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Statement of Informed Beliefs Essay Lynch 1

Statement of Informed Beliefs Essay

Shaina Lynch

Doug Rapley

EDUC 220

Fall 2017
Statement of Informed Beliefs Essay Lynch 2

Statement of Informed Beliefs Essay

Secondary Education with an Emphasis on Social Science may be a fairly common

teaching subject, but I chose it because I have a passion for story-telling and historical topics.

You must love what you are doing in order to care to bring your best to the table for students. All

students deserve to learn from someone who cares about what they are teaching, and about who

they are teaching. In the next five paragraphs, I will expound on my beliefs in five specific areas

with the topics and prompts being assigned to me by my class EDUC 220 at College of Western

Idaho: all students can learn, teacher’s expectations, student’s social ecology theory, cultural

diversity instruction, and curriculum for all learners.

All Students Can Learn

What I am learning in the text is that a whole lot of people influence what ultimately goes

on in a classroom. It is a bit overwhelming to realize all the things that should be considered

when dealing with students. It would take a superhero to execute the perfect teaching plan for

every child that walks in your class. Yet, you are responsible for trying to achieve just that. It

may not be attainable but I believe you must try. A student’s ability to learn is effected by so

many things. What is or has been going on at home? Did they get to sleep the night before?

Short term issues effect concentration and motivation. Long term, are they ESL or do they have a

disability or impairment? Diagnosed or undiagnosed? These all contribute to student’s

performance in school. They are all things that are beyond a teacher’s control. That does not

make the teacher powerless to help with those issues by being understanding and a source of

trust and respect. Being approachable to students and responsive to them is a teacher’s

responsibility.
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One of the ways I can ensure all students will learn is by making sure to pay attention to

whether each child has an IEP, 504, or the like and what details are provided I those documents.

This is the basics of knowing what is going on with a student. Then as I meet the students I can

further ascertain which children seem to need extra help or resources and reach out. Not only

have adults reach out, but I plan to utilize a lot of group work and group presentations in my

classes so peers help peers work through understanding concepts. I will also be accessible

through phone, email, and office hours if possible. I would like to use a lot of abridged text

sheets, visuals, videos, and art to help students grasp concepts, not just full textbook reading.

That way children who are not strong readers can hear and see the stories instead of just

cramming topics. A method I observed a history teacher use last year was that each student in a

group read one paragraph of a chapter. Then, instead of reading the chapter out loud, that student

had to give a synopsis of the paragraph to the other students. It put the chapter in their own

words and prompted discussion and opinion, which I loved. There are ways to surmount

weaknesses in certain student’s learning styles, you just need to get creative.

In managing the class I want to be structured and organized, but flexible at the same time.

I want to be a source of information and help in more than just classroom academics. I want the

students to have a lot of dependence on each other for help and not just me. I plan on utilizing

democracy in some form in the class, perhaps in having some choice on assignments or a reward

of some sort. Something that makes them feel more in charge of their education. In having a

clean, calm, and friendly place to learn I hope they will free to express opinions and ideas safely.

There is a lot I have yet to learn about classroom management, but I plan on having set goals to

accomplish and a variety of ways they can get done. I never want to stop learning myself.

Teacher’s Expectations
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There is an old Japanese proverb: “When you treat someone like a wild cat, he will steal

your chickens”. People, and children especially, live up to your expectations. If a teacher

expects poor performance it will find a way to show itself in words or actions. Children are hyper

sensitive to adults and will pick up on that. It will foster resentment and apathy. On the other

hand, if a teacher expects a good performance it could have the opposite effect. Students will

want to live up to it as well. Not all students react that way though, if it were that easy to garner

good performance a teacher could just announce to class, “I know you will all do well today on

your test”, and they would just “live up” to it. It should be bolstered by intuitive instruction

(Berns, 2007).

As our text was relating there are many different reasons a student may give the

perception that they are not interested in class. Their collectivist culture may cause them to not

interact, lower their eyes, or speak out answers. They may come from abusive homes, foster

homes, authoritarian homes, or just plain unhappy homes. They may not enjoy school or have

learned it is too harsh or boring from a childhood of misunderstanding teachers and adults

(Berns, 2007). These students are mixed in with the well-balanced, average kids, and the over-

achieving super-involved and academically inclined college juggernauts. I plan on teaching

adolescents. By the time I get them they may have their minds pretty settled about how the feel

about school. I have learned a lot in this chapter about the different ways you can teach so that I

may reach as many students as possible.

