In this ever-increasing technological age, we are faced with some amazing capabilities in education. We have learned about current and future trends in educational technology, hardware and software, the necessity and importance of integrating technology into our curriculum, a vast number of technological tools, the importance of reflection and blogging, collaboration and teamwork, and the necessity of teaching to our students’ needs rather than for our own convenience. With so many amazing possibilities in education today, we must continually strive to better ourselves to become the teachers that our students need and deserve. And one thing we must always remember is that our students are not just intellectual beings in need of information, but multi-faceted individuals with complex characteristics.
For this journal entry, I would like to address the importance of teacher awareness in education and teaching to the whole child. In recent weeks, my school has gone through some rather difficult times with the passing of one of our former students – a 14-year-old young man, who felt that the only way to deal with his life was by taking it. Needless to say, we were extremely saddened by this loss. As I personally reflected on this devastating event, I began thinking about my responsibility as a teacher in the lives of my students. Am I supposed to continue teaching my curriculum? Yes, of course. But my students are not just a “brain” waiting to acquire knowledge. They are a whole being, with “physical, moral, social, emotional, spiritual, and aesthetic” needs, as well. (Noddings, 2005). Some people may believe that teachers have no business getting involved in other aspects of their students’ lives. But the way I see it, we spend, on average, around 6 1/2 hours with our kids five days a week. I believe this qualifies us to be dynamic influences in the lives of our students.
According to the Noddings article, the history of education emphasized whole child teaching early on. “In his 1818 Report of the Commissioners for the University of Virginia, for example, Thomas Jefferson included in the ‘objects of primary education’ such qualities as morals, understanding of duties to neighbors and country, knowledge of rights, and intelligence and faithfulness in social relations.” (Noddings, 2005). I believe that we should continually strive to be role models for our students, constantly representing good character, exhibiting genuine happiness, demonstrating positive social relationships, and simply being “real” to our students. Should we still set boundaries for our students? Absolutely. But at the same time, I believe it is extremely important to maintain a safe environment in our classrooms, making sure our students feel accepted and loved, allowing for them to feel comfortable enough to share their needs, and staying aware of situations in our students’ lives.
So how can I make sure I am teaching the whole child? I believe it begins with “integrating these healthy qualities into our …character development… and our classrooms and model them on a daily basis.” (Wesley Prep, 2012).
- Understanding the importance of self-control
- Recognizing and eliciting trust, help, and praise for others
- Empathizing with the perspectives of others
- Choosing our friends wisely
- Sharing, waiting, and participating in groups
- Giving and receiving help and criticism
- Identifying one’s goals
- Expressing and accurately labeling feelings
- Employing the art of reflection and thinking in alternative ways to solve problems
- Considering short- and long-term decisions made and how they will affect oneself or others
- Practicing how to exercise leadership, accept diversity, and demonstrate desirable attributes such as honesty, integrity, responsibility, compassion, and caring
Although this posting was not necessarily about technology in the classroom, I want to point out that with proper instruction in online collaboration and journal entry through blogging, I believe that technology may give our kids the means and opportunity to relate their feelings and get help in their times of need. It is our responsibility to show them the right way to communicate using these forums, however. So, we must remain active and “personal” in our kids’ lives, as well.
Our kids need us – not only as someone who distributes knowledge, but as a mentor. This means that we have to find a way to incorporate character training into our curriculum, because “it only takes one person to make a difference in the life of a child.” (Jones, n.d.)
Jones, Melanie (n.d.). Welcome to Speak to Children. [Web article]. Retrieved from http://www.speaktochildren.org/index2.html
Noddings, Nel (Sept., 2005). What Does It Mean to Educate the Whole Child? [Web article]. Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/sept05/vol63/num01/What-Does-It-Mean-to-Educate-the-Whole-Child%C2%A2.aspx
Roeder, Phil (Aug. 2011). Back to School [Web photo]. Retrieved from http://www.flickr.com/photos/tabor-roeder/6085668928/
Teacher Files. (n.d.). Clip Art – Word Art and School Signs. [Web resource]. Retrieved from http://teacherfiles.com/clip_words.htm
Wesley Prep (2012). Teaching the Whole Child. [Web article]. Retrieved from http://www.wesleyprep.org/node/38