My teaching and learning philosophy is influenced by my background and life experiences. My family and I moved to Connecticut from Puerto Rico when I was 7 years old. I spoke no English, other than the English I learned as a result of singing children songs. In 1963, the classroom make up in terms of student ethnic diversity was very different than today. Bilingual Education and English Language Learners programs were non existent. Yet the dedication, kindness, and empathy of one second grade teacher made a world of difference that helped me through and started me on a positive educational journey. The sting of language and culture were lessened by her smiles and gentle mannerism. Her support encouraged me to learn and to adapt. By the end of the school year, I was fluent in English even though a cultural gap existed. I was on my journey. I wish I could say the journey was without flaw. My parents were supporters of education and understood its importance and value, however, because of economic reasons, our family moved well over 20 times during my K-12 years. These moves disrupted my flow of learning. I share this story because my beliefs, ideals, and philosophy in education are partially shaped as a result of my personal life and educational experiences.
I believe teachers bring perspectives to the classroom that are based on their unique personal experiences. These perspectives can motivate students and help them on their educational journey. It is important for teachers to have an understanding, respect, and appreciation of their students’ background. A positive and healthy student teacher relationship is built on mutual respect. The classroom is a perfect stage in which teachers can share their experiences and enrich the lives of their students. Learning will flourish In a classroom where there is respect and appreciation. It is the goal of educators to teach skills that will help students successfully enter the workforce and become contributors to society.
I believe among the emerging strengths in education is the institution of the Common Core State Standards. Regardless of location, students will learn and be assessed on a common set of skills. For transient students, this will prove beneficial. Educational disruptions that occur when a student moves from one place to another will decrease. Common core skills in reading, writing, listening, mathematics, critical thinking and processing should be taught in all subject areas. These skills are relevant and necessary in all aspects of life and should be taught in that scope.
Another strength in education is the technology available today. I believe the technology tools that have surfaced in recent years are transforming education. Students have the ability to gain knowledge 24/7 beyond the classroom walls through the Internet. Learning is occurring regardless of time and place. The new content is rich and alive with imagery that makes it engaging for learners. Learning resources are plentiful. It is easy to communicate and share information. Student work can now be published on the Internet for the world to view. A very powerful and exciting time for both students and teachers.
Among a weakness in education today are the standardized assessments administered in schools. These assessments are needed to measure progress, identify weaknesses and strengths in the curriculum, and provides useful data to develop strategies to enhance learning. However, the frequency and length of the assessments is taking away from classroom time. As a result of the numerous testing cycles and the time it takes to administer the tests, teachers are finding it difficult to process results and adapt curriculum. Another weakness in standardized testing is that they are culturally biased. This is a disadvantage for many students in urban schools.
I believe students are motivated and more interested in their learning when they have a reason and purpose for learning. You learn from doing. Project based learning provides students with opportunities to practice and use skills, to explore and collaborate, and leads to an optimal and ideal learning environment. I also believe students are motivated when they have an audience that reaches beyond the teacher’s desk. Students perform better when they know that their work will be presented to others. They take pride and ownership of their work.
Finally, I believe in providing students with opportunities to get involved in school. Students who join clubs, sports teams, and participate in extracurricular activities will perform better academically. They feel they are contributing members and citizens of their school. They will take pride in their school and recognize it as a vehicle for advancement in life.