If there is one lesson that I have learned throughout my education, it is that my philosophy is always changing and strengthening with each new experience. Through my experiences, I have developed some key foundational values which support me in my successful role as a teacher. I always try to instill these values within my classrooms and as a result, students benefit through becoming more active, productive, and successful learners. My first foundational value is a healthy classroom environment. I envision a healthy classroom environment as a place where all students feel comfortable, welcome, and free to learn. Secondly, I value active learning and the importance of a healthy classroom in promoting learning which is student centered, inclusive and content relevant. Thirdly, ‘teacher as learner’ and role model is valued as being essential for students’ learning. In addition, I view the teacher’s active involvement in the school community as being critical in the development of positive teacher-student relationships. Fourthly, I recognize the importance of organization in the classroom, but on the other hand, value adaptability to change as essential to learning. In addition, I have come to place more value on technology and the importance that it plays in the classroom. Finally, I believe that collaboration with others is critical in developing new, innovative ways of teaching. In the following paper, I reflect on each of my values which collectively create my philosophy of education.
I value the classroom as a place that students want to come and where they feel safe and free from any outside problems. This type of environment can help students reach their full potential as well as give them the opportunity to develop healthy relationships. I believe that achieving this environment starts on day one with setting goals and expectations of your students. I try to be very clear about class procedures, including my expectations. I also think that organization of the classroom is very important for creating a healthy classroom environment. By arranging desks in a way which supports student collaboration and student centered learning, students have a better opportunity to become active learners. In addition, I think that it is important to develop a classroom which provides diverse learning resources for students. I believe that having these aspects implemented on the first day of class is essential in creating a healthy classroom environment.
The importance of developing a healthy classroom environment relates to the importance of a student’s role in his/her own learning. When students become active in classroom discussions, activities, or assignments, they begin to take an active role in their learning. I believe that students who passively learn information do not develop strong critically thinking skills and do not retain the information learned in class. A teacher’s role in the classroom is not simply to write on the board all of the information that students need to know. Rather, a teacher’s role is to present information to students in a way which engages them and focuses on students. In other words, I believe that learning should be student centered, not teacher centered. Often, students become active in their learning through hands-on activities, inquiry, and differentiating instruction. In addition a classroom must be created in a way which supports students in taking an active role in their learning. This engagement in learning often leads to students contributing positively to other students’ learning.
If I expect my students to continually think critically and actively learn, I believe that I must also be a critical thinker and an active learner both inside and outside of the classroom. Inside the classroom, I constantly reflect on my teaching practices, lesson plans, and students’ learning. I use self-reflection and self-evaluation to help me improve the quality of learning within my classroom. Essential for my students learning, I continually adapt and change my practice to better meet students’ learning needs. Additionally, I think students learn best if they understand how their teacher learns Thus, I believe it is important that students know that I learn best when I am engaged in my learning. Outside the classroom, it is my responsibility to consistently educate myself on areas which will benefit my students and myself. For example, staying current on the newest technology being used by teachers or students can greatly impact a classroom.
Making content relevant to students’ lives is essential in order for students to transfer and apply knowledge to their personal lives. A great way to make material relevant to students’ lives is by being involved within the school community. I have found that involving myself in extracurricular activities and in school events helps me to get to know my students in a different setting. This helps me to form stronger relationships with my students. In addition, forming student-teacher relationships allows for students to better understand me. These relationships not only aid in creating a healthy classroom environment, but are also important in fostering students’ engagement in curriculum content.
Often the life inside of a classroom and a school is constantly changing. As a teacher, I believe that it is very important that I easily adapt to changes within the classroom and the school. I think the key to adapting to change is organization. During my internship, I became a very organized person by creating a routine for myself as well as for my students; students thrive with routine. Small consistencies (such as where to hand-in homework) help to create a healthy environment. It is crucial to have a consistent routine for certain procedures within the classroom so that students can adapt more easily to inevitable changes. In addition, if I can model adaptation to change, students will more readily accept and adapt to changes in the classroom. Additionally, creating detailed unit and lesson plans and organizing student work allows me to be more flexible to change. Every day is different and being prepared is the key to being successful when change occurs.
As I work more and more with students, I can see the huge role that technology plays within their lives. People are spending an increasing amount of time on their devices. Therefore it is important that I encourage the use of technology in education. I recently took a class based on incorporating technology into the classroom. I learned so many ways to positively use technology and encourage students to use technology within the classroom. Incorporating technology can sometimes be scary for many teachers because they are unfamiliar with it. However, I am now confident with my knowledge base of technology, and I want to use many forms of technology within my classroom. Developing ways in which students can incorporate technology into their learning by using familiar tools encourages students to apply their learning to everyday life. Hopefully, I can encourage my students to use their devices in an educational way both inside and outside of the classroom. I am a believer in ‘bring your own technology’ (BYOT), and I want to utilize all that technology has to offer learners.
One other very important aspect of teaching is collaboration. Teaching is all about sharing. If I develop or find resources that greatly benefits students, I want to share these resources with other educators so that other students can benefit. Through attending professional development events, connecting with educators online and within the community, and researching new ideas, I can more easily adapt my lessons and incorporate new innovative ways of teaching. I learn so much about myself and my teaching when I connect with other educators. Therefore, I believe that it is similarly important for my students to connect with other learners. Once again, this allows the students to become more involved in their own learning.
It is important as a teacher to identify and reflect on personal values which serve to form a philosophy of education. In this paper, I have discussed several values which I believe support my role as a teacher. I have reflected on each value and how it contributes to my philosophy of education. Each of my values plays an important role in laying a strong foundation for my success as a new teacher. Even though I expect that my teaching philosophy will continue to change, I believe that my core values will remain at the heart of the teacher I am.