I firmly believe that all students can learn. While students may come to us with a wide scope of ability levels, it is our job as educators to further them on the path of knowledge. In addition, we must be sensitive to the fact that not all students learn in the same way. While assessment should drive instruction, we have a duty to ensure that this assessment is fair to our increasingly multicultural students. Students should be allowed more ways than the traditional “paper and pencil” tests to show they have mastered state and district standards.
Education should strive not only to make students knowledgeable in the state standards, but also to make them positive, respectful, contributing members of society. There is a place in this world for every child, and we must nurture each one to reach his or her full potential while being respectful of their differences. Our classrooms should be model learning communities, based on mutual respect between teacher and pupil.
While I am an advocate of requiring teachers to be “highly qualified” in the subjects that they teach, I do not think that passing a simple test makes one a quality teacher. A good teacher should also have an intrinsic love and respect for students and believe that every one of them can learn. This can not be taught nor shown by passing a test.
Teachers should be role models of life-long learners. How can we expect students to be excited about learning if we are not? We should strive to constantly reflect on our teaching and how we might improve it. In addition, teachers should stay cognizant of new movements in the field of education that might improve our own learning and that of our students.
Every day I look forward to coming to school to teach. It gives me purpose and immense satisfaction when I can make a difference in students’ lives. As Lee Iacoca once said, “In a completely rational society, the best of us would aspire to be teachers and the rest of us would have to settle for something less, because passing civilization along from one generation to the next ought to be the highest honor and highest responsibility anyone could have.”