Every student teacher remembers having to write his or her own Philosophy for Teaching. In this required writing activity, we were encouraged to think about our reasons for going into the Teaching Profession. We were to discuss the classroom the ideals that we hoped to develop once we were in the classroom. Then, we got our first teaching assignment, and all we could think about was just surviving that first year!
But ten years in the classroom have taught me that having your own philosophy for teaching is perhaps one of the most critical steps in teacher development. The philosophy must become more than a list of lofty goals and thoughts regarding how you would like to teach. The philosophy must become real, something that you can put your finger on and say, with assurance, “This is what I am doing, and these are the reasons why.”
In my 4th year of teaching, I was fortunate to get a job at a school district that was a state mentor school. I learned more in my first year at Primary School than I had in teaching the first three years! This school taught me the value of learning the different learning styles of children. If I was taught this in college, it was only as a brief topic. I learned that this was the fundamental key to teaching ALL children.
We were encouraged to try different techniques and presentations with children having learning difficulties until we found the “recipe” that worked for that individual. Language Arts and Math instruction were individualized as much as possible, allowing the child to work on the level at which he or she was most successful. If a child needed Phonics instruction, he received it; if that approach didn’t work, something else was tried. If a child was operating on a concrete level in Math, that is the level at which instruction began.
This didn’t mean that we threw TAAS and the TEKS out the window. We knew where we wanted a child to be at by the end of the year. However, we realized we were carpenters building something grand, and in order for a building to stand tall, it must first have the strongest foundation possible. This basic concept is what reshaped “my” Philosophy of Education.
This Philosophy of Education is simple. It is our responsibility to teach each child to go as far as he or she is capable of going. It is our responsibility to accurately assess each child, so that we may teach to that child’s strengths and be aware of his weaknesses. Philosophy of Education is that the only label needed in the classroom is a child’s name. When you begin to look at every child in this way, you notice the lines become blurry between your Special Ed kids, your Gifted & Talented kids, your non-English speaking kids…in short, they are simply, your kids. Each child has a wonderful gift to share with the classroom.
We encourage you all as educators, administrators, or future teachers, to sit down and really think about your own Philosophy of Education. What is the driving force behind all that you do in your classroom? What foundation have you laid to see that each student builds upon their own successes?
Your Philosophy of Education is not a curriculum guide. It is not a prepackaged-one-size-fits-all-book-adoption-guaranteed-to-teach-everyone-program. It is not what the teacher down the hall is doing. It is what you believe, the backbone of all that you do each day in your classroom.
Your Philosophy of Education… if you haven’t given this any thought since Education 101, please, sit down and think about what is influencing the way you teach. Your students will thank you for it.
As we here are all Texans, I will dedicate this website to all sorts of aspects related to not only teaching but to give you more information about our great Lone Star State as well! I bet you’ll learn a lot about Texas a name derived from what in the Native American language meant “friends” or “allies” (Tejas).