I’ve been teaching a long time, and I have a lot of ideas about teaching, learning, and the role of schools in the world. (For more information about me and where I come from, see my welcome letter, here.) I agree with the AES Mission and Values, and I like what I have seen over the years in AES classrooms. Beyond that, there are just a few things I’d like to share about my classroom philosophy.
Effort matters and mistakes are OK–My grandfather didn’t need to read brain research to know that hard work matters. But as a teacher, it’s nice to know that research backs him up. What we know now is that when we put effort into our learning, not only do we make specific academic gains, but we get better at thinking–our brains grow when we work hard, even if we get the answer wrong! Recent research reported in the journal Nature suggests that puberty is a period where great gains are possible because the brain undergoes rapid growth then. In Room M103, we put the emphasis on effort over abilities because this is more effective and encouraging.
Real life play makes us smarter–I like technology. But I believe good old fashioned play–whether it involves kicking a ball or climbing a tree– is good for us. It’s good for our bodies, it’s good for our brains, and it makes s happier people.
Ideas and understanding are important— I believe ideas can change the world, and the best ideas come when we explore problems, ask questions, and share our thinking with each other. I also believe learning–like exercise and eating–should become a lifelong habit and joy. I believe that understanding is more important than memorization, but memory is an important part of understanding.
Differences are good–I agree with Dr. Temple Grandin when she says, “The world needs all kinds of minds.” Pride, empathy and self-advocacy must be a part of any program that respects cultural, language and learning differences. As picture of the tree and the wall at the right of this blog shows, we are all better off when we are flexible enough to accommodate all kinds of growth.
A classroom should be a respectful, caring place–It’s hard to learn if you don’t feel valued or respected. I work hard to build a caring, respectful classroom community. I expect my students to work hard at this as well.
It all starts at home–I believe no one knows a student better than the adults who love and care for him or her. I encourage parents or guardians to email or call me anytime they have suggestions, questions or concerns. See the contact page for details.