There are two driving forces in my teaching career; the first one is to work with kids classified as at-risk, and the second is to integrate curriculum and technology as one teaching tool, using it to prepare my students for productive, successful lives. Fortunately for me, during my first year of teaching I was hired as a first grade bilingual teacher in an inner-city school located in the city of Houston. The school is situated in a low income area, with student demographics of 50% Hispanic and 50% African American. Luckily, for the students and me, the principal is a strong advocate for the use of technology in education.
As an experienced Information Technology professional, making a diagnosis or a prediction of a possible outcome using technology was simple and there was always the window that could be used to restore to a previous stage. As a teacher however, anything that you do and say is observed and absorbed by at least 20 students. The positive or negative experiences that an educator implants in kids’ minds will last throughout their lifetime and may not be easily deleted or reversed as in a computer system. Because of the strong impact a teacher can have on a student’s life, we as educators must take extra precautions to ensure we are on our best behavior.
Defining my personal learning theory, as required for this assignment, is not an easy task at this early stage of my teaching career. A student’s brain does not come with a manual of instructions as a computer does. I rely mostly on my personal experiences as a father of four, what I learned from the instructors in the teaching certification program from which I graduated, and the experiences acquired in the classroom this past year.
Learning and instructional theories are changing and evolving constantly because they are dependent of humanistic variants. The data received is evaluated and stored in the brains of those who consider the new information to be relevant or have a purpose in life. The resources assigned for this week clearly state the responsibility of an educator in the development of a child. When a teacher enters the classroom they are not teaching one class, but rather must be prepared to work with a minimum of twenty unique individuals. Each child will require the application of different approaches, techniques, and resources within the classroom in order to accomplish our goals as educators. During my first year as a teacher, I did not have a defined learning theory and my instructional practices revolved around each one of my students. Every day was a different day and a different classroom. The students did not act in predictable ways and I found that I needed to remain very flexible in order to respond to their needs.
I find it very difficult to maintain a single approach in the classroom because each student has different needs and is affected by different situations. The individual characteristics of the learning process require combinations of different approaches and learning styles, one that will enrich the lives and the learning environment for every student.