I recognize that this century is a dynamic time of rapid change and technological advancement. Thus, I believe we need to be educating students to become empowered, independent thinking, and problem solving global citizens. Building analytical, creative, respectful, and ethical frames of mind along with teaching relevant content are essential in order to produce flexible, adaptable, and compassionate young men and women. What makes me an outstanding educator is not only my recognition of this need, but my creative and engaging approaches to making the learning process enjoyable, relevant, rigorous, and reflective. I just don’t endeavor to do things better. I endeavor to do better things.

I approach teaching in a student-centered manner where I act more as a guide-on-the-side rather than a sage-on-the-stage. I do little lecturing. The arrangement of learning I foster includes: individual and collaborative work; project-based learning; connections to real-world issues; authentic assessment, and personal reflection. In regards to differentiation, I try to tailor the product, process, content, and, when possible, the learning environment to student interest and ability. Communication, collaboration, creative, and independent critical thinking skills are equally emphasized and assessed along with content understanding. I ensure the students know how they’ll be assessed from the beginning and the students also know what the learning objectives are for the activity and/or unit at hand. At the same time, I am a learner, too. I’m intimately involved in the learning process with the students and I encourage them to help, support, and teach their peers. Academic accuracy and honesty are qualities I continually espouse along with the students learning how to learn. I promote technology as an essential tool students need to use effectively to enhance their learning experience. Being adept with technology is critical in order for students to maximize their potential in today’s hyper-connected world. Overall, students are expected to be active in and responsible for their learning in my classroom.

Ultimately, I want kids to learn about themselves during the learning journey. If they know who they are, I believe they will be more likely to follow their passions in life. Helping a student develop his/her passion is more important than any content that we can stuff in their head and ask them to regurgitate. Projects and assessments should support this objective when possible. Moreover, when they make personal and emotional connections to the content, it becomes more meaningful, and, thus, they will better remember it along with the skills that went along with the process.

After their experiences in my course, I hope the students leave not only with an appreciation and understanding of the subject area content and skills, but with a strong foundation in becoming life-long, reflective learners who can appreciate the diversity of knowledge and perspectives while being open-minded and compassionate young men and women who empathize with the needs and rights of others.