Philosophy of Education
I believe that education is an individual, unique experience for every student who enters a classroom. In order for children to benefit from what schools offer, I think that teachers must fully understand the importance of their job. First, I believe that teachers must consider teaching to be a lifestyle, not a mere forty-hour-a-week job, because a teacher's goals for his/her students encompass much more than relaying out-of-context facts to passive students. As professionals entrusted with the education of young minds, teachers must facilitate learning and growth academically, personally, and ethically. By providing a quality education to each individual in one's classroom, a teacher equips children with the tools necessary for success in life.
In order to accomplish these lofty goals, I think it is important first to establish a mutually respectful, honest rapport with students — a relationship in which communication is of the highest priority. Through this relationship, a fair, democratic environment based on trust and caring can be established in the classroom, making it possible to interact confidently and safely in an academic setting. Once this foundation is established, the educator has already accomplished a major goal: the ethical characteristics of equality; open, honest communication; and trust have been emphasized and put into practice without having to preach to students. Demonstrating these ethically correct behaviors in the classroom and expecting students to model them prepares them for adult interaction and survival in the future.
Academic learning must begin with motivation and inspiration. Students deserve an educator's passion for both the subject at hand and learning as a whole. Teaching and learning become a simultaneous journey for both the teacher and students when students' energy is aroused by a teacher's genuine intensity for learning, because everyone is ready and willing to participate in active learning. To achieve active learning, a teacher must demonstrate enthusiasm and express confidence in the students' abilities to learn and be successful. Employing constructivist methods of teaching in one's classroom forces students to take an active role in their education by making choices and assuming responsibility for intelligent inquiry and discovery. For instance, discussions, projects, and experiments ensure student achievement and allow students and the teacher to discover individual student's preferences and strengths. This approach facilitates differentiated activities for each student's distinctive ambitions, making the subject more relevant to every student's life.
Personal growth is accomplished when a teacher adopts a mentoring role. Displaying warmth and compassion shows students that teachers love them and are empathic, feeling human beings. One-on-one mentoring involves personal conversations about goals, and taking time to share ideas and experiences. To be a mentor to every student, a teacher must project positivity, exhibit flexibility and confidence, set high expectations for oneself, and demonstrate fairness and consistency. In doing so, students can see appropriate adult behaviors first-hand and begin to emulate them as they mature.
I believe that all children have the ability to learn and the right to a quality education. All youths, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, and capabilities should have the opportunity to learn from professional, well-informed teachers who are sophisticated and knowledgeable, both in their area of expertise and life. Certainly, every child has different learning styles and aptitudes; however, by having a personal relationship with every student, a teacher can give each an equal chance of success. By recognizing every student's potential and having separate, individual goals for each, a teacher can accommodate personal needs and abilities and encourage the pursuit of academic aspirations.
I think that teaching and learning are a reciprocal processes. When teachers nurture individual talents in each child, educators can build self-esteem and may encourage a lifelong skill. By supporting these special abilities, teachers can, for example, guide students' research, and students can, in turn, enlighten teachers about subjects in which they may not be as knowledgebale. This mutual respect for individual skills cultivates a professional academic relationship, leading to a give-and-take educational alliance. This liaison allows students to feel that they are on equal intellectual ground with their teachers, thus creating a strong academic atmosphere.
In addition to having a reciprocal relationship with one's students, it is vitally important for teachers to form partnerships with fellow educators. Solid communication among teachers will promote the sharing of ideas and methods and provide a network of support. By working as an educational team, teachers will continue to develop their craft and give the best education possible to their students.
In choosing to become a teacher, I have made the commitment to myself and my future students to be the best academic, personal, and ethical role model I can be. It is my goal to have a mutually enriching teaching career by keeping an open mind and continually communicating with my peers and students. I am prepared to rise to the challenges of teaching in the 21st century, and I promise to try to provide an honest, well-rounded education to every student I encounter.
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You will be required to submit an up-to-date philosophy with your student teaching application; many districts require applicants to submit a philosophy along with other material. Your philosophy is a statement of PERSONAL beliefs and how these will be put into action in your classroom - the philosophy is not a theoretical essay on education but an action plan for you. It is often used by administrators to judge whether the applicant is the "kind of person that I would want in my school or teaching my children.:
Note that your philosophy will change as you mature in the profession and gain additional experiences; it is sometimes a good idea to save copies of your earlier philosophies and compare them to your current philosophy to more clearly understand how your approach to education changes. As you develop your philosophy, some of the items you may wish to address include:
the purpose of education
the role of the student in education
the role of the teacher in education
the role of the teacher in the community
You may wish to approach the development of your philosophy by considering the following
Why do you want to Teach?
What is the purpose of education?
What is your role as an educator?
Whom are you going to Teach?
Specifically, how will you reach the wide diversity of children that you will have in your classroom?
How do you define your community of learners?
How and What are going to Teach?
What are your beliefs about how children learn?
How will these beliefs impact your teaching? for example ....
How do you balance the needs of individual learners with the needs of the entire class
What are your goals for your students?
Where are you going to Teach?
How will you bring a global awareness into your classroom?
What will be your relationship with the community, parents, teaching colleagues, administration?
