Ah…the teaching philosophy. One of those hoops all teachers have to jump through. And I’m not sure anyone really enjoys writing it.
At the end, though, we’re all thankful for the pedagogical exercise that forces us to look at ourselves as a person and as a pedagogue and describe how the two intertwine and determine our goals and expectations for our classroom. Ultimately, we draw conclusions as to how we aim to effect our students.
Even though every teacher’s teaching philosophy is different, I always enjoy reading my colleagues’ intimate thoughts about the roles and responsibilities of teachers.
In that spirit, I’m sharing mine with you.
“My teachers treated me as a diamond in the rough, someone who needed smoothing.”
– Mother Jones, early 20th Century coal mining union supporter
More than anything, I believe my role as a teacher is to give students infinite opportunities to discover what they love to do, which ways they are gifted, and where they dream their life is heading. Every student has the potential to develop the skills to achieve their desires. It is important to provide students with a safe and structured community for learning; I want to create a classroom environment that is conducive to community. My classroom should be a place where students who are struggling to understand whether or not they belong within the science community have the confidence to desire to learn science regardless of the cultural groups they belong to outside of school. Students who enter the community of my classroom will never feel the pressure to perform in science in order to belong.
As a teacher, I believe it is my duty to guide students towards an understanding of the content. I do not want my classroom to be a place where students expect me simply to dispense knowledge, but instead, a place where they come to explore the world and develop their abilities to think critically and communicate clearly. In this way, I will assume the role of student advocate. My responsibilities include helping students to develop a deeper understanding of science, encouraging students to form opinions and play an active role in their community, providing students with opportunities to be excited about science, and protecting the classroom from ideas and misconceptions that might prohibit participation in science. I believe the result of these actions will be an increased student interest in the scientific world. These goals are realistic, but will be challenging within the context of Physics, which has traditionally been an exclusive community. Physics should be the most approachable science for students since it is the most applicable to their everyday lives.
Creativity will be the theme that flows through each unit and discussion. I want to take advantage of every aspect of science that overlaps with other disciplines. For example, I would love to teach a Physics course focused specifically on the Physics of the Arts: kinematics and mechanics for actors and dancers, electricity and magnetism for technical theater aficionados, color and optics for visual artists, and sound for musicians. I dream of a classroom where science is merely the lens through which my class and I explore our surroundings.
I have a vision for a classroom where students are constantly exploring new ways of thinking and communicating. Tools I plan to use to accomplish this include: a class blogging project, a wall of pictures of science in our daily lives and around the world, regular science journaling, leading community-wide science fairs, and reading and discussing science fiction novels. Giving students the opportunity to learn through inquiry is essential in training them to be lifelong learners in the classroom and beyond. It is a teacher’s prerogative to encourage students to be aware and involved in a larger community. Whether globally or locally, students should take responsibility for affecting change. I want to teach my students to be aware of what is occurring in the world and how they can make a difference.
I would not be so proud as to say education is the most important institution of civilization, just one of the most important tools; a person can have decades of education, but it is not until he or she decides to implement what she has learned that she can be truly effective. As penned by Elbert Hubbard, “The object of teaching a child is to enable them to get along without their teacher.” I want to equip my students to pursue the world with confidence.
– Becky McCoy