Teaching Philosophy - 2005/PISD Excellence in Teaching Award
A Teacher Affects Eternity; He can never tell where his influence stops." -Henry Adams
Teaching is more than a profession; it is an art that can be redefined every time I step into a classroom. Henry Adams' quote rings so true to me as a teacher and artist; he defined the very reason I chose teaching as my life. I say life because teaching is a life encompassing profession. Inside and outside the classroom the potential to positively impact a student forever is heightened with every belief, value, and idea that I hold tight.
The major components of my teaching philosophy are mentoring relationships, high expectations of myself and my students, and respect. The reward of being a secondary art teacher is that I work with diverse learners and effectively inspire critical thinking about art. However, to fully meet my own philosophy of education means that I must do more than just teach art, I must model and mentor.
Reading the inspirational book "The Freedom Writers," about a young first year teacher, Erin Gruwell, and a group of struggling students from diverse backgrounds inspired me to take my teaching up a notch. Students need to know that there are caring adults in their lives that honestly care about them and want to have an authentic and mentoring relationship with them. I strive to achieve such a relationship with all my students.
The keys are a strong teacher/student relationships and building a safe, comfortable, classroom community (not just environment) in which students can be authentic about their current educational position learning to want more. Leading 8th grade day, Summer Freshman Orientation, The Warrior Way, Student Council, Art Club, and many of the staff committees I sponsor all encompass my vision of building a more cohesive Williams Community in which students feel they have a place to do more than just exist.
In order to hold such, high expectations I have to remember my own story and then relate to theirs. As a kindergartener I was very lucky to have mother who is the most outstanding teacher I will ever know. She was able to recognize very early on my dyslexia and fought for testing. I was diagnosed with dyslexia in the first grade and attended all my own individual education plan meetings with my parents until I was a senior.
My experiences as a struggling student, as well as my parents’ constant aid showed me that with education there is no limit to what can be accomplished. Students are all individuals and their culture, race, socio-economic background and prior educational experiences play into their personal reality. That reality will determine their feelings and priorities related to education. It is vitally important to be aware of my students' reality in order to help my students exceed their own expectations. With the combination of training in two educational frameworks, The 40 Developmental Assets and Ruby Payne's "Framework of Poverty," I have learned to be very extroverted and accessible to my students.
In order to understand their unique assets, as well as their personal reality it is essential to be respectful and honest. This leads to individual conversations about their lives and beliefs about themselves, their education and their future, in which I am able to give a different perspective and act as a mentor. An individual understanding of my students opens the door too more than just teaching art. Respect leads into the overall concept that every day, in every school, and with every student there are differences. Every time I step into a classroom I have the ability to redefine my teaching style to meet the needs of my students. My philosophy is ever changing with the basic principle that I believe in the students and my ability to teach them.