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11 Pages, Grade: 1
1.1 Personal Background and Educational Influences
2.1 Purpose of Education
3.1 Role of the Teacher
4.1 Theoretical Views
4.2 Pedro Noguera
4.3 John Dewey
5.1 Pedagogical Views
6.1 Teaching Strategies
6.3 Whole Language Instruction
7.1 Learning Theories
7.2 Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences
7.3 Vygotsky’s Sociocultural Theory of Cognitive Development
8.1 Views of the Student
8.2 Holistic Teaching Practices
9.1 Future of Arts Education
There is a constant battle going on within me, deciding what I like better: being a student or a teacher. While, to date, all I truly know is how to be a student, the few opportunities I have had teaching have filled me with a sense of accomplishment and pride far beyond anything I have experienced in my life. Nevertheless, I am constantly wondering, what am I going to do with my life when I am not longer in school? With the exception of one semester between high school and University, I have consistently been in school from the time I was 3 years old, and upon graduating this program I will (most likely) have been in school for 21 years. I have a cousin who lives in Northern Canada, and she is working on her second masters degree; mom calls her a “forever student”. When my mother says this, however, she says it with a sense of indifference, and even, possibly, distaste towards my cousin, perhaps believing that she should move on to a steady career by now. While I do not wish to speak ill of my mother (I love her more than anything) I simply wished to point out the idea that a majority of society has when it comes to higher education: yes of course a degree is important but at some point, you need to settle down and get a job! So, then, what does this mean to me? Well, hopefully, one day I will be working towards getting my doctorate degree in one thing or another - but as for my career goals - my teaching goals - I realized that there does not have to be such a great divide between student and teacher. What is a teacher, if not a person who wishes to learn everything they can in order to show their students learning is a life long thing? Life long learning, which has become the apex - the very theme behind my teaching philosophy - is something I very enthusiastically stand behind and wish to impart upon my students, one day.
To begin, I wish to speak a bit about my history in education, and some influences that have made me the person and teacher I am today. I went to an incredibly small Catholic elementary school from kindergarden until 8th grade, where I was with the same 20 people until I graduated. I was at the top of my class - valedictorian - and received many academic, extra-curricular and religious awards. I loved school, and I loved learning - but more than any of that, I loved to dance. I began dancing at the age of 3, when my mother thought it would be a great outlet for my excess energy. When I was 11, I began to compete in tap and jazz, and truly started to take dance seriously. In fifth grade, my teacher - Ms. Perkins - put together a school play and cast me as one of the leads. The character I played - a rambunctious, enthusiastic and dancing fool named Brooke - showcased some of my dance talents, and it was then she suggested that I looked into one of the Regional Arts high schools that existed near us. This was a dream come true - being able to dance as part of my every day school curriculum? I trained hard and was accepted into Mayfield Secondary School in the Dance program, where academics were taken just as seriously as participation in the arts. Naturally, after high school I chose to continue my dance education and received a degree in contemporary dance from Concordia Universitiy (with Associates equivalents in education and english literature).
There have been so many influential experiences upon my teaching philosophy, and I wish to share them all here. Instead of writing about each of them, I have prepared a list, with a brief blurb next to the person or moment that has inspired me. Hopefully this will spark your imagination and create questions, which I would love to talk more about in person!
- Ms. P (Mrs. T), Grade 5
- Ms. B, Grade 10 English/Grade 12 Studies in Literature
- M M, University Professor (various)
- D W, Studies in Canadian Literature Professor
- Ms. C, Elementary School Librarian
- Ms. S, Grade 9 English
- S P-R, University Professor (various)
- L C
- K. H, B. H, F. H, G. L, I. L, B. L
- K P
- M B
- St. Mary / Ghetto Brampton
- Mayfield Secondary School
- Newfoundland School
- Student Strike, 2013
- Student Success Mentor Program
- Owen & Adam
- Summercamp Interactive Learning Adventure
- Acceptance (moving, taking the leap)
- dance first, think later; this is the natural order
I have always been fascinated by learning. Every single day, I try to learn something new - whenever I am presented with an opportunity to expand my knowledge I jump on the chance. When I meet someone with knowledge in a subject I am not incredibly familiar with I sit back and bask in their knowledge, soaking in as much as I can and sparking exciting new pathways in myself that I explore as my life moves forward. I spoke previously about the about the people in my life that I believe inspired me to continue learning and the situations which happened that caused me to become a life long learner. What I cannot pinpoint, however, is a specific, singular moment or persona that opened my eyes to learning - is being a lifelong learner something you are born with? Is it supported by the environment? Inspired by others? While I have no definitive answer in this regard, what I do believe is that educators have a responsibility to coax this feeling out of all of their students, using the environment you create and the behaviors you exhibit.
