Week 1 challenge is to blog on one of two topics (favorite open-ended/rich problem or what makes your classroom distinct).
I believe that there are a few characteristics that make my classroom distinct, so I choose the “easier” writing prompt. I have already blogged about my NO HOMEWORK philosophy. Students are not requesting to “transfer” into my class because of it, but I truly believe in the philosophy.
Students want to be in my class for one reason: my ability to help students make the necessary connections that lead to student learning. I believe in connections as much as I believe in no homework. Both are at the very foundation of my teaching philosophy. Learning occurs because of the connections made between the student and the material. I look for connections to previous knowledge. I look for connections to make the material relevant to the student. I look for connections to future concepts. Yet, the most important connection that I spend the most energy and effort looking for is creating a personal connection between myself and my students. I am the teacher I am because of these connections. I connect with students because I have a sense of humor. I connect because I care. I connect with students because I am passionate and persistent. I connect because I strive for mastery from myself and from my students. How do I show this? I celebrate the small success, I go to their extracurricular activities, I ask about their weekend, I listen to their jokes (and I even tell my corny ones too), I notice when they seem down, I notice when they seem excited, I notice when they are tired, I notice, I notice, I notice.
Teaching is so much more than the math we teach. Students want people to care about them. Students want to connect with others. I am not the only teacher who cares, but it does make my classroom distinct.