After much thought, I have come up my statement of teaching philosophy in which I answer questions such as ‘What is a teacher?’ and ‘What do I want students to walk away with?’
What is a teacher?
To teach is to transmit knowledge, know-how, and passion through purposeful relationship. This is possible not just through a teaching method but also through our individual character. A teacher’s responsibility is defined in the New Testament: “in your teaching show integrity, dignity” (Titus 2:7b, ESV). We undeniably teach from who we are; the more honorable a teacher is, the more effective her teaching.
What do I want students to walk away with?
My goal is to provide a framework for meaningful learning so that students, upon leaving my classroom, are better prepared to use English to make an impact in today’s world. I seek to encourage mastery as well as confidence in communication. Also, I expect students to be able to use language in addition to meta-language to discuss the language they know. Finally, I hope to cultivate passion for learning and using the English language.
Inspiration for these objectives comes from my experiences as a student of French. My favorite professor overflowed with a contagious passion for literature. Moreover, he respected us and expected nothing less than our best. As a result, we strove to rise to his expectations of us. My aim is to use this experience as a student to become like the professor I most admire: someone who embodies passion, respect, and great expectations.
How do I achieve these goals in the classroom?
Language is a tool with which I aim to equip my students so they may go on to have meaningful and frequent interactions in English. Because of this, I incorporate a myriad of participative opportunities for students to use language in class. For example, to promote linguistic interactions and relationship-building, I assign group projects. In parallel, I ask students to give individual presentations to stimulate deeper subject knowledge as well as self-confidence. With these activities, I offer constructive feedback to encourage improvement. Furthermore, I appreciate using technology when applicable, as it marks an integral part of our society. I help my students get the most out of class by engaging them personally in activities which revolve around topics relevant to today’s learner.
Additionally, I want student learning to extend beyond the classroom. An idea I am eager to implement is to get students personally involved in their communities. I would ask students to find a volunteer position according to their interests; students would report on how this experience has benefited them linguistically and personally. This will help them appreciate that language is inherently tied to the people who speak it. In this way then, I will not simply teach an isolated language but provide the opportunity for students to use language in context.
How do I measure student learning?
In my classes, I use a variety of formal assessments. Traditional written tests are helpful to assess certain skills but not sufficient as a stand-alone evaluation of the student’s understanding. For this reason, I complement written tests with papers, individual presentations, and debates or group projects to assess knowledge as a whole. When I give students one of these assignments, I also help them understand my expectations by including a criteria-based rubric. This provides students with clear objectives and engages them in learning by putting the end result in their own hands.
How do I relate to my students and colleagues?
As a teacher, I see myself as a servant leader. My job is to respond to the needs of my students, my coworkers, and my administration. For my students, I serve as a guide in their learning, transmitting knowledge I have that can benefit them. I am open to learning from them as well; student feedback provides an opportunity for me to adapt my choice of activities and improve my effectiveness as an instructor. By welcoming learners’ suggestions, I grow immensely as a teacher. Similarly, collaborating with colleagues provides an opportunity to gain new perspective and discover new pedagogies.
For all of these relations, respect is of utmost importance. Everyone longs to – and deserves to – be treated as a person of value. This notion is especially important in English language learning where students are often well-accomplished in their own countries but encounter prejudice because they don’t speak English as well as a native. Fortunately, as a French student in the French-speaking region of Switzerland, my professors have treated me with nothing but respect. This positive immersion experience motivates me to create, as a teacher, an atmosphere where every student’s value is honored.