The limited number of characters to answer the questions on the REAP application leaves me feeling like I’m giving an incomplete answer wanting to better explain my thinking so I thought I’d expand on my answers here.
1) What are your three most important reasons for wanting to be a teacher?
REAP answer: I love children and I love to watch the light go on in their eyes when they learn something new. I enjoy helping my students explore and learn about the world around them. I greatly value the connections made with my students, the opportunity to help them grow as people as discover who they are.
Expanded answer: I love children, I have been babysitting and working with kids since I was 12. Throughout college I worked in day cares every summer. I have actually thought about trying to find a job in another field as classroom positions are so few for the number of applicants but there is just no other field I can see myself working in. I do love the watch the light go on in kids eyes when they learn something new or figure out something they have been struggling with. That was where the realization came to me that I should be a teacher. I tell in my Why I Became a Teacher post and page about the first time I saw that spark go on in a child’s eye. I enjoy helping my students explore and learn about the world around them. Students I’ve worked with at various ages, yes even middle schoolers still sometimes react with awe or wonder at some of the things we learn. Working with kids keeps me young, helps me see the world with young eyes every day. I greatly value the connections made with my students. Hearing from students that they never liked to read until I “made” them read *fill in the blank, usual answer is The Giver or The Outsiders* makes my day every time! I once had a parent who said his daughter never read until I assigned Number the Stars for class then he caught her under the covers with the flashlight after she was supposed to be asleep. He said he was thrilled but joked I shouldn’t assign more books like that because she needs her sleep. I wanted to jump for joy. These successes don’t happen every day or with every student so when they do they are extra special. I treasure that I have the opportunity to help my students grow to watch as they begin to discover who they are as people, who they are in the world.
2) How much do you want to know about your students to be helpful to them?
REAP answer:I need to know my students’ family and educational backgrounds, their learning styles, how they relate to other students and adults, their past successes and failures, and things that are of special interest to them that may help me to make a connection with them.
Expanded answer: I need to know what my students’ family backgrounds are, where do they come from, what cultures are they a part of as I want to recognize and celebrate those cultures. I’d like to know their families educational backgrounds not because I believe a parent’s education level is any indicator of student intelligence but because I have often seen students under great pressure to do well in school because parents have high levels of education themselves or because parents want their child to be the first in the family to go to college. I want to know how my students have performed in the past. My students always start the year in my class with an empty slate but I do want to know where they excelled in the past and where they struggled. I want to know how they learn best. Varying the type of activities in class is something I try to do as much as possible but when I know that there are students that learn a certain way (say kinesthetically) I make sure to include activities that address that learning style. Successes and failures, it’s always good when you can remind a student of things they have done well in the past. Telling them a previous teacher bragged about how well they did in fractions, story writing, or science experiments is a great way to pull them out of a funk. All kids get frustrated at times it helps to remind them that though they may be struggling in some areas they excel in others, it’s a reminder of how each person is an individual. Recognizing students for their strengths by allowing them to assist others in those areas helps build community and build self-confidence. On the opposite end I want to know where they had troubles in the past, I want to be prepared to help them, I can then watch for every opportunity to give positive reinforcement in those areas. Finding out my students interests has been a way to connect with them when we have similar interests, motivate them by allowing them to pick a song from a pre-selected school appropriate playlist to play when they finish working, or get them reading by finding books and stories that match those interests.
Ok so there are answers for the first two questions with more to follow. I just wish I could share these versions on REAP.