As some teachers are back to work and as the rest of us are about to begin, summer break is a time when many teachers reflect on their school year and then change and improve their teaching instructional strategies, activities, and plans. While everyone else that does not teach thinks we sleep-in, (Okay, we really do sleep in! LOL!) go on lavish vacations, and get a massive amount of time off, in essence, we really get back to the basics of what we believe is the best way to motivate and inspire our students; in other words we essentially revisit, refine, or renew our Philosophy of Education.
When you were in college, were you required to write a Philosophy of Education or an Educational Philosophy? Did you need to use it when you interviewed for your teaching job? Better yet, do you still have a copy of it? When was the last time you read it?
For those of you that may not know or remember what that is, a Philosophy of Education/Teaching is your own personal thoughts and beliefs about why teach the way you do, what you teach, how you teach it, to whom you teach it to, and how you expect pupils to learn what you are teaching. “It is a set of principles that guides professional action through the events and issues teachers face daily. Sources for your educational philosophy are your life experiences, your values, the environment in which you live, interactions with others and awareness of philosophical approaches. (http://oregonstate.edu/instruct/ed416/PP1.html)”
I don’t know if I understood it to mean this when I was in college, or if it just did not make sense to me because I did not have much teaching experience to help me write it, but I do remember writing mine. I had no clue in the world what I was being asked to do. I’ve considered the fact that I was only about 19 or 20 years old when I first had to write one, so I don’t think I had any sound thoughts or beliefs in teaching. I just knew I loved kids, school, and I wanted kids to have fun in school. I wanted them to love numbers, enjoy reading, and learn to appreciate and experience the world around them. I knew I wanted to teach.
After I received the copy of my first Philosophy of Education/Teaching back from my instructor, I read these words, “I’d like to read more about your philosophy!” In my head, I’m thinking, “What do you mean!? It’s right here on the paper! You just read it!” But obviously, it wasn’t there on the paper. So I’m sure I googled some examples, and came up with what I thought was a good Philosophy of Education/Teaching.
Fast forward about 2-3 years to my senior year of college. I had been accepted to the Masters of Arts in Teaching Program at the University of Pittsburgh. I knew I needed a Philosophy of Education/Teaching because I would be interviewed by a surplus of teachers from schools and districts from the Greater Pittsburgh Area to complete my internship. I had to be prepared. This is what I found in an old binder.
As I sit here and read this amateur Philosophy of Education/Teaching from 2005-2006, I can feel how excited, how passionate, I was about pursuing and getting closer to my dream of becoming a teacher. As I read it, I believe I feel the same way about what I wrote back then, but I have more experience and knowledge now. I have had the opportunity to see things not go the way I hoped. I have experienced the highs and lows of being a teacher so my beliefs have developed over time. I summarize my new beliefs at the end of this post.
So, now I am on a hunt to find the Philosophy of Education/Teaching I used when I interviewed for my current teaching job. I wonder if it is the same, minus the typing error in the first paragraph (whoops!) I would love to see how I developed and how my philosophy changed after my one year teaching internship where I gained invaluable teaching experience. I am sure it is hidden in my portfolio (physical, not digital) in one of
the boxes that my husband so diligently and carefully organized and packed in the basement. I will be sure to post it when I find it. To be clear, I can never find my things when he decides to organize the basement because I have brought more things to hoard. This isn’t the problem. Love you, honey! (It probably really is though.) But he can never find them either! So wish me the best of luck on finding it.
Let me close with a list that summarizes my current beliefs about teaching:
- Students will exhibit the behaviors and attitudes showcased by their teachers.
- Students need to trust their teacher to build good rapports.
- Students are not blank slates and bring a lot of knowledge to school with them.
- Students want and need to learn.
- Students need to have fun and use their minds and bodies to learn.
- Students need to be active participants in their learning.
- Students need support including timely feedback, structure, routines, repetition, information, tools, and resources to improve and to be successful.
As we grow and continue to renew our passion for teaching, please share your Philosophy of Education/Teaching and if possible revisit your philosophy from your college days and share that too! Do any of your old beliefs still hold true? Do any of my beliefs resonate with you? If so, share the one’s that do in the comments section!
Have a great day, and until next time, Happy Teaching! 🙂