My approach to teaching will be one where students and teacher work cohesively to meet and surpass goals. As a new teacher, I expect this philosophy to adapt and grow to incorporate new ideas and practices; this philosophy first and foremost represents how I desire to teach. I believe the challenges students face when asked to develop coherent arguments and form thoughts through writing and develop opinions on literature are some of the greatest opportunities for growth in Secondary Education. The familiarity of reading and discussing topics pertinent to adolescence and student’s lives provides a space where students should feel at ease and will push their comfort zones just a little further. I aim to do so by asking students to become constant writers, readers, and to ask questions of their classmates, of themselves, and of me.
I believe that my role as an educator is to become a facilitator, cultivator, and guide. My students will feel supported and nurtured while they work towards meeting and exceeding the goals and expectations we set. I take a holistic approach to teaching, insofar as I believe my teaching strategies must account for the fact that students do not leave matters of life outside the classroom, outside of the classroom to enter as blank slates each day. I will strive to learn about and connect with each student as a whole person and as someone who is multifaceted and ever-changing. Matters of life impact student performance, desire to learn, and response to the texts we will read. I believe in establishing connections with the students and their guardians through open communication and sincere interest in the wellbeing of each of my students.
My assessments of students will be crafted so I may determine students’ levels of real understanding. I define understanding as comprehension and the ability to conduct oneself in an academic discussion of readings and to make stylistic choices in writing to convey one’s thoughts. While I will integrate traditional academic assessments into my classroom, I do so to ensure a suitable infrastructure for deeper learning. These traditional tasks and assessments of comprehension will create the scaffolding necessary for students to build and ask questions of their environment, essentially ‘so what’ aspects of learning literature. Hopefully in creating an atmosphere of trust, equality, and freedom to ask questions and to express opinions, I will be able to explore literature and critical thinking with my students.
A visitor into my classroom would see my students involved in cultivating an understanding of the text through discussion and interaction with the work and with each other, a discussion where students feel comfortable merging their questions about the world with the texts they read. The class would have spent time building to this level of comfort and positive discussions, at first by responding to direct questions asked by me, later by questions prompted in either blog format or submitted as a participation mark, and finally by conducting ‘round table’ or Harkness discussions. My philosophy on teaching takes form from many steps and builds upon itself; my ideal class must too take time to assemble a classroom experience comparable to the one previously described. I do not imagine that I could throw the entirety of Ulysses at my incoming class for summer reading and then open our first day with a deep and meaningful discussion. Instead, I imagine planting the seeds for a successful and critical reading by acknowledging the difficulties they, I, and their future professors have all encountered during our time with the text and build on that exposed fragility. While Joyce’s Ulysses in a high school classroom might be a challenge, my approach is best illustrated with this text due to its hearty reputation of intimidation and obfuscation.
I aim to produce lifelong learners and critical thinkers who are confident accepting academic challenges and are comfortable pushing their perceived boundaries in and outside of the classroom. I hope that each student is at ease with critical thinking skills when they leave my class and approach future issues with the willingness to learn and the ability to determine meaning.