All entries for April 2021

April 26, 2021

What is your teaching philosophy? – Tim

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?

My teaching philosophy is centred around the idea that “learners will not learn unless they want to learn” (Morgan and Saxton 2006, p.15). The evidence backs this up too as students who want to learn will display better behaviour in class and achieve better outcomes (Park and Peterson 2009). My method of applying this in the classroom is heavily influenced by the ‘positive psychology’ of Lotta Uusitalo and Kaisa Vuorinen (2019), which argues that teachers must ‘see the good’, by constantly noticing when children are acting well and identifying which positive character strengths they are using (e.g. self-regulation, honesty, kindness), which creates an environment where their self-worth and self-efficacy is strong.

The way that I try to achieve this in my classroom has been by always being explicit about the character strengths I am looking for during a task, by encouraging my students to notice the strengths others are showing, and by linking English learning to character strengths wherever possible.

My teaching philosophy is rooted in my experience in the classroom as a student, and in the experiences of my siblings, who dropped out of school during A-Levels. When I reflect on my own experience, I think of it as surviving, not thriving. The environment was one where learning was highly valued, but there was no culture of teamwork and collaboration. While the quality of my education was quite high, in that I developed strong reading, writing and critical thinking skills, I think that the lack of focus on character strengths and ‘seeing the good’ resulted in my low self-esteem and unhappiness. I was only motivated to achieve high grades by the example my parents set and in order to escape from the system I was in. I think I was lucky to have good role-models and a couple of excellent teachers, which enabled me to overcome some of this, but I believe many children in this system were left behind.

Based on this experience, I believe that by fostering positive character strengths, we can go a long way to improving the school experience for students, and that this will improve their self-esteem and soft skills, so that they can thrive.

The other half of my teaching philosophy is to embrace the Thai’s cultural sense of sanuk, or fun, in my classroom. In Thailand, it is important not to be overly ‘serious’ in approach (Baker 2008) – and in fact, to many Thai’s, if something isn’t sanuk, it’s not worth doing. In my fairly unusual position of being integrated with a team of Thai teachers (rather than other foreign ones) I have been able to observe how this concept is deployed.

By embracing this sense of fun, along with what I am learning on the PGCEi course, I have been able to build rapport with students and to manage behaviour effectively. It also fits perfectly with the first half of my philosophy – focussing on positive character strengths. By bringing together positive reinforcement and a sense of fun, I believe I can fulfil my philosophy that students will learn if they want to learn, and I hope they continue to want to learn with me.

References

Baker, Will. (2008). A Critical Examination of ELT in Thailand: The Role of Cultural Awareness. Relc Journal. 39, pp.131-146.

Morgan, N., & Saxton, J. (2006). Asking Better Questions. 2nd ed. Ontario: Pembroke Publishers.

Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2009). Strengths of character in schools. In R. Gilman, E. S. Huebner, & M. J. Furlong (Eds.), Handbook of positive psychology in schools. New York: Routledge, pp. 65–76.

Uusitalo, L., & Vuorinen, K. (2019). See the Good! How to guide children and adolescents to find their character strengths. Helsinki: Positive Learning Ltd.


April 19, 2021

What is your teaching philosophy? – Clare

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 best teachers are those who show you where to look, but don’t tell you what to see (Trenfor, n.k.). I saved this quote long before deciding to become a teacher. On reflection, I believe this will help shape my approach to teaching. Sparking curiosity in children is something that drives their natural interest and wonder with the world. Additionally, providing children the opportunity to discover the answers and satisfy their own curiosity, will help develop their problem-solving skills and become critical inquirers.

Having spent the last 15 years in the corporate world, my philosophy doesn’t yet come from classroom experience. However, being in a senior role, I observed the best performing team members were the ones who were highly agile. Furthermore, at industry conferences, I witnessed a recurring theme of the importance to learn, unlearn and relearn and even a sense of panic for the speed things are changing. Therefore, a key part of my teaching philosophy in helping best prepare children for the future, will be setting high expectations, that help to motivate and challenge, while at the same time helping to instil a growth mindset. “The best gift we can give children is to teach them to love challenges, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy effort, and keep on learning” (Dweck, 2012. p270).

