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Saturday, June 29, 2013

My Evolving Educational Philosophy

What guts and confidence does it take to open ourselves up and expose our most personal views and insights for all the world to see. Education demands that we peer inside ourselves, first, and plan for learning, second. As teachers, self-assessment of what we truly hold important and that which we frame all programming and delivery decisions needs to be authentic, timely and specific; indeed, if it is to evoke needed re-tooling, re-framing and re-imaging exactly why it was that we stepped forward as our generation's "teachers."
Here is my journey so far. For me, my own education, classroom teacher experiences, professional development and life experiences have all culminated into what I can now confirm is an ever-changing journey of my own life and learning.  
THE BEGINNING: THROUGH A "TRADITIONAL" TEACHER LENS (2001)
(TEACHER'S COLLEGE)
Through my experiences as a student, I have developed an insatiable thirst for knowledge that can only grow through my future experiences as a teacher. My best teachers shared an ability to carry themselves and the material in a certain way directly to their students. I cannot wait to join the 'club' of teachers. I foresee myself placing an emphasis on critical thinking, especially on key world issues, so that my students will be able to 'decode' today's world into terms that relate to themselves and their experiences. I cannot wait to be given the opportunity to directly facilitate personal intellectual growth in the classroom through lessons, films, activities and exercises. I feel that today is an exciting time to be a teacher as resources such as the internet and personal computers have become key partners in the learning process.

THE MIDDLE: THROUGH A LEADERSHIP LENS (2010)
My Philosophy of Educational Leadership
Values and Guiding Principles
Education needs leadership. It craves direction and begs for insight. Teachers need to feel that they matter and are part of a bigger picture in the lives of their students. Without strong educational leadership, no teacher can teach to their true potential. Leaders find purpose and value in any action; whether it is a positive or negative experience. Visionary leadership is the ability to make connections that are not even there yet, and to offer possibilities that no one has thought of. However, it is the social connections that leaders make with their educational teams and staff that cultivates the audience for your school ambitions and goals as a leader.

My own personal philosophy of education is that people, intrinsically, want to better themselves. Learning and interacting are two important ways to accomplish this, and both are available through the vehicle of education.
The classroom environment is as important to a student as a home to a family member. Within these walls, students must feel safe, appreciated and welcome. Whether through the seating plan, wall posters or classroom routines; your decisions must consistently demonstrate fairness - not necessarily equality. The same is true for a staff. Fairness must emanate from your choices and actions. Your decisions must be transparent and predictable, that is how teachers become comfortable with your vision for the school and its direction as it pertains to their daily work.

Effects of my Philosophy on my Interactions
My educational philosophy guides and influences the majority of what I do and say. It is through my beliefs towards education that I foster positive relationships with colleagues and community, in an attempt to get closer to the promised land of self-fulfillment and attainment of my personal goals. Functioning as a valuable team member on a school staff is only possible through the use of the same differentiation instruction techniques we use when instructing students. Depending on the person we speak to, it is important to change our tone, change our words, or even to change our overall approach to the conversation. Our methods of reaching students are the same. No one style can reach all learners. No one approach can be successful with all colleagues.

Contemporary Issues/Theories in Education
I think that, as teachers, we find ourselves in interesting times. The current educational system in this province – and even beyond our provincial boundaries – is in disarray. Funding formulas seem unsustainable. Student enrollment is declining. Data-driven goals are placing heightened pressures on administrators and teachers alike. Caught in the middle of a technological revolution, schools find themselves on the outside looking in when it comes to reaching students and motivating learners. Many teachers are learning how to implement new technologies and incorporate fresh ideas in their classroom practice, but curriculum constraints and increasing accountability to a vocal (and aware) public inhibit true change in many teachers today.

Whole shifts in the way we approach learning in a 21st century school are needed. Previous ideologies and values are being eroded and compromised by a student population that has been raised to believe, “that which they do not like, they re-write.” Online social media and web 2.0 tools have placed new perspectives on learning and the sharing of knowledge. Raising digital citizenship in our classrooms and surviving this educational crisis is only achieved through visionary and bold leadership decisions.

My Motivation to Become an Educational Leader
I want to be at the forefront of this exciting educational transition. Possibilities and perspectives emerging in academic and social discussions offer truly unique ideas in the organization and administration of schools. Having experiences as an overseas teacher, French teacher, Special Education teacher, and Junior/Intermediate teacher, have equipped me with a fused view of teaching from many different perspectives. Through my involvement with the Federation (as a collective bargaining rep and steward), I have been able to experience first-hand the overriding principles of our collective agreement and regulations and the practice of their implementation at the school level. This administrative step is the next phase of my educational journey in being a part of the new process of reaching 21st century students and teachers. It is only through direct involvement in these matters that I will satisfy my ambitions and pedagogy in the field of education.
THE NOW - THROUGH A SELF-DIRECTED/INQUIRY-BASED LEARNING LENS (JUNE 2013)
My Philosophy of Education
Students are the key. Whether it is designed authentic, learning experiences based on student need and interest; or engaging in purposeful conversations to uncover who they are and what they hold important – we need to know our audience.
Through inquiry-based learning, collaborative planning, feedback and sharing sessions, we are able to create the conditions for learning that will raise student engagement and improve student achievement.
Redefining teaching practice and constructing student-centered learning requires bold reflection and brave risk-taking. We need to expose ourselves as the life-long learners we truly are. We need to put our practice on display for ourselves and others to experience, discuss and reflect upon – if we are actually going to make the necessary changes to meet the needs of an ever-changing world.
The keys to facilitating learning for today’s students rests on our own ability to treat the daily experience as a work in progress and not a well-rehearsed presentation that we have perfected over the years.

If you want to join in the conversation of your own evolving educational philosophy and how you can make sense of it, use #engagedinmyed on Twitter. Thanks, Neil!

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