From Stating my philosophy to Identifying the Questions that Guide Me

New teachers have been asked for generations to identify our own personal philosophy on education in order to guide our teaching and inform our decisionmaking.  Now that I am reentering the teaching proffession after years as a parent I have evolved from making statements to asking questions.  I feel like questions are more forgiving to change, more flexible by nature, and lead to more questions, and perhaps more answers than statements can allow.

I used to say:

  • I want to create a safe environment for learning.
  • I intend to meet the needs of different learners.
  • I will teach children using the arts to build bridges.
  • I will make learning fun.
  • I will plan interdisciplinary units of study.
This year I revisit my philosophy in the form of questions that guide me, because as each day passess, with each child I meet or each book I read, I bring new answers to the table.  I do the best I can with what I know right now and that will never be the same from one minute, day, week, or year to the next.  My philosophy should reflect that and be reflected in the questions I choose to ask:
  • How do I meet the needs of a range of students and teach them to move themselves forward?
  • How do I create an environment that reduces or at least equalizes the stress that learning situations can create for some kids?
  • How do I talk to children in a way that models and encourages respect, thinking, growth, and movement toward independence?
  • What questions can I ask all of my students so that each child, regardless of skill level, can see, hear, feel, and model what it means to be a "thinker"?
  • How do I find and use childrens' strengths to navigate rough terrain (ie. the hard stuff)?
  • How do I change the mindset of children, families, coworkers and myself to a mindset of success for all our children?
  • How can the questions I ask myself and my students create an atmosphere that maximizes growth and potential?  What are those questions?  How do they work?  Where do I apply them?
This is just the beginning really, a work in progress.

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