All 47 entries tagged Philosophy
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August 30, 2022
Often, we ask children, what do they want to be when they grow up? Into their teenage years, we tend to ask what would you like to study or do? As adults we tend to be asked, where do you see yourself in five years? And as adults we like to ask: What’s next in life? This shows a pattern in everyone's life. Where are we going? What do we want out of life? What is next? Such questions are easily answered but getting there is far more difficult. We need to know how to acquire skills, how to learn new things in this ever fast-pacing world, we need to support and develop our Emotional Intelligence. As such my teaching philosophy is to help give and develop the tools needed for the evolution of learning throughout life.
Throughout my experience, I always look at things as a journey. What made my understanding and learning faster, what slowed it down? How did I get one group to sound good and how did I solve a struggling group (TS1 & 2)? Throughout the years I heard of colleagues making different choices. Some sold insurance, became lawyers etc. Others struggled with the identity of just being a musician. At this point I was enjoying being a freelance musician/educator and it brought a profound question to mind. Do I have a responsibility to give my students more than music lessons? (TS 8)
Barnes, Brown and Warhust (2016) wrote about how education and developing skills can help keep us motivated and passionate throughout our life. This gives us an important insight to our roles as Educators. It is not just for examinations and preparing them to pass the years in school. But to look at the long-term effects of each individual life. In an ever-fast-paced society, adaptability is key. One must be passionate about their life, but one must also have foresight into establishing a firm base to overcome life uncertainty and unpredictability.
Weinstein and Sumeracki (2019) wrote about how everything we do goes back to using our memory. A big part of learning is recalling information and putting that knowledge to effective use. Teaching students' tactics to commit materials into long term memory is part of our daily routine. In doing so, we are setting up a format, we have effectively given them an insight into organizing behaviors and helping them develop lifelong skills. (TS 4).
Price and Savage (2012) wrote about how music creates scenarios that allow us to exchange and learn about cultures through music. Aside from understanding the tools of learning, another important aspect is soft skills. By teaching music to students one can develop communicative skills, creativity, problem solving, promote teamwork and develop one's personality. Such skills are useful not only for building relationships but also to balance one's mental state. (TS 7)
My teaching touchstone impacted me in knowing that with the acquiring of knowledge and understanding nothing is impossible, having achieved that comes many possibilities (TS 1 & 2).
I aspire to be a teacher that can give my students such tools.
Barnes, Brown and Warhurst, (2016) Education as the underpinning system: understanding the propensity for learning across the lifetime (Future of Skills & Lifelong Learning Evidence Review). London: Foresight, Government Office for Science.
Weinstein and Sumeracki, (2019) Understanding How We Learn A Visual Guide. New York: Routledge.
Price and Savage, (2012) Teaching Secondary Music. London: Safe Publications Ltd.
August 23, 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?
I believe that an educational environment needs to be a place where all individuals feel safe, and a place where there is mutual respect. This is key to my teaching philosophy. I believe that successful learning takes place when students basic and more advanced emotional needs are being met (Maslow, 2018). Therefore, every day I make sure that students know they are respected, safe, and loved. I believe that a positive attitude is key to making the students feel this way.
Reflecting on my earliest educational touchstone memory, I remember my first teacher in Reception. This teacher was warm and caring. She made us feel as though we could achieve anything. Although it is naïve to believe that one teacher that early on in my life could affect my whole teaching philosophy now, I do like to think that the memory of her is something I want to continue into my teaching.
School always felt like a safe space for me, where I could engage in learning, reading, and all of the things I loved. I have always felt very lucky that my parents, who are arguably my first educational touchstone, have always supported me to achieve my best. I was always naturally inquisitive and wanted to understand the world around me. Fostering that natural curiosity that young people have is another major aspect of my teaching philosophy. I believe that all too often, particularly in the older grades, as we prepare students for exams, this natural curiosity can be pushed to one side. I have been working at an exams-based school for the past nine months, this has been a personal goal of mine to still work within the school’s ideology, but to also encourage my students to ask WHY. However, I do see the value of encouraging students to strive for success. I saw this first-hand when I moved from a UK Grammar school (where I was for five months) to an International School in Singapore. I see the importance, especially as an educator now, of students encouraging others to achieve. This is analysed in a study done about Singapore and their PISA rankings (Deng and Gopinathan, 2016). In the UK, I felt as though the popular children were the ones who were naughty, and perhaps the class clown. This was a vast contrast to my experience in Singapore where I found that the popular students were the ones who worked hard and excelled. I believe that had I not had this experience, I would not be where I am today. I loved education, but Singapore made me grateful for it.
