I believe that children will learn and thrive best in a learning environment that fosters a diverse option of things. Within my classroom I will be welcoming to everyone and fit all students needs. I would let my students help me to redecorate the classroom to help suit their need for their environmental comfort instead of pushing the classrooms environment onto them. I would have multiple types of seating arrangements such as; bean bags, stools, normal chairs, yoga balls, etc. Also I will make my classroom an encouraging environment by having a new quote each day, posting student’s work on the wall and having classroom rewards. Desks will be set up in groups or in semi-circles because student’s assignments will mainly be group focused, so by having the desks organized as so this will help students to easily collaborate with one another. I will make sure that my classroom is a no kid left behind environment where kids will feel welcome to ask question rather it is silly, serious or the question itself doesn’t make sense. A classroom where the student’s can feel safe and secure enough to ask me anything. I want to make sure all my student’s feel loved, secure, and safe.
I would encourage the students in my class to participate in all the different kinds of play, but I would like to see my students participate in solitary play, associative play and cooperative play. I believe solitary play is very important in the development of children. Children sometimes need time alone to explore things and use their imagination in their own way without any outside expectations or interferences. I believe solitary play helps a child to develop physical and mental skills while teaching them cause and effect. Solitary play can be demonstrated by a child who plays with a barbie doll by herself in her room in an imaginative storyline which would indicate creativity, language development and abstract thinking in which is all critical to the development of the child. I would encourage Associative play because I believe that associative play helps to build social skills while teaching children how to cooperate in group settings that includes; sharing and being friendly with others. Associative play also helps children to learn how to problem solve and to develop language which again is vital for the development of the child. I would like to see cooperative play as well, which is when the children are now more interested in the actual goal of the play and there are actual roles where teamwork is required. I feel like cooperative play is very important in the early years of development because the child will need that to move forward to higher learning outcomes. Cooperative play will teach children how to manage failures and challenges. It will also help students feel more confident when sharing their own thoughts and will strengthen their skills in decision making while also improving their language and teaching them how to build stronger bonds with their peers.
I see my role as a teacher as being a guide towards my students and letting the students lead the way in their learning. I believe students will be more engaged and will be more likely to learn something that they are actually interested in instead of me forcing them to learn something that they have no desire to hear about. Also by letting students lead the learning it will inspire them to keep learning throughout their lives.
“We all talk about wanting independent thinkers, but we don’t actually allow them to do that in school.” (Josh Stumpenhorst )
The three theoretical approaches that I believe will be key in the way that I teach children will be Erickson stages of personal and social development , Jean Piaget cognitive theory and Lev Vygotsky sociocultural theory. Erickson proclaimed that personality gains growth through the 8 stages of psychosocial development, from the moment you’re born to adulthood. Throughout the stages, a person undergoes a psychosocial crisis that could result in a negative or positive outcome on the person’s personality development. The cognitive development theory founded by Piaget in 1936 explained the mental model that a child builds of the world. He contradicted the idea that perception is a fixed trait, but instead considered cognitive development to be a process in which it occurs during evolvement and interaction with the environment.
Vygotsky’s theories emphasizes the preliminary role of social synergy within the maturation of cognition (Vygotsky, 1978). As Vygotsky presumed, the community partakes in an important role within the process of ‘making meaning.’ Unlike Piaget’s belief that a child’s development must undoubtedly precede their learning, Vygotsky stated, ‘learning is a necessary and universal aspect of the process of developing culturally organized, specifically human psychological function’ (1978, p. 90). Meaning, social learning seems to come before development.
I could see myself applying Erikson’s theory by giving children the opportunity to make choices and act upon those choices. Because the crossroads between initiative vs. guilt, it is determined through whether a child learns to arrange activities on his/her own or starts to identify behavior that is self-directed with punishment. I would provide part of the day, where my students can pick their own activities. I’ll have a classroom library where my students would be able to pick out their own books during reading time. This will allow my students to gain the opportunity on how to decide for themselves.
In order to make it easier on children’s success while encouraging risk taking I would break down my activities and instructions into simpler steps. Without this method I feel that my students would become discouraged by my activities and feel that they cannot complete the activity without failing.
I could apply Piaget’s theory by respecting each student’s individual interests, abilities and limits. Each child reaches developmental stages during differing times of their lives. Rather than forcing every child in my class to convert to one learning style, I’d actually watch each child’s developmental stages and convert my lessons accordingly. Piaget encouraged individuality, hands-on learning and opportunities for discovery. I would plan a wide range of classroom activities that consists of the differing learning styles, such as visual or auditory. I would place my focus on the process that the child took as well as the result. Instead of placing my focus on the child having the right answer, I’d pay attention to the steps the child took to reach the answer they got. A great example of this method would be; during an art lesson in my class, I’d ask the students to look around at each others paintings and notice the many different painting techniques each child used. Some vary on where the child starts the painting off at, many start at the bottom edge of the easel while others may begin at the middle.
I could apply Vygotsky theory to my classroom by using reciprocal teaching, by using reciprocal teaching it will help to improve my students ability to learn from texts therefore being named the contemporary educational application of Vygotsky’s theories. In this teaching method, my students and I will collaborate in learning and practicing summarizing, questioning, clarifying, and predicting. My role in the process will become reduced over time. Vygotsky is also relevant to informative concepts such as ‘scaffolding’ and ‘apprenticeship,’ in which a teacher helps to construct or arrange a task so that a child can work on it successfully. Vygotsky’s theories feed into collaborative learning, it suggests that in a group children should have differing levels of ability so that the more advanced students could help the less advanced students operate within their ZPD.
I chose these three theories in combination because they all have very important perspectives and although people might not agree on everything that the theorist believes in, I feel like we can agree that they all had some very good ideas such as; Piaget’s theory on adaptation, assimilation and equilibrium, Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development and the idea of scaffolding, and Erikson’s stages of social and personal development. All of these theorists ideas combined could create a perfectly well rounded and creative teacher.
My philosophy of curriculum and assessment is that it should be a play-based, hands-on, active learning environment is most appropriate for young learners. We believe that this approach, which includes the whole child, prepares children well for future success, both in school and in their lives. I would intentionally plan the classroom environment and experiences and provide materials to inspire learning, discovery, creativity and problem-solving. Our curriculum emerges from children’s interests, teachers’ observations and events in the lives of the children and their families. Effective educational curriculum combines structure and flexibility. The key is to find a balance so teachers may practice their craft and feel some autonomy in the classroom. Districts should prescribe specific curriculum but allow teachers to enrich and enhance it. If not, administrators may find themselves at odds with the very best teachers.
Curriculum should be results oriented with multiple types of assessments that measure success of both students and teachers. In the age of accountability, the focus of school improvement must be based on continuous student progress through vertical and horizontal curriculum alignment. In this process, teachers should have input into local standards making sure they align with state and national norms. This process is not effective without proper professional development and training that reinforces instructional strategies.
I hope to show my students that mistakes are ok and that mistakes are how we learn. I hope my students feel cared for and feel confident speaking about their ideas and I hope they know that they have the power to make a difference in everything that they do.