Personal Narrative

Who am I? Sounds like a complex question, right? You bet! Let's start with the basics. My name is Robert David Andrews and I am a triple major at Cardinal Stritch University. I know what you are all thinking... triple major, he will be here for eight years. Now while the business office would love that, I plan on being out in only four and one-half years. My majors are mathematics, computer science, and secondary education grades 6 to 12. I hope to get a job in a school district with a large technology base working as a network administrator and a computer science teacher. I also plan on developing my consulting firm further.

Now here I am at Stritch learning how to teach. Or is it how to learn? One of my mentors always referred to herself as the lead learner, not a teacher, because she believed we are always learning. This is a philosophy on which I want to build. I feel that the best teacher is one that can develop trust relationships with their students as well as provide a strong role model. I have worked to accomplish this so far by being a leader in my local 4-H club as well as a counselor at Badger Boys State, a program that stresses citizenship. My work at Badger Boys State has been one of the best learning experiences I have had. This program allows me to work with high school juniors in situations ranging from class-like sessions to housing and athletics. Currently, I am working on a national leadership team for my church to plan a conference for the summer of 2000 with 54,000 high school age youth.

So what are my views on teaching? I have several beliefs that have been developing. The first is that students need to develop all parts of themselves to be a productive member of society. One element that is key to educating children is to teach in a style that is compatible with their learning style. This involves the teacher using many strategies and techniques in their class to impact the information. We must design our teaching to the style in which the brain will comprehend the information the best. Incorporating the mind means that students should be actively involved in the learning process. Instead of just listening, students need to think about topics, as well as analyze, process, and apply other forms of higher level thinking. To fully understand material, it "needs time to sink in." This allows the brain time to process the information. Teachers need to stop "filling in the spaces" and allow "spaces" for children to think. Education for the body is also important. These activities should involve physical movement. Social skills must also be taught. In the past, many teachers have discouraged talking with friends or others. I feel that it is important for a teacher to provide proper places and times for student interaction to take place. Finally, the spirit, or intuitive nature of a student, must also receive attention. Some of the best ways I found to accomplish this is to use real world experiences and hands-on experiments.

One part of teaching that is not mentioned often is the learning environment. The reason most children are not motivated to learn is because the environment poses threats. The environment in which the most productive learning takes place is one that is relaxing and encouraging. The reason I did not say classroom in place of environment is because learning should not just take place in the classroom. Educators should opt for chances to take a field trip or have a guest speaker. And finally, the brain learns best when the body is calm and the mind trusting. Teachers need to create a classroom that is nurturing. If the classroom is not relaxing and caring, downshifting, or mental retreating, becomes more apparent.

As a person in general, I find that I am a perfectionist and an overachiever. Both of these work together, as positives and negatives. I tend to be very detail orientated. However, I have a hard time delegating work to other people. This causes me to be extremely busy. I have been working very hard the last couple of years in learning to trust that others' work is good and that it will be fine. I also have a propensity to take things two steps beyond where they have to be. As you can see in this portfolio, I take items to the extremes. While this is good, I have to be careful not to burn myself out.

With regards to my classroom management style, it pulls heavily from my teaching philosophy stated above. I want a classroom of respect, one where I can become the lead learner, not the authoritarian in the front of the class. I want to have a class where students feel like they want to learn. Part of this comes from the physical environment, but most of it falls on the teachers and how they present the material. We have looked at the philosophies of how to make items more motivational and engaging to students. In my teaching experience I have found that I convey a very energetic excitement about my subject matter to the students. This energy is a very positive motivator. In teaching computers, there is a very realistic response to the actions they take - they are able to control a device and see the results immediately.

From my students, I expect them to be prepared for class with all of their materials. I expect the students to be in their seats when the bell rings. I hope that they will want to learn when they are in my class. I expect that students will complete all assignments. I want the students to have a good time learning and if there is anything that I can do to help my students, I will. I have found one of the biggest motivators is to have a radio on in the class during work time. This is an item that students really enjoy, but can be easily turned off if there are disruptions or work is not being completed.

Once in a classroom, I hope that I will have a chance to integrate most of these ideals into a class where students can learn and also have fun. These items are the building blocks to our becoming successful educators. I look forward to learning much more through the rest of my classes here at Stritch. I believe that it is important to never stop learning. I hope that I will be able to carry on in my mentor's footsteps by not becoming the teacher, but the lead learner.


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Robert Andrews
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