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Teaching is not a one-way street. Teachers must be partners with their students on a journey they embark on together. For this reason, I am a huge advocate for inquiry-based experiential learning. When we think back on our own memories of primary school, we rarely remember the lectures or what passages we read out loud to the class. We remember the big projects, the experiences, the feelings of excitement we had when discovering things for ourselves.
For example, when teaching a 4th grade unit on Ellis island, immigration, and the American Dream, instead of only studying facts out of a book, my class went through the entire immigration process themselves. As a class we made up characters for ourselves and inquired as to where they were from, why they were leaving, what the trip was like etc. The students had to answer the 27 questions asked at Ellis Island and write letters home telling about their journey and new life in America. The class was never about the immigrants of the past, but what we as immigrants are experiencing right now. The class was always enthusiastic and engaged. The desire to learn more about this topic was palpable during every social studies lesson because it was not some abstract piece of history we are learning about, but rather something each individual was experiencing and discovering themselves. The same can be said for our science class where we learned about erosion. Instead of just looking at the pictures in the books, the students became scientists and took their notebooks outside to sketch and write down their observations of erosion on the playground, as well as their theories of what might have caused them. The project-based approach allows for a deeper individual connection with a subject, and building upon previous knowledge while giving each student the opportunity to be actively engaged in the process.
In addition to inquiry-based learning, a large part of my teaching philosophy is taking advantage of the many extraordinary people and ideas around you. Collaboration in education can only benefit us. Working as a team to support on another and give new fresh ideas often has a positive effect on the class, and allows our lessons to go in unique directions.