As you write your philosophy, keep the following in your thoughts:
Your educational philosophy reflects your own approach to education; this philosophy should be based on your personal beliefs, which in turn should show an influence of college work, readings, and thinkers. Consequently, when appropriate, "drop names" in your philosophy. For example, "As Erikson, I believe that children go through a series of mini-crisis as they mature and it will be part of my task is to assist young people in making these transitions." However, be sure you understand the philosophy of the person being quoted since you may be asked questions about it at an interview.
Appropriate grammar is mandatory; among other things, be careful with the following:
Watch agreement - for example, "The student should do all of their work."
Be sure to write using COMPLETE sentences.
Use only one idea for each paragraph and be sure to provide a transition between paragraphs. Use topic sentences.
Be aware of you change voice in the paper, i.e., "As teachers, we should treat the parents with respect; they need to understand that parents must be part of the solution." or "It is important for everyone to ... thus you should not be critical of ..."
Alternate the use of "she" and "he" to avoid the clumsy phrasing or "she or he".
The following are some of the things that you can address in your philosophy
use of cooperative learning
A philosophy does not have a cover page; be sure your name and title is on the first page of your philosophy.
You cannot write an educational philosophy in one paragraph!
Your educational philosophy should have an introduction and a conclusion; your conclusion should provide a "logical" ending to your philosophy.
Avoid using the same phrase over and over in your philosophy. For example, avoid using the word "teacher" several times in the same paragraph or near each other - check your thesaurus for alternative choices of words.
Your philosophy should be positive. While there may well be problems with our educational system, a prospective employer does not really want to hear how bad things are - s/he is interested in what you are going to do to make the classroom experience a better one of the students. You are writing a personal philosophy, not a critique of the educational system.
Avoid the use of jargon. If you do use "educational jargon", explain how you are going to impact the student. For example, rather than writing "I strongly belief in inclusion." write "I believe that inclusion is a key ingredient in the makeup of the classroom and I will support inclusion through practices such as using alternative assessments and preparing lessons which appeal to different learning styles."
Your philosophy, along with your letter of interest, are among the first things a prospective employer will see. The appearance of these documents is important. Your word processor may have some pre-formatted documents, such as resumes) that you can use as a starting point.
Under no circumstances, should you mail anything (except personal letters of reference) that is not prepared on a word processor or typewriter.
Avoid the use of different fonts on a page; use the most "readable" font available - you may have to experiment a bit to get the possible font - remember, what looks good on a screen may look different when printed.
Use a font that is easy to read and of an appropriate size - avoid any fonts under 12 cpi.
Avoid broad generalizations - while you may want to say "I believe that all children can learn" - the statement is relatively meaningless without examples of how you will put that into action.
Avoid overly complex sentences, vague or which offer sweeping generalizations.
Your philosophy should be POSITIVE - we know there are problems in education - we do not want to read about those in your own philosophy - rather we want to read how you will make a difference!
Use some of the information in in your book, i.e., from the section on philosophies, to include in your own philosophy.
Some suggestions on word usage:
"I believe..." is more forceful than, "My belief is ..."
Instead of "Education should ..." or "I will try ..." be more positive and use "I believe that ..." or "I will ..."
Avoid the use of "I hope..." or "Hopefully ..." for something more positive, such as "I will ..."
Rather than writing "In school students should experience ...." use "In my classroom, students will experience ..."
Instead of writing "Teachers will ... " use "I will ..."
Have someone review your philosophy for accuracy and eye catching appearance.
If you are looking for some good websites that also offer information about writing your philosophies, several good ones are suggested:
In terms of appearance, there are several factors to keep in mind. Thanks to Bill Baber, a list of suggestions is offered for you:
- don't use more than 3 font styles per page, as it makes the content harder to read
- do use serif fonts (like Times New Roman) if the font is small (10 point or smaller) - although anything 10 or smaller should be avoided.
- non-serif fonts (like Arial) are fine for normal- to large-size fonts (11 point or larger)
- Interesting historical tidbit - fonts are measured in "picas". Traditional fonts originally measured 72 picas to the inch; thus one character at a font size of 72 should measure one inch. Theoretically, six characters in a 12-point font should equal one inch, but this is not always the case with more modern fonts.
- when thinking through a page layout, make your style consistent throughout the document (i.e., don't left-justify some things and right-justify others)
- when creating documents with page numbers on opposite sides (such as folded handouts or booklets), always print a mock-up and actually fold it BEFORE you send it to a printer
- -use the Character Map feature for European or other foreign characters (such as em dashes, German/Scandinavian umlauts, French accents, etc.)
- be careful choosing colors - high-contrast is best (black on white background for text, though light fonts on a dark background works well for headings or sidebars). Avoid using bright backgrounds or fonts (except briefly for signs), as this quickly tires the eye.
- be careful when you use full-justification (both left and right). Long words tend to throw off the sense of balance and can create large spaces that detract from one's reading. However, you can overcome this by playing around with actual font manipulation (in Word, choose Format, Font, then Character spacing - try it).
- get the text on paper BEFORE you format it (write, edit, then format just before you print)
- finally, less is more (aim for clarity above all)
For additional information, download the PDF file, How to Write a Statement of Teaching Philosophy which appeared in the Chronicle of Higher Education.