My Teaching Philosophy

I see the role of a teacher as that of a guide. I feel that education should be grounded in a strong foundation of language, mathematical, and scientific literacy, but think that the compartmentalization of subjects is a danger. Within each subject, there is a rich possibility for cross-curricular approaches and for bolstering student knowledge about diverse aspects of the wider world. If I am doing my job right, I should be coming into classes with a clear idea of what I will teach, but how students learn should be driven by their own interests and talents, and if a lesson branches off into unexpected directions because students want to explore them, I should be able to guide them down those paths.

To understand how my students learn best, I feel that it is crucial to get to know the communities that they belong to outside school. I also believe that regarding classes and schools as inclusive communities is crucial to student and teacher success. When the school community is a strong group, including teachers, students, administrators, other staff, and caregivers, it fosters collaboration and success. I also work to understand students’ personal interests, their hopes and dreams for the future, the challenges they face, and their approaches to learning and life. I feel that I can help my students best by taking a constructivist approach to learning and providing them with scaffolding that they can use to build up their knowledge, while teaching them to approach materials as critical thinkers.

I feel that assessment should be part of an ongoing process of learning. I assess students before I teach them to discover what they need to know, so that we can set learning goals together. I then determine where we hope to get by the end of a unit and regularly check on student progress, both formally and informally, to find out what is working and where I need to supplement or adapt. In moving toward final assessment, I ensure that there are no surprises and that students understand what they need to succeed. After carrying out a final piece of assessment, I get feedback on it and use challenging areas to develop further programs of learning.

Our world today is increasingly diverse. It is crucial that students can embrace their own cultural identities and see those reflected in their learning in a valid way. Wherever possible, I adapt my materials and approaches to respect students’ backgrounds. When students respect themselves, they can extend that to individuals of all cultures, religions, and genders, and are better able to interact with the world around them and form solid communities based on mutual support. While I do not focus on a religious philosophy in my teaching, I strive to teach students to be moral, in terms of caring for others, helping those who are less fortunate than them, being honest, and having a sense of fairness and social justice. I do so by modelling the right behaviour and supporting it in students.

A crucial aspect of teaching today is the rapid pace of globalization and increasing integration of new technologies into our lives. As teachers, we may be preparing students for jobs that do not even exist yet, in countries that they have never visited, and with peers across the world. This makes it crucial that teachers embrace technologies that provide additional support and preparation. I feel that we must not be afraid of the additional classroom management challenges that new technologies may bring. I use multimedia approaches, ICT, devices, and cross-curricular integration to address the different strengths of learners and their audio, visual, and kinesthetic needs. I also like using platforms like Moodle or Edmodo to engage students beyond the physical classroom.

In terms of my approach to classroom management, I feel that when all students are engaged, management issues should be minimal. If I am teaching interesting classes and students are acting out or being disruptive, it is often because of issues that I am not understanding. In such cases, I try to focus on productively keeping the class on track and talk to the students that are having issues privately, after class if possible, or during class but away from the attention of peers. When a single student continues to have repeated issues, I feel that it is crucial to discuss this with the student, with other teachers and administrative and support staff, and possibly with the student’s caregivers outside school. This can provide a crucial opportunity for me to offer guidance that extends beyond the subject that I am teaching, and to make a difference in a student’s life that could affect his or her future path.

I am against the idea that a teacher’s job begins and ends when the bell rings. It is our job as teachers to work on extracurricular activities, to meet with students and parents after school, to discuss progress with colleagues, to attend professional development programs, and to plan great lessons and make sure that our classrooms are appropriate physical spaces for learning for students of all types. This can be one of the hardest parts of work as a teacher, but it is also one of the most important. In addition, I am a strong believer in integrating physical activity and movement into teaching. I think that students need to get out of the classroom and experience the outdoor world around them. I enjoy skiing, snowboarding, cycling, hiking, surfing, swimming, camping, trekking, and playing basketball, and am happy to play, participate in, or lead any type of sport activity.

Finally, in my past work, I have had opportunities to teach students facing socioeconomic and educational challenges, and hope to focus more on this in the future. I am looking for a position that would allow me to become more involved in service work with local communities that may face challenges or lack access to education or resources.

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