Are You An Intentional Teacher?
"Intentional teachers raise their voices to facilitate positive change in education."
Ask the next ten teachers you meet why they picked education as a career and the majority will tell you that the decision was all about making a difference. The ones that have remained true to this mission, positive and dedicated in spite of countless challenges, frustrations, budget cuts, and much more, are those admirable leaders known as intentional teachers. Are you one?
Intentional teachers identify teachable moments and are prepared to use them to best advantage. Intentional teachers are those determined to make every second of classroom time count. Their daily goal is to make as significant and lasting an impact on their students as possible particularly when the unplanned opportunity arises. When one student careens into another knocking her and everything she was carrying to the floor, and then insensitively grins at the humor in the situation, an intentional teacher can parlay the situation into a lesson. An intentional teacher will likely model the correct behavior in such a situation and then facilitate a valuable discussion perhaps about ethical classroom and personal behavior, and/or the golden rule. Mishaps take place in every classroom, but an intentional teacher does more than discipline, send the victim to the nurse, and move on. An intentional teacher will optimize the chance to go above and beyond.
Intentional teachers teach beyond the subject. Many such educators tap the opportunity to integrate something extra into every lesson plan, integrating life lessons into classroom exercises normally associated with standard subject matter. For example, some educators build the mathematical problems and projects in their lesson plans to augment discussions about social and environmental issues. The calculations that are done teach and reinforce the required mathematical concepts while opening discussions about the issues that include organic versus non-organic farming, commercial farming versus family owned, or costs of various waste management options (incineration versus recycling versus construction of landfills). Each such lesson teaches the mechanics of mathematics and its application, but also the social values at the core of such issues. In like manner, other educators have discovered how easily they can weave basic ethics language and concepts (beneficence, autonomy, justice, veracity) into basic classroom work from English composition to American History to the Sciences.
Intentional teachers raise their voices to facilitate positive change in education. There are many opportunities for educators to unite and speak up against the ineffective processes and problems they face. The voices of intentional teachers, critical if positive change is ever to come about, can be shared and amplified in countless ways.
> • Write and speak about ways education can be improved. Look for the Call for Papers announced for upcoming educational conferences at which you can share your ideas and unite with others of similar mind. Use these opportunities to raise your voice and inspire others.
> • Join with other educators at local and national levels, by attending organizational meetings, blogs, and online groups. These environments that promote and support the exchange of ideas among peers create positive breeding grounds for excellent practical solutions to everyday classroom problems to which you can contribute.
> • Join letter writing or email campaigns to congressmen and senators to make your opinion known when educational issues come to a vote. The teachers and professors like yourself are the true experts on education in this country, and therefore have a responsibility to guide and inform the civil servants who represent them.
> • Vote conscientiously for local and national candidates with education in mind, and encourage your peers to do the same. According to the last US Census, there are 6.2 million teachers in the United States, 6.2 million potential voters in the next national election. Your vote, united those of your peers can certainly make a difference.
Ultimately, your interest in reading this article was predicated by the fact that you are, or are aspiring to be an intentional teacher. As such you should be aware that you and your intentional peers are the heartbeat and agents of long awaited, positive changes in American pedagogy and practices. In your hands is the mission and responsibility of preparing your students to take their place as heirs of a global superpower that will surely make an impact on the future. Thus, every classroom is, for all intents and purposes, a small part of the world stage upon which intentional teachers like you can make a global difference.
By Rosanna Pittella MA PhD
Register for their upcoming conference, One Voice
All members of Teaching will are eligible for a professional courtesy discount of $25.00 on all Early Bird registrations (on or before 3/30/08), and $35.00 on Standard and Late Registrations. Additionally, members of Teaching are invited to submit proposals to speak at the conference (deadline April 30th).
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