Prompt: For preassessment purposes, tell about what you know about child/adolescent development. Also, describe how your current knowledge of development informs your philosophy of instruction.
A long time ago I learned about child development and the different ways in which we change, grow, and mature over the years. Unfortunately the only remains are a few catch phrases such as ‘sensorimotor stage’ or ‘multiple intelligence’ and ‘cognitive development’. While I do not remember the vocabulary or concept names, those lessons impressed upon me the importance of understanding student diversity, social norms, and interacting with students according to their development level.
Student diversity in terms of development means that students have a variety of learning styles and thinking patterns. Even as a teacher I have preferences to what helps me learn best whether it’s visual or verbal. I know that not all students will learn the exact same way or benefit from the same method of delivery. As an educator I believe instruction should have variety so that students with different strengths can find ways to connect and engage with content. Part of being a teacher is providing ways for students to learn about themselves, just as writing these reflections helps me to understand my own development while preparing to learn more about others.
Child development is not only mental. School is a social environment with communities structured are rules or norms that enable our society to function. As children develop they learn to navigate these communities, learning to work with each other, and reconciling differences and disagreements. At different stages of development students may value different things which in turn affects their social interaction and learning. For example, younger children can be preoccupied with how fair something is and whether or not there is justice while older adolescents may be more concerned about peer groups and fitting in. As a teacher this means that at different ages, students will want to work together differently and that school does not fill only an intellectual need but an emotional need as students grow older. Also as an educator I model and demonstrate social values to students through rewards and punishments, praise and affirmation, and the way I interact with them. Therefore it is important to take into account student’s social development and to be aware of how we all impact one another with the decisions we make.
Finally since I see students as both diverse and constantly changing my instruction should not only meet students at the level they are at but challenge them to grow in their understanding of themselves and the world. It is not enough to treat a 7 year old as a 7 year old when eventually he or she will become 10, 15 or 20 someday. As a teacher I want to challenge my students to understand and test their limits, not only worrying whether something is fair or not but in fact critically evaluating what fairness may mean to them and others. It is good to set boundaries at each stage of a child’s life and to treat them with respect to what they are able to comprehend and handle. Equally as good though is setting a path and walking alongside children as they grow into adults.