Central to my beliefs about teaching is that students are humans and it’s my responsibility to honor and support that in every interaction. Being human is a tricky business. Humans make mistakes; that’s how we learn. Humans also have emotions that are connected in part to our sense of belonging. Belonging is important. In every interaction with my students, I try to hold these two beliefs central to the choices I make about how I respond. Whether we are celebrating a piece of work a student has done, giving suggestions about how to improve something, or redirecting a child who’s throwing rocks into an icy pond, I am conscious of their humanity.
Teaching has been described as both an art and a science. Looking to the discipline of art - the seriousness with which artists learn to see, draw, paint, and create - can transform our classrooms. Rather than seeing art as “extra”curricular or as a “special” subject, what would it mean to take art seriously in our schools? To place it at the core of what and how we teach children. Beauty should not be reserved for the lucky few but insisted upon for all.
Melissa Ospina is a former elementary school teacher, instructional specialist, and newly appointed Vice Principal of The Incarnation School in Manhattan. A lifelong New Yorker, she was raised in, has taught for, and is educating her son in New York City schools. Over the years, Melissa has become a fierce advocate for children, teachers, and parents alike.
For over thirty years, educational theory has prioritized standards-based learning over student’s individual needs. But emerging research has begun to show that a new way of teaching is possible. Inspired by the latest pedagogical research, we believe we need to shift our focus and recenter our classrooms around our students as individual learners.