I believe that my teaching philosophy comes through mostly with my rapport with my students. I believe in instilling the belief in students that they can achieve anything they set their mind to. From having a wide range of abilities in my class, I see the importance daily of celebrating the wins, however small. When children feel celebrated, I believe that it encourages them to work harder.
Becker, E., Goetz, T., Morger, V. and Ranellucci, J., 2014. The importance of teachers' emotions and instructional behavior for their students' emotions – An experience sampling analysis. Teaching and Teacher Education, 43, pp.15-26.
Deng, Z. and Gopinathan, S., 2016. PISA and high-performing education systems: explaining Singapore’s education success. Comparative Education, 52(4), pp.449-472.
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).
August 08, 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 towards education in the early years is that first, and foremost, the children should be at the heart of the learning journey. My responsibility as a teacher, will be to give each child the best start to their education. Every child is unique, and with that individuality comes a variety of strengths and offerings. As a teacher it will be my obligation to ensure that each child feels inspired to contribute their ideas, questioning the ideas of others respectfully and furthermore allowing them to build their confidence in the learning environment. Children will understand that ideas will be respected, thereby cultivating a mindset that is open to change and full of curiosity. The different ways in which they approach learning as individuals will be celebrated. “With the right mindset and the right teaching people are capable of a lot more than we think.” (Dweck, C.S. 2006 P64)
I am a firm believer in a child centered approach to learning and find that children in early years learn best through play, involving hands on, meaningful and stimulated activities which allow children to learn at their own pace and follow their own interests. I feel that child-initiated inquiry led play gives children many opportunities to foster their innate curiosity and creativity, at the same time encouraging children to use their imaginations to solve problems through their own questioning and investigating. I will apply Vygotsky’s theories of how children learn from both the teacher as well as other students, allowing for scaffolding from both. “Play is absolutely fundamental to learning: it is the natural fruit of curiosity and imagination.”(Robinson K. 2016 P96)
Effort will be rewarded, and mistakes will be viewed as a means of learning. “Glowing and unconditional praise that masks errors and mistakes is harmful to children’s development.” (Dweck CS 2006) Having been educated in a competitive independent school where mistakes were frowned upon and only those who were seen to be academically able were encouraged, I discovered the detrimental effects this can have on a child’s confidence at an early stage. Therefore, I want to be able to promote, as one of my touchstones, the fact that as individuals we all have a role to play and a positive contribution to make. It will not only be about achieving the desired outcome, but an understanding that the process of investigation and engaging with the topic is just as important. Appreciation for others emotional needs and positive behaviour will play an important role within my classroom. It will be my responsibility to ensure that I provide an environment within the classroom that is both consistent and positive, while ensuring that I am an inspirational role model for these attributes, as well as ensuring that I am continually learning and furthering my own knowledge.
Dweck C.S. (2006) Mindset, Changing the way you think to fulfil your potential. New York, Random House.
Robinson K (2016) Creative Schools. New York, Penguin Random House.
Dweck C.S. (2006) Mindset, The new Psychology of success. New York, Random House.
August 01, 2022
‘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.
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.
July 18, 2022
“Of the various callings to which the division of labour has caused man specially to devote himself, there is none to be compared for nobility or usefulness with that of the true teacher” (Sands, 2019). Reflecting on why I choose to specialise as a teacher, I believe this profession is among the most honourable and valuable in society. As a teacher, I aim to empower others to grow – cognitively, emotionally, socially – to contribute to the world in their way positively.
Sands (2019) says that true teachers will adapt their teaching methods to the nature of the object to be taught and to the order in which the faculties of the human mind naturally unfold themselves. Part of my teaching philosophy is that one should adapt their approach to best connect with students at an individual level, recognising the unique nature of each person. I first experienced this type of attention from my mother, who seemed to treat each of her six sons according to their different personalities, making my five brothers and I feel most valued and loved. As a father of a four-year-old boy, I now interest in children’s development and how we talk to children can influence them.
My first foray into teaching was ‘on the mat’, training in jiu-jitsu at my university Jitsu Club. The nature of attending martial arts sessions twice a week over an academic year means that you become increasingly better at the activity over time. As such, when the new student ‘freshers’ arrives the following year, you are automatically someone who can guide them in the techniques you’ve learned. Jitsu has developed my appreciation for peer learning, which has become an essential element in my classroom. Additionally, I believe that extra-curricular activities are just as important as academic pursuits, helping to develop a well-rounded character. As Holt & Ramsay (2021) suggest, martial arts are associated with moral philosophy and are typically seen as a vehicle to transform character.
