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August 15, 2022
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 grounded in my belief that diversity is a strength and each child, regardless of cultural or family background, active and latent abilities or individual circumstances, can achieve their own definition of success and make a positive contribution to our world.
As a journalist living internationally, I met and learned about people from all walks of life who faced challenges that often stemmed from uninspiring or not useful education, harmful childhood experiences, or lack of systemic support for individual needs. Journalism and communications work taught me that I come alive when I am interacting with others in a supportive and enriching environment for growth. I soon realized that being a teacher would give me the opportunity to empower diverse people to flourish and reach their full potential while affording me the same. (The Jubilee Centre 2017: 1)
Furthermore, during hundreds of interviews, I also learned the importance of giving people a safe space to be heard and discover “new ways of knowing and understanding”. (Alexander 2020: 7) In the classroom, facilitating thoughtful pedagogical discourse and feedback is of paramount importance to me. (TS6) In this way, I can see through my students’ eyes and they take on increasing independence to overcome their own challenges. (Hattie 2009: 238) For example, one of my Year 1 pupils was struggling with a fall-out with a friend and the language barrier she faced kept her from proactively sorting the problem. In a quiet space with no time pressure, I asked her questions to probe and expand her thoughts and feelings. (TS1,5) She decided what she wanted to say using the sentence starter, “Why don’t we…?” After oral rehearsal, she took the initiative to speak to her friend and they worked things out independently.
As an EAL teacher, I have seen children feel disempowered, unenthusiastic, lonely and hopeless due to language and cultural barriers. In response, I make a point to regularly acknowledge and build on their strengths explicitly. (TS2) For example, many EAL pupils have strong resourcefulness. I have taught lessons where children create their own word banks and visual resources based on a personal goal. Pupils have the opportunity to independently test the scaffold in class and iterate. One pupil was asked by a non-EAL classmate, “Where did you get that sheet? Can I have one?” The pupil felt proud of his resourcefulness and ability to help himself.
Finally, as a child my character development and learning came largely from extracurricular music endeavors and outdoor excursions. Therefore, I aim to foster children’s academic interests by drawing on their passions outside class. For example, I based a formative assessment lesson on creating a desired atmosphere around the short film Alma, based on my knowledge that one of my pupils loves creepy horror films. His increased motivation and excitement towards the lesson was obvious as soon as we got started. (Kahu et. al. 2017:56) He actively used the target vocabulary to share his thoughts because the lesson was directly relevant to what he enjoys outside the classroom. (Cowley 2010: 108) I aspire to keep an open and creative mind to build bridges between the National Curriculum and the interests and spheres of my pupils’ lives to foster in them an intrinsic love of lifelong learning. (TS3, 4)
Alexander, R. (2020) A Dialogic Teaching Companion. [online] Oxon: Routledge. Available from: https://0-www-taylorfrancis-com.pugwash.lib.warwick.ac.uk/books/9781351040143 (Accessed 2 October 2021).
Cowley, S. (2010) Getting the Buggers to Behave. 4th edn. Continuum. Available from: https://encore.lib.warwick.ac.uk/iii/encore/record/C__Rb2569118?lang=eng&ivts=1V5NdDE3%2FogTXmw0GC7UTQ%3D%3D&casts=RQWkUCzJkzbCRBnyeQO2OA%3D%3D (Accessed 2 October 2021).
Hattie, J. (2008) Visible learning: A Synthesis of 800 Meta-analyses Relating to Achievement. London: Routledge.
Kahu et al. (July 2017) Student interest as a key driver of engagement for first year students. Student Success 8 (2): 55-66. Available from: https://studentsuccessjournal.org/article/view/504/370 (Accessed 2 October 2021).
The Jubilee Centre. (2017) A Framework for Character Education in Schools. Available at: https://www.jubileecentre.ac.uk/userfiles/jubileecentre/pdf/character-education/Framework%20for%20Character%20Education.pdf (Accessed 2 October 2021).