Generally speaking, there are three main components in my personal philosophy of education, a nurturing pedagogy , a focus on evidence-based practices and engagement through authenticity.
Education is dependent not just on hard work, but on the motivation and support that come from working within a safe and caring environment. Setting challenging goals and working towards self-efficacy lead to academic success when the fear of failure is minimized by a nurturing teacher. Part of caring for students means setting high, but attainable expectations for their success and breaking down the steps to achievement along the way.
Keeping track of success or failure of interventions, looking for patterns in behaviour and finding problematic triggers were all part of my educational experience as a science student. Measuring progress is necessary because accountability and progress are paramount. That is not to say that “evidence” of success or failure of a particular teaching strategy should only include results from standardized annual assessments, but rather that monitoring efforts to re-shape and support various student goals should be well thought-out, recorded and reviewed to evaluate next steps.
Engagement Through Authenticity
Direct engagement in class is not only the most interesting way for students to learn, but it also minimizes disruptive behaviours or classroom management issues that arise from boredom. In my experience, students generally enjoy learning when the subject matter is interesting to them. Students also tend to enjoy the process even more when what they are learning something that seems to also have a real world purpose. Learning about students’ interests, preferences and challenges enables teachers to tailor the learning experience in a meaningful way. Linking student interests to tasks that do not feel contrived, repetitive or monotonous keeps students active in their own learning.
Pratt, D.D. (Forthcoming). “Good teaching: One size fits all?”, An Up-date on Teaching Theory, Jovita Ross-Gordon (Ed.), San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, Publishers.
Anderson, A.R., Christenson, S.L., Lehr, C.A. (2004). “School Completion and Student Engagement: Information and Strategies for Educators,” National Association of School Psychologists, Bethseda, MD, S2, 65-68.