My goal is to reach all my students in a meaningful way they can carry throughout their

lives. I want them to meet the Core standards and appreciate their hard work in being able to

accomplish that. Students can learn I different ways. Logical, linguistic, kinesthetic, musical,

special, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalist (Burns, 2007). I want my students to know
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through experience. I am going to teach history or social studies (I hope) and I have already

started to think of ways that I may be able to incorporate all the types of learning into my

classroom. People say Core standards are hard and impossible and so forth, at least some parents

I know do, and I want to show them it is possible.

If I can do math, which I forced myself to do all summer 2017 and passed it (through

tears), then anyone can do it. My daughter is a math tutor, and in college to become a high school

math teacher. She used to tease me because I couldn’t help her in math anymore after 3rd grade. I

believed the worst about myself, that I could not do math, it was impossible for me. Math Lab at

CWI gave me the time and space I needed to work, and ready help for the tough problems. I had

to text her pictures of my work and she was impressed by my efforts. Goals can be reached if

you never give up and have the support of great people with high expectations for you which

includes, but is not limited to, teachers.

Students’ Social Ecology Theory

This chapter covered such an extensive amount of material from toddlers in a childcare

not sharing toys to sports teams, gangs, cliques, bullying and Columbine. It was a lot to absorb in

one sitting, but I see all the connections they were trying to make between socializing and the

effect it has on a student’s life. The ability to socialize, and what the child learns from the

success or failure of these connections, can be mitigated by social intervention by adults if

necessary (Burns, 2007). I had a lot of thoughts as I was reading, but every time a new topic

came up in the chapter my mind shifted a bit. First things first.

As a small child, children are slowly learning to associate and react to other people. They

observe adults in their family circle, since they are their main caregivers, and emulate them.

Then they branch out to see other children as something apart from themselves. Playmates first,
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then friends. That is when personalities and cultural backgrounds become important, and learned

habits and innate traits in the child from birth can affect who is their friend, what they do

together, and how they treat peers. Do they all attend the same church on weekends? Are they

from the same street? Do their parents hang out with each other? A hierarchy gets formed if it is

a group of friends, and depending on their interests they can be cool, nerds, goth, jocks, gamers,

etc. If they come from a rough neighborhood or have permissive parents, it can be gangs or

crime that interests them. In my personal experience living around gangs in former years, it is a

lifestyle passed on from one generation to the next in certain neighborhoods. They can join

sports teams, and have supportive community members like schools and police officers, and it is

hopeless. The child will do well in school (at first) but still will enter a gang in the teenage years.

This is also true when children who have a parental group who party together or worse, the

children of those parents cling together, and end up emulating the behavior of the adults

themselves in later years. The schools and community can be great, but they are almost doomed

by their parents.

The issue of bullying in the textbook was interesting, it did touch on cyberbullying which

is common today, but I think it is important that bullying is not thought of as it once was as

always being physical. My daughter was bullied in high school by an ex-boyfriend who sent her

disgusting text messages, stole from her locker and backpack, announced gross lies about her in

class, and so forth. I knew his mother, and called her and warned her what he was doing, and she

promised it would stop. It did not. I contacted the school, and guess who pulled up to my house

in a rage and started yelling outside my home? The mom! I was not having that, I called her from

inside my house and said if she did not leave I was calling 911. That was the end of that. That
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was 5 years ago, and my daughter is still shaken by the experience. I was amazed that the

bullying behavior was obviously an emulation of what the mom had been seen doing. Amazing.

Peers are important. There is an old saying, “Show me your friends and I will show you

your future”. I believe to a certain extent it is true, but that over time the friends you chose as a

young person fall away and you are left with the ones that most closely match who you really

are. I know I am unrecognizable from my later teenage years. I will be working with teenagers (I

hope) as a high school teacher and I plan to keep that in mind. None of the kids I am working

with are a finished product. They are all going to be different 5 years from when I get to touch

their lives. I can make a difference, not as a peer but as a good example and an open person

willing to listen and be there. I can be a person in the community that is supportive and helpful

for them and sensitive to their cultural and sociological background. They have personal

experiences that effect their ability to concentrate and do work in a timely fashion (Berns, 2007).

I want to be flexible to these things. I want to do a lot of group work, team participation, and

incorporate art into our lessons. Things that are not all memorization. This gives students a

chance to positively interact with peers and work together, see the effects of learning a lesson as

self-esteem boosting, not all individual success or failure. My ideas for connecting to students is

to let them work with each other as much as possible. I will be in the guiding them along, and

there if they need me. I have a lot to learn still, but that is my idea so far.

