As an educator, I am a realistic optimist. I wholeheartedly believe that every student in my classroom has the potential to grow. However, I am also aware that every one of my students comes to my classroom with a different set of given circumstances--circumstances that they do not have the luxury of choosing. Race, economic status, available resources, and educational history come together to determine the starting line for each student in my classroom.
Education is proposed as the “great equalizer of the conditions of humankind.”7 In many ways, I believe this to be true. Unfortunately, resources are rarely divided equitably among school districts. And, inevitably, the poorer districts tend to suffer in this regard. This leaves teachers and students struggling to meet goals.
I want to make it clear that I understand that my students deserve equal access to the same resources as their contemporaries in the wealthier districts and I realize that in order to close educational gaps money is necessary. However, when an educator takes the time to get to know their students, to see their strengths and weaknesses, they can create curriculum, design lesson plans, and choose content that each student can see themselves reflected in. I believe that this is one small step to take that could fill some of the gaps that our students see due to a lack of funding.
School funding is outside of my control. What is inside of my control is how I choose to design my lessons, the relationships that I build with my students, and the opportunities that I can provide. In order to create authentic lessons that my students can latch onto, I must take the time to reflect on my practice and on their identities. I take advantage of the information gleaned from these reflections to (hopefully) create exciting and authentic content for my students.
Ultimately, this is my philosophy on teaching. Listen to your students and respond to their needs in the best way that you can.