The purpose of education, then, is to instill a deep passion within your students to continue striving for more knowledge and excellence. Is it realistic to think that every single one of my students will go on to love learning as much as I do? No, definitely not. It is realistic, however, for me to expect that every student I come across will, at one point, be inspired by my passion and moved by my motivational techniques, causing them to want to know something rather than be required to know everything. To me, education is not a program designed to fill every person with the same knowledge on every subject: education is a medium which allows students to explore subjects and create deep, personal connections which inspire them to learn more.
Although I touched upon this subject briefly in the previous section, I wish to expand my previous beliefs on what, exactly, the role of a teacher is within the education system. In this age of internet culture and instant knowledge/gratification, where does a teacher fit in? What can a teacher offer that computers and search engines do not (aside from human interaction, body language, social skills and verbal communication, of course)? Personally, I believe a teachers job is not simply to convey information and evaluate progress; teachers model ethical behavior, outline personal and progressive expectations and offer affirmation for students personal and scholarly pursuits.
A classroom is, in essence, an intricate ‘ecosystem’ within itself. Each person has a role, each interaction has an outcome, each activity has a direct and indirect consequence upon one another. The teacher has long been regarded as the overruling body of this system, however I believe the teacher is more of a guiding voice. Not a ‘boss’, but a coach. Not an all knowing entity but a role model for what they know, and what they do not. Do I believe that teachers sometimes need to take on the role of the leader in order to extract discipline? Absolutely. The power, however, I believe exists on more of a horizontal axis. The ‘leader’ shifts between the students and the teachers, and the knowledge is shared between them all.
Pedro Noguera is the Peter L. Agnew Professor of Education at New York University. Dr. Noguera is a sociologist whose scholarship and research focuses on the ways in which schools are influenced by social and economic conditions, as well as by demographic trends in local, regional and global contexts. Noguera did an exceptional TED talk that I had the pleasure of walking, where he discussed the importance of changing what we think about education in order to progress the education system into the future. Noguera spoke about the importance of allowing teachers to have a say in what we need to do in order to survive, stating that “we live in a country where those who know the least about education have the most to say, and those who know the most have the least say” (TED Talks). What inspires me the most about Dr. Noguera is his ability to captivate and audience and truly show everyone why it is important for educators to be passionate about what they believe in. I believe that there are issues in education which desperately need to be addressed, however policy makers are going about ‘fixing’ these problems using strategies that, simply, are not working. How do we fix this? Noguera says it best: “if you ask different questions, you come up with different answers” (TED talks). Every class should include these sort of lateral/creative/outside the box thinking ideas. Challenge what you know and challenge what you don’t yet know.
I first came across the philosophy and school of John Dewey in an undergraduate philosophy of education class - and I was seriously intrigued. Regardless of whether I align with his school principles (although, I have to say on the most part - I do), I believe his philosophical viewpoints are so poignant and position themselves with my own nearly identically. To begin, I completely agree that how we teach our students is far more important that what we are teaching, for even the most important of lessons will not be retained if the student does not attend class or pay attention (Sternberg 442). We need to not only facilitate lessons in interesting and captivating ways, but using methods that best represent the subject matter and abilities of the students we are educating. Similarly, I highly agree with his “inquiry method” of teaching, where we educate students on how to ask questions and, moreover, how to ask them properly (Sternberg, 456). I believe highly in the idea that students should be able to question what educator’s are saying, in order to fully understand what is being learnt and, more importantly, to create their own opinions on the subject.
