across a poster in the classroom that read, “People may forget what you say or do, but they won’t forget how you make them feel.” I immediately thought that this was the type of teacher I wanted to be and this was what I wanted my students to remember me for. I want to make students feel confident! Confidence in themselves, confident in their ideas, and confident in their voice.
I found my passion for teaching through being a coach. I have always loved to play sports, so it was a natural progression to begin coaching. I soon realized that it was not just the sport I loved anymore, but I loved the feeling I got when I saw an athlete achieve something they thought they never could. When they would beam with pride and confidence over something that I actually taught them. My love for sports soon become a love of teaching. As John Russel says, “I never cease to be amazed at the power of the coaching process to draw out the skills or talent that was previously hidden within an individual, and which invariably finds a way to solve a problem previously thought unsolvable.
I feel it is no longer the job of a teacher to simply pass on facts and answers. It is about creating relationships and a mutual respect and trust with students. For when these things happen, students become more engaged in what they are learning. They are no longer afraid to put themselves ‘out there’, and if they make a mistake, they know it is not a mistake at all, but just a step that comes in the process of learning. As a teacher, it is my job provide students with the skills that make them want to learn, that make them seek better answers to a problem, and that make them want to better themselves and those around them. It is my job, as a teacher, to build them up, and to give them the confidence needed so that they know they can truly succeed at anything they put their mind to.
I think this feeling of student confidence is best achieved through inquiry based learning, which Alan Colburn describes as, “the creation of a classroom where students are engaged in essentially open-ended, student-centered, hand-on activities.” The progression of inquiry based learning from structured inquiry to guided inquiry to finally open inquiry gives students the chance to gain confidence while, in turn, building the skills necessarily to gradually become independent learners. As a direct result of independent, ‘hands on’ learning, I think students will be eager to learn more and dig deeper for answers to the ‘hard questions.’ In turn, this will prepare students for life outside of the classroom and to become engaged citizens in their every day lives. I believe this is the true purpose of education.
Ultimately, I think the most important thing to remember is that no two students are exactly alike, and that each student brings their own form of uniqueness into the classroom. This means we must teach in such a way that encourages their uniqueness to come out and prosper!
“Let us think of education as the means of developing our greatest abilities, because in each of us there is a private hope and dream which, fulfilled, can be translated into benefit for everyone and greater strength of the nation.” – John. F Kennedy