Throughout my first year teaching, I began to realize that not just I, but all of the other teachers in the school where I work, teach the way we learn. Whether we are visual, auditory, kinesthetic, nature, musical, linguistic or spatial learners, we all focus our teaching methods on those that worked for us as students. The same principle applies to the way we organize our classrooms, the student/teacher dynamic in the classroom and the content that we teach. Whether we realize it or not, our personal classroom and learning experiences help construct our philosophies of education, and as a result, my own philosophy places responsibility upon students to take active roles in their learning experiences, views the teacher as an encourager and “guide from the side” and encourages hands on activities to teach and help students remember key concepts and skills.
Subject matter should be taught in a way that keeps the students mentally, if not physically, engaged the entire time. When students are given the opportunity to disengage and become distracted by other students, other homework and anything else that may be on their mind that day, their learning experience loses momentum, and they lose motivation and become increasingly distractable as time elapses. To keep students interested, subject matter should be connected to their every day lives. It sounds like a silly way for the teacher to try to be the “cool teacher”, but there really is something to be said for a teacher who is in touch with the lives of their students outside of the classroom. Know what they are watching, know what they are listening to, and know what entertains them in general. In doing so, the teacher will have a wealth of ways to keep their subject matter relevant and interesting to their students. Not only that, but they will give their students ways to remember the material, which is what we are all striving for.
The role and responsibilities of the student in the classroom are very important. If a student is not actively participating and engaged in what is going on, they will not retain or learn the information and skills necessary for them to move on to the next grade or to succeed later on in life. Students must take ownership of their education. They should exercise responsibility when it comes to making up missed work, turning work in on time, studying and, above all else, asking questions and letting the teacher know when they do not understand something. They should be encouraged to explore new ideas or theories in the classroom, even if it goes off topic. They are in the process of not only learning the subject matter, but learning who they are and what they believe. The teacher should foster that growth, not keep it within the confines of the curriculum simply for the purpose of getting through the material in a timely manner. If it were not for the students, there would be no classroom; teachers often forget this when they get caught up in their lesson planning and test-making. Students should be encouraged to pursue interests inspired by content covered in class and to “dig deeper” in group work and individual work.
Technology will help students dig deeper and engage actively with the subject matter. It should not take the place of direct instruction or be used for the sake of being used, but it should supplement/complement the in-class instruction. As a teacher, I believe it is very important to be knowledgeable and confident when using technology in order to provide students with guidance and instruction, as well as to properly oversee student activities. Technology can provide incredible learning opportunities, but also distractions and temptations, so it should be used wisely and in a capacity they can handle.