The meaning of teaching is solely based upon our students’ eyes and the grown inspiration a teacher has gifted them with. I believe that if a child cannot learn the way we teach, we should teach the way they learn. To help me better understand the type of education I wanted to influence my students upon; I compared and contrasted many different theories, including philosophers such as Howard Gardner, Jean Piaget, Lev Vygotsky, John Deway and many more. Upon researching, I discovered three theories; Constructivist Learning Theory, Behaviorism, and Complexity Theory. These theories help define my own philosophy of education as a Spanish high school teacher.
Learning is constructing, rather than recording knowledge. It’s about how you apply what you know versus what you know. According to the book Educational Psychology: Windows on Classrooms, constructivism is defined as a theory of learning suggesting that learners create their own knowledge of the topics they study rather than receiving that knowledge as transmitted to them by some other source, such as another person or something they read (Bransford, Brown, & Cocking, 2000, p. 226). In a foreign language class, it is essential for a student to apply the language they are learning in order to truly be able to measure and examine their overall improved performance. In my classroom, I will assess my studies my providing them with activities in which they will be able to apply Spanish. Some examples include, having Spanish Day, where all students will only be allowed to speak Spanish. The grade will be earned as the student participates throughout the day or as the teacher calls upon them. This activity will promote social constructivism as students hear each other speak the foreign language, and as they respond back to their peers.
Behaviorism is a theory that explains learning in terms of observable behaviors and how they’re influenced by stimuli from the environment (Eggen-Kauchak, p. 164). In order to manage my classroom, I will have to have some control over my students’ behaviors by setting rules and procedures. My students will learn that after the bell rings, they will be expected to come into class ready to do bell work, an assignment containing questions which will be displayed on the board or screen. Having this assignment ready, students will know to settle down, remain quiet, stay in their seats, and I will easily be able to begin my instruction for the day. I will reward my students when progressive is achieved and when their behavior is at the level of expectation. Most importantly I plan on using Thomas Gordan model of Teachers Effectiveness Training to build and maintain strong relationships with my students to increase their motivation and decrease unacceptable behavior. However, I will provide discipline when necessary and include reinforcement. The disciplinary actions will be based upon the schools rules, then upon my own. One learns better when being taught in a positive climate, therefore I will teach in a positively manner, allowing my students to understand the meaning and reasoning behind my classroom rules.
Language is a complex study, as it entails learning different sounds, the order of those sounds, and the meaning behind them, making it a perfect match for complexity theory. Complexity theory offers some useful insights into the nature of continuity and change, and is thus of considerable interest in both the philosophical and practical understanding of educational and institutional change (Mason, p. 5). Therefore, one can easily compare it the system of a language, as the meaning, pronunciation, and grammar change over time, yet keeping a systemic order for society to be able to communicate and understand each other, which is vital for an individual in order to maintain a healthy relationship with those around him/her. As complexity theory suggests that what it might take to change a school’s inertial momentum from an ethos of failure is massive and sustained intervention at every possible level until the phenomenon of learning excellence emerges from this new set of interactions among these new factors, and sustains itself autocatalytically, just as the formation of language, as each language originated from one another and they continue to borrow and exchange sounds. With this theory in mind, I will be able to demonstrate to my students the importance of knowing multiple languages by assigning activities that can prove this point. I will hold class activities that promote role plays where the students will have to perform using the language of Spanish. For example, I may ask a student to pretend an emergency just occurred, and the only person that is available to help, only speaks Spanish.The dream begins with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called "truth." ~Dan Rather
Constructivism, behaviorism, and complexity theory combined define the matter of teaching in which I plan on teaching. A great teacher not just teaches their content area, but applies a lesson that will be with one throughout an entire lifetime. I’ve asked myself before, “What do I want to be known for?” Continuously the response if that of my students, “Mrs. Rodriguez taught me the importance of education, and most importantly, to believe in myself.”