Teaching Philosophy Statement and Goals
“The Triangle of Teaching”
When considering my philosophy toward education I reflect on several thoughts and strategies, but in the end I’ve come up with what I call the “Triangle of Teaching,” which consists of three main ideas; Teamwork, Communication, and Positive Reinforcement. I feel these three concepts overlap, and they relate to most ideas that I focus on, in and out of the classroom. I’ve come to these specific strategies by reflecting on my past experiences with teaching students, and as a student myself.
When considering educators who have modeled great instructional styles I immediately think of three teachers that I have had the pleasure of studying under. One was an art teacher in elementary school, one was a history professor in junior college, and the final one was a special education professor in graduate school. The common thread was that they all contained a tremendous amount of knowledge content pertaining to their field and to life in general. They all had individual strengths, which included foresight and compassion for their students. My art teacher had the ability to communicate and involve my parents in a way that affected me into adulthood. I feel that a teacher may have a tremendous amount of knowledge, but without a positive approach and proper communication skills there is a gap in conveying that knowledge into learning experiences. My history professor in junior college was one of the first instructors that showed me that passion for a subject was infectious, and his way of chronicling tales went well beyond just lecturing. Another of my most influential instructors has an ideological list concerning students with special needs that I also relate to my philosophy. They include items such as thinking of the student as a child first, focusing on what they can do rather than cannot, and looking at how students communicate. My experience is that with a positive approach, good communication and a team oriented approach I will accomplish these values.
This leads me to the influences upon my teaching philosophy from the students I have taught, their families, and the staff I have worked with. Once again I feel that a successful teacher and classroom must include a team oriented approach based on clear communication and positive supports. I feel that when I approach my classroom I consider communication with my students, but I also with their families and the school staff. This implements overall teamwork then we can work together to reach our common goal, which is the success of the student. In a similar way I need to include students into the equation when consideration my “team.” I realize I need to be a leader in the classroom, which sometimes means making tough decisions or being resolute, but I need the cooperation and communication of everyone to reach our goal. Students are always communicating with us, whether it is by external behaviors or by not speaking. I need to be aware of how others are communicating with me, and how I am relating with them. This brings me to using positive reinforcement, and how it influences all areas of our lives. I realize that an important part of collaborating with a team is using a constructive approach, so that when I need cooperation or support we have laid the foundation that we can rely on, which is essential when using a team oriented approach in special education. I realize that even the most calm and compassionate teacher gets frustrated, but it is how we react in these situations that define how we will be viewed by our team and whether we will grow from those experiences.
Teaching is one of the most important jobs, if not the most important job, that has ever existed. This is a primary reason I decided to become a teacher because I knew it was vital and essential. The importance of this vocation has instilled in me the passion and enthusiasm to enter into the pedagogical field, and this is even more evident in special education where there are so many opportunities to have a positive effect on children. This experience has demonstrated to me that learning is a lifelong goal whether you are in school or not, and I need to remember that when working with children. My father was one of the smartest and wisest people I ever knew, yet when he was a teenager it was necessary for him to quit high school to help support his family. One of his focal points for me was to attend school, even if I was uncertain what I wanted to do, but his point was to get the formal education he never received. This had a profound affect on how I perceived education, and it wasn’t a coincidence that I applied to a teaching program just after his passing. He also said, “I don’t care what you do, but just find something that you enjoy,” and this lends to my belief in teaching with an affirmative attitude because we have to believe in what we do and enjoy it. My father didn’t care how much money I made or what field I chose, but he knew after spending 30 years in a factory that there had to be conciliation between working to live and living to work. My family’s history has been a influence on my teaching style, and it has led me to focusing my the three philosophies in my teaching triangle because I need to be aware of where my students are coming from and what they and their families are dealing with on a daily basis. It will not always be easy in the classroom, but I believe that with compassion, belief in our team, and the proper strategies that I can make a difference. This is my philosophy and this is my hope.