Designing Your Educational Philosophy

Designing Your Educational Philosophy
While studying to be teachers, we are often asked to write out our personal educational philosophies. This is not just an empty exercise, a paper only meant to be filed in the back of a drawer.

To the contrary, your educational philosophy statement should be a document that serves to guide and inspire you throughout your teaching career. It captures the positive aspirations of your career and should act as a centerpiece around which all of your decisions rotate. When writing your educational philosophy statement, consider the following:

1. What do you see is the grander purpose of education in a society and community?
2. What, specifically, is the role of the teacher in the classroom?
3. How do you believe students learn best?
4. In general, what are your goals for your students?
5. What qualities do you believe an effective teacher should have?
6. Do you believe that all students can learn?
7. What do teachers owe their students?

Your educational philosophy can guide your discussions in job interviews, be placed in a teaching portfolio, and even be communicated to students and their parents. Here is a sample educational philosophy statement:

I believe that a teacher is morally obligated to enter the classroom with only the highest of expectations for each and every one of her students. Thus, the teacher maximizes the positive benefits that naturally come along with any self-fulfilling prophecy; with dedication, perseverance, and hard work, her students will rise to the occasion. I aim to bring an open mind, a positive attitude, and high expectations to the classroom each day. I believe that I owe it to my students, as well as the community, to bring consistency, diligence, and warmth to my job in the hope that I can ultimately inspire and encourage such traits in the children as well.

More light on Factors that make teachers successful
Our children will be successful if their teachers are effective and successful teachers. Effective teaching is positively identified by children outcome and improvements that are the results of the correct combinations of methods, materials, student and teacher characteristics, and the context in which teaching and learning occur. Quality teaching is teaching that maximizes learning for all students in the classroom environment or even at home during home schooling. The essence of teaching is human interaction through a balance of interpersonal and technical competence. So when our children teachers meet certain characteristics and become effective successful teachers, our children will most certainly benefit and become successful students. But what are the attainable factors that make a teacher successful?

Parents need to know that teachers set the tone in a classroom and what teachers do and say encourages or discourages their students. Teachers who model acceptance and caring for all students, will see students following their example with great respect and admiration;

A positive attitude is key to maintaining a positive classroom environment.
I couldn’t agree more with Wade Boggs when he says A positive attitude causes a chain reaction of positive thoughts, events and outcomes. It is a catalyst and it sparks extraordinary results.

Implementing the classroom agreements of mutual respect, appreciation/no put downs, attentive listening and the right to pass establishes a positive classroom climate where students can feel safe and valued. Of course establishing a safe, positive climate and maintaining it day in and day out are two different things. What’s the key to maintaining that safe, positive classroom climate once it is established? Without doubt, it’s a positive attitude.

If you have a positive attitude you’ll believe and act as if all students will be successful in your class. If you have a positive attitude there are no losers in your classroom despite what you’ve might have heard. Students will live up to your expectations. Think and act as if students are trouble, believe me they won’t disappoint you.

Let me give you an example of what I mean. I’ve found that often well my colleagues will give me a heads up about the troublemakers they’ve had in their classes. When they find out I’ll be teaching these kids, they tell me how bad the students were. Just for a nanosecond I think great. Just what I need- trouble making students. But then I quickly remind myself that attitude is not a useful attitude to have about these new students whom I don’t even know. I really try hard not to prejudge them. I figure even if these kids were troublesome in the past, it doesn’t mean they are now. Things change.

A few years back I had two students whom I’ll call Morris and Hanfry, not their real names of course. They came to my class with a negative reputation and promptly started living up to it. After a few days I decided that I wasn’t going to engage these kids in their battle. It would be totally counter productive to use all my energy battling with these two fourteen year olds, and besides they’d probably win the battle. So I decided that I needed to sit down and talk with them to see what’s going on.

Morris and Hanfry proudly told me about their reputation for being bad in class. I told them I didn’t believe they were it. They couldn’t believe that I hadn’t heard about them, so they promptly gave me all kinds of proof to support their reputation.

I decided that I would show them I didn’t believe that they were trouble makers and would treat them with respect and worked extra hard to develop a positive relationship with them. Whenever they were disrespectful to me, I’d go to them quietly and ask them why they were being disrespectful to me when I wasn’t being disrespectful to them. I did the same thing when they weren’t listening attentively or showing appreciation.

They’d actually apologize for their inappropriate behavior. I figured being disrespectful had just become a habit with them, and they would learn to be respectful over time. It wasn’t easy, but these two students got to see that they didn’t need to live up to their reputation as trouble makers because I refused to see our relationship as student vs. teacher, as them vs. me. I really did respect them as human beings and really did expect them to respect me as a human being.

I thank the classroom agreements of mutual respect/no put downs, appreciation, attentive listening and the right to pass for establishing a positive framework that enabled mutual respect to develop. Morris and Hanfry became my biggest boosters and did all kinds of positive actions for me and even came back to visit all the time to laugh about how immature they were in senior two and how they were not like that now. They were proud of being respectful and not of being troublesome.

I truly believe that a teacher’s positive attitude does cause a chain reaction of positive thoughts, events and outcomes. A teacher’s positive attitude is a catalyst and it sparks extraordinary results. Just because I believe this doesn’t mean that I don’t forget this lesson too from time to time because I get distracted by the challenges of my own life, and I regretfully adopt a negative attitude towards a student. I know better, but I also know I’m human and not perfect. When this happens, I apologize to show my respect for them. I want them to see mutual respect in action in my classroom.

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