Personal Beliefs About Teaching Essay

Excerpt from Essay :


While there is only so much a teacher and a school system can do for a student, the school systems and employees within the same should do all that they can to inform and prepare students for adult life, the workplace and their place in society. There is so much to see in the news and other media that is very discouraging and disheartening. While at least some of that is emblematic of the “if it bleeds, it leads” mentality, there are some practices and ideologies that need to change and evolve. To at least help put education on a better path, the author of this philosophy and plan will focus on several important aspects and ideas. These would include that everyone is worthy of dignity and respect, that our differences are a source of strength and inspiration, that bullying behavior is never acceptable, that all of us need to be informed and prepared when it comes to the world we live in and that society should not be allowed to dictate what people “should” or are “allowed” to do, such as gender role expectations and so forth.

Teaching Philosophy

As was partially indicated in the abstract, there is a lot of emphasis and burden placed on the school system when it comes to what children learn, how they learn it and surmounting the changes that come along while doing all of the above. However, there are some clear limitations and barriers that exist when it comes to teaching students. Some of those barriers are quite firm and they exist for a reason. For example, the public school system is generally barred, and rightly so, from instilling or enforcing any given religion (James & Benson, 2014). That is something that is the duty and right of the parents to do or not do, depending on their beliefs and values. However, some areas are a little more opaque and nebulous. For example, while teachers are generally considered part of the state, they are thus restricted, implicitly or explicitly, from doing certain things. When it comes to students, the lines are a little blurrier, as they are not employees of the school system. That all being said, it is indeed the duty of the school system to teach several important subjects such as English/language, mathematics, civics and so forth. Regardless of the power and rights of the school system, it must be understood that there is influence, good or bad, that is extended to the students when they are outside of the classroom. Whether it is the parents, other family, friends, neighborhood or other things, all those things have a direct and profound influence on what can happen in the class room. This includes whether the parents are engaged and interested in the learning of their children, whether the child is in poverty, whether the child lives in a high-crime area and other social issues such as police interaction, race, ethnicity and so forth. Regardless of the individual circumstances, there needs to be a teacher and administrator focus on maximizing learning and maximizing safety. When it comes to the latter, there is limited latitude. However, if abuse, danger or safety are issues, the school system plays an important part. Even if it just involves a handoff or a notification to the police or social service agencies, there are times where the school should (or must) intervene and assist beyond the normal scope of the teaching environment. Regardless of any of that, the teacher and administrators can control the learning environment. They must do so in the right and proper ways. Even so, doing what is possible when it comes to exterior factors and influence is certainly not irrelevant. Good or bad, it does influence the learning and future of the student.

Philosophy of School & Learning

It was established earlier that there are a few major prongs to the learning philosophy of the author of this summary. There are three prongs in total. Those would be learning the proper things, ensuring that every student is safe and ensuring that every student is on equal footing in terms of status and prominence. Ensuring that the proper things are learned sounds like an easy thing, at least to some people. However, it is not quite as simple as some might think. There can be disagreements about what should be taught. There can also be disagreements about what should be taught about what is chosen. For example, it is common to explain that Christopher Columbus discovered the Americas when he happened upon the Caribbean. However, what is commonly discussed a lot less is what he did to the indigenous people of the Caribbean when he got there, which included enslaving and mistreating them. Even “Founding Fathers” like George Washington are often assailed since he owned slaves during his life. Of course, there is also the “stars and bars” and the debate about Civil War monuments. With all of that, there should be a teacher focus on the events that happened per the historical record. There should be a strong avoidance of wading into the political ramifications and issues involved. Failing to heed this warning will enrage parents once they hear that that their students are being taught something that they disagree with. Even worse is that some of these sorts of accusations are exaggerated and made to be over the top. The author of this plan knows full well that some people are just uncivil and unfair when it comes to ideas and concepts that they disagree with or do not understand. Therefore, having a fully reviewed, approved and logical lesson plan for controversial topics is very important (Lotherington, 2017).

The safety prong was largely explained in the introduction. However, there are some points that should be added to this. One thing that the author of this response knows full well is that teachers and administrators are commonly mandated reporters. Meaning, they are not allowed to disregard evidence of likely or possible abuse when it manifests. At the same time, it is important to not be reactionary and over the top. A bruise or a cut might due parental abuse. It could also be a clumsy mistake on the part of the child. Following best practices and the law is important because compliance with the law should not be optional and the safety of the children should be of paramount importance.

Ensuring equal footing and equality would be typified by not allowing bullying, making sure that students do not feel shy or intimidated for being different and so forth. When it comes to this point, there will be some situations and students where special care does need to be taken. For example, an Arab student who starts school in a mostly white high school is going to be a challenge. This is perfect example of what the author meant by parents and other exterior situations creating problems and challenges in the school system. An elementary-age Arab student would not have been alive when 9/11 happened, for example. However, his parents were certainly alive and so were the parents and family of the other students at the school. That should, obviously, have anything to do with how that hypothetical Arab student is treated. However, to act like it does not or will not happen is naivete. As such, there should be an immediate and swift intervention when any student acts improperly when it comes to that Arab student. Banter related to Hispanics considering the current immigration debate would be another example (Ward, 2017).

Instructional Practice

Translating the ideas from above to the actual practice of teaching is something that is very challenging in some instances. Reasons for this vary including how students learn best, the propensity of students to self-form into cliques and groups, stronger students dominating the interaction with the teacher, shier students keeping away from the same interaction, cultural and/or racial issues and so forth. These happen to be the same issues that the author of this plan will speak about in further detail.

It is known relatively well that different people learn better (or more poorly) depending on the method being used. For example, some people thrive in social/group settings while others are better off on their own, or at least they think so. The way that the author of this plan would address this would be to mix and match the teaching styles that are used as the classes go on. Rather than just standing at a lectern or an overhead and lecturing the class, there will instead be a variety of methods used that all instill the same learning points, lessons and takeaways. When it comes to dominant/passive students, the author will make it a point to get and keep everyone in the class involved. Rather than allowing the boldness or sheepishness of students to dictate who participates more and who does not, the author will instead call on all…

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