The task of developing well-balanced human beings and responsible social citizens requires empathy, deliberative reasoning, and the moral imagination of all members in the school's community. Committed to John Dewey's original goals to create not only academically strong graduates, but also students who will become informed, intuitive, and responsible citizens, I work to foster a strong sense of identity by building a safe supportive classroom community.
- Responsive Classroom: This approach emphasizes the social, emotional, and academic growth of elementary school students in a strong and safe learning environment. The Responsive Classroom approach incorporates the students’ social and emotional growth into their academic learning, stemming from the notion that children learn best through social interaction and when they are explicitly taught social and emotional skills along with their academic lessons. The goal is to enable optimal student learning, and through the implementation and refining of classroom and school-wide practices, the Responsive Classroom approach has been shown to increase academic achievement in elementary school students, decrease problem behaviors, improve social skills, and raise the quality of instruction.
- Classroom Diversity: A primary goal for culturally responsive education is to help all students become respectful of the multitudes of cultures, located both outside and inside our educational setting. Therefore I always start by teaching students to respect and appreciate their own culture and heritage. Starting with the personal helps children realize that we are all in fact diverse and that no one is exactly the same. We then move onto celebrating the many different cultures of our classroom by highlighting our unique differences through class sharing and discussion. This helps us discover that everyone has both similarities and differences. Throughout the year my classroom is a culturally conscious space that not only respects various cultures but finds ways to learn from them.
- Classroom Contracts: At the start of the year, it is important to set the parameters for a safe learning environment. This contract is created with the students, not for the students, thereby engaging students to make their own pact or rules. This strategy helps teachers and student hold themselves accountable for following the contract. Students who own the rules are far more likely to follow through on it and to actively strive for good results.
- Hopes and Dreams: It is important as teachers that we ask students reflect on what they care about in school. Giving students agency to share their thoughts and goals for the year allows for the students to feel empowered to take the challenges that lay ahead in the coming year. Therefore, we must take the time to help children articulate their hopes for school—or their "hopes and dreams," as they’re often called - set a tone of collaboration and mutual respect. It fosters reflection and self-knowledge by prompting children to ask themselves questions such as "What’s important to me at school? What do I want to learn more about? What’s easy for me? What’s hard for me? What do I want to get better at?"
- Classroom Jobs: Assigning classroom jobs teach students responsibility and help them feel involved and take ownership in their school experience.