My Philosophy of Education
There are certain techniques and classroom atmospheres of some of my past teachers who have made my classroom experience one that was both enjoyable and an incredible learning experience that I will incorporate into my own teaching style and philosophy; but, I also realize that for me to be an effective teacher, my classroom will be built around my own strengths as a teacher and my uniqueness as an individual. There are, however, certain core beliefs and values about education and teaching that will guide me.
I believe that all students are capable of learning and that each learner is unique in that they are influenced by many factors including their culture, background and prior experiences.
Students come to school with the capacity to learn, and how much they learn is ultimately in their own hands. But as a teacher, I need to be there to provide the means and opportunity for learning to occur. I want to motivate students and help them discover their abilities. Students also come to the classroom with a variety of prior knowledge and experiences. As a teacher, I want to draw on students’ prior knowledge and background in order to make connections to new material. I believe this makes the material more relevant and easier to learn.
It has been my experience as a learner that the classroom is made up of individuals at different levels of growth and knowledge, so as a teacher, I need to plan for students that can think abstractly as well as for those learners who need more concrete “hands-on” activities. Planning for all types of learners is important in today’s classroom given the move towards full inclusion.
I also believe that learners need a supportive environment where they can be challenged and encouraged to think. This is best done in a classroom that is relaxed, open and encouraging rather than a classroom with a threatening or negative environment. Students should have a classroom in which they can verbalize and discuss new ideas as well as ask questions, without fear of ridicule. Self-concept and self-esteem are important to everyone; mutual respect between students and teachers is essential. Showing students respect is essential for them to develop the trust they need to take risks and to grow. Respecting students can often be expressed in simple things like showing up to class early, handing papers back in a timely fashion, phrasing comments both in class and on papers politely, and being available to students for advice. I believe respecting students also means listening. Mutual respect helps students feel confident enough to express their opinions freely and to get involved in learning. I think a teacher needs to be demanding and always expect the best from their students, but likewise, a teacher needs to respect a student’s pace and try to be there to listen to them and give them advice they can use, if needed.
Respect is also shown through empathy, understanding, and remembering what it was like to be a student. Many concepts can often be complicated and discouraging, so I believe a good teacher will always ask themselves “What parts of this material would I have had problems with, or what parts did I have problems with when I was a student?” This will provide a completely different perspective of the material to be presented. This allows a teacher to initially strip away some of the difficulty and complexity of the material, allowing students to grasp main concepts, and then later, as they gain confidence, add the depth.
I also believe that the classroom belongs to both learners and teachers and that the classroom is a place for valuing all ideas and thoughts. I believe that everyone takes more interest and achieves more if there is a feeling of ownership. Students may take more pride in and be more motivated to learn if they have some say as to what occurs in the classroom. This also gives a teacher the opportunity to get to know students, their interests and their backgrounds.
I believe that as a student and as a teacher and lifelong learner, I will support and encourage all students to become lifelong learners. If students have positive learning experiences in school, they are more likely to become lifelong learners. By setting appropriate and reachable goals, by providing diverse and interesting learning opportunities for students, and by providing appropriate experiences in the classroom students can relate to real-life, students can become interested and develop into lifelong learners.
Respecting the teaching profession is also an important part of my core values and beliefs. This is related to general and subject-related teaching competencies a professional needs to demonstrate. These can include simple things like a great classroom presence, patience and politeness as well as more teaching-oriented issues such as using appropriate teaching strategies and techniques and giving appropriate feedback. An effective teacher needs to keep the different elements of curriculum design in mind along with outcomes for successful courses. This includes needs, objectives, materials, teaching and appropriate assessment.
My core beliefs about education and teaching will guide me in developing a student-centered learning environment where students actively participate rather than learn passively. I believe that students are entitled to quality instruction in a stimulating, cooperative learning environment. I also believe that students should have multiple opportunities to act, react, and interact with each other as well as the teacher. Materials in the curriculum need to be relevant, and standards need to be set high—yet be attainable—and promote student learning.
As an effective teacher, I need to be an appropriate role model and incorporate honesty and respect into the classroom and encourage students to be lifelong learners through consistent, caring teaching that emphasizes creativity, cooperation and achievement.