My Philosophy of Teaching
“Tell me and I forget. Show me and I remember. Involve me and I understand.” -Chinese proverb
I am constantly amazed when I walk into a classroom and interact with students. It is not the aesthetics of the building, the amount of technology in the room, or the motivational posters. It is the infinite potential I recognize in each and every student that stirs incredible excitement and determination within me. Teachers have the unique opportunity to open doors that lead students towards a future filled with endless possibilities. It is my desire that along the invigorating journey of education, my students will be given the opportunity to display creativity, acquire knowledge and explore a myriad of interests in my classroom. My reflections of the responsibilities teachers have include the importance of positive teacher attitude, the significance of student/teacher relationships, and the value of becoming a life-long learner. The foundation of my philosophy of teaching is built upon these various topics, and it is my greatest desire that I always stay true to what I believe and strive for as a teacher and professional.
I never was gifted in mathematics, but when I pondered what it meant to be to be a teacher, I immediately thought of a simple math equation: Student success = teacher effort + student motivation. It is my experience that students implement the use of a sixth sense. This sense allows them to detect a lack of motivation, nervousness, and even fear in teachers and other school professionals. If teachers show any signs of weakness, students immediately “check-out” from the class, the teacher, and most importantly their experience. I believe that the value students place on their education is directly related to how much interest teachers show in the students and the material. Students know if a teacher is genuinely concerned about them or if they are simply fulfilling the minimum requirements necessary to bring home a pay-check. It is my belief that it is the teacher’s responsibility to assist the student throughout his/her growth and development by using the student’s natural curiosity to achieve educational goals and objectives. When students are taught to believe in themselves and place ownership in their education, they place more value and time into it. Students should not feel alone in the life-long journey of education, and it is our job as teachers to be a constant support and source of guidance for our students.
I found that my equation is also applicable to teacher/student relationships. I believe that if a teacher requests respect from the students, then he/she too must show the students the utmost respect. This requires a deep understanding of basic classroom management and comprehensive knowledge of emotional intelligence. Teachers must take the time to connect with students in order to understand the background and needs of individual students. Taking the time to create a connection, communicates the teacher’s desire to personally invest in not only the student’s educational career, but also in their life. Not only is this relationship something that both the student and teacher will have for the rest of their lives, but it is also a unique advantage of the profession.
Motivating students is one of the most critical tasks of teaching. Ralph Waldo Emerson understood the importance of motivators when he said, "Without ambition one starts nothing. Without work one finishes nothing. The prize will not be sent to you. You have to win it." I believe when students are motivated they truly learn the material, and that self-determination is a valuable tool which I would use to create an environment where students experience a sense of choice and control in what they do and how they do it. When students are given the ability to make choices, they value work more, which in turn allows for greater retention of the material and the satisfaction experienced by fulfilling personal inquiry. As a Chinese proverb states, “Tell me and I forget. Show me and I remember. Involve me and I understand.” My teaching style, which is constantly evolving, reflects my goal of promoting autonomy in my students by actively involving them in the learning process while continuing to provide overall support and motivation.
The overarching theme of my teaching philosophy is that a teacher’s desire and genuine interest in a student can prove to be the best strategy in achieving student success in and outside of the classroom. I hope that throughout my career as a teacher, I never lose my passion and desire to teach and to learn. Recognizing that I have the ability to shape and change student’s lives is enough to keep me inspired year after year. The prospect of shaping the lives of future members of society is a huge opportunity that I am ready and willing to take on. I am anxious to see what I am able to not only learn in the upcoming years from my students, but also present to them in the form of my personal knowledge and experience.