A "sense of joy and engagement is important for our students—and for us."
Margaret Berry Wilson, Responsive Classroom

I am committed to P1000706.JPGa dynamic, engaging, and purposeful education for my students. My philosophy of education is firmly grounded in the belief that education is a community experience that depends on and supports both the cognitive and social-emotional domains. I believe that learning is optimized in a stimulating and inclusive classroom where all students are welcomed, valued, and heard and where teachers and students work together to construct meaningful long-term understanding and knowledge.

As a parent and as a preschool administrator, I have discovered an affinity and appreciation for classrooms that have adopted a Reggio Emilia or a Responsive Classroom approach. I believe that children are partners in the learning process and that the role of the teacher is to guide and motivate, to discover and honor students’ interests, and to ensure that the classroom and community climate is safe, respectful, and conducive to academic and social-emotional growth.

The Social-Emotional Curriculum
The classroom presents both an academic and social challenge to young children. In class, students become members of a large, often disparate group and must learn not only to negotiate their individual needs but also to contribute to the smooth functioning of a community of learners. As a teacher, I aim to create a nurturing and stimulating environment that will capitalize on students’ natural inquisitiveness, foster positive self-concepts, provide the structure for smooth interpersonal dynamics, and create a favorable attitude toward learning both at school and at home.
Building on my previous personal experiences and recent decade as a preschool director, I intend to incorporate hands-on investigations of authentic real world subjects, to implement a constructivist approach, and to build on my students’ innate interests and motivations. I also aim to be sensitive to undiagnosed learning challenges in order to advocate for early student services. Overall, I hope to share my enthusiasm for learning and school culture as well as my belief that positive classroom and interpersonal dynamics are the foundation for healthy and supportive communities. In tandem with content knowledge, I also believe that a classroom teacher must focus on social learning as a crucial element in instruction. Social goals such as turn taking, active listening, and taking the perspective of others all facilitate social dynamics within a classroom, minimize disruption and loss of instructional time, and ultimately contribute to student motivation.

I have worked to create classrooms that are caring and trusting communities where students are conditioned to feel positively toward school through genuine connections with the teacher and productive collaborations with peers. Classroom instruction must also be flexible enough to address the broad range of learning styles proposed by Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences. In today’s high-stakes testing environment, students are often sedentary. I believe that classroom lessons can be adapted to incorporate kinesthetic elements in conjunction with cognitive learning. In my prekindergarten classes, I have successfully enticed even the most reluctant learners to participate in multiple versions of an “Active Alphabet” activity and thereby succeeded in creating strong associations between gross motor skills and cognitive knowledge: “S is for Stand, T is for Twist”. For naturalistic learners, an alphabet treasure hunt was a hands-on experience that serves to expand learning beyond the classroom.

I have also had positive personal experience implementing project-based learning units and hope to be able to integrate the project approach in my future classroom. As part of my William and Mary graduate classwork, I considered my cultural identity as well as my interest in project -based learning. In project-based learning units, direct instruction is integrated with guided discovery and cooperative learning that span the curriculum. I have seen the high level of excitement and motivation as students use authentic materials and communication skills to explore projects such as Groundhogs and Shadows, Australian Animals, Airports, the Stock Market, and New York's Upper East Side. In these long term projects, student refine and then act upon their own teacher-supervised goals and learn the importance of communication and research in the social context of both large and small groups.

I take a holistic approach to learning and believe that interdisciplinary lessons best match students' natural and developmental dispositions. By integrating discrete subjects into one interdisciplinary unit, the classroom models authentic learning in the real world where math skills are used to further understanding of social studies and where science knowledge better informs reading comprehension. In my studies at William and Mary, I developed an example of such a broad interdisciplinary unit. This China unit includes a robust reading list, math activities, science lessons, and a full exploration of social studies topics such as history, geography, and anthropology.

Classroom Management Style
My authoritative and caring classroom management style supports my teaching goals of stoking students’ interest in school and fostering their personal resilience. I have been successful in creating a secure environment with predictable rules and routines, high expectations, consistent feedback, and genuine connections and caring. In my classrooms, rules are logical, easily understood by students, stated positively, and teacher defined.

I believe in positive reinforcement of student behavior and creating a motivating climate of developmentally appropriate expectations. My natural teaching approach has been humanistic, in that I attempt to nurture the innate interests of individual students and convey my unconditional positive regard for every class member. I intend to cultivate a mastery-focused environment and forge a cohesive team within the class.

I believe that diversity of cultural experience and knowledge can only be addressed through flexibility in approach and curiosity of mind. I aim to avoid rigidity and to create a responsive curriculum to engage each year’s unique community of students. As a reflective practitioner, I welcome input from colleagues and supervisors and hope to be placed in a collaborative community of teachers where we brainstorm and problem-solve together. Ideally, I would like to draw on the experience and insight of a mentor.

A Reflective Disposition
I naturally tend to be a highly reflective individual in both my personal and professional endeavors. I believe that this characteristic has served me well in my classroom role. I rework lesson plans after their conclusion in order to keep my overarching goal in mind: to nurture a positive learning experience for the individual students in my class and to be guided by the idea that students’ emotional reactions resulting from their experiences in schools are among the most important outcomes of schooling.

I understand that a teacher plays only one of many roles in the education and life of a student. Nonetheless, I believe that a caring and committed teacher can positively affect the resilience, happiness, and motivation of any student. I aim to fulfill that role for my students and to share my enthusiasm for learning and joy of discovery in my instruction and my classroom.