My Philosophy of Education
What is the primary purpose of the classroom space? Is it not to provide a space in which learning occurs? One of the primary causes for an ineffective classroom is the high occurrences of bullying and putting down of students. This, unfortunately, comes from teachers as well as students. When it comes to a student feeling safe in the classroom, this must be accomplished by appropriate behavior from students and teachers. A teacher who constantly picks on a student they dislike or who uses sarcasm to put students down is creating an environment of hostility, and this behavior encourages the bullying and other rough behaviors of students toward one another.
When the expectation is clearly defined for students, they will work to reach it. When students feel that the goals are unclear and have not been explained clearly, they will flounder as they attempt to learn. Every student I have spoken to has conveyed the belief that when a teacher clearly sets out what is expected of them, they learn the material with less stress and with greater clarity. Expectations must be given clearly to the students through clear task instructions. When conveying to students what is expected of them, it is important to have open communication in the classroom.
At the beginning of the year, a certain amount of time must be spent on creating the atmosphere of the room. This can be partially accomplished through the clear discussion and posting of the rules of the classroom. It is important to use rules such as, "Show respect to others" rather than, "Don't hit", "Say Thank You" etc, because showing respect encompasses so many behaviors. This gives children the opportunity to learn what showing respect is, and it keeps the list of dos and don'ts to a manageable size. At this time it is important to convey to the students that you will be showing them respect too, and then keep your promise.It is important to show the students what you want from them. Just as a parent, it is important to teach through your own behavior. The old saying, "Do as I say, not as I do" has been shown over and over again to not work. If you want your students to be interested in the subject material, show an excitement yourself. Looking forward to what you will learn in the classroom gives motivation and a genuine excitement to learn.
If fairness is giving each student what they need, then fairness is vital to the classroom. Students come from such a wide variety of homes that it is imperative for the teacher to provide help to those who need it. Equality in society starts in the classroom, and this equality can be accomplished by providing equal opportunity to succeed. What a student does with this opportunity is ultimately up to them, but we must provide an environment in which they can gain equal footing with their classmates.
Free exploration of ideas is vital. Although there is a core set of curriculum which must be addressed, children need to have the chance to explore their ideas to see where they take them. Children have such a potential for imaginative thinking, but much of this is practically beaten out of them by many teaching styles. Instead, children should be encouraged to explore, to go with their own thoughts and to learn through imaginative "play".
Too many times today, children become dependent on praise or rewards in order to do anything. They begin to think that they should not do anything unless they will be given some outside type of payment. Although we all work to get something in return, it is important to have a measure of self-motivation as well. This can be instilled in children by pointing out to them what they have accomplished and let that be the reward. As they begin to see what they can do, the thrill of doing something well will be its own reward.
After completing a day, a week, or a quarter, it is important to evaluate the effectiveness of the teaching methods used. Did it accomplish what it was supposed to? Did I reach as many students as possible? Is there a more efficient way of conveying the same material? Through constant self-evaluation, growth can be achieved. A great teacher is the one that continues to learn and avoid stagnancy throughout their teaching career.
It is well known that students learn in a variety of ways, and if we simply teach to one type of student, we will fail to reach many of the others. Group projects often give students the opportunity to shine in their own area of expertise and to learn in the style that suits them. Projects provide the opportunity for the writer, the creator, the visual learner, the social learner, and a host of other styles to learn in a way that will help the material to stick with them. Lecture must be kept to a minimum, particularly at the younger ages, where students learn best by doing and being a part of the process.
Finally, it is vital to the success of students to gain the support of their home, and this can be accomplished by beginning a positive relationship with the home right from the beginning of the year. Calling home with a positive comment about the students’ performance and a chance to tell the parent or guardian that you are partners in the education of the student will foster this relationship. Then, when it comes time to call home with some area that needs to be worked on or changed, you will have some sort of understanding that you are there for the student, and you are not simply calling to complain or attack their family