This leads nicely onto character education. Whilst parents are the primary educators of their children’s character, empirical research tells us that parents want all adults who have contact with their children to contribute to such education, especially their children’s teachers (The Jubilee Centre for Character & Virtues, 2017). Elementary teaching is more than teaching subject knowledge and should contribute to growing the character of the child. Aligned with this ethos, my placement school is a Virtues Project School which strongly resonates with me. The ethos, values and principles are based on the Five Cores Principles of Lasallian Schools. As a practising teacher in the school, I am helping to define the school experience for the children I teach, instilling these virtues, whilst creating an environment where the children grow and develop in a safe and nurturing community,

As part of my teaching journey, I have begun working at a forest school, which resonates with my beliefs for how children learn and grow. It focuses on the wellbeing of the child, combining holistic development and the great outdoors, resulting in creative, independent and resilient life-long learners. This ethos aligns with my outlined philosophy, such as inquiry focused learning, problem solving development, as well as taking place in nature, which supports the development of a relationship with the child and the natural world. Although these principles cannot be translated directly into a traditional classroom environment, I believe many elements will carry with me. I will aim to make my classroom an interactive learning environment, with simulating, well planned lessons that encourage child-led thinking, group work and inquiry-based learning.

The huge privileges teachers hold that impact on children's learning and character shouldn’t be taken lightly. As a teacher at the beginning of my journey, I am certain my teaching philosophy will change and that’s a good thing. It will show how I have learnt and progressed in my teaching practice.

References

Dweck, C. (2012) Mindset: How you can fulfil your potential. London: Robinson.

Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues(2017). A Framework for Character Education in Schools[online]. Available from: https://www.jubileecentre.ac.uk/527/character-education/framework. Accessed 29 October 2020). Trenfor, K . (n.k.) [no bio]


April 12, 2021

Diversity by Design: 3 ways to increase diversity in your teaching

Diversity by Design: 3 ways to increase diversity in your teaching by Harveen Chugh and Tamara Friedrich

We have just co-led the first run of a new Core Module for approximately 600 Warwick Business School undergraduate students called Entrepreneurial Mindset. Looking back over the module, one of the things we feel proud of is how we demonstrated the diversity of entrepreneurs to students. This was certainly no coincidence; it was, in fact, diversity by design. Here we share 3 ways you can also increase and demonstrate diversity in your teaching:

1) The ‘who’ – consider your cast: Think about the opportunities to feature people in your module that represent the breadth of humanity, not just a select few. You can do this through guest speakers, your teaching team, or videos. We made a concerted effort to examine who was appearing on the module, not to tick any particular box, but to ensure a breadth of experiences and perspectives were presented and there was a collective and overall representation. It is of course the easier option to call on the first few names or cases that come to mind, but this could naturally skew towards our own unconscious biases. Taking time to think about the overall composition of your module’s cast (e.g., gender, race, age) will help to counteract this.

2) The ‘what’ – consider your content: In addition to the people who appear on the module, diversity runs through all the materials such as the books you assign, research you reference, podcasts you link to, or examples you give. Everywhere a name is mentioned (individual or organisation) is also an aspect where you can think about diversity. You can make a list of all the elements in your module where you will be mentioning names and increase diversity across all these dimensions. It may also be an opportunity to consider the values represented by those you cite or discuss. For instance, there may be scholars or organizations you discuss who have expressed harmful views that you could be inadvertently promoting.

3) The ‘why’ – consider your mission: Ask or remind yourself why increasing and demonstrating diversity through your teaching is important. We have a globally diverse student body and are conscious of the power and privilege we hold in deciding what students see as possible, now and for their future. Increasing and demonstrating diversity will be just one way we can all help to get them there. We are two female co-module leaders and could easily think we have this covered, but this alone is not enough. It is also easy to fall into the trap of using well-known examples with a wealth of information available on them. For us in entrepreneurship, it may be tempting to discuss Mark Zuckerberg or Elon Musk, but if we truly want a learning experience that all of our students connect with and see themselves in, we should also be talking about entrepreneurs like Whitney Wolfe Herd, the CEO of dating app Bumble and the youngest woman to take a company public, or Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, a pioneer in the field of biopharmaceuticals and EY World Entrepreneur of the Year.

We hope these practices will inspire you to increase diversity in your teaching too.


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  • Very interesting, thank you for sharing. Great CPD reflection. by Joel Milburn on this entry
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