My experience in the M.A.T. program has been so refreshing – this is a community that really cares about education. We examine the complex issues in the classrooms with real depth and work collaboratively to develop concrete strategies. I have learned so much about how to create change with diplomacy, how to speak with students to validate what they are doing so they don’t feel unfairly judged, and how to harness my ideas and questions in productive professional ways.
First Grade Teacher, Chestnut Hill Academy
One thing I have done here that I am extremely proud of is bringing the Daily 5 program into my classroom. This is a reading workshop model that was done in my student teaching classroom. I can see the difference and incredible improvement that students have made, particularly in reading, and it's just amazing. The principal has noticed as well, and at my three-month evaluation she asked me if I'd be willing to head a professional development session with the teachers about the Daily 5 program! I couldn't believe she'd want me, a first year teacher, to head up a professional development session.
I always knew the MAT program was great, but now that I am in the workforce I can truly see how outstanding the program is.
I realized that my previous teaching experience taught me how to manage behaviors. Yet to be a teacher who implements student-centered learning approaches, I needed to shift my thinking and take the risk of directing attention and control in the classroom away from myself. To apply this philosophical and pedagogical approach, I have learned how not to be afraid of silence or feel that allowing students to have a voice does not equate with losing control. My life work is to constantly refine my ability to listen and empower the voices of students, not just fill the air with my own. I understand that a learning community is based on a relationship between both teachers and students that is predicated upon active listening and responding with respect.
My masters prepared me in so many ways - intellectually, philosophically, and emotionally. We had subject specialty courses, but while they are helpful, I would argue it is more important to teach the philosophy behind lesson planning. As a teacher I create my own lessons based on my understanding of how students learn and how the mind works, not on the tradition of teaching that subject matter. Thus my lessons look very different from someone with a different philosophical approach, and I emphasize different parts of the subject matter to best serve the student. Dismissing the philosophical and epistemological approach, I think, seriously underestimates the importance of one's perspective of the subject matter. Look at the teaching of history for example - the perspective a teacher brings makes all the difference in what a student learns, as well as how the student learns.