Teaching Philosophy

My teaching philosophy, or pedagogy I guess, gets more complicated as time goes on. Some aspects constantly shift, some, though rarely, radically change, and some elements are identical to the original teaching philosophy I typed out (yes typed) as a student teacher years ago at SFU (see below).

The way I feel I should teach also changes from year to year, and sometimes even day to day. It often shifts from student to student and even with the task at hand. I am thankful that with 20+ years of experience have come nuances of strategy ready to use when needed.

My original teaching philosophy created while in PDP at SFU looks like this:

I strongly believe that the student-teacher relationship must be based upon mutual respect and trust. From this statement follows my belief that each child learns in his/her own unique way and that each child’s individuality should be respected, nurtured and cherished. Furthermore, I think that a variety of teaching strategies are needed to maximize each child’s learning within the classroom. Finally, I believe that childrens’ learning needs to be fun, lively and exciting, yet at times it should be quiet, Awe-inspiring and profound.

I believe good pedagogy to be the result of qualities such as dedication, devotion and a love of children. I think good teaching is as rewarding to the teacher as it is empowering for the student. I think that empowerment and life-long learning are the keys we give to children to unlock the mysteries of adulthood. I strongly believe that every child deserves the best education possible, and thus has a right to good teaching. I feel education is the potential, the possibility, the hope of the future.

I’ve decided to change and update this many times over the years, but haven’t yet. Much of it still rings very true to me and I can never decide what to omit in order to add to it and I don’t want to just add as the years go on. I don’t think that’s the point of it. Also, it reminds me of a younger ‘me’, filled with idealistic ideas of teaching. I don’t want to lose that reminder. It seems to ground me.

After several years of teaching I discovered this at the front of my mother’s daybook binder. It speaks to her teaching philosophy, and if you’re wondering about her and her relevance to my teaching, you can read about that here. This was an important piece of her pedagogy:

When we plant a rose in the earth, we notice that it is small, but we do not criticize it as “rootless and stemless”. We treat it as a seed, giving it the water and nourishment required of a seed. When it first shoots up out of the earth, we don’t condemn it as immature and underdeveloped; nor do we criticize the buds for not being open when they appear. we stand in wonder at the process taking place and give the plant the care it needs at each stage of its development, the rose is a rose from the time it is a seed to the time it dies. Within it at all times, it contains it’s whole potential. It seems to be constantly in the process of change; yet at each stage, at each moment, it is perfectly all right as it is.

Timothy Gallweny – The Inner Game of Tennis

And finally, I’d like to add a little quote that I think sums up life in general and teaching in particular. Not sure where this came from or who said it (please let me know if you do) but I quite like it if for no other reason than it’s simplicity:

When I’m green, I grow. When I’m ripe, I rot.

Thanks for reading! Stay green!

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