Philosophy of Education
My philosophy of education is learner-centered; the better a teacher knows her students the more effectively she can tailor pedagogical strategies to meet their needs, abilities and goals. Students can help inform the content, pace, starting point, ending point (i.e. goal) and teaching style an educator selects that are more relevant and engaging to them. When a student is engaged or included in a lesson they are more responsive - they want to actively participate because they have some stake in their learning. However, children are not taught in a vacuum nor is learning limited to the confines of a classroom. There are many outside influences which impact learners that must also be considered when making pedagogical choices, for example, ethnicity, politics, environment and religion. Not all students are the same; they vary in age, sex, knowledge, ability and past experience. Amidst all these differences there are underlying commonalities which help establish the framework of my educational philosophy.
Thinking back on more positive learning experiences I realize I was more active in and responsive to lessons when teachers made an effort to engage the students and personalize the task at hand. I recall my first grade teacher beginning a lesson on vowels by writing them on the board for illustration and reference; then asking each student to pronounce his/her name and say or list the vowel(s) within. At each identification she pointed to the corresponding vowel on the board. The class grew excited as each student took his turn and was cheered on. There was commonality and personalization which hooked the students in. When it came to be my turn I was stumped and a little hesitant; my name is Lynn. The teacher took a moment to refocus the class and explain that our names were unique, each a little different, and encouraged me to sound it out. I could not identify one of the five known vowels but I could identify the corresponding short “i” sound. I imagine she said “exactly right!” and wrote the Y on the board next to the other vowels. And so we learned “and sometimes Y” and I will never forget it. The teacher opened up a dialogue between the students and herself. We were not just the recipients; we had had input, we collaborated and helped the lesson move forward.
I believe the teacher plays a critical role not just during the lesson when she is present for instruction, active guidance and encouragement, but in the deliberate, careful planning which has to take place to create an environment where students are provided the best possible opportunities for learning. Students have different needs and abilities at different stages of their lives. To create a lesson that is age, ability and skill appropriate, interesting and therefore engaging, I consider what prior knowledge the students are equipped with; for example, their interests (e.g. fossils, dinosaurs, tools, math, etc), family/home...