An ancient Chinese proverb says, “I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand.” My philosophy of education hinges on this idea. I believe that students need to be doing tasks in the classroom in order to truly understand. The idea of doing extends into my professional development and not just into my teaching style. I believe that I am a life-long learner and that I must constantly learn new ways to teach to help my students.
The Purpose of Education
I believe that the purpose of education is to educate students in a well-rounded way that prepares them for life in the 21st century.
The Role of the Student in Education
I believe that students should be active participants in their own learning. Students are not vessels for us to fill with knowledge. They are human beings with their own backgrounds, ideas and curiosities. I believe that students should be able to perform tasks that lead to learning, relate to what they are learning and be able to reflect on what they learned.
I recently started using interactive student notebooks with my students. I am amazed by the results. At the beginning of a unit students look at the objectives and create their own personal goal. After performing tasks and completing the unit students go back and complete a reflection about what they learned. It is amazing to see learning taking place as I review their notebooks throughout the year.
The role of the Teacher in Education
I believe that teachers are facilitators of learning, and my job is to guide, assist and evaluate. In my classroom learning is focused on the students and not on me. I am not in teaching to be the center of attention. Instead, through activities and tasks students learn with my gentle guidance. They have the freedom to make mistakes and they know that I will be there to help them if need be.
In my poetry unit, for example, on the first day we take notes and immediately start looking at examples of figurative language and literary devices. This prepares students for the tasks ahead. My students are then given their first poem to analyze based on what we talked about in the notes. Their first analysis is always a bit hairy, but they learn through this process. If they have a question I am there to help them. We continue our unit with several tasks involving reading and music. At the end of the unit each student makes a portfolio that showcases everything they learned throughout the unit.
The Role of the Teacher in the Community
I believe that teachers should take an active role in the community and build a working relationship with parents. I believe that teachers should be role models for their students and should set a high moral standard. Parents and teachers should work together as a team to support student learning. As I teacher, I am also very mindful of the home and school connection. I want parents to be aware of their student’s progress in my classes. Once or twice a semester I send home an old fashioned note-card that tells the parent about their student’s achievement. I also like to provide projects and activities that keep the parents involved in their student’s education.
During my Romeo and Juliet unit I give the parents homework (In the past my students have really enjoyed this). I ask each parent to write a letter to their son or daughter explaining what they would like for them in a future relationship. At the same time, in class, students are writing about what they predict their parents will say. We then compare the two, and often get interesting results. This activity helps students and parents connect learning to real-life. I have had several parents come up and thank me for this activity, because it helped them connect with their son or daughter in a way that was not possible before.