In preparation for an upcoming job search as a first year teacher I have written my Statement of Teaching Philosophy.
Statement of Teaching Philosophy
After many years both living and working in educational settings, I have recognized that a caring, creative, and disciplined environment with individualized learning consistently develops a pupil’s love for education and commitment to personal achievement. As a teacher and leader in my community I focus on two goals. Firstly, I build skills and knowledge in subject areas through individualized teaching techniques and relate all learning to daily life. Secondly, I endeavour to provide students with the support and tools needed to maintain a sense of self-awareness, self-acceptance and positive self-esteem when facing life’s challenges.
My parents taught at independent schools for over thirty years. At an early age I became aware of the dedication, time and commitment required in educational roles. As a result, I planned to pursue full-time work in education only when my own children reached a more independent age and after I gained a variety of experiences in the field to ensure it was a career path I would enjoy. Therefore over the past twelve years I purposefully volunteered and worked part-time in education with students aged five to eighteen to gain experience and determine what specific area of teaching I would enjoy. I discovered exactly what I hoped to discover; I love working in education on all levels! I leave every lesson or experience (even the difficult ones) with renewed energy, excitement and drive to make the next one better still.
Over the years I taught lessons or offered support in subjects which were not always my area of expertise ranging from religion to mountain orienteering. A constant thirst for learning drove me forward with enthusiasm, becoming highly knowledgeable on each subject. Studying new topics also gave me the wonderful vantage point of being in the shoes of a student. Subject knowledge is naturally one of the main ingredients to teaching.
The second ingredient is preparing effective lesson plans to include a wide variety of creative activities. Lessons I believe must be disciplined but also have an element of creative fun. For example, when teaching English lessons on characterization I incorporated a drama activity where students acted out the character traits of main characters from Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Additionally in my Duke of Edinburgh lessons, students hold ice cubes long enough to feel a cold similar to that on the hills where they hike; as a result they never forget to bring warm gloves on expeditions. As a church leader I found music, clay and cooking to be useful ways to reinforce learning points; the disruptive boys in the class quickly became focused when turning bible stories into rap songs. Of course there is a skill to maintaining class control during activities, but once this is mastered a lesson quickly becomes informative, disciplined and enjoyable. When assessing what students have learned in my lessons, it quickly becomes evident that retention of knowledge is higher when activities take place.
With knowledge and pre-planning in place, the final ingredient I find essential is monitoring learning throughout the lesson. I constantly observe behaviour and speak with students, gauging their interest, comprehension and enjoyment. I take part in group discussions or work with individuals asking questions, identifying and assessing learning needs, and relating lessons to their interests and daily life. Knowing that learning and retention occurs differently in every student, I enjoy discovering new techniques to reach each student individually. The most useful approach I find for uncovering individualized teaching techniques and assessing learning is simply through observation and listening carefully during all conversations.
Furthermore, in every educational role I hold, including administrative support roles, I feel it is crucial to continuously develop self confidence, self-awareness and positive self-esteem in students. As a Play Leader for ages 5 to 11 I created BounceBall, a playground version of basketball and soccer. To include all abilities, I nominate referees, ball collectors, linesmen, scorekeepers and cheerleaders. All children involved feel a sense of belonging and success. I still enjoy the daily stampede of children running up to me excitedly asking, “Miss, are we playing BounceBall today?” I also have great success integrating shy children, building their confidence through games involving only one or two people to start. Aggressive children I find often lack confidence in communicating their emotions; I build their trust by listening, helping them realise it is ok to feel angry, and developing their confidence in talking about their feelings. Additionally, weekend long hiking expeditions with Duke of Edinburgh groups aged 14-15 allows time for students to speak on many topics, and as trust develops some students open up about their worries. Listening thoroughly and responding with positive feedback is incredibly important to developing their personal sense of importance and building confidence. Finally, interacting daily with students in my administrative support roles I always find ways to praise their work or offer advice if needed. Witnessing on a daily basis students growing to new levels of confidence and success as a result of conversations they have had with me leaves me secure in the knowledge I am achieving an important goal in education.
On the road to confirming a career in education was for me, people along the way including teachers warned me of the downsides of the industry. “Don’t do it!” they practically shouted complaining about work load, pupil behaviour, increased surveillance, and more. Taking these comments very seriously I investigated every issue and after much reflection I realized I also faced many constraints and frustrations in business sales too. However, my overall enjoyment of wanting to help people was so strong that I managed to find solutions, enjoy my work and reach very high levels of success. This innate passion for helping is a key quality that will drive me forward. Therefore, after twelve years of exploring and gaining experience in schools, I can confirm I wish to purse a full time career in education. I look forward to following my passions of sharing knowledge, inspiring learning, and helping others to continuously achieve their best in life. I relish all opportunities where I can continue to live out my philosophies in teaching in order to make a difference to both individuals and the whole of society.