Thursday, March 19, 2015

My Educational DNA

In What is Your Educational DNA? From  Practical Theory by Chris Lehmann asks,

“… what is your Educational DNA? Why and how do you believe what you now believe about teaching and learning?”

I never thought about having Educational DNA but it makes sense. I never thought how it might have shaped how I teach before.

I was always taught that education is important from the very beginning. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t told how important it was. As a young child, I loved playing school and was encouraged by my parents to do this. I would love it when my parents bought me workbooks to “play” with in my school and loved learning new concepts on my own through these workbooks. I didn’t see them as extra homework or punishment. Instead I saw them as a fun challenge and loved working in them! This is what I wanted my students to feel about new skills.

I remember my mother always reading. She loved to read when she woke up before she got out of bed and she loved to read before she went to sleep. There was always a book by her bed. I’m sure I learned my love of reading from her! I still read all the time and hope that I instilled this love in my students.

I remember going to the bookmobile on our street corner when I was very young. I thought this was a magic van that had the most wonderful books! My parents were very strict and when kids my own age were playing in the streets without supervision, I was always encouraged to escape through books. Even my teachers were impressed how advanced my reading skills were.  Giving students the opportunity to read things that interest them are so important!

As I was growing up, I loved word games and would try to get anyone I knew to play with me. Luckily I had friends who were willing to play them. I believe this is why I loved spelling. One of the jobs I got during college interviewed me and gave me a spelling test. I was told that I was the only one they ever had who made 100% on the test!  Letting my students see that practice and reviews can be fun and not drudgery is important to their learning.

As I got older, it was understood that bad grades and failure was not an option.  I did not want to disappoint my parents in any way so I worked hard. This is a belief that carried into my classroom. With special education students who only knew bad grades and failure before they got to my classroom, this was a novel idea to them. I believed it was my job to help them be successful and their bad grades and failure reflected on me. This is the same attitude my parents had if I failed which I explained to my students. When they saw how much their success meant to me, they really put in a lot of effort so they didn’t disappoint me.

All of these things have helped me in the classroom. I believe that my educational DNA is what helped me be a better teacher. Looking back at these, I see how it shaped my life and my career.

What is your educational DNA? Please share.

Image: 'DNA Strand'
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