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My Red Thread

- Grace Fairchild In chapter eight of Intellectual Character, Ron Ritchhart introduces the metaphor of a
red thread as it is used across cultures to symbolize unity and coherence. What you are about
to read is my own personal sort of a red thread as it relates to teaching, and the unity of my
beliefs, passions, values, and goals. It serves as a base for my self-reflection, actions, and
motives. The words on the paper to follow stem from the very core of my being, and serve as a
foundation to stand on when I am inevitably faced with difficult, challenging situations in the
field of education. My red thread is a written picture of my way of thinking, and the ideals of
my heart, exposing where my provisions for teaching are coming from, and the principles that
drive my enthusiasm for teaching.
I never teach my pupils. I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn.
Albert Einstein

These words, spoken by one of our nations most well known thinkers, connects to my
own beliefs regarding the role of the teacher in education, but even more so with my ideals
regarding the environment we create for learning. I believe that everything surrounding students
within the context of the classroom should have a purpose; everything from the arrangement of
furniture, to the selections of literature on the shelves. Each detail should be carefully thought
out as to its potential role in the support of learning within the classroom. Literature should be
selected and made available to students that will relate to their interests, refrain them from
unintentionally forming biases, and push them forward as readers. The decorations on the walls
should inspire them, and supplement content by pushing their thinking in new directions. Seats
should be arranged in a manner so that students who thrive from discussion and the feedback of
their peers are constantly able to talk with those around them. The conditions formed within the
classroom should provoke deep thinking, curiosity, and inspiration with every detail.
It is a beautiful thing when a career and a passion come together. Author Unknown

I believe that teaching is challenging work. However, it is extremely important work.

There is a lot at stake choosing a career in education. Like doctors study and work to perfect
their skills for keeping people alive and well, teachers study and work to make life worth being
alive for. A portion of young peoples lives are placed in the care of teachers, and it is thus the
role of teachers to ignite students learning, and spring to life the education surrounding them.
Young minds look to teachers for guidance, and we need to work to improve our skills and
knowledge of effective teaching to provide them with what they need to become impactful
members of society. Many teachers may have a passion for people and children, but it is what
one does with that passion that determines whether they will achieve their goals for teaching.
"We must learn who our children aretheir lived cultures; their interests; and their
intellectual, political, and historical legacies." Lisa Delpit

I value the experiences, knowledge, and personalities that each individual student brings
with them into the classroom. The lived lives of students are a valuable means to the culture of
the classroom they belong to, and make them the unique people and learners that they are.

Along with individual differences, students have individual strengths. What students are
bringing into the classroom with them can assist them in evaluating who they are and the
strengths they posses. Each student should be provided the opportunity and support to discover
their own sense of self in the classroom that acknowledges their unique strengths and sets of
knowledge, so they may shine in the domains that best suit them personally. It is the role of the
teacher to assist them in their self-discovery of these strengths, so that they may be successful
towards utilizing them to reach both the goals they have for themselves, and the goals we expect
them to reach at school. There are a plethora of variables that affect the opportunities that
students are given, but I believe with careful attention to the strengths of each individual child,
teachers can open them up to a greater array of opportunities. My goal is to look beyond any
label, any stereotype, or any challenge to understand the strengths and capabilities of each
individual student and work towards fostering a method of scaffolding their learning that is
custom fit for their success.
"Children are apt to live up to what you believe of them." - Lady Bird Johnson

I hope to one day balance the learning environment and expectations for students as a
warm demander. I am passionate about holding high expectations for all students, and then
providing them with the support and resources for reaching these expectations. I am also
passionate about letting mistakes and regression run their course in the process of learning, and
to be understanding of students when our expectations for them are not met at the moment we
are expecting them to be. A balanced classroom involves a teacher who has both high
expectations and an understanding heart.
Childhood is the most beautiful of all life's seasons. - Author Unknown

I truly believe that all of life is beautiful. The uplifting experiences, and the experience
we wish to forget. The moments engulfed in laughter, and the quiet moments in tears. The
relationships made, and the relationships lost. All of this is a part of living, shaping us into the
people we are, and slowly revealing to us what we want out of each day we are blessed to be
alive. This beautiful thing we refer to as life should not be separate from our students
classrooms, and I wish to never overlook the valuable piece of each students life and childhood,
that I may be influencing with each moment spent with them. Childhood is a time in life to grow,
explore, wonder, and discover. I believe that learning is a crucial part of truly being alive, and I
want to make it worthwhile for my students.
"Education must not simply teach workit must teach life." - W.E.B. Du Bois

