Teaching Philosophy

As a professional educator, I am responsible for facilitating my students’ acquisition of lifelong learning skills. Lifelong learning is the “ongoing, voluntary, and self-motivated” pursuit of knowledge and understanding. I hope my students  carry the lessons they learn from my classroom to their their other life experiences.

Via technology, students can access information more quickly than ever before; my job as a social studies teacher is not to just disseminate facts, but to teach my students how to interpret and find meaning within the “facts” of history. Bad teachers teach their students information, while good teachers teach their students how to learn. When studying the life of Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani girl who was shot by the Taliban, but survived, for instance, students can just as easily and even more time-efficiently use the Internet to learn about Malala than by listening to a lesson plan in class. A good teacher encourages his/her students to not only learn the basic facts about upbringing and endeavors to improve education for girls worldwide, but also to evaluate how effective her efforts for universal education have been, understand similarities and differences between Malala’s life and the students’ own lives, and determine the value of education for individuals and society, especially in societies that lack quality education.

I believe students learn better in a structured, supportive, and safe classroom. To maximize student learning in my classroom, I foster an engaged learning community and effective learning environment. For example, my daily “Minute of Silence” establishes a classroom environment that supports and encourages learning by allowing my students to focus on the upcoming class and remove non-classroom related distractions from their mind. This “Minute of Silence” helps me to create a culture teaching my students non-cognitive skills that support academic success. During this minute, students remain completely silent and still. I encourage the students to focus on our learning targets written on the board and forget any non class-work related thoughts. This minute is effective at creating a learning environment for a number of reasons: it calms the students down from activities in the hallway, encourages them to focus on our upcoming learning objectives, and establishes a consistent, reliable classroom routine to start each lesson. My daily learning targets indicate to my students what they are supposed to learn for that day, so they will always understand the purpose of my lessons.

The best student learning occurs when my students view my classroom as a community of learners. I try to speak with every student who walks through my door. I post students’ accomplishments on the door into the classroom and students’ class work is prominently displayed throughout the classroom to demonstrate my pride and investment in their success. I respond positively to all my students’ contributions in class, ensuring that they feel supported and respected by me.

Although I am a social studies teacher, as a lifelong learner I am also a student of social studies. New interpretations of history and the “study of people” emerge daily and I am responsible for keeping up to date with current trends and ideas. I owe it to my students and myself to never develop a false sense of mastery in history. I must be willing to evaluate and introduce into my curriculum new interpretations and material to remain current and relevant to my students.

Teaching is a difficult task. Groups far removed from the classroom often dictate curriculum, some students enter the classroom indifferent or even outright hostile to learning, and the day is often too short to ever get everything completely done. Becoming a good teacher is a choice; good teachers choose to prepare themselves to the best of their ability for class every day, choose to become as knowledgeable in their field of study as possible, and choose get to know each of their students personally. Although some people are “naturals”, no teacher begins his/her career as a master teacher. Just as I expect my students to improve themselves each and every day in my class, I expect to improve myself as a teacher during my career by remaining humble and committed to my craft. According to Socrates, “the only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” Although I will continue to improve myself as a teacher and a person, I will never be perfect, though I will strive to be for my students and myself.