as of 2020
My teaching philosophy showcases what my aspirations, values, beliefs, and objectives are as a teacher and mentor. It gives me direction not only when I enter the classroom but also when I interact with learners in an informal setting. It is in a state of constant transformation as it goes through regular reviews and revisions based on the additional experience gained. As a teacher, I endeavor to embrace both the holistic and constructivist approaches to learning through the design and implementation of learner-centered lessons that help students develop as whole human beings who are also part of a greater community.
By nurturing the values of understanding, mutual respect, support, and responsibility, I aim to prepare students for taking ownership of their learning and equipping them to be active citizens. Due to my strong conviction of learning as a mere by-product of our interactions with ourselves, with others, and the world at large, I encourage students to be curious and ask questions. By promoting students’ autonomy and tapping into their curiosity, I aim to instill intrinsic motivation in my students. In my teaching, I place equal emphasis on both social-emotional and cognitive growth. 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 Students a Confident Voice and Turn Them into Eager Learners and Social Participants
A supportive, safe, fair, caring, and respectful learning environment where all students feel comfortable and can thrive, is conducive to the development and nourishment of students’ self-confidence and willingness to take risks. In my classroom, mistakes, lack of understanding, and failure are valued and work as a trigger and ground for exploration, experimentation, and creativity. This approach also reduces the anxiety associated with learning a foreign language and communicates confidence in students’ ability to construct knowledge. Once a safe, caring, and enjoyable learning environment is established, learners are encouraged to express how they feel through different creative and artistic means and to pay close attention to their feelings, behaviors, and thoughts.
Through small group activities, students constantly interact and communicate with each other in the form of expressing and exchanging ideas that contribute to their social development. I would also add to this that providing positive reinforcement, encouragement, and feedback are crucial for the intellectual and social development of students. I see feedback, either externally provided or what’s best – self-generated, as the driver of learning and improvement.
Another aspect of teaching that I strongly believe in is that activities should be engaging yet challenging, as well as relevant to students. It is the role of the teacher to make the learning experiences challenging and entertaining and to put children’s learning into context. To make learning personally relevant, teachers need to draw upon children’s interests and to link classroom activities to ‘real-life’. If set in the context of students’ interests, learning becomes meaningful and purposeful. Students should be encouraged to pursue their interests and teachers need to teach and help students grow academically through the things that interest them.
To accomplish that I seek to understand every single child by being friendly and alert. I engage and show genuine interest in every student and what they say; I ask questions and invite students to say more; I observe and gather 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 is 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 guide them and help them answer their questions.
To a great extent, my lessons involve talking about students’ lives and then talking about the language this has generated. Showing interest in the lives of students, discussing the things they enjoy doing or the things they have to do can be shaped into a learning opportunity. Besides, getting to know students, what their likes and dislikes are, and what motivates them, the information 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 make sure they understand this.
Learners need to see how what they learn relates to them personally or to the real world. And this is done best by using students’ stories, experiences, memories, feelings, ideas, opinions as learning resources. Relevance emerges by shaping the stories/experiences students have to tell and the feelings to describe into a learning experience.
Ultimately, I aim 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. The younger the age, 8 and below, the harder it is to let students be responsible for their 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 show what’s expected of them. The teacher then starts monitoring and observing to ensure the 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 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.