Drafting my teaching philosophy

They asked me to prepare a brief statement, about 300 words, explaining my teaching philosophy. They’ll hang it, along with my picture, by the door where the students and parents come in. No one will read it. Most can’t. But it’s a statement of who I am.

So let’s consider this. What is my teaching philosophy?

When school directors interviewed me before I moved to Korea, I told them I think in general the hardest part about learning a language is getting over the fear to try, try, try every, single day. I told them I’m a fan of interactive activities, calling everything a game to keep everyone involved.

When I’m chatting with coworkers over dinner on Tuesday night, the idealist dies. I turn into an instructor, not a teacher, one who just wants everyone to shut up. Is it ever justified to duct tape kids to the wall, at least once as an example?

When I’m in the classroom, I’m somewhere in the middle.

  • I think making clear rules and following through with the consequences builds respect. But I also know¬†bringing candy or a Nerf gun or showing YouTube clips of Tony Hawk go a long way too.
  • I think most kids are afraid to make mistakes, especially in front of their friends. But I also know some kids think mistakes are cool or funny or a way to get attention.
  • I think students should be treated fairly, whether they’re the best student or the worst student. But I also know that each class is different, each kid is different, and so the way I interact with each of them should be different too.
  • I think the reason most parents pay for me to teach their children is so the kids will get better scores in school. But I also know scores in school, even if they improve living conditions, don’t necessarily affect how much students get out of life, or how much they contribute to it.
  • I think a teacher’s job is to teach students¬†how to learn the material, not just to teach the material. But I also know the real job is inspiring students, helping them find an answer to Why so they care about the answer to How.
  • I think language rules are important. But I also know the funnest part is breaking them to communicate better.

But what do I know, really? What’s it matter what I think? I’m a teacher, the biggest learner of them all.

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