Essentials PEPSI Elementary Adolescence Advanced CD
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ESE504 : The Class : Essentials : Introduction

Introduction to Development

A sense of dedication probably led you to teaching.
It ought to be second nature to teach.
You love learning.
You treasure kids.
You want to make a difference!
. . . And then you find out how complex, how truly difficult it really is.

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 great 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 intelligence.

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 are really quite different from one another.

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 look for ways 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 first module, we will explore five areas of development. We will see how they apply to youngsters, and the way they contribute to better education and a more satisfying experience. By understanding the steps involved in healthy growth, we can recognize ways to enhance student motivation and assist students in the quest for self responsibility.

As we see ways that students are stuck, or developmentally delayed, we can help them to take steps toward health, self worth and growth. So often, those students who seem the most puzzling, the least available to learn or bond, are also those who are “stuck” developmentally. Understanding development will provide links to more than better scores, better management, it enhances student well being. It forges community and builds the child!

You should now:

Go on to Linking Child Development to Teaching
Go back to Essentials

E-mail J'Anne Ellsworth at

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Course developed by J'Anne Ellsworth


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