"Society thrives when men plant trees in whose shade they know, they shall never sit." -Quaker Proverb
My teaching philosophy mainly focuses around the principle that the best thing that I can do for my students is to know them as individuals. In my teaching practice I utilize a discussion-based, story telling approach to presenting history to students. I find that students learn best in this manner when they have an inviting, and comfortable learning environment in which they feel they can take risks and contribute freely. The primary way in which I go about cultivating this kind of environment is by taking deliberate actions in and outside of class to know students as individuals. In a time when students consistently express concern with not being seen by the education system as individuals, I find that most respond very positively to being treated as an individual, with a life outside the classroom. This is another reason for my approach, knowing students as individuals with lives outside the classroom allows me to better design lessons to support their specific needs as learners, and creates a strong foundation for dialog in matters of classroom procedure and expected behaviors. In addition to knowing students as individuals, I strive to challenge students to better develop their critical thinking skills. In this pursuit, I tend to utilize collaborative learning activities, usually aimed at analyzing or comparing primary or secondary source materials. My hope is that, by fostering within my students a skill and appreciation for critical thinking, I can help them achieve their greatest degree of success after graduation whether they go to college, or begin working after high school. Finally, a key part of my educational practice, and an essential part of any endeavor, is engagement in reflective practice. I understand and acknowledge that I am a learner as well, and not everything I attempt will be 100 percent effective with every student. Therefore, it is vital to take responsibility for my development as an educator by consistently asking myself “What can I do better?” I look forward to getting into a classroom of my own where I can ask this question, and many others, and I feel certain that my students will appreciate my approach.
ARTIFACTS REGARDING MY PHILOSOPHY OF TEACHING
One of the best parts of investing in the lives of my students is the returns I see on that investment. Students often respond very positively to a teacher taking the time to know them as an individual and to develop a relationship with them based on understanding and trust. Over the course of my career in education, I have collected a number of keepsakes from students that wanted to repay me for the time and effort I had put into getting to know them and helping them along in their educational journey. I received a number of these including letters and notes referencing inside jokes, as well as things my students actually took the time to make for me. One of the most unique ones I have received was this maze toy, which a student made hisself out of a piece of billet aluminum, which he milled himself, plexiglass, and a steel ball bearing. He made it in the shape of a bowtie, which he considered to be my "signature look". I've also received multiple cards and letters from students expressing gratitude just for taking the time to get to know them. Taking this time, especially outside of class is crucial to developing the dialog that my teaching style calls for in order to meet the learning needs of my students.