Walking into my classroom the first day of teaching I had, in my eyes, a very distinct teaching philosophy, or so I thought. I had rules I was planning on following, rules I wanted my students to follow, and a way I wanted my classroom to run. I never thought 17 weeks later that this would change so dramatically from the philosophy I held through my educational career. Shelly Reid explains that a teaching philosophy, to those who want to read one, is made up of two parts, the practice and the philosophy. The first week of the semester, I was definitely focusing on the practice and not the philosophy as in my mind I was under the impression that nobody would want to know why I do things, they would only want to see these aspects of my teaching in action and understand why they work through students’ responses. Now I know that these aspects go hand in hand—showing that something works is important, but explaining your reasoning is just as important.
My teaching philosophy revolves around two basic, as I consider them, “principles”: Providing a safe and secure environment for every student, and being flexible every day. As a teacher my main concern is my students, their welfare and their ability to exist in my class. The words safe and secure have multiple interpretations when applied to a classroom, but mostly my philosophy employs the need for every student to feel able to present their knowledge to the class, feel respected, and be given the ability to learn in the most successful way. This includes giving every student the chance to be their own student, not putting them in constraints, allowing them to learn in their way, and understanding that student’s come from very different places. Robert Brooke author of “Underlife and Writing Instruction” comments on this aspect stating that underlife is, “…the activities (or information games) individuals engage in to show that their identities are different from or more complex than the identities assigned them by organization roles” (142). Students need to feel that their instructor respects them as an individual and understands that each person comes from a different point in their life. In addition to understanding every student emotionally and personally, it is important to employ many different forms of learning within the classroom. For this reason, everyday I try to have some sort of activity that applies to various learning styles, such as watching a short video clip, or showing images on a PowerPoint. Often, the students follow my PowerPoint’s with some sort of writing on the board done by them, or me, or free writing done by them. In this way, every student in my class is reached to the highest of my ability, and I give them every opportunity to learn.
The other principle of my philosophy is being flexible, everyday. My original teaching methods were stringent and very dependent upon getting things done when I had them planned, and not getting too far ahead or too far behind. This was unrealistic as things happen in the classroom that are both unexpected and frustrating, but it is important to stay flexible and take every class on a class-by-class basis. Every teaching experience should be mapped out to an extent, but knowing when students are struggling and going over concepts again, or giving more time on an assignment is just as important. It reflects back on my first teaching principle in giving every student the chance to learn by being flexible with lesson plans, learning styles, and day-to-day activities.
Overall, my teaching style has developed over these last 17 weeks, more than it did even when I was an Education major. I have learned by doing, and my students have taught me this, through every class I teach, and every conversation I have with them. I learned to be flexible and to be okay with that. I learned to appeal to various learning styles. I learned to respect every opinion whether I agree with it or not. My philosophy of a safe and secure learning environment and being flexible is the product of a tough semester. I have grown as a teacher, and I have my students from my first semester of teaching to thank for this. I will employ the things I have learned towards my next classes and they will learn more efficiently because of this. I will be able to protect my students intellectually and help them grow as they learn to write in various genres within my class.
–From Teaching Strategies for TA’s at NDSU Fall 2016