My teaching philosophy showcases what my aspirations, values, beliefs, and objectives are as a teacher. It gives me direction every time I enter the classroom. As mentioned in one of my previous blog posts, I endeavor to embrace both the holistic and constructionist approach to education through the design and implementation of lessons that help the children develop as whole beings who understand and respect other people and take responsibility for their own learning. Due to my strong conviction of learning as a mere by-product of our interactions with ourselves and with others, I support children in coping with their social and emotional challenges as a prerequisite to meeting their academic goals. As long as children believe in themselves and feel confident enough to interact and communicate effectively with others, they will undoubtedly learn from experience and through communication.
Give Children a Confident Voice and Turn Them into Eager Learners and Social Participants
Self-belief and confidence can be developed only in a supportive, safe, fair, caring and respectful learning environment where students feel comfortable and thrive. Mistakes or lack of understanding are valued and work as a trigger and ground for exploration, experimentation, fun, and creativity. This approach also lessens the emotional stress and anxiety caused by the inability to understand and communicates confidence in students’ ability to learn. Once the open and enjoyable environment is created, children are encouraged to express how they feel through different creative and artistic means and encouraged to make sense of their feelings and emotions. The lesson can begin or continue only when we are all clear about how we feel and why we feel the way we do. Then, I put emphasis on student interaction and interpersonal communication which supports inquiry and expression of ideas and enables the social development of children. I would also add to this that positive reinforcement and encouragement is crucial for the development of any student. Feedback as a whole, whether it be positive or constructive, drives learning and development.
Another aspect of teaching I believe in strongly is that activities should be challenging, engaging, and relevant. If the activities are not challenging, engaging, and relevant, students will quickly lose interest and therefore the learning objectives will not be achieved. It is the role of the teacher to make the learning experiences challenging and entertaining and to put children’s learning (cognitive development) into context. To make learning relevant for students, teachers need to draw upon children’s interests and current stage of development. If done within the context of children’s interests, learning turns out to be effective and to stick for a long time. Children need to understand how every lesson relates to their experience in the broader sense. Learners’ perceptions of the relevance of what they are learning acts as mediators of learning experiences. To accomplish this I seek to understand every single child by asking questions, observing, and gathering information from secondary sources – other teachers and parents. I tend to adopt the role of a friend and be accessible and approachable when students need or want to talk with someone and share what’s on their mind or in their heart. Children do not see me as an authoritarian figure to be feared or obeyed but rather as a friend who is there to help them answer their own questions.
In addition, getting to know students, what their likes and dislikes are, and what motivates them can be used to our advantage when setting high and achievable goals. As teachers we need to set the standards high enough for our students if we want them to achieve, however we also need to know what their limitations are and be realistic about the goals we set for them. We need to be clear and explicit with students about our expectations and we need to ensure they understand this.
At the end of the day, I try to help children discover that they have power and self-control within themselves which allows them to be independent in their learning and living. This may sound simple and easily achievable in theory, however in practice it is not so easy to do. The younger the age, 8 and below, the harder it is to let students be responsible for their own learning without providing them with some structure, routine, and guidance. Before children can attempt an individual or group assignment, they need to be informed of the task objective, given clear and explicit instructions, and the teacher needs to provide a modeled activity. The teacher then starts monitoring and observing to ensure structure is implemented at appropriate times. If there is a need for the teacher to step in, they do so as participants and provide indirect guidance. There really needs to be a balance between structure and empowering students to take ownership of the task. At times the teacher needs to lead, as a lecturer and at other times they follow along and provide guidance as the students explore and investigate ideas and concepts.