I want to thank my grad school educational philosophy professor, Bill Evans, from way back in the day for teaching me that philosophy is not nearly as antiquated as I initially thought.
However, I will not give any plaudits to my undergrad educational philosophy instructor who spent more time talking about breast pumps and why a student afflicted with Alopecia wore a wig than discussing Vygotsky v. Piaget – absolute nutbar.
Anyway, the below updates and clarifies Andrew’s Philosophy of Education:
I aim to provide my students with an eternal desire to explore, uncover, learn and relate across disciplines to discover their style, work ethic, passion, and personality. This starts with working with my students to forge a social contract that establishes a classroom culture founded on respect, accountability and pride.
Believing that everyone deserves to be treated with dignity, I build a rapport with my students by treating them as such and expecting the same from them. In this pursuit I seek to laud their accomplishments and create an environment where learning is celebrated – one that instills confidence and conveys to them that their opinions are valued in our classroom. This is why I urge them to demand an answer to the question of why they learn what they learn. In my mind, if they ask, they care, so I provide my rationale for why the course material is meaningful to them throughout each unit. Furthermore, I clearly communicate my expectations and disappointments to create a standard they are expected to meet.
Essential questions give structure to units as the lessons provide opportunities for students to examine these questions through textual analysis and their own experiences as a means to interpret, critically assess, and ultimately understand. Group and personal shares, free-writes, creative writing exercises and examination of shorter, related pieces set the tone for a lesson and excite the students for the more complex tasks ahead. A majority of the lessons end with a whip that gives students a chance to reflect and exhibit understanding, which also informs my teaching practices. In the student-centered discussions my lessons promote, I serve as a proctor to steer discussion. For this reason, the ideal classroom set up is a horseshoe where students face one another. With the SMART Board in front of the classroom but my computer in the back, I can sit among the students or walk the aisle, being a part of the classroom community and not the figurative head of it.
I utilize informal assessment measures – free-writes, for example – in addition to formative assessments like contextual sentence component identification quizzes to engage students, monitor their progress, and build their skills for application to the summative assessment. Critical response exercises, including outlining and drafting, further develop competency in essay writing, for example. To support students throughout the writing process, I employ both student and teacher writing workshops, along with myriad graphic organizers, student samples and checklists for drafting, editing and revising.
Finally, I seek to instill a sense of social awareness in my students, so there is a justice component found in my units that requires students to confront complex social issues, such as bigotry. In the 7th grade’s study of To Kill a Mockingbird, the class examines justice for Mayella Ewell, Tom Robinson, and Bob Ewell. Students then assess bigotry in society today – how it is present in their lives and what must be done to deconstruct entrenched beliefs and reimagine a more inclusive and empathetic future. This change, my students come to see, starts with them – the next generation of leaders I seek to prepare for the rigors of tomorrow.