Philosophy of Education

As a teacher, you are expected to think a lot about your Philosophy of Education. I was going through my teaching portfolio and thought these pieces of writing should be a part of my blog. My most recent is from a job interview several years ago, I also re-typed one from my final practicum, and one from my first practicum. Much has changed in what I believe, but some thoughts are the same.

Philosophy of Education

June 2011

My job is to prepare children for successful lives as adults. The students learn how the world works, why things happen, what happened long ago, expression with art, language, and the body, technology, and the language of numbers.  However, they also need to learn about social relationships, cooperation, and empathy: how to share, how to make and keep friends, social structures and daily routines. Discovering their identity, strengths and weaknesses, and finding belonging are happening in all classrooms. The role of the student is to be actively involved in their own learning with a clear understanding of how they are being evaluated. Feedback should be given as soon as possible.  If you finish a test and then receive your mark a month later it will be harder to learn from your mistakes.  Ideally the students will develop into autonomous adults capable of problem solving and critical thinking.

A good teacher has a presence like a lion. They can be gentle, fun-loving, and playful, but also very strong, demanding respect and authority without having to ask.  They hold their head high and work together in a pride of other lions.
Alternately in the wild, you might find the gazelle teacher: they know their stuff, but panic at first sign of trouble. Or the cranky badger teacher that does not find the joy in teaching.  Humour, patience, an understanding of subject matter, connecting curriculum to real life, and clear expectations and routines all contribute to effective teaching.

Being consistent with consequences is the ticket to managing any classroom. Wishy-washy, hard to define rules, rules that don’t apply to everyone, and letting broken rules go as if unnoticed are ineffective. This contributes to a classroom that does not pay attention, because rules that are not enforced are non-existent. It will not matter what you have prepared if they are not going to be on board.  In my classroom, rules are created together as a class, the consequences are obvious, and infractions are not ignored.

It’s a tough world to face things alone, and for this we have connections with people. To be a successful human being you must be able to cooperate. To prepare children for this, we work together in groups, we apologize when we hurt someone, and we speak up when we are hurt. Not only do the children need to build these skills, all teachers must also form bonds with their colleagues to synergize ideas of how best we can educate our students.

Vision of Teaching

December 2007

Allow me to present my theory of education in a performance analogy.

Students as Audience. The lesson must be clear, relevant, and at an appropriate level. Ensure the attention of students, reach each student and let them know you think they are important. Maintain structure to focus attention, remembering that a learning environment has comfortable routines.

Teacher as Scriptwriter. The lesson plan is analyzed and redone constantly. The bases are covered when curriculum and evaluation are accounted for, the timing is paced out in a flexible way, and you have kept in mind different teaching techniques and learning styles.

Teacher as Director. Scan to ensure things are going smoothly, the students are aware of expectations, and are on task in their assignments.

Teacher as Performer. Rehearse, take a deep breath, and then daily accomplish the greatest performance of your life. Use humour, charisma, and energy. Be passionate about what you are teaching. Why is it important to learn? What does it have to do with the students’ lives? Research and talk with colleagues about the best possible ways to deliver the information to the students and evaluation techniques to ensure curriculum is being learned. Accept all gifts from your fans with gratitude.

Teacher as Critic. That was great but I should have… Next time I will… What would happen if… I should try… What worked the best was… If I had more time or resources I would have… I could improve the lesson by…

A Philosophy on Teaching

September 2004

To educate someone, you must first establish a positive learning environment. This includes an atmosphere of trust, security, and belonging. Encourage cooperation and respect at all times. For each student to be a valued member of the team and to do away with competitive marking would create an atmosphere benefiting self-esteem. The student should be able to believe “ I just have to prove I can do it, I don’t need to worry about doing better or worse than another.” Be someone who is approachable, friendly and compassionate, someone who is willing to devote extra time for unselfish ends.

To teach, you must learn your subject well and find a way to make it appealing for the class. If there is no interest or apparent reason for learning the information, it becomes harder to absorb. Lesson plans must be very organized. Before you can begin, you must the goal of the exercise, and know exactly what objectives you are trying to reach. Always remember that what looks good on paper may not work as well in the classroom. You have to be very adaptive, and take advantage of “teachable moments.”

An integrated subject will expand on what is being taught; with every lesson there can be more than one subject included, as well as a chance to provide opportunity for success, achievement and improving self-worth. Choose relevant topics from different places of the curriculum, and design the lesson to be challenging; in such a way that at the end there is a feeling of accomplishment and room for improvement.

My priority, as am art major, is to enhance creativity; for it truly benefits the student as a learner in a ll subjects to be creative and imaginative. My goal is to have my students open up to the idea that just because one cannot visually reproduce the perfect image of what he or she is trying to portray, one can still be a successful artist.

I feel it is extremely important to be patient and considerate, especially with the number of learning, behavioral, and mental disorders that go undiagnosed in the classroom. Sometimes the students who need the most extra effort are not the ones who act out, but sit quietly in fear and confusion.

Strive to be optimistic and give every student a chance to succeed. Never limit a student’s abilities or assume they will nor be able to do something. I believe anything you put a lot of energy into manifests positive results, whether you achieve your goals in the first attempt or not. Above all else, motivate yourself to inspire the students into further curiosity. You are a guide, not a dictator.

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