The staff at Nespelem School will enable a student to become a thinking, caring, productive person using high academic standards in a positive learning environment.
This is often shortened to:
The staff at Nespelem School will enable a student to become a thinking, caring, productive person using high standards in a positive environment.
I enable students by empowering them with knowledge in the processes, procedures, and communication skills that allow them to participate in any public situation. Included in these skills are the content reading and writing skills of the curriculum as well as the hidden rules of social engagement in a civil society. As such, we practice common courtesies of greetings, dialogue, and debate. We participate in analyzing choices and consequences for assignments and deportment. We engage in procedures and protocol that allow for debate, dialogue, opinions, argument, acknowledgement, collaboration, consensus, problem-solving, decision-making, and goal-setting, all elements of a democratic society. We do this while acknowledging the validity of their opinions and language within their own groups or community.
A thinking person analyzes content or situations before acting on the facts. This is a difficult skill because it demands that we acknowledge our own preconceptions and emotional attachments. It also requires a hold on impulsive responses. One way to empower students to act thoughtfully is through open discussions of issues, such as in a seminar approach. I also confer with impulsive students individually to help them see how their impulsivity prevents them from a successful access to their opportunities. In addition, the curriculum with which I work is adapted to include and provide for different learning styles and different levels of achievement. I try to personalize the lessons as needed for students. I provide scaffolded organizers and procedures to allow students the ability to meet the targets on their own, through their own thinking. My grading reflects student growth and understanding, not simply an average of attempts.
A thinking person analyzes ideas and strategies, planning and revising the how and the what to solve problems; it's what we do to make a decision, plan a project, analyze arguments, make choices. Through projects we learn to plan, act, and produce-- thinking carefully through every step and reflecting on how to do better the next time or the next project.
As I hope the previous information suggests, I care deeply about the personal success of each of my students as a whole child — considering student academic access, emotional well-being, and physical comforts. The emphasis is as much on thinking and emotional strategies as it is on content. The overall goal is the success of each student as each student also works within and with the whole class, meaning that caring is practiced and expected in the classroom by each student. We will conduct “instant replays” to back up a negative action and replay it positively. By focusing on student reading and writing successes, and every student can read and write successfully each day, we are able to acknowledge, appreciate, and applaud each other. Caring is built in and built upon daily.
The curriculum and strategies used in my classroom allow students to produce successful work daily, if the student attends and tries. If I have considered their academic and emotional needs as well as their physical comforts, most students will attend and try. Therefore, I adapt lessons as needed according to student emotional, academic, and behavioral needs. I don’t need an entire essay to know if a student can include vivid verbs in their writing. We acknowledge strong writing from every student each week, which encourages more writing. Success breeds success, and “writing is hard fun.” We enjoy the powerful writing progress we make. Again, I have enabled them with scaffolded lessons in both reading and writing to allow them to think as we enjoy, acknowledge, and applaud our learning success in a caring way.
The curriculum is aligned to the Common Core State Standards. However, I expect more and present the expected standard so students know the achievable target. In addition, the lessons often integrate science and social studies content, elements of socratic seminars, art, music, discussion, analysis, synthesis, application, and evaluation. I understand what 21st Century Skills entail, and have developed curriculum to implement technology skills that involve collaboration, consensus, and creativity as students apply their communication (reading/writing/speaking/listening/communing) skills in online projects in a responsible and ethical manner, often collaborating with other students in other classes around the world. This is essential for successful work and play in the future, no matter what dream each student has to achieve.
Personalities and personas must be respected; students arrive bundles of diverse energy and attitude potential, compounded by various home influences. Yet, they come. They come to visit, and lessons must accommodate that social need. Using humor to disperse potential problems is imperative. Building in the scaffolds and adaptations for success in both processes and content harbors hope. Respect, humor, sociability, appreciation, and stylized lessons with adaptations allow students to positively participate and learn. I’m not much of a “sticker” person; I prefer to individually acknowledge their powerful reading and writing successes, allowing students to voluntarily share with the class for further class appreciation. I guide groups of students towards behavioral success, using peer encouragement. All of this helps students to choose positive behaviors and productive work. From that, student individual kindnesses earn personal accolades. Individual growth academically earns special time (early to lunch, more computer time, teacher aide). The students learn that group focus results in finished work for improved and maintained grades. Good citizenship and finished work earn monthly Citizenship Project Time. Before the special time, however, comes the atmosphere of hope, humor, appreciation, citizenship, and productivity. It’s the climate of the whole child: enabled to think and care about him/herself and others so productivity follows.
Rather than focus on continuously correcting behavior, my emphasis is providing and encouraging a caring climate so that productivity occurs and can be acknowledged as students are engaged in and enabled to grow academically as responsible, thoughtful, caring persons in a challenging, but achievable and appreciative learning environment.
I hope this helps clarify the emphasis I place on our mission statement, which I hope helps our students by providing them the ability to walk and run in many worlds to achieve whatever dream each mind envisions. I hope mostly that we provide them the belief they can achieve their dreams with the unique talents they possess.
Thanks for asking; it’s always great fun to reassess one’s pedagogy.
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