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Teaching Philosophy

Page history last edited by Jakey Toor 12 years, 2 months ago





"Your life is your art. Every last bit of it."

- Mr. Newell


My goal as an educator:

I think that teachers have an obligation to bring out the best in their students, to create a comfortable and safe environment conducive to the free and open exchange of ideas. My goal is to foster this way of being in my classroom so that my students will in turn go out and foster it in the wider world. For this to be accomplished I think it is important to take a culturally responsive approach to teaching, that is, to create a classroom community in which all ways of thinking and problem solving are shared and valued equally. Doing so helps lay the foundation for a classroom in which mutual respect, wonder, and experimentation can flourish.


Seeing students as individuals:

Seeing students as individuals that come from unique cultural backgrounds, from unique sets of circumstance, with unique goals and visions, is a prerequisite to effective learning and teaching. Facilitating students ability to relate whatever it is they are learning to their own experience and then develop a means by which to express that knowledge, and to express themselves, is paramount. It is important to me that students discover who that Self is - Where has it come from? Where is it now? Where is it going? Why it is going? What is it comprised of? These are important questions that, when answered, will enable students to gain a robust understanding of their identity and potential.


Technology in the classroom:

Technology is important. It has the potential to significantly better a teacher's quality of instruction and meet the needs of individuals who learn in different ways. I have experimented with wiki's, classroom discussion boards, individual student blogs, and collaborative student blogs, noticing that when these tools are in use, I tend to become less of a dispenser of information. Instead, the students and myself are able to co-created on-line communities where we gather and share information about the class, our expectations, our goals, and personal connections that we are making to the course material. Tools like these provide more opportunities for sharing, feedback, reflection, and revision, as well as enable students to represent knowledge in more contemporary, unique, and meaningful ways. As society becomes more and more technologically advanced, enabling all students to become not only familiarized with technology but technologically savvy, will help them to express themselves in a prominent medium and meet the ever-growing technological demands of the labor market.


That one teacher that makes you go hmmmmmm....

There was one teacher in particular that had an extreme impact on my life. He cultivated my love of art and literature, and nurtured my curiosity about the different ways people learn and create meaning. He also instilled in me the habit of constant introspection and reflection. He was my eleventh grade English and Theory of Knowledge teacher, Mr. Newell. Sitting in his classroom on the first day of class I saw a handwritten quote on the wall from Plato, reading "Knowledge which is acquired under compulsion obtains no hold on the mind." Hmmmmmmmmmm..... Up until this point in my educational career I was not a particularly engaged student. That's why I was so taken aback by the fact that I found myself entirely absorbed in his class. I actually looked forward to dissect and discuss texts from some of the greatest authors that ever lived. To tackle the questions of Epistemology, asking "How do we know what we know?" and  "Why do we think we know it?" was thrilling for me. So I asked myself "why am I so interested and engaged in these classes, with this particular teacher?" I realized it was not only the topics in class that I found intriguing but the teacher himself. He had an undeniable charisma about him and had found the delicate balance between heart and head, rigor and compassion. This manifested itself in his classroom. He knew when to speak and when to listen. He was always prepared and in-tune with his students. Instead of talking at us, he talked with us. He facilitated discussions, hinting at, alluding to, and gently guiding us towards our own conclusions. He taught us how to think critically and live honestly, not in theory but by example. Just before I graduated high-school I understood the quote on the wall. Mr. Newell did not teach us under compulsion. He lit a fire in us and made us want to teach ourselves. I visited him shortly after I graduated and contributed a quote of my own to the wall: "A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops." It is his positive attitude, patience, nurturing, and willingness to listen that I strive to emulate as an educator in the classroom and person in the wider world.


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