Teachers can change lives with just the right amount of chalk and challenges. –Joyce A. Myers
The compelling words of Joyce A. Meyer’s are an excellent example of how I view my role as an elementary school teacher because it conveys a desire to influence young lives, and it is this exact reason that has lead me to the teaching profession. I aspire to shape and mold each student that crosses the threshold of my classroom. It is with this aspiration in mind that I have developed my teaching philosophy, and subsequently reflected upon which teaching practices and strategies will best serve my students.
I firmly believe that each student is a unique individual in need of a safe and stimulating learning environment to adequately promote social, emotional, physical, and intellectual growth. As an educator, I believe that there are three essential elements that are fundamental to establishing such an environment, (1) the teacher acts as a learning facilitator, (2) promoting positive life skills, and (3) differentiated instruction to serve all students equally.
In order to play the role of classroom facilitator, I will consistently provide students access to information and curriculum, which promotes the idea of a shared learning experience, rather than the more traditional role of a teacher as an “…all-knowing fountain of wisdom spouting facts that students are expected to soak up” (Bracey, 1997). I plan to provide my students the opportunity for each to construct their own knowledge through access to hands-on activities, each of which will be aimed at creating opportunity for students to develop individual discovery, as well as a variety of grouping strategies (i.e., whole group, small groups, partners). In each of these groupings, my role will primarily be to “..observe, assist, suggest, and when things go well, fade into the corners of the classroom” (Bracey, 1997).
As an educator, I firmly believe it is my responsibility to instill in students the necessary tools and skills to reach their full potential not only in the present, but also the future. Teaching life skills are an important aspect of education, one that should not be undervalued, for it is essential to the development of the whole child. My classroom will be one where respect, responsibility, and citizenship are all greatly emphasized. My students will learn to develop a deep love and respect for themselves, their classmates, and their environment. Students will come to understand what it means to be an active citizen, for our classroom will be a community of learners where each individual is equal and treated as such, and students will learn to be take ownership of their actions and decisions. I will promote open dialogue between my students and myself though classroom meetings, clear and consistent expectations, and a great deal of modeling and positive reinforcement.
I am very aware that each individual student possesses different abilities levels, prior experiences, and multiple intelligence (Howard Gardner) that play a vital role in shaping how the student learns. Regardless of these differences, each student is expected to master the same skills, concepts, and principals. With this in mind, it is my responsibility to utilize instructional strategies that will aid each individual student in reaching their fullest potential and provide consistent equal access to the curriculum. Differentiated instruction is a teaching theory based on the premise that instructional approaches should vary and be adapted in relation to individual students in the classroom (Tomlinson, 2001). I will differentiate my instruction and assessments based on a study of my each of my students: their strengths, weaknesses, background, and interests. With this valuable information, I can begin to construct strategies that will best assist students in making meaningful connections between the curriculum, their own interests, and prior experiences. I will also develop both informative and formative assessments to be utilized, for each will illustrate where my students are in relation to my learning goals and how I can then best tailor content and instruction to meet each of their individual needs.
While this philosophy reflects my viewpoints on education currently, I know that as I come into my own as an educator and continually reflect on my teaching and students, my teaching philosophy will evolve and strengthen as I do. I am looking forward to this great adventure and meeting each of the students that will contribute to this work in progress. With this being said, I am very certain that among all the changes my philosophy of education will experience, my dedication to the teaching profession and my desire to meet any challenge if it means making a positive impact on a student’s life will remain a steadfast constant.
- Bracey, Bonnie. (1997) The Teacher as a Guide: Letting Students Navigate Their Own Learning. Retrieved February 2013, from http://www.edutopia.org/teacher-learning-guide
- Tomlinson, Carol A. Differentiate Instruction in Mixed-Ability Classrooms. 2nd ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill Prentice Hall, 2001.