A critical experience that led me further into teaching was a volunteering trip to South Africa. I joined a group to co-teach a life skills course to disadvantaged teenagers, educating them about sexually transmitted diseases and strategies to develop a positive mindset. A part of my philosophy became to best prepare students for the real world, teaching them practical skills and knowledge to serve them in life. As technology continues to change industries and create new jobs that haven’t existed in the past, education systems must respond to this new world of work to ensure that students are educated, skilled, prepared, and employable for the future (Wilen, 2018:182).
Chen (2003) identifies this as a ‘business-based metaphor’ where teaching is considered as an efficient process of producing students who will satisfy the needs of the market. According to Erdem (2019), 21st-century teachers should contribute to the individual’s development, take the initiative, make sound decisions, communicate effectively, have empathy, manage information, serve as a guide for students, and continue life-long learning themselves.
Chen, D. (2003) A Classification System for Metaphors about Teaching. Journal of Physical Education Recreation and Dance, 74:24-31 Available at: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/07303084.2003.10608375 (Accessed: 10 October 2021).
Erdem, C. (2019) Introduction to 21st Century Skills and Education. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Cambridge. Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/336148206_Introduction_to_21st_century_skills_and_education (Accessed: 7 October 2021).
Holt, J. & Ramsay, M. (2021) The Philosophy of Mixed Martial Arts. Routledge, London. Available at: https://ereader.perlego.com/1/book/2743791/19 (Accessed: 12 October 2021).
Sands, N. (2019) The Philosophy of Teaching: The Teacher, The Pupil, The School. Good Press, New York. Available at: https://www.perlego.com/book/1964661/the-philosophy-of-teaching-pdf (Accessed: 9 September 2021).
Wilen, T. (2018) Digital Disruption: The Future of Work, Skills, Leadership, Education, and Careers in a Digital World. Peter Lang, New York. Available at: https://www.perlego.com/book/2012836/digital-disruption-pdf (Accessed: 8 October 2021).
July 11, 2022
Connection is at the heart of my teaching philosophy. Building positive relationships in the classroom is vital to developing student and teacher wellbeing. Students with higher levels of wellbeing are more engaged in school and have higher levels of academic success (Gutman and Vorhaus, 2012).
Fostering an inclusive and supportive classroom community full of mutual respect is key to children developing trust, empathy and self-worth. Through many years working as a learning support teaching assistant, I have seen the importance of building an inclusive environment where everyone feels that they are a valued member of the class. Making sure I allocate time to wellbeing in the form of a Morning Meeting, where everyone greets each other and shares something about themselves, is a great opportunity for everyone to feel recognised, get to know each other and prepare for a successful day ahead.
Getting to know students is essential to make every child feel valued as an individual. Robinson and Aronica (2015:52) believe that, “All students are unique individuals with their own hopes, talents, anxieties, fears, passions, and aspirations”. Accordingly, engaging with the individual is key to understanding what motivates them and helps to deliver lessons that are more meaningful. Reflecting on my own school days, it was in classes in which I felt a personal connection to the teachers in which I was most confident to ask for help and felt eager to learn. I always make an effort to note down things I learn about my students in the morning meeting, so that I can connect with students later through conversation. Establishing rapport has not only had an impact on student engagement but also on my own motivation.
Students are only with us for less than a year but it is important that we invest time in building relationships and showing we care. I always make sure to greet each child and ask how they are. Research has shown that conveying warmth and showing you care and respect students enhances relatedness which is a key factor in developing intrinsic motivation (Neimiec and Ryan, 2009). Recently I have seen the results of investing my time building positive relationships. Last year, one boy did not greet us or share anything about himself and had little engagement in lessons. Every day I asked him how he was and tried to initiate conversation. I persevered, even though it seemed I was making little progress. At the end of the year, he finally started to respond and join in lesson discussions. Now in the year above, he greets me and asks how I am when he sees me in the corridor and I make an effort to check in with him when we meet.
I believe it is important to keep and build relationships beyond the classroom. In the past I have seen how teachers build connections with the wider school community through extra-curricular activities. Therefore, I decided to run a nature club at my school where I can share my passion for nature with like-minded individuals. It has had a positive effect on my own wellbeing by connecting me with many pupils and staff throughout the school.
By investing in relationships, we create a safe space to take risks, ask questions and share experiences. The importance of human connection cannot be underestimated.
Gutman, L.M. and J. Vorhaus (2012) The Impact of Pupil Behaviour and Wellbeing on Educational Outcomes. London: Childhood Wellbeing Research Centre, Institute of Education, University of London.
Robinson, K., & Aronica, L. (2015). Creative Schools: Revolutionizing Education from the Ground Up. [Kindle iOS version] New York: Penguin Books. Available from: www.amazon.co.uk [Accessed 25 September 2021].
Niemiec, C. P. and Ryan, R. M. (2009) Autonomy, competence, and relatedness in the classroom: Applying self-determination theory to educational practice. Theory and Research in Education, 7(2): 133–144.
July 06, 2022
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?
My teaching philosophy is a mix of my educational touchstones and my continued journey to be the best I can be through asking questions, learning new cultures and reflecting every day. My aim is to help children foster a lifelong love of learning. I have been lucky enough to live in England, Dubai and Singapore and see cultures that are completely different to those I have been exposed to before. The school I work in is an IB school which focuses on being an inquirer, good communicator and risk taker. The core values of the school ‘RECIPE’ mirrors Goodwin and Hubbels suggestion, be demanding, be supportive and be intentional (2013). I believe a child will learn better when they can relate to the subject being taught. As a student I was always able to grasp the concept of being taught if it was made fun, interactive and accessible. At the end of a school day, I would like to be able to send a child home who tells their parents their highlights of their day. I will promote this through an environment that doesn’t feel stressed, using mindfulness as one of many tools.
My first philosophy is being able to adapt my teaching approach where required and react to the different needs of the learners in my class (TS5). I look back on my second term as a classroom assistant, as a touchstone, when covid-19 took effect and schools were forced to go to home-based learning. This created a new way of teaching and learning; I embraced the challenge of creating visual stimulus when conducting art classes creating step by step examples to reach the final art piece required. ‘Drawing requires us to learn each component skill and then combine them into one process’ (Dweck, pg 68). Breaking down the task kept the learners engaged, asking them to show me their work enabled me to reflect on each Learner’s progress and know that I still had their attention on this platform.
My second philosophy is creating a safe, fun learning environment. A space that is welcoming and one that promotes open communication between myself, the learners and their parents. Hattie states ‘developing relationships requires skill by the teacher – such as the skills of listening, empathy, caring and having positive regard for others.’ (Hattie, pg 118). I will always remember my primary school days being full of happiness and energy. Performing has been a passion of mine since I can remember, and I will be using this every day in my classroom to create a fun learning environment. I secured a place at the BRIT school when I was 14 and this propelled my love for performing and enabled me to follow a dream of entertaining children across the UK. I am always the person who is singing and dancing in the classroom and the learners are drawn to this fun part of my personality and trust is built quickly and easily. The safe space I create through my performing nature means the learners seem happy and comfortable to come to different activities and sessions with me, these connections are something I strive for. This aligns TS1, ‘Establish a safe and stimulating environment for pupils, rooted in mutual respect’ (Department of Education, 2011, p10).
Department for Education (2011). Teachers’ Standards: Guidance for school leaders, school staff and governing bodies Crown Copyright
Dweck, C. (2017). Mindset, updated edition. London: Robinson.
Goodwin, B.,& Hubbell, E. R. (2013). The 12 Touchstones of Good Teaching: A checklist for Staying Focused Every Day (Kindle version). Retrieved from Amazon.com
Hattie J. C. (2009) Visible Learning: A Synthesis of Over 800 Meta-Analyses Relating to Achievement. London and New York: Routledge
June 20, 2022
In 2005 - the same year that I graduated - Stephen Fry was awarded an honorary doctorate from Anglia Ruskin University. At our awards ceremony, he gave a speech, much of which I cannot remember except for one piece of advice that I have carried with me until this day (non-verbatim): No matter how much money you make, or how successful you become the only thing you will be remembered for by anyone is how you made them feel.
It is indeed the teachers who made me feel supported, who were warm and approachable, who encouraged me and showed patience, sincerity and consistency, who I remember the most. So much so that without one particular teacher’s influence I am not even sure I would have applied for university, let alone completed a degree. With this, I also remember the teachers that did not make me feel so valued. And like many of us do, I left school with an understanding of who I was and what I could do based on what I was shown by the adults around me.
I achieved a D for GCSE maths and I am not very good at it. Is that a truth or is it a message instilled in me from school when I was told this by a teacher? Cowley argues that “The relationship with the learners you teach effects the quality of differentiation that takes place in your lesson” (Cowley 2018, p.62). With this in mind, had said teacher taken the time to find out more about why I was struggling might the outcome have been different? Would my beliefs about my numerical capability still be the same? Conversely, one of the highlights of my career before teaching was supporting high level civil engineers with the development of professional qualifications. Engineers need to be very good at maths and I needed to have an understanding of mathematical concepts in order to support them. Why was I able to do this successfully despite a D grade? Because a colleague (and a mentor) recognised my strengths, looked beyond what I thought I couldn’t do and focused on what I could.
Just recently I was listening to a podcast called Off Menu. On this particular episode award winning actor and writer Asim Chaudhry talks about a negative experience he had with a teacher. Despite huge success Chaudhry explains that this one experience still affects him now and for many years he didn’t think he was good enough (Acaster, J. & Gamble, E. 2021). As Dweck explains “Every word and action can send a message. It tells children – or students, or athletes – how to think about themselves. It can be a fixed mindset message that says: you have permanent traits and I’m judging them. Or it can be a growth-mindset message that says: you are a developing person and I am interested in your development.” (Dweck 2012, p.266)
The language we use as teachers is powerful and it sticks. It is therefore my philosophy that successful pedagogy cannot exist without a genuine demonstration of belief in student capability, and to celebrate successes equally, whether that be an A* for one student or a long and laborious struggle from a D grade to a C for another. For if I am able to do this as a teacher then it is my hope that students will leave school with a strong sense of self-belief, motivation and an acknowledgement that they are defined by much more than what they believe they can or cannot do.
Acaster, J. & Gamble, E. (2021) Off Menu [podcast] Ep 113: Asim Chaudhry 20:00-20:55 / 01:06:28 Available at: https://play.acast.com/s/offmenu/ep113-asimchaudhry Accessed on 4th October 2021.
Cowley, S 2018, The Ultimate Guide to Differentiation: Achieving Excellence for All, Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, London. Available from: ProQuest Ebook Central. [9 October 2021].
Dweck, C 2012, Mindset: How You Can Fulfil Your Potential, Constable & Robinson, London. Available from: ProQuest Ebook Central. [9 October 2021].
June 07, 2022
My Teaching Touchstone
I have always been interested in environmental science and conservation since I was very little. By the end of high school, I enjoyed science, but it was not as strong as I wanted to study biology or chemistry. Instead, I went to a university in the US where I studied sustainable development. A part of my program requirement was to complete an internship. I completed an internship at an environmental education organization called Change is Simple. I was initially drawn to the fact that I can work on projects about environmental science and conservation with a local community. Yet I ended up being placed with the education team where I went into elementary schools in the Greater Boston area to conduct environmental science activities for K-5 students.
I was able to integrate my love of nature with creative activities to spread the importance of conservation to children. I discovered that I really enjoy teaching through this opportunity. However, I was initially hesitant about becoming a teacher. I never excelled in schoolwork partially because I constantly moved around as a child (I have moved about 15 times in my life). Every time I moved, the curriculum changed, and I never felt comfortable as a learner. I wondered about the existence of teachers as to why teachers need to be there when in a digital age, information is obtainable in various methods.
My mindset for teaching slowly started to shift as I continued my studies in Sustainable Development. A few months before graduating from my undergraduate degree, I had an opportunity to study the concept of United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in depth. I chose to focus on the number four goal: providing quality education to children all over the world.
I discovered that teaching is such a multi-faceted discipline. I realized that the art of teaching is both science and art. Teaching is more than passing on knowledge; “[t]he development of a powerful lesson plan is desirable, but the quality of the teacher-student relationship is the foundation of a deep learning experience” (McGuey, Moore 40). I learned that teaching is such a flexible discipline. Creativity and multi-discipline focus are essential for "no longer is a teacher just a teacher. Today a teacher must wear many hats. A teacher must be a counselor, parents, advocate, mediator, confidant, adviser, and more" (Doucet 6). Teachers have so much potential to be a vibrant part of the community through "...build[ing] relationships to help everyone develop to their full potential.” (Doucet 17).
I felt like I took a detour by coming back to school and student teaching after completing my undergraduate degree. However, I am realizing that all of what I studied and experiences I gained are an important part of who I am as a teacher. I hope to grow as a teacher who not only provides solid subject knowledge, but also emphasizes forming communities and relationships. I want to stimulate their curiosity and learn together the wonders of the world in a safe community.
Doucet, A. (2019). Teaching Life: Our Calling, Our Choices, Our Challenges. New York: Routledge.
Moore, L., McGuey G. (2016). The Inspirational Teacher Second Edition. New York: Routledge.