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My Personal Teaching Philosophy

My personal philosophy on teaching is permanently "under construction". I am a human being on a lifelong journey of growth and learning; as I continue my journey, my progress will lend itself to the evolution of my teaching philosophy. My current philosophy is a product of the experiences from the first three decades of existence, and is based upon many factors that have shaped who I am as a person.


What is a teacher?  A teacher is, first and foremost, a mentor and guide to his students. I believe that every child can learn--and that they want to learn! Children are born with a hunger for knowledge--a natural curiosity that should be carefully and lovingly guided by the teacher. This responsibility is not for the faint of heart; a teacher must have the patience to overcome the many types of challenges that she will face; she must also have the fortitude to maintain order and discipline without being oppressive or overly harsh. A teacher must be sensitive to the individual needs of each student, and have compassion for his students and their individual struggles. I believe that a good teacher remembers what it was like to be a student and never loses the ability to relate to the student and the challenges of growing up.

I find value in many of the noted teaching philosophies. Essentialism calls for a "teacher-centered" classroom in which "teacher knows best" (Koch, 2012, p. 57). While I do believe that a teacher should maintain appropriate authority and order in the classroom, I feel that this philosophy neglects some important facts. Teachers are not all-knowing beings—they are human! Students should respect teachers, without being made to believe that teachers are superior beings--or worse, being made to fear their elders, as was often the case earlier in history (Pulliam & Van Patten, 2007).  I find that a good deal of my philosophy comes from progressivism, or pragmatism. The philosophy held by Dewey states that education should center on students and that their "interests must be a driving force behind curriculum and background experiences" (Koch, 2012, p. 57). I wholeheartedly agree with this view; students who are interested and involved with their own learning process are far more likely to gain more from their educational experience and retain what they learn. I furthermore believe that when students enjoy learning and have fun with it, they will be more motivated learners. 
 
I believe that students learn best--and are better able to reach their maximum potential--when they are challenged and encouraged to do their best, loved and respected for the individuals they are, and given the opportunity to discover for themselves what talents and gifts they possess within themselves. In order for students to feel loved and accepted, it is important that their individual identities and backgrounds are honored and respected. In today's diverse schools, it is vital for teachers to be sensitive and accommodating to the unique challenges that students face. This is particularly true, considering the increasing population of students from non-English-speaking backgrounds. Studies have shown that "respecting and using students' native languages is integral to responsive teaching" (Echevarria & Graves, 2007, p. 124). Because I live in a state where the vast majority of English-language learners are from Hispanic backgrounds, I am endeavoring to increase my Spanish language skills while I am still in college, so that I may better serve these students in my professional career.
 

In conclusion, my teaching philosophy can be best described as eclectic, drawing from a combination of theories and philosophies. I largely identify with the progressive school of thought, with some elements of other theories. I believe that no single philosophy is complete on its own; a well-rounded and balanced approach should draw ideas from multiple philosophies and theories regarding education. Since I am still very much in the first steps of my teaching journey, I know my philosophy will grow, evolve and mature as I gain knowledge and experience. As one who loves learning, I look forward to continuing the journey!

References


Echevarria, J., & Graves, A. (2007). Sheltered content instruction: Teaching English language learners with diverse abilities (3rd ed.). Boston: Pearson Allyn and Bacon.
Koch, J. (2012). Teach. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth-Cengage Learning.
Pulliam, J. D., & Van Patten, J. J. (2007). History of education in America (9th ed.). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Merrill Prentice Hall.