MY PHILOSOPHY OF TEACHING AND LEARNING
Please note: this is a revision, as of July 2012, with changes that reflect changes in our world and in teaching and learning. Has your Philosophy of Teaching and Learning changed? Please leave a comment.
Why do I teach what I teach? In this post I will outline the foundations of my professional practice. I will state my own personal values and explain how these affect my teaching. I will also list the important social and cultural values that I take into consideration in my professional practice. I will draw upon my knowledge of child development and of best practice in education to outline programming issues that are at the core of my personal teaching philosophy.
MY PERSONAL VALUES
I believe that each person has the right to self-development and realisation of their own potential. Therefore I will design my programme to accommodate this for each individual child. I will take time each day to reflect how my programme meets the needs of individual children.
I believe that the teaching profession is one aspect of my life that allows me to reach my own intellectual and spiritual potential. Therefore I will continue to reflect upon and celebrate my own achievements. I will endeavour to reflect individually and with others, as this will enhance my thinking.
I believe in the saying ‘it takes a whole village to raise a child’. Therefore it is my responsibility to take part in caring for all children that are a part of my life; in my own family, in my community, in my own classroom, and in other classrooms.
I value physical health and well-being and believe they are essential for a happy life. Therefore I will promote healthy practices and physical activity for my students. I will also aim at maintaining my own personal health and well-being to model these to the children and to keep in the best possible physical state to be able to do my job well.
I value learning as a lifelong process. Therefore I see myself as a learner and will continue to
take on further study, take up opportunities for professional development, and engage with colleagues in discussion on curriculum matters . make the most of every learning opportunity, from within and outside of the teaching profession, engaging in discussion and discovering other viewpoints about matters that really count in ensuring health and happiness on our planet.
I value friendship. Therefore I will act with friendliness towards colleagues, parents,
and the children in my classroom, both online and face-to-face.. I also value friendship as a sustaining force when difficulties arise in life. Therefore I will call upon friends and colleagues to help me work through my own difficulties. I will promote friendships within my classroom. I will also promote friendships between families of my school so that caring and support are cultivated.
I value independence. Therefore I will provide appropriate activities and support to lead each child towards independent thought, action and feeling.
I value imagination and creativity and believe that each human being possesses these qualities in unique combinations. Therefore I will provide opportunities for children to exercise imagination and creativity in as many varied ways as possible. I will also provide celebration and acknowledgement of these.
I value responsibility. I see this as each human’s duty to honour the rest of creation: other people, other living creatures and the environment. Therefore I will model my own and develop the children’s abilities to care for other people, animals and the environment.
I value wisdom. Therefore I will draw upon the wisdom of others to help me do my job, including families and colleagues. I will conduct home visits to each family to gain knowledge of the child and show respect for the parent’s existing wisdom.
I will also draw on the wisdom of research, the official Curriculum documents and other curriculum documents to build onto my understandings. I will also examine, analyse and question the wisdom of research, Curriculum documents and the work of other thinkers to build onto my understandings.
I value the guidance provided by the Australian Early Childhood Association’s Code of Ethics. Therefore I will review and implement this document regularly, and ensure that my co-workers are aware of this.
I value honesty and integrity. Therefore I will model these to the children. I will apply these to communicate truthfully and fairly to families about their child’s progress , and to the child himself/herself. I will apply these to honour the relationship with my employer.
IMPORTANT SOCIAL AND CULTURAL VALUES
I am aware that societies have had a different image of the child which has changed through time. I am aware that others may still have an image of the child as helpless, cute and lacking intelligence. Therefore I will continually re-examine my own personal image of the child, which is of the child as a clever and capable individual deserving of respect.
I acknowledge that the family has the responsibility for the well-being of the child. Therefore I will support families by providing information about child development and the learning process; individually, or by conducting information
evenings and through my weekly class newsletter sessions face-to-face or by utilising online tools and social networks.
I acknowledge that our world is in a continual state of change. Therefore I will design my programme to accommodate the changing needs of families as they deal with the stresses of work and child-rearing.
I acknowledge that a family may comprise different combinations. Therefore I will welcome and work with stepfamily members, grandparents, childminders and older siblings.
