When you look up the word ‘philosophy’ in a dictionary, the definitions you will find are as followed: examination of basic concepts; school of thought; guiding or underlying principles; set of beliefs or aims. It is the final definition given, “set of beliefs or aims,” that my philosophy is centered around. The following document spells my beliefs about teaching, students, knowledge and learning, my classroom environment, and the purpose of schools.
When asked what I do for a living, my response is, “I am a teacher.” What I do, however, is only part of who I am and how I carry out my beliefs. One of my fundamental beliefs is that children should be active participants in their learning. My lessons will be intentionally designed so as to reach multiple styles of learning. Children do not all learn in the same way, so my teaching must be flexible so as to accommodate the specific needs of each individual child. In my classroom, I will strive to breathe life into my lessons. From discussions with my students, connections will evolve that illustrate how concepts from class are irrevocably intertwined with real life. In order for these connections to develop, I will strive to make my teaching purposeful and relevant. By incorporating practical life materials into my classroom, I hope to prepare my children to succeed, not only in the classroom, but in the real world.
I believe that the rights of children should not be denied nor ignored. On the most fundamental level, every child should have the right to experience life as defined by our founding fathers, the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” It is my belief that every child should also have available to them the right of a quality educational experience that is rooted in the belief that all children deserve a chance to be successful. My goals for children are as unique as each individual child. In general, however, it is my hope that all children have the opportunity to reach their fullest potential. As a teacher, it is important for me to see students as holistically as possible. A student is not just a student. They are a person and an individual. Understanding that these three roles are separate yet interconnected is an essential element in understanding the needs of each individual child.
Knowledge acquired in school should penetrate deeper than traditional lessons from textbooks. Every child enters school with a base of knowledge already established. Elements composing their foundation include culture and heritage, traditions, and customs. These are significant components in one’s life, and I believe that we should celebrate all children’s backgrounds. This will lead to an appreciation of the diversity that makes us all beautifully unique yet united as Americans. In order to succeed throughout school and life thereafter, however, children still need to be held accountable for fundamental concepts. I will broaden the knowledge base of my students by equipping them with appropriate tools to synthesize information and to think critically about the world around them.
In order for children to construct knowledge in a way that is meaningful to them, children should be actively involved in their education. I believe that children learn best in an environment that fosters open-ended exploration. I also think that children benefit from learning through an exposure to a variety of purposeful materials and when they have opportunities to work alone as well as collaborate in a group. As a teacher, my role is to guide and facilitate learning by following each child’s individual interests and needs. It is important for me to take into account how children learn. From there, I will mold my lessons to fit the individual child - not conform the child to fit a standard template.
I believe it is extremely important to be intentional about creating my classroom’s environment. It needs to be flexible enough to allow children the opportunity to make choices and direct their own learning, yet it needs to provide enough structure so that the children are well aware of their expectations. While setting up my environment, I also need to be conscious of accommodating children’s needs and abilities. All children are welcome in my classroom. We have each been blessed with unique talents and can learn from everyone around us. I will be very conscious that my classroom environment can be adjusted so that all children, despite disabilities, are able to access materials and participate in activities. Everything from shelving to tables and chairs will be child-sized. Materials will be purposeful and practical so that children can simultaneously feel successful and independent. In regards to the nonphysical aspects of environments, I believe my classroom should feel like a low-risk, non-judgmental place where children can learn. My classroom will be a safe haven where children are free to make discoveries, not only about academic lessons, but about who they are as individuals.
The purpose of schools should be to partner with families so as to provide the highest possible care and educational experience for children. In my classroom I will strive to build a community of learners who help each other through times of difficulty and who celebrate with one another in times of triumph. Schools too, should be a community of learners that transcend boundaries of grade, socio-economic status, and ethnicity. Schools should be a safe place where all children can be free to learn, grow, and explore.
“A set of beliefs or aims” can constantly evolve over time. So too, will my philosophy as I learn, grow, and explore with the children I teach.