My teaching mentor has us going through the process of creating a Teaching Philosophy Statement. She asked a series of guiding questions and this is what I came up with… it’s a work in progress and there will be a 2-page summary of it tomorrow. Your feedback is greatly appreciated.

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Preamble

My teaching philosophy is based on a belief that learning is a life-long process of exploration. I believe in providing my students with a safe and caring environment where they are motivated to take risks, as well as, make and learn from mistakes. The grace of inviting mistakes as positive learning opportunities develops empathy towards oneself and others in regards to how our journeys are expressed. This grace also provides encouragement to emphasize learning over mastery as the reward for trying

My core values

  • Experimentation and exploration = problem solving
  • Expression and understanding over technical perfection = effort
  • Form the love of learning over the mastery of the subject = life-long learner
  • Perspective and experience over right and wrong = co-learning
  • Embracing mistakes as positive learning moments = risk taking

Guiding Questions

1 – My curiosity has never been focused on any single subject; it feels boundless and is  expressed with a childlike enthusiasm of endless possibility. This has formed the core of my being a life-long learner. The joy I get in learning new things has helped me develop great relationships, navigate diverse social environments, and feel I have a purpose in the global society. My desire to teach is a desire to share my joy of learning. I believe my goal is to foster a love of learning, which is the initial tool needed to address life’s challenges. 

2 – I believe art education offers the possibility to expand ones perceptions of the world. Building an open-mindedness to possibilities improves our abilities to overcome challenges; it also helps us build empathy towards others in nurturing the acceptance of other perspectives. Art offers a critical perspective of history from the experience of the artist and their audience. These perspectives evolve over time to remind us that how we see things is a factor of our momentary experience; it nurtures the objectivity needed to navigate the experiences of our lives. Art offers a mirror of objectivity valuable to all ages. However, the structure of our schools can provide the safer support to nurture the development of creative and critical thinking skills.

3 – My ultimate goal is to foster a life-long love of learning that will provide a source of self-motivation to overcome challenges. One of the ways I nurture that is to encourage making mistakes as a positive tool for learning. Every expression is a window into the artists experience at the time of making. It is a temporal baseline from which we can reflect and choose what we want to improve upon. Establishing the learning benefits of making mistakes is a pillar for my teaching process. The goal is to explore understanding and learn new skills over mastery. It can encourage students intimidated by fear of failure and mastery-oriented learners to slow-down, reflect, and explore additional strategies in their learning process. 

4 – I believe good teaching provides a safer space for students to explore possibilities and develop a life-long love of learning, as they define it. The teacher is a provider of possibilities and a mentor in exploring them. We lead by example, from a practice of co-learning in the development of understanding. Seeing our students as also teachers models accepting them as valuable individuals; each of them brings unique expressions and novel perspectives for everyone in the learning community to learn from and develop larger understandings of the subjects. 

5 – I’ve read various codes of conduct / ethics over my years in education and business; their essence for me is integrity and caring. Over the last two years I’ve immersed myself in studying concepts that have further expanded my understanding of how I model my own interpretations of inclusivity, diversity, and individuality. The word for these awarenesses is dignity. Practicing the belief that everyone has a right to dignity solidifies my identity as a life-long learner. I start with everyone has something valuable to teach; together, we are co-learners on the journey of learning and understanding.

6 – 

  • Making connections: I feel a sense of belonging and an exchange of love when connecting with others. Art is another mode of making connections and I feel joy, pride, validation, gratitude, etc… when someone appreciates my work. 
  • Materialization of thoughts and expressions of individuality: art allows me to speak without words of things I often don’t know about myself. It opens the discussions leading to a better understanding of self and feelings of connectedness to others.
  • Combining problem solving with a unique personal experience the artist can express their visions of the world they live in: art is an exploration of expression for me: it allows me to work out conscious and unconscious questions. It builds my resilience and problem solving confidence. 
  • Art gives the artists an additional mode of communication for their ideas: it nurtures our inner voice and instincts when we let it. It can offer the viewer an alternate view of themselves and/or insight into the an event, time, and/or the artists themselves.
  • Because art draws from intuition and growing abilities, it offers the artist explorations into self-awareness and expressions of their aspirations and fantasies. 
  • The third competency of art appreciation offers the student increased scaffolding upon which they can anchor their ever-changing understanding of the world they live in. 
  • Creative problem solving provides divergent and transferable skills to deal with developing understanding in other subject areas. 
  • Art’s expressive outlet can provide the self-confidence and self-esteem needed to persevere in other challenges. 
  • The personal expressions expected in art making provide an outlet for discovering and understanding identities, and invite the possibility for greater empathy towards the modes of expression and identities of others. 
  • My first goal would be to offer a safer space for personal expression, nurture the skills to develop those expressions, and reinforce the belief that there is room for all forms of expression. My second goal is to foster empathy, curiosity, and understanding that all expressions have weight in the conversations of life: explorations of self-knowledge and knowledge of others.

7 – Taking points only mildly out of context, the key concepts that jump out at me and still resonate are: active listening, life-long learning, co-learning, and a great desire to share creativity, passions, and curiosity. The world is full of wonders to explore and I my passionate curiosity for learning is how I relate to others; it is how I teach instinctively and with love. Cliche or not, teaching & learning are intertwined in an endless string of “a-ha” moments that bring me joy. That is what I desire to share. 

8 – The core value I’ve experienced and observed from my CT is that she has an unshakable goal of helping every student succeed if they want to. The guiding statement could be as follows: “The only way to fail is to do nothing at all. All effort is rewarded.” I think I hear some form of this in every class I’ve participated in with her, because it is something I’ve said for years in my own teaching practice. My CT explain and re-explains every way possible to succeed; whether it be in taking the time to explain rubrics, competencies, and skill-practice goals. She’s shown me that the need to slow down and seek understanding is imperative, at least at the start of the school year. It has given me another tool in understanding different learning styles and needs: vigilant patience can help build learner resilience too. It also pushed home the need to have multiple work options for the faster students. She’s done it by giving bonus opportunities, in-class time for homework, as well as private review and resubmit options. 

I’m not sure yet how this may practically change my teaching philosophy, but it has reinforced a desire to teach with self-fulfilling prophecy in mind. Teach with a belief that everyone can master the highest skills, but they will all reach that point at different speeds and with different levels of help. Pay attention to your students and act individually. 

One thought on “Building a Teaching Philosophy – Part 1

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