Teaching for me is an opportunity to invest in the future. I believe students are agents of change, and in order for them to succeed and lead this society, teachers need to teach social responsibility, to teach community, and to empower students to take charge of their learning, not only in school but in lifelong learning contexts as well.
Responsibility to self and world
The first part of my teaching philosophy is a desire that students will be responsible citizens in a classroom, in their communities, and in the world. This happens when students have responsibilities within a classroom and are taught how to make good choices. In order for students to understand various responsibilities, students will need to learn how to determine these responsibilities by analyzing internal and external factors to self and the world. One way teachers can help students become responsible citizens is to give them opportunities to think critically. Critical thinking means that students consider their opinions and ideas in comparison to others and understand how their beliefs and actions shape their environments. For example, during my student teaching, after learning about Martin Luther King Jr. and reading My Brother Martin, students thought about how they could “turn the world upside down.” Most students were able to realize that the importance of their actions and words can change and affect not only themselves, but the world at large, like Martin Luther King Jr. Various students demonstrated this understanding of responsibility. One student in particular stated, “I can turn the world upside down by being a good example and pick up trash. If I do it, then others will too and there will be no pollution.” After a short discussion with the student, I was excited to hear that the student believed “turning the world upside down” made him a better person because he could make a difference. The great part of this learning was that I was not “teaching” the responsibility, but the student was able to realize it himself, as I was just a guide. Teachers will always need to be purposeful in what they say and do to show what responsibility looks like. Students learn best when activities are modeled and learning is scaffolded; therefore, I need to be aware and teach students how to make educated decisions about everyday things. I need to throw away paper into the recycling bin. I need to be respectful of the environment and ride a bike or carpool. I need to connect real-life issues and problems into their learning. This way, students will be prepared to make responsible choices that will better themselves and their communities based on their experiences and goals.When students realize the potential inside of them, based on the actions and choices of being responsible citizens, young people will be able to use responsibility as a tool to become active, contributing, and respectful members of this society.
Creating a Caring Community
Every classroom should be a safe, respectful, supportive and caring place for students to grow. When students feel a sense of belonging and ownership in the classroom, they are willing to contribute and participate. This environment happens only when teachers and students have supportive and respectful relationships with each other. In order to establish this, I believe open and honest communication is key. Therefore, a caring community should have respect for opinions, opportunities to collaborate, and more opportunities to make decisions together as a whole.Establishing a caring community must begin at the start of the year. To ensure that all students will be respected, there must be a set of norms established, which I plan to have the students create together. It is important that students participate in this process because it will allow them to feel included in the community and to feel a kind or ownership of classroom. Once these rules are set, we can focus on keeping them to guarantee all students can engage safely and orderly to feel successful to the learning that is happening in the room. Some norms may include, being respectful to yourself, others and property, listen when others are talking, and be kind and considerate of others. Also, I plan on incorporating classroom meetings on a weekly or as-needed basis to promote collaborative methods of problem solving. Having students discuss problems within the classroom and finding possible solutions allow students to learn from other peers and prior life-experiences. These interactions will also help students find a sense of identity with others and allow them to value others’ ideas and opinions. This collaboration will teach students that learning from others is just as important as learning from one’s own mistakes. Another way to create a caring community is to teach in a culturally inclusive way. By allowing students to share their backgrounds and identities, as well a study people from other cultures will incorporate the idea that community is not only our classrooms, our families, or even our schools, but our culturally diverse communities. Teaching students to be culturally sensitive and aware within the classroom will aid them to be caring and sensitive to those outside the classroom walls. By inviting guest speakers, doing presentations of countries and their people, or studying current events related to different cultures, I will facilitate cultural awareness and ultimately foster respectful citizens. One way I was able to incorporate my Korean heritage was to translate a morning greeting song. Students knew how to sing the song in Spanish and I even asked students who spoke Russian and French to translate it so we could all learn, but they were hesitant. The lyrics to the song are as follows:
English Hello, Hello, Hello and how are you
I’m fine. I’m fine. And I hope that you’re fine too.
Spanish Hola, Hola, Hola ie komo estas
Mui bien, gracias, Mui bien gracias, ie stae and how are you.
Korean Ahn-young, Ahn-young, Ahn-young chal ie suhn nee
Kwen chan ah, Kwen chan ahChingu neun chal ie nee
Empowering Students to Become Life-long Learners
My dream for each one of my students is that they learn to take control of their learning and to use learning as a tool for future success throughout their lives. For students to become life-long learners, teachers need to emphasize that learning happens everywhere, every day and anytime. I believe one way teachers can promote and support this idea is through peer monitoring or collaboration with others. Many students may associate learning with academic subjects such as literacy from books or math from worksheets; however, learning takes place in many forms, in many different places. For example, when students are working with partners to peer edit their writing, they are learning to be cooperative and value each other’s ideas and creativity, in addition to experiencing the writing process. Teachers need to be aware and support this learning by discussing how being cooperative and working as partners are also considered learning and how one would apply those skills outside the classroom. To monitor this learning, I created a rubric for partner work and had students discuss with each other what went well, what they could work on, and how they could be prepared for their next peer activity. Not only do teachers need to believe all students can be successful, but students themselves need to believe that they can be successful. I firmly believe that setting goals and reflecting on past learning is an efficient way to further motivate students. By setting goals, achieving them, or reflecting on the processes of struggling or overcoming hardships, students become active in taking control of how they learned and what they overcame, and they feel a sense of accomplishment. I plan to have a log or journal for each student to record new learning, “ah ha” moments, or struggles they have overcome so they can progressively see how much they have grown and applied these experiences to better themselves.