By Guest Writer, Ali Parrish
I was recently asked what my favorite part of teaching is. While I could list a myriad of things that I enjoy about teaching, I narrowed the list down to two areas: character education & education that enables learners to reach their personal potential.
#1 Character Education
"The heart of education is the education of the heart." Author Unknown. What good is it to teach a man to read, if the content of his reading is opposed to the well-being of his fellowman? What good is it for an individual to learn to write, if his/her writing does not imbue positive influence on others? Learning to read, write, think scientifically, reason mathematically, appreciate history, produce artwork- all of these are great abilities but what outcomes are they enabling? To what avail are they without an educated heart?
Truly, parents are the primary professors that educate hearts and it is largely learned in the laboratory we refer to as "home sweet home." For me, working in close partnership with parents is one of the aspects of my job that I love most. Parent Teacher Conferences are some of my favorite nights of the year: celebrating students' successes, reflecting on students' personal progress, allowing students to determine personal goals and supporting them and their parents in working toward those areas of needed progress. What a purposeful partnership! Does it get better than that?
In a school setting, lasting lessons are learned regarding character as well: how to encourage others, wanting what is best for others, celebrating others' successes, communicating kindly, just to name a few. There is nothing like the "heart to hearts" in the hallway when misunderstandings have misled feelings and when hearts have been hurt. Helping a child learn how to consider others’ feelings, communicate well with others, take personal responsibility and create friendships are lessons that create a better life not only for that child/future adult, but they are same lessons that would make for a better world overall. There is nothing like seeing something behind a child's eyes illuminate and then sensing the softening of a heart as they learn the curriculum of character. Lessons like these constitute some of the most meaningful moments of my teaching career.
#2 Education that Enables Students to Reach Their Personal Potential
Has there been anyone in your life who has helped you learn what your personal strengths are? Has anyone ever helped you tap into your interests to create more personal meaning of your life?
One of my favorite aspects of teaching is helping my students learn about their strengths and then helping them learn the skills they need to maximize their personal potential. I love going through the following process to help my students to recognize their personal strengths, set personal goals and develop skills to achieve their goals.
- Identify their personal strengths: http://viame.org/
- Identify their areas of personal interest: Student Survey | Parent Survey
- Identify how they learn best: Learning Styles Survey
- Set academic goals incorporating their strengths, interests, learning style and personal ability: Goal-Actions Worksheet
- Monitor their personal progress: Student Goal Charts
- Teach them the skills they need to achieve their goals: organization, planning, study skills, self-discipline, etc.
It is my hope that as my students learn about their strengths and interests, as well as the skills they need to set and follow through with meaningful goals they will learn much more than reading, writing, math, science and art, but that they will learn to make the most of their lives.
Ali Parrish teaches 5th grade in the Nebo School District in Utah.