Philosophy

Because learners are dynamic, so too must learning be dynamic.  Accordingly, I feel the teacher must learn to identify, through the varied classroom contexts and time spent within that realm through trial and error, how best to facilitate this learning.  The findings will likely show that some students learn best independently, while others prefer cooperative methods, and that teaching should simultaneously cultivate each.

As a teacher, it is ultimately my responsibility to establish classroom procedures at the outset of the school year, allowing for revision as the year progresses.  This process, however, should not be done in isolation of the students' concerns.  The result is a class in which ownership is shared.  This ensures that everyone will take pride in and care for the class's social and physical atmosphere.  In the same way the curriculum should be determined; as a teacher I am ultimately responsible, but in order for kids to appreciate what is being taught, they will have input into the curriculum delivery.  Parents and guardians, I strongly believe, ought to be part of the decision making process knowing that they are already a large part of the students' educational lives.  Harmony between me–the teacher–and parents will only better promote a positive relationship between the home and the school[1], noting what Simons explains that parents occupy an invisible presence in the classroom.[2]  However, in cases where parents contribute little to a child's education, I must be prepared to adjust my teaching strategy to compensate for this lack of learning at home.  This may simply involve extra encouragement.

While it is a given that most children learn differently, they also do not like to have these differences made public, especially in front of their peers.  Honesty, then, is key as children should be informed of how and why they are being taught in a particular way.  In short, diversity within the classroom ought to be tackled with this same honesty yet with discretion.  Knowing that the students in my class will have diverse learning strategies, I will address this with diverse teaching strategies, ranging from direct to indirect, independent to interactive

Knowledge must be real to children for it to be meaningful.  The curriculum must reinforce this meaningfulness.  I believe that while teachers often disperse information, until it becomes meaningful or until it begins to make sense in the mind of the student, only then does it become knowledge.  In other words, knowledge is information that makes logical sense and has meaning to a child.  A student's knowledge can be verified if the student can, in essence, use the acquired information–now knowledge–and re-teach it in numerous styles.  This can take the form of testing, presenting, or a host of other media.

Teaching should first manifest integrity, without which it lacks believability and ultimately truth.  At all costs, children should be pointed towards truth.  By embodying integrity within the classroom my role will be both visible and invisible.  The role will be visible as students require that I guide them to new knowledge, and when I pass this knowledge to them and it becomes their own, I will metaphorically slip out of existence which will reinforce their ownership and confidence.  This results in neither a teacher- or student-centered classroom, rather a subject-centered one.[3]

I believe that a healthy school is an active participant in a healthy community; in fact, they build on each other.  Further, a healthy school is one that practices respect inwardly and outwardly.  It is by using this paramount philosophy of respect that will benefit all that come into contact with members of a this healthy school.  As such, those practicing to treat others in the way they would wish to be treated will hinder injustice.[4]  Injustice will be further tackled by teaching as close as possible to objective awareness on issues.  This comes from the belief that all cultures contribute equally to humanity.


[1] Colorosa, Barbara. Kids are Worth It! Penguin Books, Toronto. 1999.

[2] Palmer, Parker. The Courage to Teach. Jossey-Bass, San Francisco. 1998.

[3] Handbook for New Teachers: British Columbia Teachers' Federation. August 2001.

[4] Simons, Deborah.  “Dealing with Difficult Parents.” American Association of Christian Schools. (http://www.aacs.org). 2002.

 

 
 

 

 
 

 

 
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Andrew Embree aembree@canada.com

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