Standard L: Knowledge of Learners and Their Development in Social Contexts

Throughout my internship experience I have come to realize just how many potential roles the teacher can play in the classroom. In addition to planning classes that engage students and encourage them to participate, a certain understanding of how students learn and how they connect with others is vital. Each moment in the classroom should be a chance for them to learn more about themselves and how they interact with others. Having a classroom management plan is only part of the issue; instead, teachers must be equipped with the knowledge of how and why students act and learn the way that they do, how students interact with others, and how they will continue to interact with all of their surroundings.

It is important for students to learn and practice life skills when in the classroom. This affects the way that they interact with me as the teacher, as well as their peers and ideally carries over into the way that they interact with people outside of school. That being said, there are a number of measures I can take to ensure that my students are learning how to be responsible citizens. Assigning students to group activities is one way in which I try to practice these attitudes in the classroom. In addition, I see it as a daily responsibility of mine to work with students to encourage them to treat others the way that they want to be treated. This can work in many ways, but one of the most common usually means that if a student is being disrespectful towards someone or something, I take them aside and discuss with them how their actions and words affect other people. This has become especially helpful in working with the freshmen classes; I have already seen a transformation in some students with the way that they interact with others.

In addition to learning skills to succeed inside and out of the classroom, I have found it fascinating to learn more about how students learn and what motivates them. Of course, every student is different so there is no way to learn everything about each one, much less predict his or her exact behaviors. However, I have found that many students are willing to share with me what I can do to help them, and taking the time to know them personally has made a dramatic difference with several of them. For example, there is a particular student that struggles with motivation and getting his work in on time. For this student, I initiated conversations outside of class to the point where he now feels comfortable to talk with me about his interests and passions. This has led to me find topics that interest him and help him incorporate those into daily lessons or assignments. On a broader scheme, I try to regularly take the time to ask for student input on what works for them, what they want to learn about, and if they enjoyed a particular lesson. This gives me the opportunity to understand what works for them.

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