My teaching philosophy is a myriad of best practices supported by human learning theories of behaviorism, cognitivism, and constructivism. For example, I adhere to the need to show measurable outcomes which is rooted in behaviorism; an example would be the utilization of measurable objectives (aka SMART goals). Moreover, I use positive reinforcement to enhance learning. On the other hand, I use Vygotsky’s sociocultural learning theory to address misconceptions. For instance, I coined a term called, “smart mistakes.” These type of errors are often based on preconceived rules, such as regular verb formation applied incorrectly to irregular verbs or the application of false cognates to a second language. I strive to recognize the source of the student’s mistake, and then guide them (scaffolding) to the correct response. Personally speaking, students respond favorably to positive remarks, especially with error correction; additionally, peer remediation is a powerful tool which can be staged via cooperative learning.
I adhere to cognitivist’s self-regulated learning. For example, I’m a constant learner myself who reflects on my own understanding of a topic or methodology and seeks ongoing education. My philosophy spills over in my teaching; I believe students learn by applying their knowledge in building their understanding of a subject. Teachers teach best as facilitators, allowing students to demonstrate their skills or knowledge in a student-directed classroom. Students need opportunities to lead class discussions, work on collaborative projects, and evaluate their peers. I acknowledge that the transfer of knowledge isn’t automatic and must be facilitated via coaching (Speck) and other follow-up support, so that it’s sustained.
I believe that adult students are autonomous, goal-oriented, practical, and need respect and motivation (Knowles). I focus on the factors for motivating students to enroll in the course and try to enhance their learning and decrease any barriers. I recognize that learning occurs within each individual at different speeds. I describe how this is natural and not a deficiency in order to reduce anxiety (see Krashen’s affective filter).
I believe learning results from a stimulation of the senses. In some students, one sense is used more than others are for learning or recall (learning preferences). Therefore, I present material and provide various learning platforms that stimulate as many senses as possible, in order to increase my chances of teaching successfully. Additionally, I strive to reduce any barriers for persons with disabilities by providing adaptive technology and/or modifications to material.
I integrate four critical elements into my lesson design: motivation, reinforcement, retention, and transference. Motivation is created when you set a positive tone for the lesson, an appropriate level of concern, and an appropriate level of difficulty. I reinforce their efforts, no matter how small. I ensure they’ve learned the benchmarks and are able to recall (retention) and apply new knowledge (application) to a concept for transfer.
I provide appropriate and timely feedback. I believe students need to practice what they’ve learned. I utilize Bloom et al. (1956) higher order thinking skills in order to interact with students at a deeper level. (I prefer the original Bloom’s taxonomy.) For example, I have students ask their peers questions in small group to improve their understanding via analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. Then students can evaluate each others’ presentations using a rubric and share their feedback.
I recognize that not all learners enjoy or benefit from group work. Consequently, I utilize peer tutoring, which has a strong impact on both the giver and receiver of the instruction. Peer tutoring can occur cross-grade levels, face-to-face (F2F) or online, or within the classroom. For example, Skype in Education is a great two-way learning platform to match learners with peers. Last but not least, teachers can learn from their students!
In summary, my philosophy of teaching adheres to a pragmatic approach, which focuses on the students’ individual needs and expected learning outcomes. Online learning platforms and/or regular classrooms can provide multiple opportunities to address each student’s need appropriately. Students appreciate explicit and timely instruction and correction from a thoughtful teacher. Online learning can be as fulfilling as F2F instruction in the traditional classroom if the instructor appropriately provides authentic learning activities from meaningful content. However, it’s my belief that hybrid classes are most likely the best learning situation to meet the needs of all students due to learning preferences, disabilities, and the innate need for human contact. Please contact me to learn more.
Bloom, B.S. (Ed.), Engelhart, M.D., Furst, E.J., Hill, W.H., & Krathwohl, D.R. (1956). Taxonomy of educational objectives: The classification of educational goals. Handbook 1: Cognitive domain. New York, NY: David McKay.