Philosophy of Teaching
The power that teachers possess to influence young people, positively and negatively, certainly should impress upon society that what educators do is important; often, however, teaching involves many thankless hours of preparation and implementation. Unfortunately, too many teachers go throughout their careers knowing that they probably made a difference in someone’s life, but perhaps never knowing exactly when and to whom. Teaching is difficult, and yet, it brings great joy to those who find the conviction to do whatever it takes to reach those learners entrusted to them.
As the Reggio Amelia philosopher Melaguzzi believed, human beings have the desire to pursue activities that bring them joy and it is with this same philosophy I approach my own career as an educator of pre-service teachers. Through my eleven years of teaching high school English and world civilization, my teaching philosophy transformed. I began teaching over a decade ago wearing the proverbial “rose-colored glasses” and I was going to change the world; lighting the passion of learning about history and English in every student who crossed my threshold. I must admit that my teaching at that point didn’t truly acknowledge my audience; it addressed my subject material. I quickly discovered that those students didn’t share my love for reading or desire to figure out why historical figures held the power they did. I also quickly realized that it was my responsibility to create an environment that fostered a joy of learning; high school English and history didn’t have to be boring. I could engage my learners and make learning fun.
While I have had to adjust my view of students, that conviction of creating a desire to learn and to enjoy learning has never left. In fact, the longer I teach, the more passionate that conviction grows. Every student sitting in my classroom, whether he is a high school freshman in a required English course or a college senior about to student teach in the spring, deserves my passion for teaching and my undevoted attention to detail. If I expect my own students to approach learning with joy, then I too must have that joy for learning. Perhaps that is why I have continued to participate in professional book groups, attended a variety of professional conferences, as well as pursued a Masters of Education and now a doctorate.
I have also learned throughout my career that everyone learns in different ways and at different paces. Sadly, too many teachers expect to teach a classroom filled with individuals in a homogenous way, neglecting their unique learning styles. Today’s teacher must work diligently to engage his/her students, tapping into their prior knowledge and making the material real. In short, the teacher must admit that every child can learn and he/she must make every attempt to make sure that comes true. Without a passionate teacher guiding the way, few children will experience the joy of learning and few will become the lifelong learners this society needs.