My Teaching Philosophy



CHILDREN AS LEARNERS

--I believe that every child has a right to an education and a right learn.  No child should ever be denied access to education.  All people should be given the opportunity to learn. 

--I believe that children learn through their past experiences, interactions with other people, and interactions with the environment.  This belief comes from the constructivist point of view.  "Vygotsky proposed that social interaction, especially dialog, between children and adults is the mechanism through which specific cultural values, customs, and beliefs are transmitted from generation to generation" (Essa, 1999, p.115).  Piaget's point of view was that the children not only develop and learn through a series of developmental stages, but that the children learn by constructing their own knowledge as they come in contact with the environment (Seefeldt & Wasik, 2002). <>

--I believe that children have very different ways in which they learn and that they represent that learning in very different ways.  Howard Gardner has a Theory of Multiple Intelligences that suggests that there are seven different types of intelligences: linguistic, logical-mathematic, musical, bodily-kinesthetic, spatial, interpersonal, and intrapersonal.  He says that children differ in the strengths of these seven intelligences (Allen & Catron, 1999).  Each child has different strengths and talents.  Every child should be given the opportunity to express their knowledge in the way that is most appropriate for them individually.

--I believe that children learn best when they feel respected and valued.  Children have a desire and need to be included and to feel like they matter.  I believe that children's basic needs must be met before they can be fully successful at learning.  Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs says that people's needs have an order to them.  If the needs on the top of the list are not met, then the needs lower on the list will not be able to be met and the person will not be able to function successfully (Boeree, 1998).

 

ROLE OF THE TEACHER

--I believe that the teacher is responsible for creating a classroom environment that is conducive to learning.  The classroom should be free from distractions.  The classroom should be set up with materials and manipulatives that are exciting and engaging to the children.  In the Reggio Emilia curriculum model, Malaguzzi says that when it is set up correctly, the environment plays a large part in educating the child (Edwards, Forman, & Gandini, 1998). 

--I believe that the teacher is responsible for facilitating in the classroom and scaffolding the children so that their full potential of learning can be reached.  The teacher is responsible for doing all that he or she can do encourage the children and guide them toward deeper learning and understanding.  Vygotsky believed that it was the role of the teacher to scaffold the children and hold their hand as they strived towards a learning goal (Allen, et al., 1999). 

--I believe that the teacher is responsible for teaching in a way that each child's development and learning is the focus.  NAEYC said that "adults are responsible for ensuring children's healthy development and learning" (Bredekamp & Copple, 1997, p.17).

--I believe that the teacher is responsible for planning lessons that are interesting and engaging for the children and that allow them to construct their own knowledge.  Piaget' s theory was called constructivist because he believed that “children construct knowledge for themselves rather than having it conveyed by an external source” (Essa, 1999, p. 111).

 

THE SCHOOL

--I believe that the school should be a joint effort between school personnel, students, parents, and the community surrounding the school.  In the Reggio Emilia curriculum approach, there is a community-based management team that includes parents, teachers, educational coordinators, school staff, and community members who’s purpose is to make decisions about the school (Edwards, et al., 1998). 

--I believe that the school should have a positive and welcoming atmosphere where everyone that enters will feel safe and secure.  In the Reggio Emilia curriculum, Loris Malaguzzi has placed an importance on making the school have a welcoming atmosphere, one that has an “atmosphere of discovery and serenity” (Edwards, et al., 1998, p.167). 

--I believe that the school is responsible for teaching general moral principles such as citizenship, trustworthiness, dependability, fairness, etc.  Children do not always get this basic moral training at home, so it is the responsibility of the school to instill those characteristics in the child.  John Dewey says "it is the business of the school to deepen and extend his sense of the values bound up in his home life" (Dewey, 1897, p.78).



THE CURRICULUM

--I believe that the curriculum should be based on what is appropriate for the particular society the school exists in.  Certain societal patterns exist within different societies.  What is taught in schools should be a reflection of what is important in society.  John Dewey believed that, "the subject-matter of the school curriculum should mark a gradual differentiation out of the primitive unconscious unity of social life" (Dewey, 1897, p.78).

--I believe that the curriculum should be developmentally appropriate and be presented in a way that each child can reach his full potential for learning.  The curriculum should enhance development and learning.  NAEYC has said that that the content of curriculum is determined by many factors such as social and cultural context, parental values, and the development level of each individual child (Bredekamp, et al., 1997).

--I believe that the curriculum should be a balanced between teacher directed and child initiated so that the proper learning can occur.  The child-initiated idea comes from the project approach, which is central in the Reggio Emilia curriculum, the idea is that if children come up with what they learn, then they will be more motivated and excited to participate in the learning (Beneke & Helm, 2003).  The teacher directed idea comes from the Bereiter-Engelmann model that says that teachers are responsible for planning lessons that will help students master specific skills (Essa, 1999).               


CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT

--I believe that prevention and guidance is the best classroom management tool.  If children are exposed to good training and imitation of positive behaviors by the teacher and other students, then they are likely to repeat those positive behaviors.  In the Social Learning Theory, Albert Bandura says that observation, imitation, modeling, and incidental learning play a large part in children's behavior (Allen, et al., 1999). 

--I believe that the demeanor of the classroom should be one in which love and respect are reciprocal between the teacher and student.  The student will have better behavior if he or she feels respected by the teacher.  Thomas Gordon, a humanistic psychologist suggested that if mutual respect and acceptance between adult and child exists, the child will "own" his or her behaviors and behave in a positive way (Essa, 1999).              

--I believe that the behavior management system in the classroom should be one where the idea of logical consequences is implemented.  Students need to learn that there will be consequences when misbehavior takes place and that those consequences are directly related to the misbehavior.  The idea of logical consequences comes from Rudolf Dreikurs, who said “if children are allowed to experience the natural outcome of their actions then a real learning experience takes place” (Essa, 1999, p.396).



 GENERAL STATEMENTS

--I believe that teachers have a very special calling and that they are accountable to society.  Teachers have the responsibility to empower students to be life-long learners.  Teachers need to model lifelong learning to students.  As teachers learn new things, our philosophies of education will change.  As new research comes along, and as I learn more about children, I am sure that my ideas will be influenced and that I will modify my practices to fit in with the new research.  This constant learning and adapting will be a model to my students that life-long learning is very important.    


REFERENCES

Allen, J., & Catron, C.E.  (1999).  Early childhood curriculum: a creative play model.  Upper

             Saddle River, New Jersey: Merrill.

Beneke, S., & Helm, J.H.  (Eds.)  (2003).  The power of projects:  meeting contemporary

 challenges in early childhood classrooms- strategies and solutions.  New York:

 Teachers College.

Boeree, C.G.  (1998).  Abraham Maslow.  Retrieved April 12, 2003, from Shippensburg

 University, Physchology Department Website:

  http://www.ship.edu/~cgboeree/maslow.html

Bredekamp, S., & Copple, C. (Eds.)  (1997).  Developmentally appropriate practice in early

 childhood programs.  Washington, D.C.: NAEYC.

Dewey, J.  (1897).  My pedagogic creed [Electronic version].  The School Journal, 54(3), 77-80.

Edwards, C., Forman, G., & Gandini, L.  (Eds.)  (1998).  The hundred languages of children:

 the Reggio Emilia approach- advanced reflections.  Greenwich, Connecticut: Ablex.

Essa, E.L.  (1999).  Introduction to early childhood education.  Albany, New York:  Delmar.

Seefeldt, C., & Wasik, B.  (2002).  Kindergarten:  fours and fives go to school.  Upper Saddle

 River, New Jersey:  Merrill.




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