K.M. Burrows

K.M. Burrows

K.M. Burrows

Educator, Learner, Creator

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Teaching Philosophy

General:

  • Education should be student-centered and hands-on with abundant opportunities for students to construct their own knowledge.
  • The teacher’s role is that of facilitator, giving students their own set of tools and skills to construct knowledge for themselves.
  • Each child is an individual who brings their own background and perspective into the classroom, and each child has something to offer our classroom community.
  • Every student who enters my classroom has a right to equitable treatment, regardless of background; every student gets what they need. In my classroom, this looks like carefully planned and implemented differentiated instruction that speaks to the strengths and needs of each learner in my classroom.

Classroom Management:

  • The single most important key to successful classroom behavior management is building positive, authentic relationships with students. The second most important key is careful planning and anticipation.
  • Student misbehavior or undesired activity should be approached with curiosity rather than judgement. Discovering and addressing the root cause of misbehaviors not only decreases exponentially the likelihood that behavior will recur, but also allows the positive relationship with the student to develop further.
  • My classroom management centers around a balance between rewards and consequences such that students develop an understanding of effect of their actions and choices.
  • Students should always have the opportunity to earn back lost rewards or points by making the choice to turn their behaviors around.
  • It is important for students to have a visual representation of how their choices and actions result in rewards and consequences. My classroom would utilize a clip chart system for primary students or a Class Dojo-based economy system for upper-grades students.

Literacy:

  • I believe that every student can be a reader, and that those students who do not love reading simply have not found the right book yet. To that end, I believe it is important for students to have access to a literacy-rich environment in the classroom, the ability to interact with and be exposed to a wide variety of texts across a wide variety of genres, and for students to have frequent, multitudinous opportunities to read self-selected texts simply for the enjoyment of reading.
  • Literacy instruction in my classroom would center around teaching students skills and strategies as readers that can be applied to multiple texts across multiple genres. It is my goal that students take the skills they learn and apply them to self-selected texts as readers.
  • The majority of literacy skill/ strategy instruction should happen in small-group guided reading, and students should be placed in flexible groups based either on their reading level or similar reading skill needs.

Writing:

  • Writing instruction should be authentic and explicit, and should center around skill-based mini-lessons after which students should be writing.
  • Students should learn to write across a variety of genres and for a variety of audiences and purposes, but students should also be encouraged to write for the joy of writing.
  • Being a strong writer follows being a strong reader. Interacting abundantly with texts as readers will make students stronger writers.

Mathematics:

  • It is not enough for students to simply understand how to arrive at the answer; students must be able to explain their reasoning to truly demonstrate mathematical understanding.
  • Students need the opportunity to approach problems in different contexts using different methods and tools to expand their thinking and arrive at an approach that is best-suited for them as learners.
  • Students need hands-on, authentic opportunities to apply mathematics learning to the world around them.

Science:

  • Science learning is best supported by a constructivist approach wherein students are facilitated in asking and answering questions about the world around them.
  • Students need to be given content-specific literacy skills in order to approach scientific tests in a way that allows them to read, write, and think as a scientist would.

Social Studies:

  • The aim of a strong social studies curriculum should be that students learn to be active and participatory citizens in our democracy.
  • Students need to learn domain-specific tools and discourse that allow them to actively engage in researching, questioning, planning, and making decisions in their own communities and beyond.
  • Students should interact with historical content in a way that draws a clear and present connection to the role history plays in students’ current lives.

Homework:

  • The aim of homework should be to reinforce skills taught in the classroom and provide students opportunities for independent practice and informal assessment on the part of the teacher.
  • The most important homework a student can do each night is to read for a grade level-appropriate number of minutes in order to build skill and stamina as a reader.
  • Homework at the elementary level should never be so voluminous that it interferes with a child’s ability to play, interact with family, and participate in evening activities. It is far more important that children have time to be children.

Technology:

  • Technology is a tool to facilitate learning, and should be used across content areas to provide students with hands-on digital learning experiences; however, technology should never be used without purpose or used simply for the sake of using technology.
  • Students need to interact frequently with technology in the classroom and become competent digital citizens and users of technology in order to be successful in the 21st century career market. Students should develop a variety of different technology skills to be successful in learning and in life.
  • Access to technology in the classroom is an important piece in leveling the playing field for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
  • Every student should learn to type fluently, and an equal emphasis in upper-elementary grades should be placed on typing and on handwriting in order to appropriately prepare students for their academic and personal futures.

Assessment:

  • Instruction should be directly driven by assessment, and assessment should be directly correlated to state and national standards.
  • Informal assessment should be a perpetual on-going process, and the data gathered from informal assessment should be frequently applied to ensure that effective differentiation occurs to meet the needs of every learner in the classroom.
  • Assessment should come in many forms, and students should be given a wide variety of ways to show what they know.
  • An important piece of assessment is application. In order to demonstrate mastery, students should be able to apply their knowledge in authentic situations.

Socio-Emotional:

  • I believe in teaching the whole child, which translates as teaching not only academics but also the socioemotional and intra/ interpersonal skills students need to be successful in life.
  • My classroom is a community and a safe place where the expectation is that everyone is kind to each other and demonstrates mutual respect, and students need explicit instruction on how to develop and display these characteristics.
  • Taking advantage of teachable moments for socio-emotional development throughout the school day is equally as important as academic instruction.

Role of Parents and the Community in the Classroom:

  • Just as every child has something to offer our classroom community, so too do parents and the community have assets that they bring to our classroom. My goal as an educator is to utilize parent and community assets to further the learning of the students in my classroom.
  • Parents are my partners in their child’s education, and my role is to help foster and facilitate a positive and open relationship with parents centered on mutual goals and a shared vision to help their child succeed.
  • I will facilitate a positive relationship with parents by maintaining a constant line of communication with parents by sending home frequent updates about their student and keeping parents informed about their child’s progress, as well as being open and available for any parent contact regarding students in my classroom.