My Teaching Philosophy
My teaching philosophy draws from a range of sources, placing emphasis on my own self-cultivation, as well as bringing inclusion, differentiation and equity to the classroom. Further, I believe my role as a guide to my students, as well as my own self-reflection in order to be an effective teacher, contribute to a more productive and more positive learning experience for everyone involved.
From a philosophical and personal perspective, I believe a good teacher must at all times strive to be ethical in their practice (Eriksen, 2016, p.607). To me, aiming for self-cultivation to become truly ethical in my own life will make the school experience more positive for myself and equally, for my students. As Higgins (2011) explains, “selfhood is contagious” (p.2). A teacher that has achieved eudaimonia and self-cultivation is more balanced and open, which children often emulate. Indeed, a more fulfilled teacher makes for a much more positive learning experience. I believe that through my own self-cultivation, I can become more inclusive, observant and reflective in my teaching practice, and to me, these are highly valuable attributes for an effective teacher to have.
In relation to my students and the classroom setting, inclusion and differentiation are very important to me. The classroom should be a place of collaboration, where every child has opportunity to voice their opinions, learn and grow, regardless of any additional needs that they may have. Lavoie et al. (2017) explain that in order to have education that is truly inclusive, every child should be educated in a “natural environment” (p.172). To me, this observation means that every child should be surrounded by their peers in the classroom, where they can learn together, and indeed, aid in each other’s growth. Campbell and Rutland (1996), explain that children with additional needs perform better when working collaboratively with other children, and that through collaboration they are more easily able to access Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development. They further explain that children with additional needs can often be underestimated if they are not assessed in a manner that suits them and their needs (p.152). To me, these points explain the importance of inclusion in the classroom, but also differentiation in school work. I believe every child should be catered for, so that their specific needs are met, and that they are able to learn and be assessed in the classroom appropriately. As Shires Golon (2017) points out, for differentiation to be carried out in a manner that suits children, their teacher must first understand their learning style (p.xi). As a teacher, I must observe my pupils and learn what methods work best for them, remaining patient and aware that each of my pupils is different.
All children in the classroom can be included and work collaboratively with other students, but may need to be assessed differently or given different tasks, dependent on their abilities. This notion also bleeds into having equity in the classroom. I understand it is important that children are in a fair learning environment, and believe that additional support must be provided to those who need it. As a teacher, it is my responsibility to remain mindful of children’s different circumstances and ensure that the learning experience is an equitable one. I must help children overcome barriers in their learning and bring them to equal footing with their peers as much as possible (Fisher et al., 2017, p.124).
From studying Vygotsky and the zone of proximal development, I firmly believe in the importance of socialisation for children, and learning through play. I am of the opinion that children should be allowed to come to their own conclusions, and that as a teacher, I must act as a guide. Vygotsky, 1987, (cited in Kozulin, 2003, p.54), explains the importance of asking “leading questions” to aid children in discovering correct answers, rather than listing off information that, to children, is meaningless. To me, it is important that children interact with each topic in a way that is meaningful to them, and as a teacher, I must act as a facilitator and guide for this interaction. Gredler (2011) explains that at times students collaborating among themselves is effective, but at times children need to be guided directly by their teacher (p.119). For example, as a teacher, I can effectively guide classroom discussions while allowing my students to interpret and expand on the questions I ask and suggestions I make. My students can consider or debate the chosen topic, while I encourage them to explain how or why something works, using prompts where necessary. I believe this method is highly effective, in that it encourages children to use their own memory and critical thinking skills, rather than being spoon-fed a given topic. Indeed, I hold dialogue and social interaction in high regard as a teacher.
Being a reflective teacher is a crucial skill, in my opinion. To me, it is important that I am reflective and remain constantly open to opportunities for growth (Grant, McKimm and Murphy, 2017, p.4). I intend to remain reflective throughout my career, and understand this practice will, in turn, make me a better teacher. Ball et al. (2017) explain that observing and reflecting are pivotal in improving one’s teaching (p.747), and indeed, I intend to refine my teaching in this manner. As a teacher, I must question and evaluate what transpired over the school day, including my lesson plans and observations I have made, so that I am constantly learning, and improving my teaching methods. To me, reflection brings about a more positive learning experience for everyone involved.
As a teacher, I endeavour to aid every child in reaching their potential. I believe that through creating a stimulating and productive learning environment, where differentiation is used when appropriate, I can guide each child in their learning and ensure that their school experience is a positive one.
Baker, J., Cantillon, S., Lynch, K. and Walsh, J. (2009) Equality from theory to action. 2nd edn. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.
Ball, S., Braun, A., Maguire, M. and Perryman J. (2017) ‘Translating policy: governmentality and the reflective teacher’, Journal of Education Policy, 32, pp. 745-756.
Campbell, R. and Rutland, A. (1996) ‘The relevance of Vygotsky’s theory of the “zone of proximal development” to the assessment of children with intellectual disabilities’, Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 40, pp. 151-158.
Eriksen, A. (2016) ‘Should eudaimonia structure professional virtue?’, Journal of philosophy of education, November, pp. 605-618.
Fisher, D., Frey, N. Pumpian, I. and Smith, D. (2017) Building equity: policies and practices to empower all learners. Virgina: ASCD.
Grant A., McKimm J. and Murphy F. (2017) Developing reflective practices. New York: John Wiley and Sons.
Higgins, C. (2011) The good life of teaching : an ethics of professional practice. Hoboken: John Wiley and Sons.
Kozulin, A. (2003). Vygotsky’s educational theory in cultural context. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Lavoie, G., Mella, E., Millán, S. and Rapimán, D. (2017) ‘Emotion and exclusion: key ideas from vygotsky to review our role in a school with a cultural diversity setting’, Revista Brasileira de Educação Especial, 23, pp. 169-184.
Shires Golon, A. (2017) Visual-spatial learners: understanding the learning style preference of bright but disengaged learners. Texas: Prufrock Press.
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