Photo Credit: Jasen Miller via Flickr; CCL 2013
I have opened a can of worms.
Yesterday I wrote a review of Teachers Pay Teachers and said that I would be back today to help you clarify your teaching philosophy. It sounded like such a good idea at the time; a short, sweet little post I could slip into my editorial calendar.
I have hardly stopped thinking about it since. Eighteen years of teaching experience, graduate classes, reading, and professional development are spinning through my head. (Not to mention my childhood memories of school!)
We could spend weeks on this, you know.
So, here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to take our time.
There are so many things to consider when refining one’s teaching philosophy: past teaching and learning experiences, current research, educational theory, etc. And it’s all important. It’s all good stuff.
In fact, walking into your classroom every day with a crystal-clear philosophy that guides your teaching might just be one of the most important steps you can take to increase your effectiveness.
I also suspect that many of us need a philosophical tune-up. For some, it has been years since we really sat down and had a good long ponder about our beliefs regarding teaching and learning and how they intersect with our practice. We have been pulled in one direction by new curriculum standards and pushed in another by changes in school culture. We have been swayed by “cute” ideas and limited by suspect curricular adoptions. We have added “this” and quit doing “that” and when you really think about it, some of our daily practices just don’t add up. Truth is, we’ve collected a lot of educational clutter.
It’s time to deep-clean our philosophical closets.
I know this isn’t a sexy idea. A recurring series on teaching philosophy sounds as exciting as reading through the Common Core Standards. (Not very!)
Most people visit this blog for art ideas or book reviews or quick inspiration. And that’s OK because I love sharing those kinds of posts and will continue to do so!
But I think this topic is important. Really important.
Our teaching philosophy is our compass. It’s the North Star shining on our true path amid the changing landscape of educational fads and “hot” trends. If you have a sound philosophy in your back pocket, you will be able to navigate pedagogical “forks in the road” effortlessly. You will wisely select the lessons and tools that fit into your philosophical toolbox no matter what new textbook adoption may come!
So here’s what we’ll do. Once a week (or so) I will post an article in this series. Stick with me through this process and you’ll emerge with a leaner, laser-focused educational philosophy. Nothing like starting the new year with a good cleaning project! To quote Martha, “It’s a good thing!”
PS- I’m doing a cool lesson tomorrow with my son’s class on painting skin tones with watercolor paints. I’ll take photos and post it ASAP. I think it will help you “stretch” the way you use watercolor paints with your students!