Teaching young children requires many special skills, and I pride myself in my expertise in areas such as designing engaging and effective lessons, classroom management, facilitating group work, and cultivating curiosity, creativity and a desire to grow and learn. More important than any single strategy or teaching tool, however, is the willingness to view the world through the eyes of a child. I believe children deserve a learning environment that provides safety, autonomy and purpose. We all want to feel valued and that how we spend our time has meaning. Beyond that, we also have individual strengths, interests and goals we want to pursue. The classroom should be a place for children to explore these and discover new ones.
I also believe that, alongside knowledge and basic skills, school is a place for children to learn values, strong habits of mind and to develop the perseverance necessary to achieve their goals. This means we need to push our students to do their best, take risks and step outside their comfort zones. Providing students with opportunities to develop strategies for problem-solving and thinking creatively is some of the most important work we do as educators. I think the greatest satisfaction in life comes from experiencing success as a result of working hard and overcoming challenges. I want every student to feel that joy, of knowing they did it.
It is also important to remember that childhood is magical and fleeting. School is serious, and we need to work hard, but we should also have fun. I believe that children learn best when they’re engaged, active and happy. In years to come, they might not remember the facts they learned in Social Studies, or the sum of angles in a triangle, but they will remember the feelings associated with learning. If students have positive experiences in their early years of school, it will set them up to become life-long learners and more productive adults.