Learning most important in education
Following is the fifth installment in The Union’s series highlighting candidates for Nevada County’s teacher of the year and featuring excerpts from their applications.
First- and second-grade combination teacher
Williams Ranch School
As common to many educators, reflecting on my own growth has been challenging and useful. As a result of this reflection, it became apparent that one conviction drives my work as an educator. This conviction is that the most important part of education is the learning, not the teaching. The educational process is not about the perfect bulletin boards, being on the right page in the teacher’s manual on the right date, or about completing the perfectly executed lesson. Instead, the important part of the educational process is about making effective changes within students that bring true understanding and develop capable individuals who are life-long learners.
On a typical day in my classroom, students sing, play games, build, draw, talk, listen and get messy. Time set aside for building the learning community, direct instruction of social skills and learning how to take care of one another is sacrosanct. I strive to build friendships with students and their families because vital connections in a learning community increase the success of each individual. A student in my class once said, “You’re just like my mom. She has eyes in the back of her head, too.”
As a teacher, I can’t help planning for that ideal school day in my plan book. Ever the optimist, I put the road map to a perfect day down on paper so that I know where I am headed. The plan includes a lively and productive morning meeting, focused whole group instruction and small group lessons pinpointed accurately to allow for differentiated instruction.
A real day can include such mishaps as carefully sorted beads for a math lesson spilled on the floor, a lost retainer, hurt feelings, misplaced lunch tickets, even lost lights and electricity.
Most importantly, involving students at the end of the day in evaluation of their own learning, behavior and goal-setting increases the likelihood that lasting learning will take place.
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