All entries for December 2020
December 22, 2020
We would like to take this opportunity to thank our readers and our authors for their continued support throughout what has been a very strange and stressful year. There will be no new posts across the Christmas period but we will be back in the new year with fresh teaching philosophy posts.
The WJETT Blog Team
December 14, 2020
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?
When faced with the task of writing my teaching philosophy I took some time to reflect on my educational touchstones. These include my personal experiences as a student as well as experiences gained in my role as a Learning Support Teaching Assistant.
Firstly, I believe in adopting a personalised but professional approach with my students. Making the effort to build a relationship with each individual will motivate them to increase their effort levels during lesson time. This coupled with positive praise promotes better standards of behaviour. In relation to fostering student-teacher relationships Ellis and Tod (2011) wrote that ‘good teacher–pupil relationships are crucial to the development of an effective learning environment’. Throughout my childhood I attended weekly singing lessons. At the beginning of each lesson my teacher always took the time to ask how my day was and at the end she would always talk about my interests outside of singing. This personalised communication meant that I always left the lessons feeling valued. This motivated me to practise in my own time and work harder in future lessons.
In addition, I believe in the importance of setting high expectations and establishing regular routines within my lessons from the outset. This ensures that the children know exactly what is expected of them in each lesson which gives them the opportunity to develop self-control. As a teenager I was a member of the Hertfordshire County Youth Choir. Throughout the year we performed at various events and concerts which required us to attend regular rehearsals. Our conductor had extremely high standards and would make the whole group sing a single bar over and over again until it was perfect. At times my peers and I found this frustrating. However, it gave me the opportunity to develop resilience and set high expectations for myself. Furthermore, I believe that inclusion of all students within the classroom is vitality important to their levels of progress. Prior to beginning my teacher training I was working as a Learning Support Teaching Assistant. It was during this role that I realised the importance of inclusion. I have seen first hand how children with one to one support can feel isolated and separated from their peers. Although the child may be receiving bespoke resources and making academic progress, if they are not fully included within the class it can have a detrimental effect on their social skills and friendships, as well as the possibility of leading to them being bullied. In a recent journal, Webster (2019) quoted Baroness Warnock who said that ‘it is important to include every child in the fold of true teaching, as required for a flourishing life’. As an educator I wish to have a truly inclusive classroom in which every child within my care is given the opportunity to make progress during every lesson, no matter their ability or additional learning needs.
Above, I have outlined my teaching philosophy as it stands. However, I understand that as I develop my teaching practise my philosophy will develop and evolve too, in response to pedagogical ideas,new experiences and professional development opportunities.
Ellis, S. and Tod, J., 2018. Behaviour For Learning : Promoting Positive Relationships In The Classroom. 2nd ed. London: Routledge, p.73.
Webster, R., 2019. Including Children And Young People With Special Educational Needs And Disabilities In Learning And Life. 1st ed. London: Routledge, p.69
December 07, 2020
When stood at the front of a classroom of 25 students all wearing identical uniforms, holding identical notebooks and sat at identical desks, the keystone of my teaching philosophy is something that feels incongruous to the setting. That is, to ensure every child can be an individual inside my classroom. Volunteering as a one-to-one tutor I taught a girl who was falling behind in her GCSEs because she had fallen out with her English teacher after being embarrassed in a class. I quickly began to appreciate the inextricable correlation between student achievement and student-teacher rapport. Through building personal connections with students, a more harmonious learning environment can be fostered (Deiro, 1996). Subsequently, fostering a positive learning environment improves learning outcomes (Alvarez, 2007).
Linking to the importance of individualism in the classroom, is the understanding that all students do not learn in the same way or at the same pace. During my first full-time teaching role in China 2015, I was teaching classes of up to 60 students. Tomlinson (1999) notes that when a teacher can facilitate students to take different paths ‘to the same destination’ the learning outcome is greater. Planning lessons that were flexible enough to allow differentiated learning, regardless of class size or student ability, became an important part of my teaching philosophy during this time. Students for whom the content is not appropriate for (either, because it is too easy or because it is too difficult) are more likely to become disengaged (Willis, 2015) and therefore disruptive (Cowley, 2010).
Cultivating a classroom environment which enables every student to reach their full potential is the final aspect of my teaching philosophy. Good behaviour management ensures a classroom environment in which students feel they can fully participate without fear or embarrassment. Within my current school, the Principal of the school has praised my behaviour management. My practice is in line with the findings of Rogers (2015) who notes that a crucial part of classroom management occurs in the ‘establishment phase’ during which rules are decided upon and then consciously taught. During the first week of lessons it is important to establish clear and well-defined rules using language appropriate to the age and level of the students. Giving the students ownership of the rules and asking them to suggest appropriate sanctions that are in-line with the school policy makes the students more likely to follow them. After successfully implementing, and then following through on the agreed rules and sanctions of the classroom, I find that prevention is the best form of behaviour management. Preventing issues from arising in the classroom using eye-contact, non-verbal signals and use of student’s names can often reduce disruption before it occurs. Martin (2015) describes the ‘zones of proximity,’ and how moving between them can prevent disruption whilst also minimising loss of teaching time.
Cowley, S. (2010). Getting the Buggers to Behave, London: Bloomsbury
Deiro, J.A. (1996). Teaching With Heart :Making healthy connections with students, Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Corwin.
Jones, F. (2007). Tools for Teaching: Discipline, Instruction, Motivation. 2nd ed. Santa Cruz, Ca: Fredric H. Jones & Associates.
Rogers, B (2015) Classroom Behaviour, 4th ed. London: Sage Publications.
Tomlinson, C A (1995). How to differentiate instruction in mixed-ability classrooms
Tomlinson, C A (2015). On Differentiation, Education Week, Vol. 34 Issue 21.
Martin, J. (2015). Working the Crowd: Behavior Management through Strategic Classroom Arrangement, Journal of Instructional Research, 4, pp. 52-56.
Willis, S. (1993). Teaching Young Children, Educators Seek 'Developmental Appropriateness’ [Online] (URL http://www.ascd.org/publications/curriculum-update/nov1993/Teaching-Young-Children.aspx) 1993. (Accessed 1st October 2020)