Thursday, February 11, 2016

My Philosophy of Education

I was nominated to be a school finalist for Teacher of the Year.  So, I was asked to write my Philosophy.  I thought about it, and thought about it, and thought about it.  I was really torn between trying to make it sound "right," and writing from the heart.  I went with my heart. I humbly thank my fellow teachers for voting me the 2016-17 Bookman Road E.S. Teacher of the Year.  I work with amazing teachers and I am proud to be among them.  Here is what I wrote:

To me, one of the most amazing feelings in the world is the thrill of discovery.  I don’t know if it is an innate sense that harkens back to early childhood when those first connections are made.  Or, if it is something deeper and more instinctive, carried down from generations that first witnessed the natural wonders of our planet.  What I do know, is that it is the quintessential essence of being a learner, and what better way to spend our days, than being the guide for those on that journey? 
Teaching isn’t easy.  As far as jobs go, it doesn’t come with glamour, fame, or money (usually).  But when I imagine my day without, who from day one undoubtedly become, “my kids,” I know that there is no other job with any greater reward.  The job becomes an adventure and the ride is anything but even.  The ups and downs of the teaching process is as varied as the learners in our classrooms.  We must stretch ourselves into a multitude of roles, woven into a pattern that resembles a dance on a tightrope while juggling plates.  And we must do it in a way that reflects effortless grace.  We must do that because we are the models for these students who are so much more than a number or a test score.  They are our “kids” because we care for them in a way that recognizes the trust that is given to us by the parents that love them as much as we do and know that we will keep them safe and foster those glorious moments of inquiry that lead to discovery.  It isn’t easy.  But I don’t think it’s supposed to be.  Our product is too great.  Our role is too precious. 
Without trust, respect, and community, the most important messages are lost.  No classroom can function without that underlying foundation as the core for successful learning.  Caring for one another is mandatory, personal best is purposefully given, and after those needs are met, the real fun begins.  When students are nurtured and given a voice in the classroom, which becomes their own small world, the bar we set could never possibly be high enough.  After all, we aren’t just educating our kids for right now, we’re educating our kids for their “right now.”  My goal is to encourage them to take ownership of their own educational journey, and set goals that define personal success.  Once they know and see, through technology and real world connections, how their own lives can be enhanced and how great that feeling of discovery can be, I am simply the tour guide on their trip of self-discovery.  That type of passion is something I hope that the atmosphere of our classroom enables, ignites, and allows the walls to come down so that they become their own guides, their own teachers, and their own experts of information. 
The purpose of education is not as simple as the fundamental essentials of pedagogy and the specific information that comes with standardized content.  We teach manners, technology, human relations, conflict resolution, decision making, and so much more.  Our purpose is not to help kids pass a test (although that’s part of it), our purpose is to challenge our kids to make the world better than how they found it.  Within each of them is the potential to cure diseases, invent new technologies, design beautiful art, and so many other passions, just waiting to be discovered.  And my job, in the end, is to tell them that every day.  And mean it. 

Being nominated is an honor and I am humbled by this experience.  Thank you.  

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