If I Were a Teacher
After being a mother of two children, one in kindergarten and one in Grade 4, I have developed numerous opinions on what I would do if I were a teacher. On the one hand, I understand that teachers have to grapple with bureaucracy which limits the innovations they can apply to improve learning outcomes. On the other hand, teachers have a critical role to play in transforming the education system. They can include radical as well as incremental changes in how they teach if they can alter how they see education and its purpose. For me, education has the primary goals of developing each child’s unique abilities according to their talents and preferences and preparing them to be meaningful contributors to their society. With this vision of education, if I were a teacher, I will abolish tests, realize and nurture multiple intelligences, and teach the subject only after having a sound knowledge of my students’ diverse identities.
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As a teacher, I will abolish tests because they are not accurate indicators of intelligence on specific knowledge, skills, or values, whichever is being “tested.” Tests are quick ways of knowing not how much a student has truly learned but how “good” they are at memorizing. Definitely, I am uninterested in testing memory skills. For instance, if I teach English in grade school, tests cannot provide a sufficient way of measuring reading comprehension skills. Even if I do include tests, I will not use them to determine the final grade but to assess how well they are doing. If I want to measure comprehension, I will ask my students to write reaction and argumentative papers which will deeply assess their understanding of the material. They can hardly react on and argue about the text if they fail to understand it. Another example is history. I will not test the knowledge of my students on facts. Instead, I can help them memorize them more naturally if they make an analysis or reaction paper about it. If they can develop strong emotions about the topics, I believe memorizing will come more easily.
Besides eradicating exams’ impact on grades, I will acknowledge and develop multiple intelligences through using diverse teaching approaches, materials, and activities. I know that I should not teach a fish to climb a tree and expect it to excel. Some students prefer visual learning while others prefer to study by doing, also called kinesthetic learners. I will respond to these different intelligences by devising approaches, materials, and activities that are appropriate to the latter. For example, if I am teaching the topic of history of pre-Spanish times, I will have different project options for my students, such as writing an individual research paper or group paper, drawing a reaction and writing a short paper to explain it, and creating a presentation for deeper analysis. In other words, I will avoid limiting my students in expressing and honing their natural intelligences.
Finally, if I were a teacher, I will teach only after I know who my students are because their identity affects their attitudes towards learning in general and learning the subject per se. The first two to three days in class will be devoted to knowing who they are, their demographics and specific hobbies and interests. I will also ask them either to write or provide a recording or video about how they see education, how they study, and why/when they are motivated to learn or not. Clearly, I desire to deeply know who they are so that I can connect my teaching to their identities and dreams in life because I believe this can make learning and studying topics more relevant and enjoyable to them.
If I were a teacher, I will change how and why I teach. I will help them achieve their highest abilities in my class through understanding and responding to different forms of learning and intelligence. Fundamentally, I will teach according to my students’ identities because I am not only their teacher but also the facilitator of their full becoming as independent and productive human beings.