When I think of the future, I think of those much younger than I. I believe teachers are the ones who truly help shape our future. I aspire to make an impact on the world. With a statement that cliché, I knew my goal would not be easy. As I would ponder just how I would attempt to do something so meaningful, I went through several ideas and one day all of the sudden it came to me- what better way to shape the world than to teach the ones who become our future. I personally remember several teachers who helped mold me into the person I am today. There were a few specifically who left a lasting impression on my heart and the way I envision my future.
My previous interest before teaching was psychology. Psychology had always been something which peaked my interest and I wanted to do something in the field. This last January, I was given the opportunity to travel to the Dominican Republic with the Amarillo College Presidential Scholars to teach children in the little town of Monte Cristi. After this experience, I decided I wanted to become an educator. It seemed as if I had an epiphany of some sort. I wanted to shape lives. I want to become an early childhood educator to inspire and motivate students to become the best version of themselves in and out of the classroom.
As a future educator it is important to incorporate theories and standards into one’s classroom. An early childhood educator needs to familiarize themselves with the development of a child. Child development includes stages of mental, physical, social, and linguistic growth from birth to age two (Morrison, 2015, p. 5). It is essential for an educator to have knowledge of each individual’s needs in the classroom. By being aware and knowledgeable of the development one is promoting Standard 1: Promoting Child Development and Learning. There are several influences on a child’s development. This can range from their culture, relationships, socioeconomic conditions, and if there is a disability involved. Being in the position of an educator it would be my responsibility to adjust curriculum based on my students’ needs. Not only would I need to be able to adjust my curriculum but my classroom as well. I would need and want to reflect on myself and how my students are responding to me (Morrison, 2015, p. 5-8). Tying into the first standard, Abraham Maslow developed a theory named, self-actualization. His theory is based on basic needs. He believed children would not be able to function nor achieve well if the satisfaction of basic needs were not intact. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory states basic needs must be obtained before moving to the next level (Morrison, 2015, p. 147-148).
As an educator, it is important I make a child feel as if though they are having those basic needs met. Educators need to be aware of what is going on in a child’s personal life at home. Children will not excel if they are not provided with adequate food. I would make it a goal to work with my students’ families to make sure children are meeting those basic needs. The level which stands out most to me is belonging and loving. Children need to feel as if they belong in my classroom. I want to create a relationship with each individual in my classroom so there are no questions on whether or not they belong.
I believe it is important to create relationships with students’ family and community. Standard 2: Building Family and Community Relationships is important to a child’s learning. It is beneficial to a teacher to create these relationships because it gives one insight to see how a child’s home life is as well as giving the teacher an opportunity to see how families view education. Planning activities which involve families help you learn more about the child. If a child comes from a family who speaks a different language, it would be useful to learn a few words and attempt to speak the child’s native language. This makes the child feel validated as well as shows the family you are trying (Morrison, 2015, p. 12). Along with building those relationships, showing you respect your student and their family is necessary. Reggio Emilia Approach was developed by Loris Malaguzzi. Children are the constructors of their own knowledge is the basic belief of this approach (Morrison, 2015, p. 170). This approach emphasizes the importance of respecting children. Along with respect, creating relationships is of utmost importance.
I do not believe I will integrate every aspect of the Reggio Emilia Approach, I do believe I will incorporate the fact children learn through social interactions. Another concept I find interesting and useful is Malaguzzi believed children express themselves in many languages, hundred languages (Morrison, 2015, p. 171). These “languages” include drawing, building, discussing, and modeling. This approach believes children are best expressed through art. I do want my classroom to be child-centered to an extent. Meaning all children should have an education, have something unique about each of them and the child’s ideas and preferences should be considered when planning instruction (Morrison, 2015, p. 121).
