All entries for Tuesday 04 February 2020

February 04, 2020

My teaching philosophy – Virginia

Think of a tree. Think of its trunk, of its branches and its ever-changing leaves, but, most importantly, focus on its roots. Hone in on the notion that this tree would falter without its support and nourishment and place in the earth. My teaching philosophy gravitates around the importance of catering to the mental health of my students while fostering a community in the classroom — a philosophy that is rooted in what I felt I lacked in school and touchstones that grew out from that empty space.

The importance of a healthy emotional environment in a classroom setting cannot be stressed enough. Children need established dialogue and vocabulary around mental health to better understand where they, themselves, stand (Hodgman 2012). A study carried out by Danby and Hamilton (2016) noted that teachers believed that “‘the term mental health was not suitable for use with children’”, and I think there’s fault in this. In San Francisco I became quite familiar with Waldorf education and found our beliefs toward education and teaching around mental health paralleled. From those years forward with this system in mind, I’ve placed a vast emphasis of my teaching to focus on fostering emotional stability as it feeds into social behaviour.

Bluntly put, community lacked in my classrooms so I sought to find my own. In my adopted communities I found a place of safety, but it wasn’t until high school when I found a classroom where I felt completely heard and seen. That CP Biology class freshmen year mirrored many of the qualities I valued in my communities outside the classroom and this stirred value into school allowing me to see it in different, more formatively positive light. That teacher made me feel as if I was truly cared about as a human and set in stone how important a community classroom can be.

From a young age I’ve been told that I’m someone who is fearless and whom children gravitate towards. In being a teacher, there is power in having charisma and a personality (Cowley 2010) and this seemingly naturalness and ease I have with children is something I want to use to inspire confidence to harness a strong sense of self-efficacy in my students in order for them to persist and achieve (Lefrancois 1997 p.366). Let it be noted, although outwardly confidence seemed to exude from me since childhood, it wasn’t until I had developed a strong sense of mental health paired with safe communities did that confidence reflect inward.

When we are at home with ourselves, we are at home with the world, and my hope for my students is that through effort on my part they can better find solid ground to root and grow. Let’s go back to the tree and its roots. Just like those roots in the tree, a student without community and educational support simply cannot flourish. I want to be a teacher who is in tune with children’s emotional needs, who understands the value of community outside of the home unit and in the classroom, and who wants each kid to find their courage to better have the tools to be able to find a growing and loving community after school and beyond.


Cowley, S. (2010). Getting the Buggers to Behave, Bloomsbury Publishing, London. Available from: ProQuest Ebook Central.

Hamilton, P. and Danby, G. (2016). Addressing the ‘elephant in the room’. The role of the primary school practitioner in supporting children’s mental well-being. Wrexham: Pastoral Care in Education, pp.90–103.

Hodgman, L. (2012). The emotional environment | Croner-i. [online] Available at:

LeFrancois, G (1997) Psychology for Teaching (9th edition) London: Wadsworth

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