My Teaching Philosophy

My teaching philosophy is a myriad of research-based best practices drawing from the main human learning paradigms of behaviorism and cognitivism with constructivism as a subset of cognitivism. For example, I use measurable objectives to show student achievement, which is rooted in behaviorism. However, it’s limited in explaining how learning occurs in the brain.  Therefore, I use a multi-theoretical approach to teaching. For instance, I recognize Vygotsky’s (1978) sociocultural learning theory, which promotes social learning and posits that it occurs prior to cognitive development.

Teachers teach best as facilitators by allowing students to demonstrate their skills or knowledge in a student-directed classroom. Students learn by applying their knowledge to build an understanding of a subject. I recognize students’ prior knowledge in my lesson planning. For example, I use Gagné’s (1985) nine events of instruction as a lesson framework, which includes tapping into a learner’s previous knowledge on a topic in order to assess their level of understanding and whether any modifications to the lesson are needed.

To interact in a meaningful way with the content of study, students need opportunities to demonstrate their academic growth, learn from their peers, and go beyond surface learning.  Recommended activities include to lead class discussions, work on collaborative projects, and peer evaluation to engender a community of inquiry that is inclusive of social presence and cognitive presence.  I utilize Bloom et al. (1956) higher order thinking skills in my learning objectives in order for students to learn at a deeper level (I prefer their original taxonomy). For example, I have students ask their peers questions in small group to improve their understanding via analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.

Learning occurs within each individual at different speeds (Knowles, 1984; Ormrod, 2012). I explain to students that this is natural and not a deficiency. My intent is to reduce the affective filter in the learning environment (e.g., anxiety, mood, or stress). Research indicates that an environment devoid of affective factors causes a mildly positive mood; this is called a positivity offset (Cacioppo & Gardner, 1999).

Learning results from a stimulation of the senses. In some students, one sense is used more than others are for learning or recall (I recognize learning preferences but not learning styles). Therefore, I vary instructional material and provide various learning platforms for multimodal instruction that stimulates as many senses as possible 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 in a timely manner. This is done with a lens towards universal design to enhance all students’ learning experiences.

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 by providing appropriate and timely feedback. Transference of knowledge isn’t automatic and must be facilitated via coaching (Speck, 1996) and other follow-up support, so that it’s sustained.

I strive to recognize the source of the students’ mistakes and then guide them (scaffolding) to the correct response, which is often a part of their prior knowledge and misconceptions. I use the term ‘smart mistakes’ with my students to refer to errors based on preconceived rules such as regular verb formation in English applied incorrectly to irregular verbs or the application of false cognates to a second language. Another instructional method to address misconceptions is peer remediation, which can be staged via cooperative learning. Peer tutoring has a strong impact on both the giver and receiver of the instruction in terms of student achievement and student satisfaction. It can occur via cross-grade levels, within grade or ability level by pairing students with different experiences, or pairing of high/low ability students.

Online learning can be as fulfilling as F2F instruction in the traditional classroom if the instructor appropriately provides authentic learning activities from meaningful content in interactive ways. However, I believe 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.

In closing, I’m a pragmatist who draws from best practices in a multi-theoretical approach to learning. This means that I’m practical about what works best for which situation and for whom. I use technology to enhance my teaching and draw insight and inspiration from a robust personal learning network of experts on Twitter that I curate entitled, The Online Educator. I believe it’s important to continually evolve as an educator in order to address the ever-changing learner, learning environment, and types of information to be learned.

Sandra Rogers, PhD

Pre-K, Kindergarten, First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, Twelfth, Higher Education, Adult Education, Homeschooler, Staff, Not Grade Specific - TeachersPayTeachers.com

References

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.

Cacioppo, J. T.,  & Gardner, W. L. (1999). Emotion. Annual Review of Psychology, 50, 191-415. doi:  10.1146/annurev.psych.50.1.191

Gagné, R. M. (1985). The conditions of learning. New York, NY: Holt, Rinehart, & Winston.

Knowles, M. S. (1984). Andragogy in action. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Ormrod, J. E. (2012). Human learning (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Merrill Prentice Hall.

Speck, M. (1996). Best practices for educational development for sustained educational change. ERS Spectrum, 14(2), 33-41.

Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

8 thoughts on “My Teaching Philosophy”

  1. I stumbled upon the blog when you wrote about Instructional Development recently . As one of the first IDers (1977) in the field and now a retired prof, I have enjoyed reading your thoughts.

    I would encourage you to revisit the Bloom figure though. The use of the verbs, tied to Bloom level, is misleading–though commonly done. The critical part of an objective is the condition statement–that is what shifts the Bloom level. For example, I could ask you to LIST three reasons why leaning failed in a situation. If you were testing on the topic as you presented it in lecture–then you are at the Knowledge level as they would be repeating what was covered in the classroom case. If you give a previously unencountered learning experience and ask the test taker to LIST the three reasons learning failed, then you are going to be above Knowledge. Which level above knowledge will be dependent on the previous learning experience.

    In passing, I might add there is a New Bloom; but I find Dave Merrill’s work more prescriptive for the classroom.

    Like

  2. I was intrigued by the part about students bringing different “senses” (and to different degrees) to the learning process, and how you respond by deliberately trying to “hit” as many senses as possible to maximize your chances of successfully communicating with your students.

    You certainly have a very well thought out philosophy! Wishing you all the best.

    Like

    1. Hi Mark, Thanks for your positive feedback. I actually put a lot of thought into my teaching philosophy. In fact, I recently updated it as I applied new information from an educational psychology grad class I took over the summer. I’m honored to have you visit my blog. I really like the illustrations you do.

      Like

Thanks for visiting my blog! Please leave a message.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s