This module focuses on the elementary age child.
A sense of dedication probably led you to teaching.
It ought to be second nature to be a great teacher.
You love learning and thinking.
You treasure kids.
You have a dedication to make a difference
. . . and then you find out how complex, how truly difficult great teaching
Success in student management is directly linked to why
we become teachers and how we feel about children. Successful teaching
and learning is linked to what we know about children, how they develop,
how they learn and where each is on the progression toward physical, emotional,
philosophical, social and intellectual health and well being. Of course,
it also joins with what we know about our own development and our personal
desire to grow, to mature, and to self actualize.
Teaching is hard work! A great teacher is a combination of energy, enthusiasm,
love of the subject, and love of children. It is time intensive and draining.
It requires complex problem solving skills, the ability to understand
nonverbal cues, to be intuitive, and very focused. A great teacher is
emotionally intelligent and acquires finesse in interpersonal and intrapersonal
Part of this kind of savvy comes from understanding human nature; that
is, understanding self, understanding group behavior, and understanding
the development of human beings. Once we have a basic understanding of
child development, we are more able to recognize when a student is behaving
in a growing, consolidating, or unhealthy way. That facilitates understanding
and working successfully with students in our schools. This is important
because children differ from one another, the way they learn and when
and what they are ready to learn.
From understanding general development principles, we move to a more individualized
look at the youngsters in our classes. Each student is an individual,
and each is distinctive -- special! The idea of working with a child,
one on one, can and does work, but with 30 students, that individualization
is difficult. In the high school, with 150-200 students each day, it's
virtually impossible. Somehow, teaching becomes lecturing or text reading.
Contributing to children's lives some days becomes keeping a lid on the
dynamics and keeping everyone safe. Some days its hard to spend a couple
of significant minutes with each youth. Since our time is so limited and
the work so hard, we who love teaching learn to work smarter.
A critical component of smart teaching comes from understanding developmental
principles in such a way that we can apply it to individual students --
one more link in the chain.
In the next readings we will examine the steps involved
in healthy growth, recognizing ways to enhance student motivation and
assist students in the quest for self responsibility. As we see ways that
student are stuck or developmentally delayed, we can help them to take
steps toward health, self worth and holistic growth.
So often, those students who seem the most puzzling, the least available
to learn or make a true bond, are also those who are "stuck"
developmentally. It often follows that the pressure put on children who
are behind serves to perpetuate or deepen the lack of growth or regressive
Understanding development will provide links to more than better achievement
scores, better grades, enhanced classroom management. It enhances student
well being. It forges community and builds the child.
You should now:
Go on to the first reading response.
Go back to Elementary
Ellsworth at Janne.Ellsworth@nau.edu
Course developed by J'Anne
Northern Arizona University
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED