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June 07, 2022

What is your teaching philosophy? – Tohko Nohara

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.

Works Cited

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.


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