Mary Valcheff Philosophy of education

Being a teacher is like building a house. You need a strong foundation in order for your classroom to stand. The pillars that hold up your house are full of the knowledge and wisdom that contribute to the classroom environment . The walls and floors are different approaches and strategies towards learning that you teach to your students. And your students are the hot pink color that you decide to paint your bedroom walls. They are the lace blue curtains you hang up in the living room, the students are what give your classroom life and individuality. The unique qualities that the students bring into the classroom are how you will decide as a teacher, to build your students so that they are better equipped for life.

My philosophy of education is centered around the individuality and various learning needs that each student will bring into the classroom. As facilitators in the classroom, it is our job to properly equip each student with the proper tools so that eventually they can build on their own. It is important to identify individual strategies to address each student's individual needs.

My goal is for every lesson plan in my classroom to have objectives that align with the NC Common Core Standards and a form of assessment that enables me to know whether each student was able to meet the objectives for that day. As educators we are preparing students for the summative assessment at the end of the semester, life outside of school, various testing, and because of this we need to make sure we are assessing each day to make sure that they grasping the material before moving on.

My goal is to relate the curriculum to the students so that they are able to see its relevance beyond the classroom. Throughout student teaching when I was able to make the content relevant to the students, they showed a lot of enthusiasm throughout the lesson plans because they were able to see the significance of learning the skills.

I believe students should own their learning and the teacher needs to act as a facilitator in the classroom which will enable students to develop critical thinking skills and success beyond the classroom walls. For example, having class and small group discussions allows students to bounce ideas off of each other and build upon their thoughts. Another way for the students to develop critical thinking skills is to ask essential questions that allow the students to think beyond the walls of the classroom. In the syllabus that I have created, I broke the semester into thematic units so that each unit has an overarching theme that connects with an essential question that each student will need to be able to answer.

I believe the individuality that each student can bring into the classroom should be embraced and encouraged everyday during a lesson. Asking questions throughout a lesson, and having students bring their own knowledge into a unit can broaden the learning and interaction within the classroom. For example, before teaching the students what I wanted them to know about the Medieval Period, I asked them to tell me what they already did know. When we finished discussing, I found that the students were already mentioning a lot of the things that I wanted to cover in my lecture. It made the unit feel less intimidating to the students because I was able to build upon a lot of the things they already knew while also introducing new content.

I believe every student should feel safe, trusted, and respected in the classroom by the teacher and their peers. This is the most important belief statement to me because of how diverse the classroom is. Every student has something special and unique in them, and I believe it is my job to make them feel like they can be their true selves in my classroom. For example, one student during my student teaching experience is going through a gender change but he is not ready to talk with his parents about it yet. I talked with the student and told him that I would refer to him by his changed name in the classroom but for material that needed to be sent home, I would put the name that his parents originally named him. This allowed the student to feel comfortable during my classroom, and they thanked me at the end of my student teaching experience for making them feel comfortable and like they did not have to hide. This student was by far the hardest working student in all of my classes. I also believe that having small group discussions and activities that further student engagement among peers allows trust and respect to be built in the classroom. For example, I had the students create identity maps before creating identity maps on their assigned pilgrim in Canterbury Tales. The students then shared their own identity maps with their peers and I also shared one of myself. The feedback that I received from the students on this activity was very positive, and it is an activity I want to make sure I do for future classes.

Teaching is by far the most challenging job I have ever had. However, it is also the most rewarding job I have ever had, encompassing a wide variety of titles that fall under this one word, teacher. Not only do I take on the role of a teacher everyday in the classroom, but I take on the role of student as I continuously learn new things. I take on the role of a tour guide as I navigate students through the curriculum. I take on the role of a conductor as I make sure each student is inside the caboose grasping the necessary skills before heading forward. Most importantly, I take on the identity of being a role model to each and every student. My teaching philosophy is based upon the various roles that fall under being a teacher, and the different learning needs that each student brings into the classroom.

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