My personal philosophy of teaching

A teacher writing on a blackboard.Image via Wikipedia

As part of a study I was conducting, I recently had the opportunity to ask a lot of people “What is your personal philosophy of teaching?” As I watched my interview subjects struggle to articulate their thoughts on teaching, I realized that I’d never articulated a coherent statement of my own philosophy of teaching.  This is my attempt.

My philosophy of teaching is grounded in my philosophy of learning.  I believe that learning is the purpose of life. I also believe that most learning comes from experience either direct or vicarious and I know that a lot of meaningful learning occurs with no teacher.  I see the learner’s role as primary and the teacher’s role as secondary.  This isn’t to say that I believe teachers are unimportant.  Without a teacher, most learners struggle.  Having a good teacher around makes learning easier, or at least more efficient.

As a teacher, I feel that it is my responsibility to help students learn from their own experiences and from the experiences of others.  I try to help students learn things that would have been difficult to learn on their own.  Often, this means designing situations that students would not have experienced of their own volition simply because they had no idea what they might learn from the situation or even that such a situation existed.  As a teacher, I am part of their experience, their guide, and because I am part of their experience, they are part of my experience and learning is something we share together.

In practice, this means that I spend most of my time creating semi-controlled situations for my students to explore and very little time lecturing.  I stay prepared to answer questions or provide demonstrations if needed and I try to predict where difficulties will occur so that I can provide resources that will help students overcome obstacles (seemingly) on their own.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]Not all of my students appreciate my approach.  I’ve had student comments that read, “I felt like I was learning on my own,” and “My group taught it to me,” but I can’t remember having anyone say, “I didn’t learn.”


About Kimberly McCollum

I'm a former middle and high school science teacher and current stay at home mom.
This entry was posted in about me, Teaching and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to My personal philosophy of teaching

  1. Andrea says:

    That is great! I love your philosophy of teaching, or should I say your philosophy of learning. I agreed with everything you wrote. The problem is that I am not as articulate as you are. I think that students have been so indoctrinated with the traditional method of teaching that they forget how to learn the fun way. Learning the fun way is learning by doing and by being part of a community of practice. I think you are a hero in my book for not giving in to the traditional ways that make REAL learning an impossible feat. I often feel the same way in my own practice, like I’m fitting the system, a system that stinks! I think a great teacher knows that he or she is not the most important part of the equation, although a very important part. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Andrea, I’m blushing. You are calling me a hero? You’re the one who went to Africa this summer, remember? . . . Anyway, thanks for the compliment. I appreciate it.

  3. Pingback: Goals achieved and set « (No Longer) Alone in a Library

  4. a.d says:

    It was lovely readingbyour philosophy , I found it reflected so much of my own teaching ideas,
    I am a new teacher and trying out every idea I come across to see what fits my class, sometimes I feel I am not doing enough or may be not doing things the right way , I wonder if there is a right way? Its more like finding your own way is’ nt it?
    Thanks for sharing

  5. Sarah says:

    Did you use any academic literature when writing your philosophy? Im at university and have my philosophy but I have been told that you need to be able to back it up with academic literature.

    Really enjoyed reading your philosophy, thank you

    • Kimberly McCollum says:

      @Sarah, I didn’t use any academic literature. For me, this was a personal exercise rather than a formal academic writing task. If I were to write a more academic piece, I would probably end up citing various constructivists; I like John Dewey and have read several of his books.

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