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May 16, 2022

What is your teaching philosophy? – Julia McCuin

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

“A child needs encouragement like a plant needs water.”

This quote strikes a chord with me, having been a very shy, quiet, and unconfident child, who was often overlooked in class. Had I had the encouragement given to me in my schooling years maybe my experience would have been a different, more positive one. My teaching philosophy, therefore, is to make sure I will be a teacher who celebrates the learning of every pupil, giving encouragement, praise and inspiring their unique journey.

As a teacher, I aspire to bring out the very best in each individual and create a warm, inviting and stimulating environment for my pupils so that they feel welcome and safe from the moment they enter the classroom. According to Alfie Kohn, “If children feel safe, they can take risks, ask questions, make mistakes, learn to trust, share their feelings, and grow.” It is my aim to create this type of atmosphere so that the children can flourish and have a truly fun and positive school experience.

My parents raised me to have good manners, be polite and respect others. These are attributes I believe to be very important in life and would therefore wish to incorporate in my teaching. It is imperative, however, to lay down these foundations and set expectations in the class with regards to behaviour from the outset. In addition to this, I intend to incorporate hands-on activities, classroom discussion and group/pair work, as is demonstrated in Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development, thus prompting the children to think creatively, explore their natural curiosity and share their ideas. I want them to know that no question is ever too silly to ask. My wish for them is to leave at the end of the year feeling confident, inspired, and enriched.

I remember, in my school years, having teachers who were quite strict, lectured from the front of the class and were unapproachable. My methodology therefore to create an environment opposite to this is very important to me, as I believe this static style of teaching subsequently contributed to my lack of confidence growing up. It was only at a later point in my life, as a mother that my standpoint changed, and I volunteered in a classroom at my children’s school. I found myself really enjoying it and loved helping the pupils and had great feedback from the class teachers about my capability. It was at this point that I started to consider working in a school as a possible career path and looked into training to become a Teaching Assistant. Five years later, I was working at an international school as a Library Assistant who read and acted out stories to Toddler and Nursery classes with my colleague. We received such lovely and encouraging comments from teachers, parents, and the Leadership Team that it gave me the belief and desire to become a teacher myself.

My desire is to make learning fun and to engage, capture and nurture a child’s development and be that teacher a child always remembers!

References

Rudolf Dreikurs, Don Sr. Dinkmeyer (2013). “Encouraging Children to Learn”, p.3, Routledge.

Alfie Kohn (1999). “Punished by Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A's, Praise, and Other Bribes”, p.255, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.


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