After reading my philosophy of teaching from 1985, I realize I haven’t strayed much from my beliefs, but have honed this philosophy to meet my needs and the needs of my students. Education is the foundation of our future. It is the backbone for successful living. Education provides students with experiences, literature and knowledge that cannot be obtain in any other structural setting. Education provides the basis for social, civic and professional skills, as well as informs students of the many possibilities and opportunities within the community…and beyond.
The core of education lies not in administration or in school boards or in the building itself; it resides in the classroom equipped with a competent, innovative teacher and the minds of the students. It is in the classroom where learning takes place, where questions are asked, where successes and failures happen, where critical thinking, analyzing and cooperative learning are encouraged.
Quality educators are necessary when considering that the students are our future. It is vital for educators to facilitate active learning and move away from the traditional passive and lectured approach. The more students are involved in their learning process, the more information they will receive and retain. Through active learning, students learn to look beyond the literal meaning and dive into deeper meaning through inference and awareness. They are able to make interpretations and develop, as well as express, opinions. They are provided with an opportunity to relate meanings, obtain understanding and present knowledge, both prior and new, in an open and accepting environment.
The role of the educator is also an important aspect when considering what is necessary in education. Educators should serve as positive role modes, as many are lacking that outside the school. Through content, technique, experience and understanding, modeling is an effective and positive approach to motivating students. Teachers need to realize that we are not the “all-knowing” – we are students as well. The ability to draw from the knowledge and suggestions of students, and make learning relevant to them, is a talent more teachers should possess.
It is also imperative (and many have argued against my belief) that a teacher creates positive bonds with the students. These bonds encourage students to trust, to believe in themselves, to strive for better. The best compliment I ever received from a student was… “You know, Ms. O’Connor, I can’t say that I learned the most in your English class, but I have learned more about life and the real world from you than anybody I have ever met.” So, I may not be a great English teacher, but I am a wonderful teacher…because of the bonds, the humor (I know…never add new information at the end…I couldn’t figure out where to put it without going off on the comedy tangent) and my absolute love of the job. And speaking of that, why are there so many educators out there who don’t like what they do…or kids for that matter? Just another paper ready to be written…..