*I wrote the following way back in ’07 at the end of student teaching. Since school is gearing up to start again soon, I thought we’d go with the education focus for a bit.
Statement of Teaching Philosophy
My teaching philosophy has changed dramatically throughout the course of student teaching. Although I began this semester wide-eyed and naïve, I leave this experience with a heightened sense of humility. One of my freshmen students committed suicide just after her fifteenth birthday, and my priorities as a teacher have changed forever because of this one little girl.
In the past, I’ve entered the classroom with plans for making content relevant to students and engaging them in higher-level thinking. Although these are excellent priorities to have, and I will always make such plans, they should never be the primary focus of any classroom. Students must always come first. I believe it is the teacher’s responsibility to build a unique relationship with each student. Sometimes this occurs with no extra effort. Learning, too, sometimes happens unplanned. Yet, teachers rely on preparation to ensure that learning occurs. Why then, should they leave the single most important element of the classroom to chance? Having a plan for showing students that I care may seem like a waste of time, but I have learned that it is the little things that make the difference in a student’s life. Sometimes this means having an inside joke. Sometimes it means meeting individually with students to make sure they feel confident and comfortable with the class content. Whatever my students need, I will make time to sit down and consider the best way to show each of them that I care.
Trust and familiarity in a student-teacher relationship form the foundation upon which all learning must be built. I am a firm believer in the adage, “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” I will graduate with a degree that attests to my competency level and its superior state to the level of those high school students I will be working for. However, all the documentation in the world will not convince them that I am worthy of their time and attention. They need to know that I care about them and that I want the best for them.
Prior to student teaching, I cared about students. However, I hadn’t made it a conscious priority. I entered the classroom with plans for the day’s agenda, but not for showing that I care. Now, I believe that teachers are heroes. I believe that there are numerous lives changed by every caring teacher, and my plan for the next classroom I enter is to care, and to show that I care.