I acknowledge that school is a part of the community and that one of the roles of school is to prepare children for community participation. Therefore I will involve children in activities where they can gain knowledge from their community. I will also involve them in activities where they can make a real contribution to their own school,
and wider community and global community.
I believe that my classroom is a microcosm of the community. Therefore I will make myself aware of the positive values of the community and reinforce them through my programme. I will also give the children opportunities to take on roles in the classroom and the whole school that reflect community roles, such as leaders, decision makers and helpers.
I believe that children need specific skills to participate in their community. Therefore my programme will incorporate the teaching of skills that enable community and online participation, particularly in literacy, numeracy and social skills.
I acknowledge that education is one of society’s basic rights of all its people. Therefore I will centre my programme around the inclusivity of all students regardless of physical, emotional, intellectual, racial, cultural differences.
I acknowledge the contribution of individuals to the cultural diversity of our community. I am concerned that in the past schools have been instruments for trivialising cultural differences and encouraging racial divisiveness. Therefore I will model tolerant and welcoming attitudes towards all individuals. I will also question school practices and attitudes that are against cultural harmony. Therefore for the children in my classroom I will provide opportunities for meaningful interaction with people from cultures other than their own.
I acknowledge that mass media is part of our society and that our children need guidance to interpret messages; how they are intended to manipulate, how they contain stereotypes and negative images. Therefore I will design my programme to involve children in analysing all types of texts in the framework of critical literacy.
I acknowledge the existence of the ‘hidden curriculum’, the ways that schools inconspicuously support existing power structures that determine who is to benefit most from education systems. This is about how schools control what students learn through routines, class arrangements, teaching methods and curriculum choices. Therefore I will question each routine, lesson genre and message that I deliver to my children to aim towards empowerment of all rather than control to maintain established paradigms.
I acknowledge that for all people to
contribute to society participate through work, public life and family, they need the skills of working together. I also acknowledge that thinking is enhanced through social interaction.Therefore I will teach children the skills of collaboration and organise partner and group work.
I acknowledge that all societies and cultures involve their members in celebratory gatherings. Therefore I will involve children in these where appropriate.
This includes daily sharing of food at morning tea time, end-of-term family celebrations and participation in community festivals.
I acknowledge the issue of
gender equity and recognise that it is my role to address any unequal gender relationships in the school. Therefore I will examine and modify my own attitudes, expectations and communications to promote gender equity. I will be mindful of imbalances in how I praise, reprimand, encourage work choices, evaluate work, and discipline both boys and girls. I will encourage children to take on roles other than those expected of their gender, and acknowledge their work.
CHILD DEVELOPMENT ISSUES
Piaget has described children aged 3 – 8 as pre-operational. They are egocentric, perceptually oriented, and are yet to master the thinking processes of reversibility, variability, conservation and seriation. Therefore I will provide learning experiences which take this stage of cognitive development into account.
Bruner identified that children of this age are beginning to develop iconic representation. Therefore I will programme activities which emphasise children’s own representations rather than standard representations which we would expect from older children. In practice, this means giving credit to children’s own scientific diagrams rather than correct ones, allowing children to experiment with letters, words and numbers rather than produce perfectly copied alphabets.
Bruner identified that children at this age are capable of problem-solving. Therefore I will provide every possible opportunity for children to solve their own problems in all learning contexts. I will foster attitudes amongst children and adults that lead the children away from helplessness to resourcefulness.
I acknowledge the critical role of good nutrition for preschool children in maintaining brain growth and for physical growth enabling a greater range of physical and sensory experiences. Therefore I will
provide encourage healthy snacks for morning tea and provide nutrition guidance to families if needed. I will also involve the children in regular cooking activities when only healthy low sugar/low fat/low salt/high fibre recipes are used.
Vygotsky’s theories on learning describe that children use the cultural tool of language to explain their thinking and develop higher thought processes. Therefore I will encourage children to explain their thinking through language at every opportunity. I will encourage children to work in groups to increase opportunities for language. I will arrange for buddy classes, online interactions and adult visitors to the class to maximise talk.
Vygotsky’s view of preschool children’s play was that it was a means of children developing their thinking to higher levels, particularly sociodramatic play. Therefore I will provide large blocks of time for children to play, and encourage sociodramatic play both indoors and outdoors.