I align myself highly with the constructivist approach to teaching and learning, due mainly to the active learning and collaboration approaches that prevalent within this style. Much like holistic approaches to teaching, constructivist theory promotes real life learning and worldly experiences that are easier for students to create meaning from. Through these activities, which are designed to have goals and specific methods for enquiry, the constructivist approach to education creates several important goals that students will be able to achieve. Students will be able to accept complexity within their work, learn through social interaction, present context within the value of several other contexts, use psychological principles to structure teaching and recognize meaningful learning experiences (Sternberg 449-450).
These ideas are specific items I address in the classroom, my style of teaching and learning, important pedagogical practices and goals I wish to achieve through my students. As an educator, I have always believed in the importance of creating lessons which include lectures, activities and multi-media components. I am a firm supporter of holistic approaches to learning and therefore my lessons are generally centered around subjects which are interesting, well known and important to my students. This is an age of technology, and I pride myself on my knowledge of new and exciting devices, technologies, social media networks and trends that are popular among 18-30 year olds. I have participated in lectures which employed technological direct response strategies (such as live tweeting lessons, online polls, and interactive chat rooms). These technologies, in my opinion, allowed students to express their thoughts in a more meaningful way, and allowed for discussions to happen organically.
To me, establishing rapport between myself and my students is a very important part of creating a holistic and life long learning educational environment. Although this idea can sometimes be classified under ‘management’ skills more than ‘teaching’ skills, I truly believe that there is a need for constant and conscious tuning of oneself to achieve proper rapport. Rapport is group oriented mutual respect and inclusion of all, and is achievable in three easy steps: begin with good intentions, promote equality, and foster trust. Creating a good rapport, and respectful environment can help students take pride in their scholarship, and help them to move towards being wholly functioning, life long learners.
Whole Language Instruction is a process derived from language instruction and english as a second language classes, where the learners are taught not only the direct meaning of a word, but implications, social meanings, context and origins. This strategy, when applied to any concept, can help students become fully engaged in what they are learning, retain information for longer periods of time, and become truly aware of what they are learning. Whole language instruction lessons promote not just the knowledge of a concept or subject, but full understanding (not just what, - why? When? Where? And, sometimes, who?). This theory, which is derived from constructivist approached to education and supported by holistic learning practices (Bornengen), allows the student to make meaning from what they are learning, and derive conceptual and contextual knowledge about the subject as a whole. I believe in all areas of education - including the arts - knowledge of why you are doing what you are doing, is just as important as what you are doing and how you are doing it.
As an arts educator, it will come as no surprise that I emphasize creativity as an important part of my lessons. Not only does creative practice promote unique ways to seek answers (and, thus, create a learning environment not just for the student, but for the educator as well), but creativity is incredibly important for teachers designing lessons and implementing lesson plans. Creative thought and creative process fosters spontaneity, creates new ways of thinking, allows all to learn (including me!). In order to properly facilitate creativity and accept it into lesson plans, however, I believe it is incredibly important for educators to promote an environment which revolves around the idea that there are no wrong or stupid answers. Each individual point and answer should be explored, included, and accepted. Although this is a bit of a pipe dream, and I am aware that sometimes, answers are wrong - keeping this mood during the class will continue to allow students to be themselves and not be afraid to share what they are thinking. Honestly, it all boils back to rapport, and mutual respect.
I have two particular evaluation tools that I choose to implement over all other types, and those are rubrics and portfolios. I enjoy using rubrics not only as an outline for my students to follow when putting together activities and to know what is expected of them, but to leave room for creativity and growth in a project without them worrying about what sort of specific things I am looking for. Alongside self evaluations, I use rubrics to try and understand why and how a student came to the conclusion they arrived at, and to see if the concepts that I wanted them to cover were included within the project or assignment itself. As for portfolios, I believe there is real merit in seeing how your work progresses over a period of time. Keeping everything you do in one place marks student progression and allows me to evaluate each student based upon their own individual growth, and not compared to one another (which aligns more with the holistic approach to education). Furthermore, keeping all work in one place is a great way to stay organized and easily access any materials that may be useful in real world situations (like job interviews or school applications).
