August 01, 2022

What is your teaching philosophy? – Shantanna Tabrizi

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?

‘There is no such thing as neutral education. Education either functions as an instrument to bring about conformity or freedom’ (Freire, 1968)

The basis of my teaching philosophy is that all students should be nurtured and guided to think for themselves. At the heart of this is my core belief that creativity and freedom are vital in encouraging students to access their unique voices and perspectives, to be able to explore them critically and to share them through effective communication.

Growing up, I spent a lot of time in Middle Eastern and Asian education systems. Whilst I always performed well academically, the teaching styles I was exposed to were not aligned with my own learning styles. Whilst I didn’t mind memorising facts and poems to recite when called upon, even from an early age I took issue with being told how to think, what opinions I should have and being discouraged from asking unwanted questions. It seemed that the aim was to learn facts, not discover answers.

Reflecting on my educational touchstones, I consider the effect my secondary Drama teacher had on me, how her approach resonates and impacts the type of teacher I aspire to be. Her objective was to give students the confidence and skills required for success beyond the classroom.

In response to my experiences, my goal is to create a safe space for my students to explore and question, so they may formulate their own opinions whilst accommodating various learning styles. Within a safe Drama space typical hierarchy cannot be implemented, and the teacher must assume the role facilitator, guiding the students. My approach this year has been to collaborate with students on a set of classroom expectations (TS1/TS7). These have been created without judgement and outlines the basic behaviour expected from each participant and acts as a mutual agreement between us. It has been observed that when working in a personalised space with strong guidance and support from the teacher, students’ motivation and engagement is enhanced (Klem & Connell, 2004).

Due to the nature of Drama classes, facilitators must be flexible in their approach to the lesson objectives. Therefore, it is crucial that I demonstrate adaptability in my teaching to accommodate the needs of each class and the individuals within it (TS5). Safe spaces and routine work in tandem, and my basic lesson structure reflects this. Every lesson has four distinct segments.

1. Warm up/Check in

2. Present tasks/Give options/Model activity

3. Perform the task(s)

4. Review (TS4)

At the start of every lesson, the students utilise the space they have created to discuss concerns, achievements, feelings and experiences, encouraging communication and trust among their peers, and freeing themselves of any anxieties that may inhibit their work.

In section two, I present several activities to the students - all of which utilise the same skills or have similar objectives. The students’ input is welcomed in determining the activities - when the lesson permits, on the condition they justify their decisions before putting it to a class vote, promoting communication, responsibility and decision making. Once decided, clear instructions are given, and the activity is modelled. In the final part, we review the session together. The students reflect on their learning, evaluate their work, and give honest feedback on the session whilst setting ongoing objectives for themselves.

References

Anderson, M. (2012). Collaborative understanding: Ensemble approaches in drama education. In MasterClass in drama education: Transforming teaching and learning (pp. 65-77). New York, NY: Continuum International Publishing Group.

Freire, P. (1972). Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York: Herder and Herder

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.


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