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Unveiling Your Teacher Identity and Fostering Inclusive Learning Environments

Unveiling Your Teacher Identity and Fostering Inclusive Learning Environments

Discover Your Teacher Identity

Embarking on a teaching career is an exhilarating adventure that unfolds through one lesson, one interaction, and one student at a time. With dedication, a commitment to growth, and a passion for education, you will not only survive but thrive in the dynamic world of teaching. So, where do you begin?

Create a Positive and Inclusive Classroom

Consider your classroom culture. Reflect on how you will craft a positive and inclusive classroom environment. It's essential to set clear expectations for behaviour, establish routines, and foster a sense of community. Students thrive when they feel safe, respected, and valued. As you step into your classroom, take a moment to envision your younger self and recollect the teachers who made you feel a sense of belonging. What made those spaces feel safe and welcoming, and how did they differ from the less inviting ones?

Remembering Your Favourites

We all have favourite teachers and courses that we devoured because they were uniquely captivating. These educators hold the power to leave a lasting imprint on us for years. I've asked numerous colleagues to share why they feel a special bond with their seventh-grade history teacher or cherish memories of high school band even a decade or two later. We can't underestimate the influence educators have in shaping students, not only academically but also socially and emotionally.

There are stories of elementary teachers kindling a love for music or art in individuals who later pursue careers sparked by these early experiences. As a consistent adult presence in these young lives, you have the opportunity to model a passion for reading or tap into their curiosity to explore scientific theories. According to Indigenous knowledge, each child comes with a gift that educators can support to develop.

I vividly recall the magnetic pull of a beaming smile on an unfamiliar but welcoming face, expressing joy at my arrival. As she bent down to ask my name and shake my hand, I eagerly located my desk, taking out my tartan-print pencil case. Though few words were spoken, I sensed my new teacher's excitement to welcome us into a class adorned with pink, rectangular erasers and yellow sharpened pencils on each desk.

Create an Engaging Learning Atmosphere

Consider infusing your teaching with creativity. Interactive activities, projects, and discussions ignite curiosity and critical thinking. By attentively listening and observing each student, you co-create an atmosphere of shared learning where students feel free to express themselves, fostering a sense of belonging and acceptance. Remember that every student is unique, with individual strengths, interests, and challenges. Embrace diversity in your classroom, celebrating the richness it brings. 

Know Your Students

Taking the time to get to know your students requires an upfront investment, allowing you to ensure that the physical space caters to the needs of each individual. From furniture configuration to the selection of artifacts and instructional materials, it's crucial that students can see themselves reflected in the environment. Their presence should wield an influence on the overall atmosphere of the classroom.

As you embark on this teaching journey, recognize the profound impact you can have on shaping the lives of each student. Your dedication, passion, and commitment to fostering a positive and inclusive learning environment will create memories that students carry with them for a lifetime. 

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Meet the author:

Nina Jaiswal, an Educational Consultant and former Superintendent of Education, offers valuable insights for educators, both experienced and new. As an expert witness in school liability, discipline matters, compliance, and policy, her perspective is essential for understanding the complexities of education. In addition to consultancy, Nina dedicates her expertise to coaching staff at all levels, focusing on career growth, promotion preparation, leadership development, and competency strengthening in educational matters.

With over 13 years on the Accreditation Review Panel for the Ontario College of Teachers and a history of teaching at the University of Toronto and York University, Nina's voice is grounded in extensive experience. She has significantly contributed to professional learning at the Ontario Public Supervisory Officers’ Association (OPSOA) and served as a coach for the Ontario Principals' Council. Recognized for impactful partnerships with community agencies and families, Nina is a driving force behind fostering public confidence and elevating student achievement.  

Nina's writing is an indispensable resource for anyone eager to delve into the dynamic world of education.