Total Communication I
Rolling Hills Elementary
School: University of North Texas
Degree: Bachelor of Arts
Major: Psychology & Social Work
I have been a Special Education Teacher for nearly 20 years.
I believe that the teacher's role is to provide students with the essential tools of learning that will allow them to develop their own individual talents and expertise. This includes providing a foundation of knowledge, supplying techniques for acquiring further knowledge and instilling inspiration.
I try to be a facilitator of learning in my classrooms, rather than a purveyor of knowledge, arcane or otherwise. I hope that my students leave my classes better equipped to teach themselves through the skills that I have given them. For this reason, I believe that the ideal class is primarily discussion-based, a mixture of lecture, discussion, student presentations and group activities.
The role of the student is to generate questions and ideas, and my role is to apply pressure to those ideas and to give suggestions as to how the questions are best approached and solved. It is also my responsibility to provide a guiding hand to the discussion, to ensure that the class is achieving the goals I make evident in my syllabi and in my everyday conversations with my classes.
I believe in a classroom where students refuse to be the passive recipients of content and are actively engaged in their own learning. This ideal dynamic is difficult to realize, but it is something I strive for in my classroom. I am both politically and pedagogically committed to the notion that my students bring active, interested minds to my classroom, and that it is my privilege to encourage their desire to create meaning. In my short lectures and in my comments on their work, I strive to validate my students’ abilities and concerns, while pushing them to think harder and deeper about the subject matter we are addressing.
My teaching style is interactive, and the borders of my classroom extend to include individual conferences and a great deal of electronic communication. E-mail and other electronic media allow for a continuing, inclusive conversation beyond the limited time and space of the classroom. My role as a teacher is to make the process of learning as transparent as possible for my students. This “transparency” is the honest communication of my goals for each assignment and for the course as a whole. I refuse to give assignments where the larger skills being developed are not made evident.
The goals are straightforward: teaching special education students requires time, attention, and sometimes the help of others. In order to achieve any of these goals in the classroom, I must stay current in my own scholarship and in the community of scholars. I am a cultural critic with a profound respect for multidisciplinary approaches to learning, and this requires that I stay active within my field and within my academic community. Just as I work toward a conversational model of classroom discussion, I see myself as part of the larger conversation encompassing the disciplines in which I teach. It is my responsibility to remain connected to this conversation through publication, conferences, and collaborative teaching experiences.
"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent"