Shifting the Focus Back to Students: By Kylie Birney

As a future teacher I have always wanted to ensure that my students meet their full potential. However with the increase of standardized testing, this task can become more difficult. So it wasn’t a surprise to me that a common theme throughout this course has been the shift of focus from the students themselves to their standardized test scores. Although I have only read one book for this class entitled Why We Teach Now, I plan on reading the books that my classmates read as well. From my readings, and the book circle posts of my classmates, it is evident that each book wants the focus of education to be on the knowledge and growth of the students and not just “teaching to the test.” So, how can we individualize learning when so much time is spent on material that student’s will be tested on? Luckily there are teachers who have been able to get creative with their curriculum and still do their best to focus on the minds of their students.

 

One example that I got from Why We Teach Now is the importance of family and culture in the classroom. By getting to know a student on a deeper level outside of the classroom, you can enhance the learning process in the classroom. I want to follow the lead of the teachers in this book by inviting family members of students into the class as guest speakers when our topic relates to their occupation or an aspect of their life. Not only will my student’s get to learn more about their classmates’ families, but they also get a real life perspective on the topic we are discussing. I think this will help keep them interested and encourage class participation.

 

In my research to find other ways to incorporate student culture into the classroom, I have found the idea of a culture map. I want to place a world map on the wall of my class and each student can draw a picture of themselves and link it to the country from which they came. All students will get to do a project in which they can research more about their country and share their findings with the class. I believe that by letting my students know that their family and culture is important to me and to their fellow classmates, we can establish meaningful relationships that will continue after they leave my classroom.

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