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Personal Educational Philosophy

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Introduction

The famous American industrialist Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can or whether you think you can't - you're right.” This aphorism has become my motto. If a person really wants to do something, he or she will always be able to achieve great results. I have made my decision, and I am on my way to its realization. I have always loved spending time with children. When I was a teenager, I sometimes had to come to the kindergarten to take my cousin home. I used to spend some time there playing with children when a teacher did not mind.

I soon noticed that I was not the only one being fond of spending time there; other children were also looking forward to my arrival. That was when I first thought about becoming a teacher. Even though that decision seemed spontaneous, I do not think I have made a wrong choice. I think that my personal qualities and beliefs make me a good teacher. The most important thing about being a pedagogue, in my opinion, is the ability to love children. Many people state that they are able to love their own children only and that they feel indifferent towards those of others. It has never been the same for me. Regarding my personal qualities, I believe that the most important ones for my job are being communicative, calm, and determined. Everything else that a teacher needs can be achieved by self-education and hard work.

Among other qualities of mine that can be useful for my job, I would like to distinguish imagination, adaptability, and patience. Imagination is important if a teacher wants to create interesting ways of learning. Adaptability is useful because there is always a necessity to change lesson plans according to students’ needs. Moreover, a pedagogue can never manage without patience because working with a group of children always leads to certain behavior problems.

It is important for every teacher to develop an educational philosophy. It determines certain sides of his or her behavior. For example, let us compare a teacher who thinks that it is important that students do not get ready information only but learn to work actively in order to reorganize their ideas, with a pedagogue who just transmits his or her ideas to the students. These beliefs will influence the behavior of a teacher in the classroom, and, naturally, the results will be totally different. In the first case, a teacher will probably help children generate new ideas, practice skills, and learn effectively, while in the second case, students will have small chances of building their own learning experience, improving their weak sides, and creating a subjectively new knowledge. Consequently, students will transform into what a teacher wants them to become. If a pedagogue understands the curriculum peculiarities and sets goals according to children’s real abilities, he/she will achieve more.

Beliefs about Learners and Teachers

Regarding students, I believe that the best thing ever invented for their effective learning is the individual approach. I described the advantages of differentiation briefly in the previous paragraph. I would like to add that, if every learner gets attention, his/her learning becomes personalized. For example, a teacher cannot work the same way with children who have different temperament types. A choleric person would rather catch information quickly and start practicing at once even if it is going to lead to making many mistakes. A phlegmatic will spend more time and efforts to learn something and thus will practice better. These differences must be kept in mind if a teacher is going to make the whole class work well.

An ideal learner for me is the one who is determined, cooperative, and independent. I will explain my opinion. Determination is vital because no real studying is possible without a will. It is impossible to make a student work until he/she really wants it. Being cooperative and independent is also necessary. Children do not work alone; they need to know how to interact with classmates without losing their own opinion in the dialogue.

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Kolb (1999) distinguishes four typical student’s learning styles based on what they prefer in the learning process: active experimentation, concrete experience, reflective observation, or abstract conceptualization. For an ideal learning process, a teacher should use all of these approaches. I believe that their unity is the best way to create new experience.

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I think that the role or a key responsibility of learners is to get involved in the process and to work hard. There are other issues that are important as well, such as discipline, respecting teacher and classmates, and doing best in teamwork. My friend observed an interesting example during her practice at an elementary school. There was a child who was very clever for his age. He knew more and had better skills than his classmates, and, probably because of that, he felt special and did what he wanted to do. There were certain problems with his behavior. He could start walking around the classroom, making noise, and distracting his classmates. Moreover, even in his calm periods, he was never able to work in a group.

This example proves the necessity of paying attention to all the responsibilities of children and not only to their development. Regarding teachers, I think that their main role, aside from lessons planning, is to make students notice interesting things around them. I do not mean the environment only, but also exciting aspects in disciplines. Other responsibilities of teachers are closely connected with those of learners. A teacher must be a model of behavior for his/her children. He or she is responsible for laying the foundations of the character and personal qualities of the children.

Beliefs about Classroom Management, Curriculum, and Instruction

Classroom environment has a large influence on the educational process. To create the environment that is favorable for learning, it is necessary to organize a psychological comfort for children. To achieve it, an educator can use physical tools like classroom decorations and music, but the most important is the friendly atmosphere and emotional contact. They can be supported by personal greetings, having an eye contact, humor, and positive behavior. I would like to create such relationships between a teacher and students, which are based on partnership and mutual respect for each other. It is not as easy as it seems to be. I remember the only teacher from my school that made us feel important. She treated all the children extremely well, and everybody felt that she really cared about their opinion. We felt equal even though we were not, and that made us respect her more.

Many approaches can be used to manage student behavior. I generally agree with the idea of Glasser (1998), who proves that students must participate in classroom law making, in creating rules and principles. That gives them a possibility to feel their own space, and they will bear responsibility for not breaking the established rules. I assume that it is necessary to make rules in the beginning of cooperation with children. They need to know the consequences of their possible actions. Therefore, if they break the rules, a teacher should always do as she said she would do. Moreover, one should not undervalue praise and encouragement in his/her work. A teacher must be able to find positive examples of behavior and praise students for that. It is good if a teacher mentions names of students: it makes them feel more pleased, and they would like to repeat the experience.

There are different points of view on the curriculum. Some believe it to be the unity of subjects that children have to learn with the help of teachers. I think that there is more than that. I believe it to be a unity of experiences that learners get during the educational process. I prefer Taba’s (1962) model of curriculum development that defines certain steps: analyzing expectations of learners and society, setting learning aims, selecting and organizing the content, selecting learning experience and its organization, and selecting evaluation ways. Following these steps will lead to having the well-organized curriculum.

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To achieve best results, I will use the combination of verbal, illustrative, and practical methods of teaching. Among verbal methods, the biggest attention must be paid to explanation and interview. Illustrative methods are represented mostly by observations and demonstrations. Practical methods usually have the best use and include exercises and experiments.

It is good to involve parents into the educational process. I share the opinion that parents are the best teachers. They know the abilities and peculiarities of their own child better than anybody else, and there is a mutual benefit in the coordination of the efforts of teacher and parents: parents help teacher find an individual approach to their child, and a teacher highlights strong and weak sides of their child’s learning.

Core Values and Guiding Educational Philosophy

Being a teacher, I believe that my purpose is to help students become well-developed, intellectual, and self-organized members of society. To achieve that, my everyday work will be aimed at forming student’s experience, regulating their behavior, and promoting the harmonious development of all the sides of their personalities.

Four philosophies that have served as the cornerstones of education in the U.S. are perennialism, essentialism, progressivism, and reconstructionism. From what has been discusses earlier in this essay, it must have already been concluded that I am the supporter of educational progressivism. I believe that the most important thing for a student is to create his/her own experience, so the principle of learning by doing is very close to my notion of the learning process. This philosophy is also aimed at making children think critically and participate in cooperative projects (Hayes, 2006).

All of this gives them a possibility to get knowledge about the world from their own experience but not from the given ideas. I think the philosophy, which is most contrary to my ideas, is the educational essentialism, where students have to get a ready knowledge, learn basic facts which can be useless for real life. I have seen many students who graduated from school with the baggage of knowledge and skills and could not apply this knowledge simply because they did not make it their own. The main task of the educational system, in my opinion, is to teach students how to think and how to work. If they are able to do that, they will be able to get the knowledge that they need by themselves.

Conclusion

To sum up, I would like to assume that I fit my job well since I love working with learners and can involve them in exploring the fascinating world around them. I would like to help them create their own experience and develop personal qualities.

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