My Philosophy of Education

Mary Kuchta

South Dakota State University

Teaching Philosophy Statement

Learning and Teaching Theory

Education is the backbone to our ever changing world. It is my desire as an educator to help students meet their fullest potential by inspiring them to achieve their goals and helping them to foster their curiosity in order to become lifelong learners. As a math teacher, I realize the importance of concept building and therefore my method of teaching is based on the constructivist learning theory. I believe that students need to be active participants in problem-solving and critical thinking activities that are relevant to them. They learn by constructing their own understanding through applying and building on prior knowledge. I believe when students take ownership of their learning, they are more motivated to continue learning. I understand the importance of providing students with a variety of opportunities to explore and foster their own learning.

I believe students learn best when they possess curiosity and are motivated to explore that curiosity. Learning is a process that continuously evolves. It is the process of actively taking previous knowledge and connecting it to new concepts. Learning cannot occur if the students are not actively involved and don’t take ownership of their own learning. To teach is to motivate and guide students to take ownership of their own learning and help them to achieve their goals. I believe the job of a teacher is not just to be a presenter of knowledge, but rather a facilitator in the classroom who and helps students grow and develop in their own learning process.

I believe there are many conditions which affect how students learn. The environment that I provide for the students is vital to their learning experience. I believe in holding high expectations and having open communication with students. I must provide a comfortable and rigorous environment where students have the opportunity to work together and not be afraid of making mistakes. Students must realize that making mistakes is part of the learning process. I believe in using a variety of instructional strategies that allow the students the freedom to explore their ideas and challenge their thinking. As a teacher, I view my role as being a coach and facilitator of learning. I must provide and guide the students to think independently and continue to search for solutions to problems that arise. I must help the students to be their own self-advocates, realize what they do know, and build on that knowledge to enhance their learning experience.

Guiding Principles

I am an educator because I want to make a positive impact in the life of others. I believe that whatever one decides to do in life, there needs to be purpose and no matter how difficult things become, one has to persevere and work through the problems that occur. Every day when I walk into the classroom I have the opportunity to positively impact the life of students and teach them about the world around them. As a math teacher, I can also teach them about how math is all around them in their everyday lives. I believe in fostering their curiosity of how the world works. Math can provide many explanations of why something is the way it is, but it can be a very challenging and frustrating subject to understand. Many times students want to give up on the problems before they are solved. I want to teach students how to persevere through not only the challenges of a difficult math problem, but also through everyday life. I can teach them to become problem solvers and investigate how the world works.

I believe that every student is born to succeed and when I walk into a classroom, I give the students all of my effort. I never give up on students. I want my students to understand that I am always there to help them and I am always willing to try numerous strategies that will help them to learn. I believe that my students need to see that I care and that I respect who they are. I don’t judge them and I encourage them to continue even when the problems are difficult. I want students to learn how to problem solve and never give up when things become difficult. I want the students to realize that they can accomplish more than they ever thought possible if they work hard and never give up.

I believe in lifelong learning. Teaching math is very rewarding for me, but if I don’t continue to learn and grow as a teacher then I would no longer be serving the students. Graduation is not the end of my learning, but rather just the beginning. In order to grow professionally I will continue to research various learning and teaching strategies along with increasing my understanding of mathematics. Wherever my career takes me, I know that learning is in my future. To teach is to learn. If the learning stops, then the teaching stops.

Teaching Methods

As a teacher, I believe students need to be provided with a variety of teaching strategies in order to meet the different learning styles students possess and motivate students to become active in their own learning. In my classroom, I have an array of diversity and skills. Every student is important and can bring valuable knowledge to the class. I believe in providing students with a student-centered environment. To promote the development of problem-solving skills, my teaching includes collaborative groups where students work together to solve application problems. I provide students with the opportunities of group projects, individual practice time, interactive lectures, and class discussions. I also provide the students with the opportunity to take on the role of a teacher and teach other students what they know and understand about certain topics. Students need to build on previous knowledge and many times students need to be given the opportunities to talk though very challenging problems. Students do not develop a deep understanding of the material if they are passive learners. They need to be involved in their learning and be given the opportunity to become experts. These teaching strategies allow the students to become problem solvers and help them learn from each other.

I believe that assessment is just as important as the teaching strategies a teacher uses. I believe that an assessment is designed to have a purpose and show what the students know. I use a variety of assessments in my classroom. I provide students with the opportunities of project-based assignments, daily homework assignments, weekly quizzes and tests, and daily formative assessments. I don’t believe in giving homework just to give students busy work. Homework is designed for students to practice, master, and review the content. I try to assign a mixture of new concepts and review questions. The goal of assigning review question is that the students will be able to make the connections between previous knowledge and current knowledge. I believe in giving students frequent quizzes or tests to determine any misconceptions that need to be addressed before we move on to other concepts. Also, I assign application problems because they help build problem-solving skills. These assessments provide me with an idea of what the students know and if my teaching is effective.

I believe in order to be an effective teacher I have to refine strategies through reflection and feedback. I need to adapt my teaching to the changing world around me. I must continue to become more knowledgeable of the content that I teach and grow as a mathematician and incorporate a variety of teaching strategies to accommodate the different learning styles of my students. I will continue to communicate with my students and try to establish a safe and positive environment filled with high expectations. Teaching is about the students, and I want to continue to help students reach their maximum potential and become lifelong learners.