I acknowledge that preschool children are naturally active and have high energy levels. Therefore I will provide maximum opportunity for movement and exploration of the physical environment. I also acknowledge that their climbing, balancing and perceptual judgement skills are still developing. Therefore I will provide a safe but challenging outdoor environment with adult supervision at all times.
I acknowledge that preschool children are beginning to master the fine motor skills of drawing, fastening, tying, cutting, keyboarding and constructing. Therefore I will provide opportunities for children to develop these skills within meaningful contexts. I will teach these skills as needed to individuals or groups within their play-based activities.
Erikson described the personality development of the child aged 4 to 5 years as the ‘initiative vs guilt’ stage. The child’s physical and cognitive development allows them the ability to take initiative in exploring their world. The child’s awareness of adults restricting or trivialising their activities may lead them to feel guilty about doing things independently. Therefore I will provide opportunities for children to take initiative
and reward them when they do so. I will give the child feedback to let them know I am listening and take their ideas seriously. Where possible I will help the children turn their ideas into reality by helping to set up child-initiated learning projects.
I believe that children find reward in meaningful learning experiences. Therefore I do not have to provide extrinsic motivation such as stickers and treats to motivate children to learn. I will provide the right learning experiences and unlimited personal feedback to children to develop intrinsic motivation.
I believe that children should claim ownership of their own learning environments. Therefore I will allow them opportunities to set up their own learning spaces, display their work at their own eye level and move furniture to suit their needs.
I believe that the curriculum is the children; their interests, lives, needs, beliefs, wishes, questions and ideas. Therefore this is what determines what is taught in my classroom.
I believe that communication is one of the most invaluable human skills. Therefore I will make time to talk to children, parents and co-workers. This will mean that I maintain a message
book system for co-workers, schedule parent appointment times and dedicate times in the day for talking and listening.
I believe that environmental print is an essential element of a literacy programme. Therefore I will display environmental print. In particular I will emphasise literacy products which have been produced independently by the children themselves. I will involve environmental print in play situations, both indoors and outdoors, and in online learning environments.
I believe that children need time to explore materials before they learn skills of manipulating. Therefore I will set up tables of exploratory materials for children, such as clay, wood, paper, water, sand and wire.
I believe that a parent is an active partner in their child’s education. Therefore I will involve them in classroom activities especially in ways they can contribute their expertise; professional or parental. I will enlist their help with meeting their child’s needs that cannot be met at school. I will involve the parents in three-way interviews to contribute to their child’s review and goal-setting.
I believe that children need a healthy classroom environment. Therefore I will establish hygiene routines with co-workers and children and inform parents of our hygiene rules. I also believe that children need a healthy and safe online learning environment. Therefore I will establish guidelines and supervision with co-workers, parents and children to keep safe online, at school and outside of school.
I believe that security and continuity are promoted through daily and weekly routines. Therefore I will include several brief routines to manage transitions and enable children to anticipate their schedule.
I believe that children’s needs can change during the day. Therefore I will be aware of providing a balance of activities to suit their energies and emotions. I will also be flexible and make changes to routines, activities and times when necessary.
I believe that the technology cycle can be utilised in all learning areas. Therefore I will teach the skills and involve the children in examining their everyday world through the technology cycle, applying this to art products, texts, games, machines, clothing, food and materials.
I believe that play is children’s work and that this is how they learn best. Therefore I will provide maximum opportunity and variety for play. I will provide opportunity for children to talk about their play through our daily ‘sharing circle’. This enables the child to explain their thinking about play, and demonstrates to the child that I value their play and consider it as serious work.
I acknowledge that play involves all of the domains: physical, cognitive and social-emotional. Therefore I will structure the learning environment, my observations and assessments to include all of these.
I believe that young children do not always need to be ‘herded’ altogether to receive instruction. Therefore I will consider instructing small groups as needs arise. This will maximise teacher-child interaction and allow other children more time on their self-directed play.
I believe that play opportunities are maximised with the right level of adult involvement. If invited, I will participate in children’s play. If required, I will model play skills during play or discussion. Because I acknowledge that play is children’s best work, I will use each play session to observe, record and reflect upon the valuable learning taking place. I will instruct my co-workers to become involved in play as required,
rather than use children’s play time as their ‘coffee break’ time.
