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My Personal Philosophy of Teaching

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  • Reflecting on teaching methodology and one’s own learning is the hallmark of a great teacher. One needs to take a step back occasionally and question why and how we educate. The following statement is my own reflection. In writing this, I considered my thoughts about the nature of learning, what makes learning successful, my goals in my graduate studies, and the kind of educator I would like to be.
  • My personal philosophy of learning recognizes that each learner is unique, but connected to one another. Everyone has preferred modes of learning, and the way that we process and internalize new information and skills is varied. It is that very fact that makes teaching both daunting and supremely interesting. Furthermore, while we are all individuals with particular needs, it is important remember that we are part of a larger society and cannot reach our full potential without engaging in it. A learner can be brilliant, but will always be limited in a way by their own mind and biases. Engaging with others exposes a learner to new ideas and perspectives. In my opinion, one of the greatest achievements is to be able to consider an idea from multiple perspectives and have a capacity for empathy, which I believe can be taught. As an educator, I strive to instill these skills in my students. I consider them to be paramount to their future. I want to support my students and help them develop into responsible, conscientious individuals. As a learner myself, I strive to meet this ideal as well. Therefore, I believe that learning is successful when students are able to rationally discuss their ideas with others, recognize another’s perspective, and then finally synthesize all of their learning to take a stance, formulate an opinion, have a voice.
  • My first goal as a graduate student is to expand my repertoire of teaching strategies and understanding of learning to include the domain of digital delivery. I would like to explore the “flipped” classroom model. I do not intend to operate in this manner exclusively, but be able to find where it is appropriate to apply. I believe that I will gain more insight into my students’ learning process by acting in a supportive role rather than being the “sage on stage.”
  • My second goal in pursuing my graduate degree is to support other teachers, especially new teachers. I remember what it was like in my first year as a 22-year-old graduate without an education degree or much support. I told myself then that I would do my best to become the mentor that I wished I had had. I would love to pursue teaching future educators at a community college and/or conduct professional development within my district.
  • My final goal as a graduate student is to find ways to rekindle curiosity in my high school students. Unfortunately, I have found that too many of my students have lost their curious nature by the time they reach my room. I suspect instruction that is too explicit and narrow plays a large factor, likely the result of increases in accountability testing. Explicit and clear objectives are part of sound teaching, as is assessment, but students also need to be given freedom to explore. I would like to find ways to incorporate more exploration into my lessons, possibly through enrichment activities and/or independent study.
  • Ultimately, I want to be like some of the great educators that I learned from. They were important figures in my intellectual development as well as personal growth. I remember the way that Mrs. Miles transformed my thinking and writing through teaching me methods of literary analysis. I thoroughly enjoyed digging deeper into a text to find the work’s implications about life and the human condition. I remember how Mrs. O’Connor changed the way I viewed the world around me through teaching me about atoms, molecules, and chemical reactions. I am still fascinated by the workings of seemingly imperceptible objects that dictate everything that is perceptible. I learned so much from these two women in particular, but most of all I remember the way that they made me feel about my learning. I had pride in my new achievements and confidence to approach new, unknown material because they made me believe in myself. That is what I want to do for my students; that is the educator I want to become.
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