Danielle Bullara (4th Quarter, 2006)

4th Quarter, 2006
Teacher Scholarship Winner
Danielle Bullara

“Hello, I am Danielle. I am currently an Elementary Education Major at the University of South Florida, planning on graduating in Spring 2008. Ever since I was a little girl I have always wanted to be a teacher. I can remember playing teacher in my room with all of my dolls and stuffed animals being my students. Those are memories I will never forget. It was not until I had a teacher in sixth grade and then again that same teacher in eighth grade, that I knew I truly wanted to be a teacher. She is my inspiration still to this day. She teaches naturally, has a love for it and cares about her students.

I have lived in Florida my entire life. I love to travel, go to the beach, shop and have fun with family and friends. As a future teacher I hope to be able to brighten one child’s life each day and have a lasting impression on them.”

A Portion of Danielle’s Winning Essay:

I believe that children need to explore, imagine and be creative. Children learn while having fun. Children learn by repetition, by hearing things over and over. They mimic everything that we adults do and say. Children need to explore their surroundings. When they are little I believe that they need to read books at their wish; picture books, pattern books and any books of interest. When they are older, they need to read what books that they wish, assigned books and even the newspaper.

If children are aware of their surroundings in and out of the classroom they will even be more inclined to imagine. Imagining something, in my opinion, is when you think or picture a situation in that perfect way of how it would be. Even if it is something that is not real and could never happen realistically, it’s how you wish it was. By allowing children to imagine, they are putting their interests and topics of study into a whole new level. When children imagine, their minds wander but in a good way that can lead them to use their critical thinking skills.

Children learn when you connect with them in some way. According to University of South Florida Professor, Dr. Ann Hall, “You have to turn their brains on.” By turning their brains on you have them interested and focused. I remember learning the five Great Lakes, and my teacher used the pneumonic device of the word HOME. The letter “H” stands for Lake Heron, the letter “O” stands for Lake Ontario, the letter “M” stands for Lake Michigan, and the letter “E” stands for Lake Erie. By my teacher using that device for me to remember the Great Lakes when I was in fourth grade, it helped me then to learn the names of them, and it has stayed with me all of these years. My teacher connected with me. I believe that children learn, by being there with us while we are teaching. Children are not going to learn, if they are dreaming about a far away neverland, but that does not mean they can not imagine!

Children also need to be able to be creative to learn. I believe that by allowing a child to be creative, you are letting them use developmental ideas of their own and showing them in their own personal way. Whether you let your students be creative with the choice of colors that they pick for their art project or if you let them choose which state they are going to do a report on, choices allow them to have a part in their learning. They get to learn about something that they want to learn about. Let their own ideas flow, let them decide what their story is going to be about. Creativity is in each and every one of us, and I believe we need to let it shine. As teachers we need to show off our creativity as well as our students’ creativity.

I believe the classroom environment is going to tell the students how everything else, during the day and even the entire school year, is going to be. I believe the classroom climate needs to be one that makes the students feel safe, loved, respected, able to have fun, able to express themselves and of course a center for learning. I believe that the classroom needs to have a sense of community or I prefer the term family. In the classroom, I want my students and myself to be a family of learners–constantly helping each other out when one needs help. I want them to be able to come to me and ask a question without feeling horrible because they do not understand the question or how to solve the question. I want the classroom to make the children feel loved, respected and able to express themselves in their learning. I want the classroom to be bright and well decorated. I want to have students work hanging in the classroom, so that they can see for themselves what a great job they have done.

The classroom needs to have things accessible for the students. They need to be aware of routines and where things go. For example, where backpacks and lunchboxes go, the place for completed homework, completed work, where to find crayons and glue, are all things I believe will help the classroom feel like a family. In the classroom there needs to be an area for “meeting time,” it could be the carpet or a circle on the floor, but I feel that needs to be a place where you talk about matters that everyone needs to know about and also how we need to be respectful of others.

I believe that children need to learn the requirements of the state and local school board as well as things that interest them and topics that are important to children’s success in life. I feel children need to be learning Math, Science, Language Arts and Social Studies, as well as other areas such as Music and Physical Education. I feel that all of these core subject areas are greatly important and should be the main focus of the curriculum taught. I also think that students need to learn respect, love, safety, daily tasks, sharing, honesty–everything that could help them in their lives. Children need to learn constantly, and even as teachers we are constantly learning. Learning is never finished, it is a daily process. I believe teachers are expected to do a lot. They are expected to wear a lot of different hats throughout the day in the classroom. Teachers need to be flexible, have patience and discipline when necessary.

Three things that are essential elements to being an effective teacher are knowledge, teaching skills and attitude. I believe that knowledge is something that every teacher should and needs to have. First of all you need to know what you are talking about when you are teaching it to the students. Effective teachers need to prepare themselves prior to their lessons. Knowledge is what they are going to be passing on to the students. Effective teachers also need to have knowledge and be aware of their students needs. They need to know if students have learning disabilities, are ESL students or are not on the correct grade level in reading or math. Teachers need to have knowledge of the subject matter, their student’s needs and access to materials to be an effective teacher.

Teaching skills are also important to be an effective teacher. Effective teachers need to be careful in how they praise a child for his or her work and make sure that they are using words that do not affect or hurt another child’s feelings. Effective teachers should use a variety of teaching materials and ideas to help the students learn. Teachers should be covering visual, linguistic and energetic learners as well as other methods of teaching. To be an effective teacher the teacher needs to be flexible. If the children are having a hard time grasping a certain concept then he or she needs to spend more time on it with them before rushing right into the next topic. Effective teachers expect more from their students. They should encourage students to think critically but also allow them to think creatively.

A teacher’s attitude is going to have a huge impact on the children and how they respond to the classroom environment. If teachers are constantly yelling at the students and telling them to behave then the children are more likely to get a negative attitude from the teacher. I do feel that there needs to be a discipline and behavior plan, but the students need to be aware of it from the start. Teachers, in order to be effective, need to be positive! The attitude that the teacher gives is going to go right to the students, and they are going to copy how she is acting. The attitude of the teacher is crucial to the learning environment. The children need to feel safe, happy and want to be there just as the teacher does.

I also believe it is the responsibility of the teacher to make sure that all children are learning, having fun and succeeding. Teachers need to incorporate into their teaching styles many different things. Some key things that I believe are important are, critical thinking, cooperative learning, engaging the students interest, lecture when appropriate and allowing the students to experience hands on activities and allowing for flexibility in the classroom. Being a teacher is something that takes a lot. I believe that it is very important a as a teacher to want to be there, do your very best and to accommodate all learning environments and disabilities that you have in your classroom. Above all, I feel that as a teacher I need to make a difference, even if it is just in one child per day but to have the energy and love to want to help these students learn!

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