In my inclusive classroom, I believe all students deserve the support to achieve a high level of literacy that will serve them beyond the classroom. My teaching methods incorporate interdisciplinary study skills so students develop habits that support lifelong learning across subjects. I also aim to inspire my students to unlock their potential by offering individualized teaching strategies and innovative learning experiences.
I believe community building is key to upholding a respectful and productive classroom environment. To this end, I usually engage students in questioning their own civic values at the start of a term to develop a set of shared classroom norms. My classroom provides a safe space for debates and projects that touch on subjects involving ethical, real world dimensions. I seek to empower students to actively engage as civic-minded members of society. I aim to foster mutual respect within the classroom so that students gain an appreciation of one another’s diverse talents, cultures, and personal histories.
I also believe the classroom is an environment where students learn as much from each other as they do from the teacher. I see myself as a facilitator and I encourage students to develop an awareness of their own roles as independent thinkers acting within a community. Students are encouraged to wear different hats by reviewing other students’ work, and establishing leadership roles within groups, and supporting each other in teams.
My students know I value their work, because I showcase it on wall-displays, in classroom blogs, and in parent and community newsletters and events. Likewise, by offering multiple channels of communication and feedback opportunities for students and parents, I remain responsive to their opinions, and adapt accordingly.
My students are encouraged to learn through collaboration, inquiry and experience-based learning, as I provide numerous external resources for student research and project-based learning opportunities. Moreover, to improve students’ writing and critical reading skills, I’ve apply Bruner’s constructivist theory of a spiral curriculum into my teaching practice. I develop a central theme, skill, or theoretical perspective by returning to it with slight variations and added complexity throughout the term.
It is my personal responsibility to build rapport and trust with students in a way that supports their individual learning goals. To this end, I include ongoing pre-assessment, formative assessments, and monitoring to understand the students’ learning styles, individual passions, and special needs. This way, I can design appropriate individual learning plans and set relevant SMART goals.
My careful attention to the specific thought processes that support literacy skills enables me to dynamically respond with relevant scaffolding. As a result, I rely heavily on the use of mind-maps, graphic organizers, reverse outlines and annotation. When teaching a new skill, I demonstrate it first through modelling, followed by activities that lead towards increasing independence. I structure my lessons to progress along Bloom’s taxonomy, leading from basic mastery to higher order thinking. To accommodate the diverse learning styles of students, I utilize the support of audio and visual media, literature circles, writing workshops, and learning stations.
MAKING ELA RELEVANT
In today’s world, excellent communication skills are required in every domain. For this reason, I break down the barrier between the classroom curriculum and real world throughout my classroom curriculum.
I understand that some texts in the literary canon may seem like museum pieces shielded by glass. To overcome this obstacle, I adopt a student-centered learning approach that relies heavily on student choice and student interests to find common ground between students’ lives and literary material. I also teach analogical thinking skills in textual analysis to encourage students to draw connections between the texts we study and pop culture, current events, or other artistic media such as movie adaptations. By encouraging students to delve into the rich historical and contextual details and to apply theoretical frames of critique to the texts, I also support students in drawing out universal themes and finding connections across diverse time periods and cultural perspectives.
I also place an emphasis on expanding students’ digital literacy skill sets and developing necessary 21st Century learning skills: collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, and communication. This is vital for helping my students to prepare for real world communication contexts. As technology advances, my classroom likewise evolves in a way that explores gamification, data-driven analysis, online writing platforms, and technological skills development in the format of instruction. In doing so, I hope to inspire my students to research and communicate using a wide variety of online resources, presentation formats, and multimedia outlets.