Thursday, April 23, 2009

Preparing to Write a Philosophy

One of the final assignments at the Faculty is to write a Philosophy of Education. This will be at least the third, if not fourth time I have been asked to do this, but as your experiences progress, the way you write and your views on Education change. This is for one of my Professional classes and has been presented in a way that I am really enjoying. We have touched on some interesting issues and the instructor is trying to bring up some things for us to think about and consider as we write. On the first day of our theatre lectures he posed a bunch of questions. I thought that it might make for some interesting reading into who I am as a teacher. So if you dare, read on and find out what my current stance is on Education. Who knows, maybe I will write a chunk of my Philosophy of Education in the process.


What is your role as a teacher?
I believe that my role is to facilitate and guide the learning of others. It is to provide opportunities for learning with regards to curriculum (subject matter), social issues (which is done by creating a welcoming, positive learning environment that students feel safe in and can trust), and current local and world issues. It is to make students aware of who they are as learners and provide them the means to learn from and about one another.

What is the learners role?

I believe that the learners role is to have an open mind and be willing to learn. To be curious, ask good questions, and expect a lot of himself/herself. What "a lot" is for one learner may not be enough or may be too much for another. I believe that the learner should expect a lot of me as a teacher and be willing to communicate his/her needs with me so that their goals can be met and we can be successful as a team.

How do you decide what is important for your students to learn?

I believe that it is critical to determine what is important for my students to learn by determining what their individual goals and needs are for the course and learning in general. I will decide what is important to each individual student through personal discussions. Considering the former along with the links that my curriculum has to that of other subjects, social and character education, and important skills (such as logical thinking, problem solving, and language-math understanding) will allow me to make an informed decision of what is important for my students to learn.

How do you find out if/what your students have learned?
Determining whether or not your students are learning what I am/have been teaching requires constant observation, research, and reflection. I believe that walking around the class every day to check on students notes and progress in their work is essential to gauging learning. Combining this practice with asking questions in class and keeping other lines of communication (i.e. communication log, online methods) with students open will help to determine if the students learned on a particular day. Providing multiple opportunities for my students to get feedback from assessments for learning will help me to find out what my students have learned and give them a chance to be better prepared for various forms of assessments of learning.

What strategies do you employ to help your students learn?
It is my belief that by varying the tempo, teaching style, and types of assessments and evaluations I use in class I can help my students learn. Changing the tempo allows students the chance to be reengaged and to refocus their efforts in class. Some of the teaching styles I use are lectures, class discussions, experiential learning, POEs (Predict, Observe, Explain), investigations and experiments, presentations, jigsaws, prompting questions, research, notes, handouts, interactive whiteboards, technology based lessons, and one-on-one discussions/help. Finally, by varying assessments for my students I am allowing them the opportunity to express their thoughts and learning in different ways - some students will not do well on tests but can express their understanding in a different way - which will also help them learn how to be more successful on types of assessments that they may not usually do as well in.

What do you feel is important for your students to remember about their learning experience with you 10 years from now?
If I were to run into one of my former students ten years after having taught them I would hope to discover that they remembered learning how to think about and solve problems. That they would remember being taught to think about things logically and that my classroom was not just about Science or Math, but about what life was like around them and becoming educated about the people who surrounded them. I want my students to leave my class having become a more conscientious, caring, empathetic, and logical person.

Describe your educational background.

Finding a passion for Mathematics in elementary school I was driven to follow through and complete any Math course I could get my hands on in high school. I was also musically driven and my Grade 12 year was spent largely in Math, Music, Physics, and Psychology based classes. I completed by B.Sc.H. in Mathematics with Physics as a second teachable through the Concurrent Education program. I also took interest in taking a wide variety of electives including credits in Health, Philosophy, Economics, and Psychology.

What are your future career goals?
I have now worked through my B.Ed. with intentions of completing an additional University credit required to take an ABQ course for Senior Social Sciences as well as the intention of completing Spec Ed part 1 early on in my career. I have aspirations to eventually become a department head and have not ruled out the potential to work as an administrator at some point in my career. Some of my shorter-term goals include: Setting up a safe, positive learning environment in which my students feel welcome and free to speak with me about anything and to speak with each other; being analytical of my own teaching practices and ensuring that these practices evolve as my students and I evolve; and continuing to make an effort to learn about and use technologies in my classroom.

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