Teacher Identity

When we determine who we are as teachers, we must take our strengths and weaknesses into consideration. Our identity is who we are as professional educators. I know for me, it is easier for me to write about what my students identify me as, instead of myself, but maybe that is human nature. Teacher’s identities can vary throughout their teaching career, and can change throughout the day. I will say my identity changes based on the class level I am teaching, the student body and the needs of the students. 

Next, when we break down who we are, we need to look at all aspects of our teaching. The world of education is changing and that is due to the integration of technology. Instead of basing learning off of recall, we can now have students analyze, infer and further synthesize information to create, design and develop 21st century skills. 

“The Partnership for 21st Century Learning (2015) includes Learning and Innovation Skills in its Framework for 21st Century Learning. They define these learning and innovation skills as creativity and innovation, critical thinking and problem solving, communication, and collaboration” (Keiler, 2018).

It is our job to guide students in the right direction and allow for students to create their own learning. We as educators need to have an identity of a guide and reference for our students. We want them to flourish and develop their own identities.

 As a teacher identify as a coordinator of learning in a student centered educational environment.  I can guide students to learn workplace readiness skills, technological skills and soft skills. These can all be developed while learning curriculum as long as students are provided with the tools and materials to do so. Keeping ourselves up to date with professional development can help with the expansion of our identity. Sure, we always will be who we are and each have a unique personality but we will all continue to grow as people and educators. Allowing for our identity to fulturate with the common goal of making sure we are helping educate the future to be successful with the tools they have been provided. 

Keiler, L. S. (2018). Teachers’ roles and identities in student-centered classrooms. International Journal of STEM Education, 5(1). doi: 10.1186/s40594-018-0131-6

To what extent should we allow students to figure things out for themselves?

When it comes to learning, sometimes the best way is to learn from our mistakes. This teaches students perseverance and the ability to problem-solve to figure things out for themselves. Letting students struggle allows for them to chance to tackle the task at hand and work through it. This keeps students engaged, as long as the goals are attainable. Finding the right level of struggle or challenge is key to be constructive and instructive (Seeley, 2009).  “Jennifer Zosh has discovered that toddlers learn new words more effectively by using their knowledge about the world to infer the label of an object, rather than by simply being instructed and told which word goes with which object (McDade, 2013). This just proves that students must explore their environments and develop a sense of understanding for themselves, instead of spoon-feeding students. The best way to do this is to design instruction that matches the level of the students, which can be a challenge for some teachers as they have students at different levels. Knowing the transition of the students from arousal to anxiety can help teachers determine that balance to create effective challenges for students (Strauss, 2015).

McDade, M. (2013). Children learn better when they figure things out for themselves.

Seeley, C. (2009). Constructive Struggling.

Strauss, V. (2015, April 21). What is the value of letting students struggle in class? teachers answers.

How can we prepare student brains for the effort, troubleshooting, and uncertainty that comes with Making?

Human cerebrum top view hand draw engraving vintage clip art isolated on white background

̈ The maker movement in education is built upon the foundation of constructionism, which is the philosophy of hands- on learning through building things ̈ (Kurti, 2014, p.8 ). 

When introducing a new topic, such as the maker movement, it is always valuable to promote students to have a growth mindset to help students troubleshoot and keep trying, even if they do not get the results they want on the first try. When it comes to the brain, we must train it, just like any other muscle in our bodies. According to the Netflix Series, ̈The Mind Explained ̈, we must be mindful of our body and surroundings. In order to do that we must work out the brain, by meditating for example. This is a great tool to use in the classroom to help students strive with effort, troubleshoot and understand uncertainty. An example that was shared was beginner meditators don’t see change right away, they must continue to do it, to strengthen the brain. Meditation in the classroom would help students respond better to pain, aka the uncertainty and frustration that may come with troubleshooting. Teaching students to welcome the uncertainty and use that to fuel the engagement of making. When engaging students in the maker movement, it is important to prime students, which occurs prior to the learning event, which accelerates the understanding of concepts. In order to get the maximum value out of this theory, exposure to priming words is key to get students flowing in the learning process. Through understanding how the brain works and responds to uncertainty, teachers are better able to help students push through and keep going with a new concept, such as the maker space. 

Jensen, E. (2005). Teaching with the Brain in Mind (Vol. 2nd ed., and updated). Alexandria, Va: ASCD. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=141347&site=ehost-live

Kurti, S., Kurti, D., & Flemming, L. (2014). The Philosophy of Educational Makerspaces, 8–11. Retrieved from https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/c1c9/1df674af209b768853efebed8764324b4698.pdf

 Netflix Series “The Mind Explained”, Episode “Mindfulness”

What is the link between “tinkering”, “hard play”, and the “growth mindset”?

Tinkering is defined as a mindset, that is a fun way to approach and solve problems through direct direct experiences. This combines social and creative forces through play and learning (Martinez).  When students tinker with learning, they are exploring and challenging themselves to try new things and explore facets of education that they might not have in the past. As stated in the video, we must praise our students throughout every process that they may do. This includes their efforts, strategies, progress and improvements. Leading to a positive classroom, leading into having a growth mindset vs a fixed mindset. 

When we think of learning as educators, we must think about the mindset of students and promoting positive messages throughout all stages. A growth mindset “ thrives on challenge and sees failure not as evidence of unintelligence but as a heartening springboard for growth and for stretching our existing abilities” (Popva). With a growth mindset, intelligence can be developed and prompts the theory that a person can not complete something- yet. When promoting a growth mindset, students are gaining valuable skills to be successful in their future.  It is better to create a passion for learning than having students reach for approval. 

Martinez, S. L., & Stager, G. (2019). Learning. In C. Sinclair (Ed.), Invent to Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom (pp. 35-44). Torrance, CA: Constructing Modern Knowledge Press.

Popova, M. (2018, September 23). Fixed vs. growth: the two basic mindsets that shape our lives. Retrieved from https://www.brainpickings.org/2014/01/29/carol-dweck-mindset/