Cultural Diversity Instruction

I am in a perfect position to facilitate the discussion and acknowledgement of the life

histories of students because my plan is to become either a history or social studies teacher.

There should be ample opportunity to incorporate a personal history of a student into an

assignment. My desire is to point out how history is really composed of stories and events that
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involved real people, and what better way than having them share their own story and label it a

“history”. I know that teenagers naturally have a desire to fit in and not emphasize differences,

but I think they would have some pride in some part of their own history to share. The Treasure

Valley is full of different people from different areas and I want to be a part of helping them to

see that it is what makes this a friendly, interesting place to live. There seems to be a little bit of

a resistance to outsiders in some quarters out here, but I feel like the telling of personal stories

will bring some appreciation and understanding amongst students.

I have heard an interesting analogy with Cultural Pluralism and Cultural Assimilation

regarding the United States. Cultural Assimilation is the old idea that America is a melting pot.

Cultural Pluralism is the new concept of America as a mixed salad. Each ingredient retaining its

integrity. Technically it is any culture inside of a larger society being accepted by that society.

Cultural assimilation is any culture inside a larger society changing to blend in with the larger

society (Magala, 2017). For example, my grandfather came over from Germany with his parents

in the 1920’s. When he entered school, he was immersed in English (no German spoken) and had

a desire to be like everyone else. His family still went to German parks and stores, but they

wanted to be American. He fought in World War II and married an all-American girl and made a

career as a Vice-President of the Bricklayers Union. That is cultural assimilation. I guess you

didn’t want to be a German in World War II here! Cultural Pluralism in America is when a

culture remains appreciated and expressed, I think that happens a lot. I don’t think everyone

accepts that, or wants that, but it is a fact. I believe it is because the culture of the United States

is ultimately defined by the Bill of Rights. Ours is a culture of fighting for freedoms, and an

indignity at any violation of our rights, even though many times our own government and so-

called real Americans may be behind the intrusions. It is only natural, that a culture assimilating
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into a freedom loving culture would attempt pluralism! They go hand in hand and are not

contradictory. In America, all cultures should be appreciated and the only culture that really

matters is the culture of democracy and freedom.

Curriculum for all Learners

In the creation of my lesson plans I hope to include as much group work as possible,

interactive assignments, and flexible time schedules. I am positive I will have to adjust plans for

the diverse students in my classroom, but my idea is to have them work together under my

guidance so that they can observe what works for each other in learning, and see problem solving

by other students in action. I want to be present, respectable, and approachable. I have never

been a buddy to teenagers but I have always gotten along and commanded respect. I use humor a

lot. In assessing a student, I plan on gauging their grasping of concepts and work effort in their

pairs or groups. Are they participating and learning? I am not fully aware of all the tools and

requirements of a Secondary Education teacher but I hope I will be allowed some freedom in

adjusting tests and assignments to meet a student’s needs.

Teacher assessment of a student’s performance is critical because it is a reflection on your

performance. If they are failing then I must be doing something wrong. If the class was

underperforming, I would have to review my lesson plan and seek the advice of more successful

teachers to see where I could make changes. I would have to plan to observe another teacher,

take a course, or do whatever it takes to do better by the students.

I think the best way to assess learning in social studies is to view the products of their work

on projects and journals. To see them participate in different capacities in a group or pair and do

well on the work. Everyone has bad days and personal issues, I want to make sure the students

know I am human and give them a chance to do better if they fail at something. If they know
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how important it is for me to see them learn, and if they are struggling, I want to be approachable

for advice and guidance on how to study better, give other options for learning, and resources. I

will simply have to be observant and hopefully see consistently better work as a semester

progresses. My desire is to help students learn and right now I am eager to learn what it takes to

get that accomplished.

In conclusion, I know that the experiences I have as a student myself will shape the person I

will become in the future. The teacher I will be for my student’s is effected by the effort and

determination I have right now. I take it seriously, and will always remember to love what and

who I am teaching.
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References
Berns, R.M. (2007). Child, family, school, community: Socialization and support (7th ed.).
Belmont, CA: Thomson Learning, Inc.
Magala, Dr. “Melting Pot vs. Cultural Pluralism - Diversity.” Google Sites,
sites.google.com/site/edthpdiversity/cultural-pluralism.