Special to the Review
The following is a speech by Yavapai County Teacher of the Year Brandy Cox from Del Rio Elementary School, that she gave Sept. 30 at the Arizona School Association Yavapai County Workshop at her school:
Good evening and welcome to Del Rio Elementary School and the Chino Valley Unified School district. I am here tonight to represent all the wonderful teachers that I have the opportunity to work with.
Teaching a classroom of children is like opening a box of crayons, seeing the brightness and uniqueness of each individual. My philosophy about teaching is that every child will learn if given the opportunity in a classroom filled with enthusiasm, encouragement, challenge, acceptance and hope. The teacher defines the classroom. She must be a thermostat, not a thermometer. She must create a learning environment for her students that enable them to reach their potential. She knows the child's strengths and weaknesses and utilizes these strengths to overcome weaknesses and utilizes these strengths to overcome weaknesses and meet the demands of the curriculum.
"The teaching profession is as strong as each teacher in the classroom." A teaching degree is not the end of training for a teacher, it is only the beginning. I collaborate daily with teachers as well as administration. I do my best each day in the classroom in order for each student to gain the most from their day at school. My belief is that a child needs to be loved and nurtured first before they can learn. The child is a child first, not a score on a test or a check mark on a data sheet. However, knowledge of the child's skill set can be found in these scores, as well as report cards and curriculum-based assessments. This knowledge is important and enables me to remediate the child's deficits and establish a starting point to continue the child through the Arizona State Standards.
Beyond this data, I also know the individual students learning style is vital to their successful learning. For each student I must ask myself is this child an auditory learner or a visual learner or kinesthetic learner? Is this child a risk taker? Does this child need more wait time or more repetition in order to successfully learn a task? What does this child enjoy? What motivates this child? What keeps this child from being successful? Being an observer of every child and having the knowledge of child development is instrumental in understanding the specific child and helping them attain the highest level of academic achievement. I also realize that it is a team effort between home and school. I may have a class of twenty-two students but for individual parents, I have their one child. I strive to always value the parental concerns and input.
Today more than ever our nation is facing some major public educational issues. Some of the issues that quickly come to mind are, No child Left Behind, teacher quality, cultural diversity, financial resources, school safety, class size, school choice, and so many more. All of these issues have potential to impact the learning environment. While I care about all of these issues, the one that I feel strongest about is teacher quality. It is my belief that a highly qualified teacher can reduce the impact these issues have on their individual students.
My philosophy of education encompasses the importance of highly qualified teachers. We need high quality teachers committed to working with schools and making a difference in the lives of all the students they educate. To be a highly qualified teacher you must be able to give instruction both as a group and individually. Teachers must prepare lessons that meet children where they are, and take them where they need to be according to state standards. Teachers need to be on the cutting edge of curriculum knowing what motivates their students and creates excitement about learning. Collaboration allows for strengthening and improving our own education as well as the lives of the students in the school. As we collaborate as professionals, sharing and planning in the best interest of the students we teach everyone benefits. Being able to work well with colleagues, administrators and school boards is vital to the overall success of the education each and every student will receive. We must realize that the end result is what our goal needs to be, and how better then to accept that we are all in this learning adventure together; classroom teachers, administrators, school board members and parents. I can honestly say that the support and encouragement that I get from my kindergarten team and all the other teachers and staff here at Del Rio Elementary make me who I am today. We meet regularly to plan and implement strategies that will make our teaching more creative and exciting for all of us involved. It is our own motivation that makes us who we are, but it is our connections with those we collaborate that allow us to make the greatest possible impact.
Although this issues facing our nation's educational system today are endless, there is always hope for every child. As a teacher we can still make a positive difference in the lives of each and every student we encounter. During the school day, a classroom teacher has the power to have children put aside all the outside influences and worries and feel comfortable knowing that they are cared for and loved while opening their minds to the many possibilities that they truly have within education.
A classroom is a small community where children can rejoice in each other's successes and aid each other in their weaknesses. Within this community of learners, all students learn how to work with each other. Students are able to help others who are struggling, building their knowledge of the skill while learning about acceptance and empathy of children with unique challenges. Regardless of all the challenges and worries around the world, a teacher can make the classroom a safe place where children can learn and grow. In short, the classroom can be and environment where the teacher inspires greatness yet allows a child to be a kid.
Teachers make the difference, not the facilities nor the curriculum. The teacher not only molds the hopes and dreams of her students, but also inspires their attitudes toward their future and themselves. If the teacher loves her students and has high expectations of them, their self-confidence will grow and their future will blossom. Attitude is everything. Keep your attitude bright and cheerful. Give your students the gift of acceptance, self-confidence, and possibilities.
We all know that teaching without the support of others like you who are present tonight would be impossible. Thank you for your presence here tonight and in the investment you are making in the lives of our children.