Being able to accommodate for children in my classroom is important to me. A way to know if accommodations need to take place is Standard 3: Observing, Documenting, and Assessing to Support Children and Families. It is a responsibility an educator has to their students. Assessment helps determine if any accommodations need to be made based on a child’s development, learning, or academic process (Morrison, 2015, p. 12). Gathering this information can be done in several different ways. One of my personal favorites is the portfolio. A portfolio is a compilation of a student’s work taken over time as well as a teacher’s observation (Morrison, 2015, p. 81). This specific method may require a little more upkeep, but I believe it is worth it to see how a child progresses over time. This is also a great way to show a parent what a child has done over the year in a conference or towards the end of the year. A theory which goes along with standard 3 is Bloom’s Taxonomy. Bloom’s Taxonomy is the classification of objectives educators set for students. This also mentions learning at a higher level is dependent on already having foundational knowledge and lower level skills mastered (Morrison, 2015, p. 82). Bloom’s Taxonomy is a set of three models; affective, psychomotor, and cognitive.
I will implement Bloom’s Taxonomy in my classroom. This will help me gain a better understanding of a child’s knowledge if I decide to use an interview as a way to observe. Depending on the types of questions I’d ask, I would be able to see where a student does not understand a specific concept and modify instruction and do what is needed to be done to help the student succeed.
Standard 4: Using Developmentally Effective Approaches to Connect with Children and Families is beneficial to have implemented in a classroom. As stated before, relationships are important when it comes to the field of education. Relationships with colleagues, students, and their families. By creating those relationships, it enables you to notice things you may not have before. Once children begin to get comfortable with you as their teacher, they will start acting like they normally would somewhere else. This gives an educator an opportunity to see how they may learn. For example, Bandura and the Social Learning Theory states children learn and gain new information by observation (Morrison, 2015, p. 143).
I believe this theory is true to an extent. I do not believe children only learn by observing what others do, but I do believe there is a great influence on a child based on what they observe. The environment is important in this theory. It is important to me a student feels welcome in the environment of the classroom. I want to make my classroom as welcoming as possible. This allows them to fully immerse themselves into learning. Another theory which falls into this same area is behaviorism. This is the idea behaviors are learned through punishment or rewards (Morrison, 2015, p. 142). I will use a rewards system in my future classroom. I am unsure of the exact reward system, but one will be in place. I encourage the idea of students being rewarded for good behavior. I believe being rewarded or punished for a behavior does build learned behavior to a point. A student will learn their action (if positive) will result in good. If the opposite will result in something negative. I do not believe in constant rewards. Process praise provides a foundation for continuous good behavior (Morrison, 2015, p. 428). I believe encouraging is more beneficial than praise. Encouraging focuses more on the child’s effort and their success.
A child educator is more aware of specific circumstances which impact families of students. Advocacy is the act of engaging in strategies which help improve circumstances of children and their families (Morrison, 2015, p. 18). I believe I need to be the biggest advocate for my students. I would like to work in a school who is known for their advocacy when it comes to their students. Being involved in the community is important to me and I would like to carry this on in my profession. An advocate is part of Standard 6: Becoming a Professional. Becoming a professional means to me that I am always looking for improvement. I am never a finished product. A specific way to help me grow as an educator is to become familiarized with my students’ community and advocate for improvements where needed. Trainings and workshops will help me learn how to become an advocate. I will need to go to trainings and find other ways to continuously grow as an educator. Learning from others is something I want to take advantage of.
Early childhood education is influenced by various theorists and their theories. This is the foundation of early education and is still implanted today. I believe children are the future and as a future educator, I want to be able to nourish this concept as effectively as possible. Including all children and their learning styles in a classroom is crucial to me. With so many resources available to teachers, it is not as difficult to adjust an instruction to better suit a child, or to modify your teaching style to benefit a child with a special need. It is evident those who are interested in this field have a passion for others. There is a substantial amount of effort which goes into becoming an early childhood educator. I believe each child can learn and all it takes is a specific individual to make this feasible for them. There will be trials within this profession, but knowing I have the potential to make even one student realize all they are capable of, is worth it.