March 08, 2021

What is your teaching philosophy? – Ingrid

What is your teaching philosophy? How has this originated and can you evaluate how your educational touchstones will impact upon the teacher you aspire to be?

The essence of my teaching philosophy is to foster students’ competence beliefs through healthy and personal relationships. I trust that students do well and are more willing to learn when learning is personalised.

Growing up, I questioned everything. However, my curiosity was often met with impatience and hostility as it was seen as disturbance in classes of 40 children. Feeling distant from my teachers and my learning, I became anxious and despised going to school. Studying abroad in England at 15 was certainly challenging, but it broadened my horizons. I felt a closer connection to my teachers and enjoyed a freedom to discuss academic or personal issues. I became more confident in my abilities and performed much better.

At university, I explored the psychological underpinnings of child development and education. One of the greatest takeaways from my Masters programme was the importance of competence beliefs in children — self-perceptions about their own capabilities (Zimmerman & Schunk, 2006). Literature shows that the higher children’s self-perceived ability, the greater their motivation and the better their academic achievement (e.g. Wigfield & Eccles, 2001; Urdan & Schoenfelder, 2006; Guay, Marsh, & Bovin, 2003; Freiberger, Steinmayr, & Spinath 2012). In retrospect, I performed better when I viewed myself as more capable because I felt understood and cared for. Positive relationships between teachers and students often lead to better performance (Bernstein-Yamashir & Noam, 2013). Students show higher attendance rates and test scores, and improved engagement and motivation in a personalised, respectful and safe learning environment with strong teacher support (Klem & Connell, 2004).

Teaching back at home, I try my best to show my students that they are listened to despite the large class size. For example, I start my lessons off with Show and Tell or a “Mood Check” where students take turns vocalising their thoughts or sharing something dear to their hearts. This way, the whole class gets to know more about each other and an opportunity to be heard outside of the curriculum. Their participation has been pleasantly encouraging. Each student has also prepared, per my instruction, a notebook of their choice to use as their journal where they pen their thoughts without worrying about being assessed. Some students have told me about their weekend plans, and others have shared more personal concerns about their family and life outside of school. Their sharing, verbal and written, has opened up windows for conversation. The more I know my students, the easier classroom management has become.

As I move further into the term, I have enjoyed the benefits of assigning tasks that students can relate to. As part of a poetry module, I had my Primary 5s write limericks and cinquains about themselves, their class, or their learning. This task was well received; students showed strong understanding of the taught poetic structures afterwards. For Primary 3, in preparation of their mid-term tests, I asked students to think of one question they thought might come up in their test. I envisioned it to be a short and simple activity, but it turned out to be a practice test paper compiled solely from their input. We went through these review questions together and they were a lot more engaged than usual as they enjoyed the fruits of their labour.

References

Bernstein-Yamashiro, B. and Noam, G.G., 2013. Teacher-student relationships: A growing field of study. New Directions for Youth Development

Guay, F., Marsh, H. W. and Boivin, M., 2003. Academic self-concept and academic achievement: developmental perspectives on their causal ordering. Journal of educational psychology, 95(1), pp.124-136.

Freiberger, V., Steinmayr, R. and Spinath, B., 2012. Competence beliefs and perceived ability evaluations: How do they contribute to intrinsic motivation and achievement?. Learning and Individual Differences, 22(4), pp.518-522.

Klem, A.M. and Connell, J.P., 2004., Relationships matter: Linking teacher support to student engagement and achievement. Journal of school health, 74, pp.262-273.

Urdan, T. and Schoenfelder, E., 2006. Classroom effects on student motivation: Goal structures, social relationships, and competence beliefs. Journal of School Psychology, 44(5), pp.331-349.

Wigfield, A. and Eccles, J. S., 2000. Expectancy–Value Theory of Achievement Motivation. Contemporary educational psychology, 25(1), pp.68-81.

Zimmerman, B.J, and Schunk, D.H., 2006. Competence and control beliefs: Distinguishing the means and ends. Handbook of educational psychology, 2, pp.349-367.


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