I believe in utilising scaffolding to maximise children’s learning. Therefore I will provide support for new learning by modelling and by target-teaching individuals and small groups. I will gradually withdraw the scaffolding to lead the child towards independence. I will also utilise peers and buddy children for scaffolding learning.
I recognise that the child’s zone of proximal development is enhanced more when the age gap between ‘teacher’ and ‘learner’ is not too great. Therefore I will inform the children that ‘children make better teachers than adults’ and that ‘there are twenty four teachers in our group, not just one’. I will establish group work and ‘experts’ within the class to share their learning. I will promote global connections so that my children have opportunities to teach others and learn from others.
I believe that one of the unique thought processes of young children is their wonderment and I understand this to be the beginnings of scientific thought. Therefore I will allow children the time to explore their world, formulate questions, and hypothesise. Their own theories and explanations are far more valuable than established facts.
I believe that oral language skills are the foundation of all language and literacy learning. Therefore I will provide maximum opportunity for the development of oral language skills, especially when this requires children to explain their thinking.
I believe that oral language levels are critical indicators of a child’s cognitive development. Therefore I will be vigilant in assessment of oral language, using the frameworks such First Steps to assist me. I will also call upon families, health professionals such as speech pathologists and psychologists to help with individuals in need at this critical stage of early intervention.
I believe that self-expression through the arts is a unique human quality. Therefore I will allow children as many opportunities as possible for this. I also recognise that self-expression can occur through media other than painting. Therefore I will encourage the children to make music, create movement, mould shapes, produce words, manipulate puppets, create online artefacts and create costumes to express themselves. I will explicitly teach skills when needed.
I recognise that individuality and creative thought are at the centre of self-expression. Therefore I will allow children to input ideas and changes in their artistic works, to move right away from artefacts that are totally teacher-directed and look the same as the next child’s. I will encourage risk-taking rather than sameness.
I believe that the physical environment of the classroom should be accessible and inviting. Therefore I will provide quality resources and maximise access for the children themselves.
I realise that provision of materials can be affected by my image of the child. My image of the child is of them being clever and capable, rather than cute and helpless. Therefore I will choose real rather than childish artefacts; choosing quality sketchbooks rather than Disney-style colouring in books, natural clay rather than luridly-coloured playdough, and collage items from nature rather than glitter and patty pans.
I believe that ‘teaching is mostly listening; learning is mostly talking’ as advocated by keynote speaker Alise Shafer at the Festival of Early Learning Conference held at Notre Dame University in 2001. Therefore I see my role of teacher as researcher and observer of children. I will schedule in regular observation routines and record these through objective notes, diagrams and photographs with an aim to authentically record the real learning that is occurring. I will instruct my co-workers to do these observation routines. I will also schedule time to talk about and reflect upon the observations.
I acknowledge that researchers do not collect information just for the sake of it. Therefore I will use information from observations to evaluate progress and plan further learning activities. I will use information to report accurately to parents and my school, aiming to make valid assessments on the learning that has actually occurred, rather than set up inauthentic testing tasks.
I believe that each adult who enters our classroom is a colleague in caring for children. As the professional teacher, I am ultimately responsible for the welfare of the children but realise that others have worthwhile contributions to make to the craft of teaching. Therefore I will encourage the children to consider co-workers, parents and online contacts as helpful teachers. I will also acknowledge, utilise and celebrate their contributions to the children’s learning.
I believe that behaviours are learned. Therefore I will explicitly teach children the strategies of managing conflict and self-assertiveness. I will teach children strategies to deal with verbal put-downs, being excluded by friends, and being injured by another, both face-to-face and online.
I value the learning of a language other than English in my classroom. Therefore I will welcome and support the LOTE teacher by involving the language in any practical way during class routines.
I believe that competitiveness
in physical activity at the cost of others’ feelings has no place in my early childhood classroom. Therefore I will involve children in non-competitive physical and online games which emphasise teamwork, development of thinking skills and everyone as a winner.
It is my deepest belief that each child has the ability to become the best they can. It is my desire to see each individual child develop into a powerful self-confident learner who can reach out towards their own intellectual, physical and spiritual potential.