Wednesday, December 17, 2014

TSN's Philosophy of Teaching and Education

Enabling students to succeed and making a positive difference in the lives of students are my two main goals as an educator. My philosophy on education will ultimately help me achieve those objectives.

As a teacher, my main purpose is to help students improve.  In order to help students succeed, several factors are needed.  It is important to engage students and make them excited to learn. My goal is to get students motivated, which could be through the incorporation of hands-on activities, educational games, interactive projects, peer interactions, technology, or eye-opening anticipatory sets. Also, including student interests or real-life situations into instruction keeps students engaged. Incorporating these ideas will give students a purpose for learning.  It is essential to make learning fun for students so they will enjoy coming to school everyday.

It is also important to aid students in becoming better critical thinkers and questioners. In Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Paulo Freire discusses the problem-posing method, which enables creativity, dialogue, and critical thinking. In the problem-posing approach, students and teachers work together and create a dialogue. Students propose questions along with teachers. The teacher does not strictly tell students the answers; rather, helps them think through the process.  Students have more freedom to think, yet still receive teacher assistance. This leads to critical thinking skills, which students need in order to succeed.  Utilizing the problem-posing method is a large part of my teaching philosophy because of the skills it develops.

Using dialogue in a classroom also consumes my philosophy of teaching.  Dialogue within a classroom leads to engagement, motivation, and critical thinking, but also helps with development. Students become increasingly dependent on each other for emotional support, validation, and information. Learning is a social behavior, as social development is the foundation for intellectual, emotional, and physical health (Johnston, 2012, p. 67).   Students need to be social because it benefits their development; thus, teachers need to establish learning environments where the main focus is on student-to-student interaction (Purnell, 2007, p. 35).  Teachers should implement discussions, think-pair-shares, and group work whenever possible.  To help create this student-centered environment, teachers should implement the pedagogical strategy of a dialogic classroom.

Teachers need to make sure that their classrooms are student-centered, or student-friendly.  Student-centered classrooms are vital. Teachers must create a safe environment where students feel comfortable, safe, respected, and heard (Cambria & Guthrie, 2010, p. 17).  Student-centered learning focuses on the needs of the students, rather than others involved in the educational process. Student-centered classrooms should include a safe environment for the students so they feel comfortable working with their peers or sharing their work. Students can learn a lot of from their peers and also build ideas off each other, making it important to incorporate discussions, peer work, and group activities into the classroom.  In addition, creating a caring, well-structured learning environment in which expectations are high, clear, and fair, will lead to more engagement (High & Andrews, 2009, p. 61).  A safe environment will open the doors for all students to participate. 

Differentiation is also a large part of my teaching philosophy because it sets up success for every student in the class.  Differentiated instruction tailors teaching to meet the needs of individual students. It is essential to provide effective strategies and methods that work for all students, which can be done through the use of differentiation.  Differentiation not only meets the needs of all learners, but also motivates students to work hard. It is key to use numerous strategies that appeal to various types of learners.  A wide variety of teaching styles will help reach all individuals.
By engaging students, using the problem-posing method, incorporating dialogue, and providing a student-centered classroom, students will be able to receive the best education. In result, students will become stronger, which is the ultimate goal of education.  All of these strategies will lead to a positive difference in the lives of students.

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Cambria, J., & Guthrie, J. T. (2010). Motivating andengaging students in reading. New England Reading Association Journal, 46(1), 16-29.

Freire, Paulo. Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York: Continuum Books, 1993.
High, J., & Andrews, P. (2009). Engaging Students and Ensuring Success. Middle School Journal, 41(2), 58-63.

Johnston, Peter H. Opening Minds: Using Language to ChangeLives. Portland, Me.: Stenhouse, 2012. Print.

Purnell, P. G. (2007). Strategies for Creating Inclusive andAccepting Middle School Classrooms. Middle School Journal, 39(1), 32-37.

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