My personal teaching philosophy stems from my own personal experiences with the teachers I have had over the course of my life. Many of these teachers had characteristics that not only motivated me to do my best, but showed their own active participation in the classroom and the learning process. My ultimate goal is almost identical to that of all teachers: I want my students to learn. I want them to be academically challenged in a safe environment that maximizes their potential. I want my students to think critically, analyze their source materials, and be unafraid to ask questions or strive for excellence. Furthermore, I seek to establish an environment free of bullying, intimidation, and harassment. My students will understand their obligations just as much as I wish to understand my own.
The greater question, however, is HOW. How will I go about creating such an environment? From my previous experiences here at Rutgers, the critical aspect of creating a safe learning environment is through effective bonding and clear explanation of community principles. I hope to build such a community through regular in-class activities and group projects on a rotating basis in which students interact with fellow classmates, particularly ones they themselves might not usually spend time with. Through my cooperation with the school’s expectations and curriculum, I wish to present my classroom material through multiple ways. These include not only the typical “lecture” and projects, but in-class discussions that would highlight differences of opinions and alternative solutions as well as the occasional use of a guest speaker on particular topics. I would hope to draw on the innate knowledge of my students as well. They have just as much to offer their classmates as I do, so perhaps the use of intermittent “floor time” to give my students a platform to speak from would be beneficial as well.
Lofty principles and goals are admirable, but objectives are needed to understand the greater context as well as regular assessments. I am somewhat critical of the “typical” assessment of grading based on a scale coupled with participation. Different students learn in different and increasingly complicated ways. To assess my students’ progress, I will seek to make use of more diverse methods of assessment. Regular contact with family members to understand a student’s home life and progress are critical. Too often teachers forget that parents are their partners in the learning process. I hope to have somewhat frequently scheduled conferences to evaluate and assess students with parents and other family members. While I recognize I cannot have every student on a different scale in terms of performance, neither can I blindly accept that one standard of an A is the universal standard. Understanding a student’s personal growth and struggles through adjustments to my methods in personal time will be critical to fostering their intellectual development and assisting in their educational progress.
For those of you still with me, I hope you have observed the video I have posted by Simon Sinek. The author of a book called Start With Why, Sinek’s motivation has driven me to become a teacher. I want to be a teacher to have a real impact on this world. I want to be a teacher so I can use my passion and drive to motivate others to achieve their goals. I want to be a teacher because the teachers I have had in my life have been role models for my own development. When I was ready to give up, to quit, to lower my standards and settle for less, they were there to help pick me up and remember what it was I wanted. I want to be a teacher so that hopefully, one day, I can look into a student’s eyes and recognize that they have the faith and strength to aspire to their own dreams. Teaching can be strenuous and draining, but should I ever feel undervalued or ignored, I hope I will cling to my greatest motivation: I want to say that I left this world a better place than how I found it. Teachers are unique in their ability to change lives and change the world. If education is the silver bullet for the world’s ills and pains, teachers can be the administrators of the solution. I would like to believe I am capable of that, regardless of the challenges facing me in the future of my field.