I highly believe in the theory of multiple intelligences, as it makes much more sense to me than the IQ theory. I think there are so many people who may score low on traditional IQ tests, but have incredible skills in areas which are not directly related to those tests. The nine intelligences (linguistic, logical-mathematical, spatial, musical, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalist (Sternberg, 166)) allow for an educator to understand why it is that a student may struggle to understand information when presented in a certain way, and help the student place it in a way which is easier to grasp.
Once again, as it lines up with a holistic approach to education, I enjoy Vygotsky’s theory as it requires taking in knowledge/skills from observed social contexts. Social interaction and development of knowledge using real world applications creates, in itself, many opportunities for interactions and development to exist. What I agree with most, however, is the concept of a Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD), where you can easily track what a student knows, what they are working on, and what sort of concepts are unaware to them at this time. This is a great way to measure if the use of scaffolding is working for a particular student, and to stimulate more cognitive development by interacting with the material in new ways (Sternberg, 51).
I have spoken excessively about the use of holistic teaching practices throughout the paper, and so I will try my best not to repeat many concepts I have already stated. Personally, a holistic practice is education in a relevant setting and environment, with strong connections to real world goals and current events. Being responsive to the individuality of my students, I wish to create lessons which are meaningful to each class and not direct reproductions of the previous years work. Relationships are incredibly important practices in fostering new knowledge, and helps the relevance of learning and life long learning practices to exist (Forbes). This style includes whole brain learning practices, cooperative learning activities, emotional literacy, meta-cognition (meta-anything is, I believe, an incredible way to spark new questions for many students!) and takes into account various and multiple learning styles. Holistic education is not just a practice, it is a lifestyle and a state of mind, and I am fully integrated into it.
To me, in order to ensure a future for Arts Education, arts educators need to start promoting the merit and inherent value that studying that arts has in society. Combine the camps which believe in arts integration into curriculum and teaching arts for arts sake in order to gain interest in the subject area and gain a following so large that administrators and policy makers have no choice but to listen to what we have to say. Use mentorships, communitiy outreach programs and heightened presence of arts educators on a widespread scale to achieve these goals; things are not going to change unless we all take a stand. I am beginning to be more active in the arts community, and I wish to be a voice for the importance of and integration of arts education in all levels of schooling. Creating increased visibility in upper education and administration will help our cause move forward and gain the ground we need. Art is the future. Don’t let anyone forget that.
Overall, the main concepts that I align myself with in my pedagogic practices are holistic approaches to education while fostering life long learners out of each of my students. While I understand completely that not every student I come across will develop a passion for the subject as I have, I hope that my passion ignites a spark in the student to find what they love and learn all there is to know about that subject. I am a firm believer that everyone can learn anything if they truly wish to, but also that forcing people to learn things they are not inherently interested in can have opposite and adverse effects. In this world surrounded by technology, embracing the sort of tools my students will be using can help to make me more relatable and also present information in ways that the students may be drawn to. I wish to teach for the rest of my life, and I wish to learn for the rest of my life. There is no better occupation in the world.
Bornengen, Monica. "What Is the "Whole Language" Approach to Teaching Reading?" Reading Horizons, 23 Sept. 2010. Web. 03 Dec. 2013.
Darder, Antonia. "What Is Critical Pedagogy?"21st Century Schools. 21st Century Schools, 04 Oct. 2012. Web. 03 Dec. 2013.
Forbes, Scott. "Holistic Education for Teachers: "FAQs""Holistic Education for Teachers: "FAQs" Holistic Education, Inc., 2003. Web. 17 Dec. 2013.
FHI 360. "Children (3 to 22)."NHCHCY. National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities, Sept. 2010. Web. 17 Dec. 2013.
Sternberg, Robert J., and Wendy M. Williams. Educational Psychology. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 2002. Print.
TED Talks. (Producer). (2012, July 05). Pedro Noguera: Are we failing our students? [Print Photo].
US, DOE. "Welcome to the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs’ (OSEP’s) IDEA Website."IDEA - Building The Legacy of IDEA 2004. US Department of Education, 18 Mar. 2013. Web. 03 Dec. 2013.
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