Students should be made constantly aware of the connection between what they are
learning in the classroom and how it applies to the lives surrounding them. I am passionate about
tearing down the walls that separate our schools from the world around them. Even at a young
age, students are experiencing real life and the understandings, questions, and emotions they
have should be made a part of their life at school. I am passionate that we need to be preparing
students to deal with life, even if it involves addressing some traditionally uncomfortable topics
for school, in order to assist them in learning how to deal with real life situations and the
emotions they are having with the support of their peers and others. I think teachers, even at an
elementary level, should be introducing students to what is happening across the globe and what

has happened throughout history in an authentic manner. They deserve the truth, even if it isnt
always the best story, if we are going to expect them to be a part of reality and make decisions to
help impact the world for the better.
"I don't like to think of emotion and cognition as separate things. There's thinking. And
thinking has an emotional aspect, and it has a cognitive aspect. You can analyze one aspect or the
other... but real thinking is never divorced from emotion." Dr. Mary Helen Immordino-Yang

I am passionate about teaching for deep understanding of content that is well beyond
what students are going to be tested on. The learning we engage students in should equip them
for make meaningful connections, solving complex problems, and be recognizably applicable to
their lives. I am passionate about linking cognition and emotion throughout the content students
are being taught, and working to infuse an emotional aspect into everything students are asked to
think on, in an attempt to make the thinking meaningful and memorable to them. Working to
develop dispositions within students that encourage them to utilize emotion in building
understandings is far more valuable than the transmission of concrete facts for the purpose of
You can only do what you can do, whats important is that you start somewhere.
Neuroscience & the Classroom

It is often a concern of mine that the goals that I now passionately hold for teaching will
become watered down as the reality of being an educator is upon me. I have such high hopes for
my future students and a strong motivation to reach my own goals, but I know that everything
will not unfold exactly as I have planned, and each day is bound to be full of experiences to learn
from. This is why I have a goal for my goals -- a goal of never letting my mistakes, restrictions,
setback, or challenges keep me from striving to stay focused on the goals of my red thread. A
goal to continuously be reflecting, adapting, and uncovering the motives behind my thinking and
actions. I am only human, and I cannot change everything, or ever be a perfect teacher.
Nevertheless, I can make an impact on students that is worth every fighting effort I have to be the
very best teacher, and model, I can be.
Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself. John Dewey

This quote perfectly sums up my feelings towards education. As a future educator, I am

not only responsible for educating students for the lives they will have in the future, but also for
educating them in a way that is meaningful to the lives they are living in the moment. How can
they reflect on what is happening around them? How might they make connections between the
happenings of their lives, and what they are discovering in school? How will they seek out
solutions using what they have learned to overcoming the inevitable obstacles that are a part of
living? Life itself is a process of learning, and it is my goal to open young minds up to the
importance of seeking understanding for a more fulfilling life.

Bullet Point Summary of My Beliefs, Passions, Values, and Goals

I believe in the importance of immersing learners into a context that supports them and
inspires them to spring to life new insights.
I believe in the importance of being open and utilizing a variety of lenses.
I believe teaching is more than a passion, but rather a profession driven by passion.
I value the self.
I value human beings, and life.
I am passionate about balancing high expectations with kind understanding.
I am passionate about real learning and real life being a part of the classroom each and
every day.
I am passionate about teaching beyond the test for deep understanding of content.
My goal is to look beyond any label, any stereotype, or any challenge to understand the
strengths and capabilities of each individual student and work towards fostering a method
of scaffolding their learning that is custom fit for their success.
My goal is to do everything I can, while knowing I cant do everything.
My goal is to enhance the quality of living and the richness of life.

Annenberg Foundation. (2015). Neuroscience & the Classroom: Making Connections.
Retrieved from: http://www.learner.org/courses/neuroscience/text/text.html
Delpit, L.D. (2012). Multiplication is for white people: Raising expectations for other
peoples children. New York: New Press
Kaetsu, N., Nihon Hoso Kyokai., & Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. (2005).
Children full of life (video recording). Toronto: CBC Educational Resources.
Ritchhart, R. (2002). Intellectual character: What it is, why it matters, and how to get it.
San Francisco, California: Jossey-Bass.