About The Author
My name is Valerie Singleton and I am a student from the Peninsula site. I am a Social Studies teacher at Warwick High School in Newport News. I have had the pleasure of teaching 9th grade World Geography for the past 3 years. I recently got the opportunity to teach Introduction to Psychology to upper classmen which has been a nice change. The ninth graders can be challenging but I truly enjoy working with the younger kids at the high school level. Ninth graders still have some of the sweet child like qualities in them which makes teaching a joy. On the other hand, they are still very playful, defiant, and have stubborn spirits which can be difficult to tame. I am taking this course to complete the requirements for my initial licensure. Teaching is my third act. I was in the Army until 1991 and after being honorably discharged from the U.S. Army I worked for several years as a flight attendant with Continental Airlines. Both jobs afforded me the opportunity to travel the world and experience many valuable life experiences that have been an asset in the classroom environment. Contrary to what my students think I do have a life and enjoy it quite a bit. In addition to being a teacher I am also married to a wonderful man, and my daughter is the cutest little thing this side of the moon.
My Educational Philosophy
I don't know if I have an educational philosophy. I do believe that every child has the right to learn in a safe, loving environment and that schools and learning should be fun. Currently in education there is paradigm shift to technology integration in the classroom to stimulate and engage the new generations of learners that we have. Digital natives is what they like to call the children of today. I am not quite sure if I agree. I grew up in the 70's, and went through secondary school in the 1980's. Television was a huge part of my generation's lives. We woke up and went to bed with the television on. I can even remember when MTV aired its first video. I had a slumber party that night so I could watch with all of my friends. I don't remember being in school and hearing teachers talk about how they needed to fit television into their lesson plans because we could not be engaged through traditional methods. Several of my aunts were teachers and my father taught Military Science at Hampton High School for many years, and I never heard them speak of it either. We still had to learn to communicate in standard English, using proper grammar and syntax. Our teachers still wanted us to read The Great Gatsby even though there was a fabulous movie out with Robert Redford cast as Gatsby.
I do believe that technology integration is beneficial, and crucial for the educational growth of the new generations. However, I strongly believe that we should first teach them the traditional ways of aquiring, analyzing, and applying information for literacy. Many of my students have low reading levels, very little prior knowledge of Social Science, and have very few life experiences to help them make connections to some of the concepts being taught. Yes, many of them do communicate through cell phones, Web 2.0 formats and more. But, they are totally unaware that the text language they are using is not the standard way to communicate in the written word and this is disturbing. It is important that our children get the basic foundations of critical thinking and reading. I believe if they have strong traditional literacy skills the technology literacy will come automatically.
I would like to see more emphasis put on foreign language. Every elementary school should have a foreign language curriculum in place. The United States is one of the only countries in the world where most of the people speak only one language. Europeans are usually bi-lingual as are many other people in nations around the world.
My classroom environment is set up where I serve as a guide to the students. I like to have the students work in groups. Many teachers don't like this method because of classroom management issues. I rarely have issues with classroom management. I set the tone early on in the class which lets all of my students know that I expect a certain level of respect and that certain behaviors are inappropriate for the classroom. I don't have any problems. They understand.
Right now I am being challenged with AYP and SOL standards. My students have very low SOL scores on the World Geography test. Unfortunately, there are several outside factors which I have no control over which are the cause. I do have control over the things that go on in my classroom and that is what I concentrate on. Currently my team is trying several different strategies in hopes of raising our scores. Warwick HS is a school that believes in collaboration, and trying new things. I believe that a teacher's education is never over. A good teacher should always be trying to strengthen and hone their craft. I believe that staying current and open to new things is vital to a teacher's success and survival in the 21st century. I love teaching and I hope I will always have the desire to grow in my profession. If I ever lose that desire I hope I have the wisdom to realize that it is time to quit.