Philosophy of Teaching
Children may learn best in different ways, but all children can learn. This statement is at the core of my beliefs about teaching and learning. Several tenets follow from this one statement. First, I believe in holding all children to high expectations. I help students develop challenging, yet achievable, goals for themselves as learners, and I provide the opportunities and scaffolding to help all students meet those goals. I have worked primarily with at risk students, and high expectations can be daunting for them. I have had students try to shut down or refuse to make an attempt at their work. In those situations, I do my best to work with them one-on-one to show them that they are capable of understanding and succeeding in my class. I refuse to give up on them, and that goes a long way toward building trust and motivating them to work toward meeting my expectations.
The trust I mentioned above also goes in to the second tenet of my teaching philosophy. I believe that my classroom should be a place where students feel both safe and empowered as individuals. The trust that I work to build helps students feel safe in trying new things and taking risks in their work. Excellent classroom management also goes in to creating that environment. I begin the year with a clear and understandable set of rules and procedures. Through modeling, role-play, and consistency, I use these rues and procedures to develop a safe environment. Within that environment, I also believe that it is important to feel empowered and like they are being listened to. Throughout the school year, I ask students for feedback on units of study and even daily lessons. I also provide a survey at the end of the school year that allows students to comment on my strengths and weaknesses as a teacher. These strategies help students feel like they have a say, and they also help me to develop my practice.
Finally, I believe that I must differentiate instruction to meet the needs of all learners. Our classrooms are more diverse than we know at first glance. We have students walking through our doors with a wide range of reading levels, varying amounts of background subject knowledge, and different interests. For this reason, I take time at the beginning of the year to learn about students and assess their needs. Then, I develop instruction that helps channel each student’s strengths and intentionally helps him or her build on weaker areas. I use a variety of activities to appeal to the multiple intelligences, and I draw on student interests in daily lessons whenever possible. Because I believe that all students can learn, and that they learn differently, I work to build a classroom that helps all students achieve to the best of their abilities.