My Teaching Philosophy
In my first year of teaching, a frustrated young student questioned the need to look at books when he could not yet read them. My explanation was that by looking at the book, he would develop a discipline for reading when the time came for him to read that particular book. I had not yet figured out how important it was to establish routines, I had not yet established a classroom management plan, and my ideals were naïve at best. Soon after, I had a professional development week, in which I was introduced to Readers and Writers Workshops. Although many aspects of this wonderful program were too advanced for kindergartners, I learned to adapt and include the procedures in my daily teaching.
Just as I was learning that many of my colleagues founded their teaching on personal enthusiasms and trial and error, I also realized that my students would need to find their own reasons and approaches, but they would need my guidance to reach their goals for learning. Without this personal motivation and individual approach, no information I present, no skills I model will be of any use to them. I began to focus on communicating my own enthusiasm for learning to my students, so that even if they did not absorb every detail I presented during class, they would be interested enough to work with me on finding the best learning process and to keep learning on their own.
My interest in a balanced and child appropriate curriculum is closely linked to the Multiple Intelligence Theory and the Constructivist Pedagogy: they assisted me in developing flexible grouping instruction that is multileveled, filled with modeling and demonstrations, ongoing documentation and monitoring of children’s growth, and finally, culminating in making strong connections between home and school. Discovering the students’ Multiple Intelligence, their individual learning style, and their prior knowledge of the curriculum was a process that I developed over by doing home visits prior to the beginning of the school year. I call the families in advance, set up an appointment and take along with me books like Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes and The Night before Kindergarten by Natasha Wing that I read to students. While reading these books, I discover facts about the children, their preferences, goals and fears. By conducting this visit, I assess several aspects of the child in their own environment, as well as their relationship with their families, and their expectations for the coming school year. I discuss with them what they would be learning in that year, I tell them about the daily routine, classroom rules, and also the rewards, and ask them if they have any suggestions that may add to their sense of belonging to their new classroom. I finish my home visit by explaining how their classroom routine will be like and give them their first homework to bring to class the following week – a bear coloring page.
I like to develop lesson plans that will explore and encourage each different style and maximize student learning curve. I conduct productive discussions and feedback during class, which do happen at kindergarten level. The students and I talk explicitly about what I am trying to teach them and how that relates to the choices I’ve made in presenting material, creating assignments, and assessment their knowledge. Talking about how assignments are supposed to work and what skills they should develop lead students to be more conscious of their own learning process. Students are then better able to identify their own difficulties with an assignment and suggest solutions. They become active participants in their learning.
In sum, I endeavor to teach each student as an individual, because each will have different needs in reading, writing, and any other subject they will be exposed in elementary school based in their own unique situation. By anticipating their interests and discussing the process of learning with students, I am able to show them their progress and inspire them to discover the wonders of learning new concepts. There is no one right approach for me to take as a teacher, or for them to take as students. Instead, I focus on helping students identify and understand their own particular needs, and to find the best way in which to meet those needs.