Dewey defined education as the reconstruction and reorganisation of experiences which increases ones’ ability to direct the course of subsequent experiences and these can be both active and passive. However according to Lindeman, the education experience is, first of all, doing something; second, doing something which makes a difference and third knowing what difference it makes.
Teaching is a profession which allows one to influence many lives and make a difference. It is because of this opportunity to touch the lives of many, I decided to enter the teaching profession. I understand that the benefits of this profession are mostly intrinsic as opposed to extrinsic, yet the thought of inspiring students to learn in this complex environment gives me a sense of satisfaction.
My philosophy is ever-evolving as I grow and gain experience, as I delve into the minds of my students and the environment within which I work. While I tend to believe my teaching, philosophy is highly rooted in Socratic methods, I also practice other philosophies, as each class environment may differ in some way or the other. Socratic teaching revolves around the idea that students should be provided with the knowledge based on the course curriculum but, be encouraged to go further and explore beyond the boundaries of what is stipulated in the content.
My Perceptions of How Education Should be Conducted in Relation to Educational Philosophies
Furthermore, my perception of education is one which reflects a blending of the educational foundations in which the concept of education was first introduced. From Plato’s idealism that the everyday world of things and objects is merely a fleeting, shadowy copy of the true ideas that the soul carries which encourages students to seek a higher level of thinking (Hamm, 1974). Idealism also includes the cultural heritage and wisdom which each student should be encouraged to share by being knowledgeable about it, participating in sharing it and elaborating it through their own contributions in the classroom and by extension the community. For example, I let students spend their time collaborating while working in groups and also independently and I provide additional support when needed. In my teacher-directed approach, we had a small Socratic seminar in which we studied the skin anatomy and had discussions about it. Then in another group, I had the students guiding their own lesson by creating a presentation of the skin’s anatomy.
How I Think Education Should be Conducted
Students, in my opinion, needs to be encouraged to think critically. Cultivating critical thinking allows students to become their own leaders in their own settings. When I teach a topic, I use a question-answer dialogue which encourages them to think. We all need to arrive at independent and multiple solutions to our problems and situations. Taking the notion I aspire to produce and aim to bring them towards the greater end, learning.
Additionally, my views of learning are based on the premises of having an instructor directed learning approach but student-oriented through the provision of reading materials that connect with new and existing knowledge or ideas and real-world experience (Piaget, 1936). I encourage student’s learning through engagement, since providing a good learning environment and building on one’s own experience this helps to facilitate retention of knowledge in the long-term memory. Students learn better from each other and their immediate physical environment as well as by finding ways to link patterns from their environment through learning processes.
Beliefs, Theories and Methods That Marks My Success as a Teacher
Similarly, I believe students learn their best when they believe they can learn with the use of different methods and at different rates. When the classroom and school environment supports the students emotional, social, cultural and educational needs they feel valued, and respected by their teachers and their peers.
Various sets of ideas, opinions and facts or simply theories about human behaviour have been put forward by education psychology and sociology scholars from which I used to derive helpful insights and skills on how to manage students behaviour in order to promote effective learning in my classroom and elsewhere within the school or outside.
One such theory that I adopted from renowned scholar B.F. Skinner who believed that behaviour is influenced by the external conditions as opposed to the inner states of an individual’s mind (Skinner, 1965). Skinner’s theory stated that for every human action there was a result, consequence, or outcome.
Now if the resultant consequence of a given action of my student is positive and pleasing in nature, I am likely to see that the behaviour is repeated more often in the future. For example, when a student performs to my expectation, I would usually highlight their involvement giving them praise for a job well done this, in turn, leads them to higher-order thinking and realisation of finding self-relevance which shapes their behaviour. In opposite of the outcomes of their actions are not attractive to me, they would be punished, for example, they would have to clean the workstation after a practical, and the behaviour would not be repeated.
Skinner notes that behavioural reinforcements should be both timely and consistent (Taylor & MacKenney, 2008). Therefore, for their good behaviour I reward my students immediately, by doing this it encourages repetition by them, while with misbehaviour I punish with immediate effect to minimise the occurrence in future and where possible eliminate altogether. However, with this approach, I am very mindful of how the students see these reinforcements, as learning may not take place.
I have also developed an approach where I avoid labelling students and using negative criticism as I noticed labelled students tend to exhibit unbecoming behaviours in and by extension outside of the classroom. Ginnot proposed that teachers should shun too much criticism and instead they should provide recommendations and advice and make succinct statements to students geared towards improving their academic and co-curricular performances and seek their input to correct behaviour (Taylor & Nixon, 2004)
I also encourage students of mixed abilities to work together by promoting small group activities. Through verbally expressing their ideas and responding to their peers, they develop self-confidence as well as enhance communication and critical thinking skills.
How Do I Know When I am Teaching Effectively
Consequentially, the skill of teaching does not only involve academics but also involves being able to interact with others to help them understand what is going on around them. Being an effective teacher, therefore, requires the implementation of creative and innovative strategies to meet each students needs. There are many different ways to teach effectively, as a good instructor I am always prepared, and I set clear and fair expectations for my students. In order for me to asses myself as a teacher and to know if I have achieved my goals I use observation as a technique to know if they gained knowledge, understanding, the skills and attitude towards learning.
Moreover, through questioning and assessments, I can tell if my methods are effective. For example, when I ask questions in class during a lecture and my students answer correctly in their own words giving justification for their answer I can make an assumption that learning took place. Finally, when my students are able to reflect and make connections between different concepts I taught that tells me that I am teaching effectively.
How I Made a Difference in the Lives of My Students
The classroom is a dynamic environment bringing students together from different backgrounds with various abilities and personalities. I try to connect with all my students on multiple levels because I believe it is my duty to be committed to their well-being both inside and outside the classroom. By forging strong relationships with my students I realised I was able to affect many aspects of some of their lives. I try my best apart from academics to teach them the important life lessons that will help them succeed. I have made learning fun, stimulating and engaging and always try to incorporate real-life scenarios to get them to connect. Furthermore, I inspire them and guide them by giving them advice both academically and personally.
Teaching as I see it is not to be considered as a job, rather it is to be considered an act of service for mankind. Development of my personal philosophy is vital as I believe no person cannot function to deliver their services without a sound and healthy personal philosophy which comes from knowing oneself. Applying this principle in my field as an educator, my personal teaching philosophy based on my reflections of the past has assisted me to become a better educator, whereby I can give my service both at an individual and social level, bringing about a new meaning to the very concept of the process of teaching and becoming a lifelong learner.
As an educator, I believe my noble mission is to inculcate the love for learning in my students so that learning also becomes a lifelong process from them as well. It is my belief that once they see themselves as being empowered by the knowledge, they can make informed decisions about what they want to achieve in life and how to strive for excellence in their respective life choices. When my students portray a passion for gaining meaningful knowledge and applying it in their lives, I believe that I made a difference.
It is my belief that when we know ourselves better, we can welcome and appreciate the differences in others. Once we can recognise the differences in and among our students, and respecting the same, is the foremost duty of any educator.
- Hamm. (1974).
- Skinner, B. F. (1965). Science and Human Behavior.
- Taylor, G.R., & MacKenney, L. (2008). Improving human learning in the classroom: theories and teaching practices Lanham, MD: R&L Education
- Taylor, R., G., & Nixon, &. (2004). Improving human learning in the classroom: theories and teaching practices. MD: University Press of America.