While cultivating my educational philosophy, I have focused primarily on what I imagine as the end product of my teaching and the qualities that I would like my students to gain from their educational experience.
I want my students to become critical thinkers with the skills to explore and solve problems that exist in the world around them.
I believe that knowledge is subjective and view “epistemology as a process of examining a constantly changing universe” (105). Life and the universe are not static; consequently, I believe that a school’s curriculum should be active and evolving. The curriculum should reflect current events and prepare students to deal with the social issues that have the most impact on their lives. In the classroom, I believe that the teacher’s job is to “guide learning as facilitators of the students’ research and activities” (107). Rather than simply supply the answers, a good teacher should teach their students how to find their own answers. A curriculum based on inquiry and the scientific method is an important factor in educating students to become critically thinking adults. Furthermore, creating a learning environment that encourages students to view knowledge as “indeterminate and open-ended” (107) helps students to become life-long learners.
I want my students to be socially conscious with a deep desire to right those who have been wronged.
I believe that modern schools should “support disempowered groups such as the poor, minorities, and women by challenging the status quo that traditional schools reproduce” (117). Many social systems that are currently in place serve to keep dominant groups in power and to disempower others. Schools should create a dialogue that encourages students to question why “the conventional curriculum has been dominated by a Eurocentric, white male perspective that is contaminated by racism, sexism, and imperialism” (118). For example, students should be enabled to study history and literature from a variety of perspectives that reflect the cultural diversity found around the world and in the modern classroom. Beyond this, students should question why certain perspectives and ideas are valued more by our society. Overall, I think that schools should be places “where young people become conscious of the need to create a more equitable society for all people” (118).
Connection with Literature
I want my students to have an aesthetic appreciation for the great works of the past and the ability to connect on a human level to the universal truths found within these texts.
I believe that an emphasis on the classic canon of great works has an important place in today’s classroom. I have personally learned much from the study of the classics and I believe that these texts “place the members of each generation in dialogue with the great minds of the past” (120). Some truths are universal; it is important for students to find these universal truths in sources that may initially seem archaic or unrelatable so that they can foster a greater understanding of humanity. However, I think it is important for students to “deconstruct the texts of the great books to find their historically based meaning” (120). The curriculum should then be expanded to include those works that are traditional excluded by the canon. Works by women, minorities, and other disempowered groups should be used side by side with the great works as a means of contrast and comparison. Students should be encouraged to learn the differences between, and the reasons for, truth that is culturally specific and meaning that is truly universal. Generally, a mastery of the great works should serve as a starting point for a curriculum that can be expanded to create an inclusive, rather than exclusive, learning experience.
I want each student to master a basic set of skills which will enable them to communicate ideas effectively and fully grasp more advance subjects.
I believe that before students can conduct scientific inquiry or challenge social status quos, they must be given a solid foundation of literacy and other functional skills. I think it is very important to teach for mastery and to have standards in place to ensure that every student is prepared to communicate effectively, to conduct necessary arithmetic, and to understand the natural world so that they can prosper physically, emotionally, and intellectually. For this, I believe that teachers must be “specialist[s] in subject-matter content” (125). The goal of enabling a student to be a socially conscious, critical thinker can be better achieved if a student first possesses a high level of literacy which is essential to the effective communication of ideas. Therefore, I believe that the core of education should begin with a “back to the basics” curriculum. The basics, however, should only serve as a starting point which should be expanded to include a multitude of culturally diverse disciplines.
I want my students to gain mastery of the skills that will allow them to compete in the cutting-edge, global work force of the 21st century.
I believe that today’s world requires that students possess a high level of technological proficiency. Although, in its most basic form, my job as a language arts teacher is to teach students to read and write with competency and confidence, as a truly dedicated educator I must also prepare my students to meet the challenges they will face entering college and the workforce in the 21st century. In order to achieve continued academic and career success, students must become fluent in the operations of computers, software, mobile electronics, social networking, digital media, and other technological tools. To achieve this goal, students will learn literature, writing, and grammar while immersed in a classroom environment filled with technology. Technology will be used as a tool to enhance student learning and to better incorporate multiple means of learning so that varying individual student needs are met. However, rather than becoming a distraction, technology will be seamlessly blended into curriculum. Teacher competency, thorough instructions and demonstrations, clearly conveyed rules and expectations, and consistent monitoring will prevent student misuse. While mastering language, writing, analysis, and critical thinking skills, students will build technology skill-sets that will prepare them for the future.
I want to achieve universal learning in my classroom through multiple means of presentation, engagement, and expression.
I believe that every student deserves an equal chance of learning and mastering all of the content presented in class. Every classroom is filled with multiple levels of diversity; even apparent monocultures play host to an abundance of differing types of student backgrounds and abilities. Within a single classroom you will find students from different cultures, with different skill sets, with different language needs, and different types of abilities and disabilities. Even very similar students vary in whether they learn better from visual, auditory, or tactile stimulation. Furthermore, regardless of a person’s preferred learning style, information is better absorbed and synthesized when presented using multiple means. The Universal Design for Learning provides a framework of curriculum design that incorporates multiple means of presentation, student engagement, and student expression. By utilizing technology and other methods to incorporate UDL into every lesson plan, I will meet the individual needs of every student in the classroom.