Personal Teaching Philosophy

     

     Teaching is a calling, it is a privilege, and a great responsibility.  Being a teacher is rewarding and inspiring.  There is not a day that goes by that I do not learn from my students.  Teaching is much more than just textbooks and state standards.  Teaching is showing students how to be responsible, respectful, caring, and hard working.  In the best educational environments, life lessons are learned just as much as academic lessons.  I am often the first to arrive and the last to leave the building.  I come to school on the weekends, holidays, and even snow days to make sure my students have the very best opportunities for learning.  I realize that for some of my students school is their safest home, therefore, I go to great lengths to make sure our classroom is a positive learning environment.  I realize the importance of being a life-long learner and strive to continue to grow as an educator. 

     I never say no to an opportunity to help in the betterment of my school.  Sometimes that means working extra ballgames, or finding ways to improve current systems.  Other times, it means getting in the dunking booth to raise money for our school.  I take a genuine interest in who my students are as people.  If my students are involved in extra curricular activities after school, I make sure to attend each of their activities at least once.  Sometimes, I even forgo my planning to go to gym with my students.  

     Often the greatest rewards in teaching come at the most unexpected times with the most unexpected students.  One of the most rewarding moments in my career came from a boy who walked in on the first day of class with a very bad attitude.  This child hated school and stated the only thing he was good at was getting in trouble.  I assured him this year would be different.  The day before our winter break this same boy gave me a pair of earrings and told me thank you.  His mom, who did not have transportation, came to school to personally tell me that her son said he wanted to get Mrs. Burkhart earrings for Christmas because she had changed the way he thought about school.  Sometimes the rewards of teaching are clear, as was this touching moment.  Other times, the special and rewarding moments in teaching come to fruition days, months, or even years later.  They are the moments that seemed insignificant at the time, but you later learn that a spark was ignited within a student and you had something to do with that spark.  I have high, but achievable, expectations for all of my students. 

     My teaching style is interactive, engaging, and centered on praise and mutual respect.  I do not have many behavior issues, but when issues do arise they are dealt with calmly and swiftly.  I know that I could always do a better job, which is why my students get to fill out report cards on me.  I always learn a lot when I am graded.  I am considered to be a challenging teacher due to my high expectations, but most of the time students live up to the expectations that are set before them.  My students consider me and my policies to be reasonably strict, but I am often thanked for preparing students for today’s educational demands.  Students also say that I teach with a sense of humor and often state they did not realize that math could be so much fun.  I was never a good math student myself, which I believe makes me a great math teacher.  I understand that the skills they are learning are challenging, so I pride myself on creating an atmosphere where students feel comfortable to ask questions without fear of ridicule.