Here is an old ed phil. that I’m just using as a placeholder to start building my professional portfolio:
I’ve been teaching for 17 years now, and sometimes, in lucid moments, I look out at the students in my class and realize exactly what it is I am doing. I realize that I am standing in front of 20 or so students, that sometimes they are actually listening to what I have to say, and that in some small way I may actually be affecting their lives. It’s still a rush, a “like, what the heck am I doing here?” type of a feeling that lasts maybe a couple of seconds until I’m drawn back into the somewhat organized chaos that is usually my room. Those moments may not last too awfully long (and they are awful when they occur), but they remind me that like it or not, this is where I am. This is what I do. I teach.
Why? Good question, one that it seems I constantly struggle with. I wish I could sound real altruistic and list a whole bunch of reasons that deal with every student’s right to learn and a respect for different learning styles and collaboration between students and teachers and that kind of stuff. But to be honest, that’s never been too high on my list. I don’t do a great job of consciously meeting individual learner’s needs and thinking about ways to present material to different learning styles. I don’t do great lesson plans (if I do them at all). I am not, nor will I ever be, a teacher’s teacher.
I teach for more selfish reasons. Most of the time, I like kids. I like learning from and with them. I like getting them to think about stuff they may never have thought of before. And, they laugh at my jokes. I like being creative in coming up with new projects or ideas to teach. In fact, my strength is in design, not implementation. I like the people who I teach with. I like the dialogue about teaching. I like the hours. As much as it may seem terrible to admit it, I do it more for me than for them.
Yet, despite that pretty selfish stance, people tell me I am a good teacher. My evaluations from students are always pretty good if not excellent. My students say they learned something from me, that I challenged them in some way. My boss says I’m an excellent teacher as well (though I could be better with the paperwork.) And I think my colleagues think I’m pretty good, not a world beater, but someone who they wouldn’t mind their own children having at some point. Personally, I know I could be better, but I am as good as I can be right now. Frankly, school is not my life. I’ve done that, and I am not convinced that approach to teaching is the best for my students either.
So what does this mean in terms of “educational philosophy?” I’m not sure how to put that into words. I think the classroom is not only a place for a student to learn the curriculum but to learn about himself as well. Sometimes you need to throw out the curriculum to make that happen. I also believe that students should learn to learn for learning’s sake and not for grades. I drive my kids crazy with my unwillingness to play the “grade game” with them. I think grades stink. I also think that many times they learn more from me as a person than they do me as a teacher. So, a part of my philosophy is to be as good a role model as I can be, and that includes sharing my personal thoughts, ideas and experiences when appropriate, admitting my weaknesses to them, and treating them with fairness, respect, care, and humor. Lots of humor. I try to teach tolerance, and I try to point out ignorance whenever I can.
And somehow, that seems to be enough for now. When I think about the fact that I am only halfway through my career, I realize I still have a lot of time to develop more of a standard philosophy, but I seriously doubt I will. I am comfortable, for now, with what I accomplish as a teacher, both for myself and for my students. I may not be crystal clear on the whys or hows, but it’s working, and I can live with that.