I have re-read this and believe that perhaps my educational philosophy has changed. I will need to look at this again.
When I began teaching secondary school science, the leading educational philosophies consisted of how students learn and how to connect with students. Although, after sixteen years, the generalisation that all students can learn is still applicable, my own development as an educator has shown me that there are four main pillars regarding the profession of teaching. Although I believe that teaching is both an art and a science, these four pillars have guided my practice throughout the years and encouraged me to continue learning and be open to trying new ways of teaching.
The first pillar concerns connectedness with my students. Without deliberate, structured and unstructured opportunities to connect to my students before, during and after class, I would not be able to provide timely and effective educational activities to allow my students to move to a greater understand the concepts as prescribed by the provincial learning outcomes. There is a balance between the public and private aspects of being a responsible adult within a classroom of adolescent learners. Showing empathy and understanding, without losing both the respect and the authority that is required as a teacher is a fine balancing act that requires constant care and growth.
The second pillar is all about understanding the curriculum. Without continually reviewing and refining the curriculum throughout each subject area, I would not be able to address, within my classroom, one of the most important ideas of education: knowing where your students are, where they are going, and how they will get there. The curriculum is a general map that shows the connections between ideas and the basic landscape in front of and behind the learner. By understanding the curriculum at a deep level, I can plan, change and modify lessons as I teach. This gives me more freedom to explore ideas and concepts that connect more strongly to each individual classroom and student.
Thirdly, teaching is intimately connected with assessment. Assessment strategies guide my teaching. Over the past eight years, I have embraced the concepts of Assessment For/Of /As Learning, and thus have changed my concept of student and personal learning. Using Formative Assessment strategies, I believe, is a moral obligation for teaching, as it allows each learner to connect to the material and curriculum at levels that are individually appropriate. I believe that students should be given multiple, varied opportunities to demonstrate their learning throughout the school year, and that these assessments can be both formal and informal. By analysing these assessments, which can occur throughout a lesson, the direction of future lessons can be organised.
Finally, teaching requires both respect for and from the students by the teacher. This respect can be demonstrated in both the language a teacher or student uses in their interactions, physical cues, and the environment of the learning spaces. Respect should never be confused with false connections. Teachers are the authority and the professional in all interactions with the students. Teachers should be aware of varies strategies for classroom and school-wide management techniques that provide the structure and foundation for respect. I believe that if you truly respect your students, they will know this and respond appropriately.
These four pillars of teaching are not the only scaffolding that creates learning environments that welcoming, safe, and challenging. They are only a part of what I bring into the classroom. Teaching requires the classroom environment to be diverse, open to new ideas, messy, but with control and a planned route to navigate through the curriculum. In my classroom, this is evidenced in differentiated instructional practices, formative and summative assessment techniques, and a classroom management plan that respects each student.