Saturday, February 22, 2014

The 7 Key Areas of My Learning & Teaching Philosophy

Recently, it dawned on me that the last time I wrote about my philosophy on learning and teaching, I had not yet stepped foot in an American high school. In fact, my views at that time were shaped by my work as a high school teaching assistant for two years in France, followed by two years as a teaching assistant in grad school, and, then, as an adjunct faculty member for a little over a year at the local university and technical college. Those experiences provided me with new insights, and have definitely impacted my views, but my philosophy has really been shaped by time spent in the high school classroom. 

It would be interesting to read my first statement, and compare it to my current philosophy, so I’m sure I’ll locate it on an old flash drive at some point. In the meantime, here is an updated look at some of my views on this noble profession. How would your list look if someone asked you to share your philosophy?

1. Learning & Teaching
-Model what it is to be a lifelong learner, and share your passions outside of the content area.
-Make both mistakes and recovery an important and vital part of the discussion, and share specific examples of how this process contributes to growth.
-Keep direct instruction to a minimum.
-Make small group instruction the norm.
-Guide students through their learning rather than talk at them.
-Move around the room. Get on the floor with your learners. Be present.
-Engage learners in collaborative tasks that allow them to problem solve and make decisions.
-Make learning authentic.
-Take risks. Then, share successes and failures with everyone.
-Vary the learning experiences.

2. World Language
-Maximize use of class time for practice in the target language.
-Make culture an everyday part of the learning; not a special, separate lesson.
-Provide learners with authentic learning experiences. In the world language classroom, this means using resources that are created by native speakers for native speakers.
-Connect with language learners in target cultures for purposeful learning experiences.
-Lead trips to target language countries from time to time.

3. Assessment
-Develop assessments that require learners to demonstrate deeper understanding and meet the standards.
-Give students the chance to redo both formative and summative tasks, but require extra practice beforehand.
-Evaluate behavior and learning separately.

4. Relationships
-Model the social skills you want to see in your learners. Positive energy and empathy go a long way.
-Remember that we do not always know what our students’ must face after that last bell of the day.
-Communicate your standards, and stick to what you believe, but be human.
-Find a way to get to know each one of your students.
-Write each student a note to tell him/her that you notice his/her strengths.
-Show parents/guardians that you care about the success of their child.
-Involve parents/guardians in the learning, when possible. Send updates, photos, event recaps, and anything else that is happening in the class.
-Attend events that allow you to see/support your students in their element, whether it be basketball games, piano or dance recitals, or chess tournaments.

5. Student Voice
-Empower your learners to use their voice effectively by sharing examples of constructive criticism.
-Conduct surveys (e.g. quick exit slips or formal course evaluations) on a regular basis.
-Reflect on learner feedback.
-Share thoughts and any plans for change as a result of feedback.
-Show learners that you care about their input.
-Allow students to choose what they’re learning and methods to accomplish tasks.

6. Personalization
-Engage learners in decision-making discussions about their learning.
-Invite students to choose their presentation tool as long as they can produce the end results as defined by the task.
-Give learners opportunities to explore/research topics that interest them personally.
-Choose your own professional learning experiences that allow for a personalized experience.
-Become an active learner by attending more than just required professional development sessions at your school and/or district.

7. Technology
-Use technology to enhance learning. Otherwise, tech-related tasks might be identified as busy work and/or learners will not see the immense value in it.
-Make discussions regarding the digital footprint an everyday occurrence – not a separate lesson.
-Show learners how tech can enrich their lives. 



  1. Very useful for this pre-service French teacher. Merci mille fois.

  2. Je vous en prie! If you haven't already set up an e-portfolio, I recommend that you do so now. It's much less stressful to create it up before you begin the job search.