August 9, 1999
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An educational philosophy includes not only terms, concepts, beliefs, approaches, and thoughts, but how they are all inter-related and applied to the central point of education, the student.
The first step to developing a pathway to educate is to build a rapport with each student. Many educators approach this in many ways; however, mutual respect is the atmosphere in which I prefer to build rapport. "Icebreakers" work very well for this purpose. For example, the teacher could have each student say their name and something out of the ordinary about themselves. The next student would then do the same, but reiterating what the student before them had stated. By the end of this activity everyone pretty much know each others name. Since students have been proven to feel more comfortable with things that are known, knowing details about their teacher and their peers in the classroom will make them more receptive and at ease in the environment. Along with building rapport and mutual respect, is trust. Being open and honest with your students is the most effective, efficient way to gain these qualities within the group of students. Through the process stated the class will understand the teacherís desire to respect their needs, wants, and desire and will hopefully reciprocate this towards the teacher.
Once this pathway of interaction is open, it is imperative that the teacher be able to utilize well -constructed lesson plans using various teaching styles to adapt to every studentís learning style. For example, students may be impulsive or reflective learners, auditory or kinesthetic learners, and experiential versus abstraction based learners.
As a teacher, there are three major roles that tend to be utilized: teacher, facilitator, and leader. The teacher role imparts the information to the class. The facilitator motivates the class, briefs them beforehand, and initiates reflection and analyzation afterwards. The leader role handles classroom management and serves as a role model. These role tend to overlap, for example, from the students perspective, the teacher is always a role model regardless of other roles which are being used at the moment.
As an educator, one of the most important skills to understand is the art of classroom management. The model that works best for me is the behaviorist model based on findings by Skinner. When utilized correctly by a trained educator, this method works quite well. This method is beneficial to the classroom because it can be applied quickly, works well to obtain desired behaviors, and encourages students through reinforcement of desired behavior. Removal and presentation punishments are used only when rewards and reinforcements of positive and negative reinforcements have not been successful.
However, within this structure I feel it is important to let the students establish their own rules for the class. This is the method of establishing rules that I believe works best. Students tend to govern themselves quite well in this situation. However, when this does not work completely effectively, the above stated model by Skinner works very effectively. Additionally, they also set-up the model for distribution of positive and negative reinforcement as well as punishments. When a student disobeys an established class rule, corrective measure should be used to guide the student towards the desired behavior.
Another important aspect of teaching is the classroom setup. A spacious room is absolutely necessary for such thing as group activities, non-distracting decoration, comfort, demonstrations, and flexibility. Additionally, the four-student pod is preferable for me as an educator because it enables different ability levels to interact and learn from each other, allows group activities without classroom setup changes, and allows for more variety for students in the classroom. As an educator, traveling around the room is imperative because it enables me to take note of methods that work well and allows me to modify a strategy if it is not facilitating the desired effect. Within this classroom framework, a lesson can be taught which utilizes several different styles, which thereby enables all students an excellent opportunity to grasp the material being presented.
Just as there are many learning styles in the classrooms, there are also many different characteristics and attributes for each individual student. Culture, race, and disabilities are three, which must be addressed in the classroom. Classroom teachers must have the ability to speak Spanish in the classroom to clarify information for students with difficulties understanding English. However, it is impractical to teach a lesson more than once in various languages, therefore, outside assistance should be made available for non-English speaking students and ESL students. Materials for these students should be available in their native language if this is necessary while their English skills are still developing.
Additionally, I appreciate inclusion and the practice of mainstreaming, however, I feel that support of additional staff and regular assessment of each child with a disability is imperative.
Also, students in the classroom will be coming from many different economic backgrounds. As an educator, I must be aware and sensitive of these differences among students. Educators should not implement activities that involve money from outside of the school. If such an activity is desired a class could use a fund-raiser as a mean to raise the money and at the same time build unity and rapport among the class.
Differences in the classroom are not bad things; in fact, they can be utilized for the benefit of the classroom. For example, a student born in India could give background information as a context for discussing Indian classical music in a music history setting. This will also enable the class to respond favorably to differences in the classroom. Texts and materials used in the classroom should be sensitive to differences in students and avoid stereotyped or biased material. Additionally, differences in level regarding different subject areas must be taken into account.
Though the whole basis of my belief is on educating the student, assessment must be made by various means throughout education. Criterion-based evaluation is the theory that I utilize as an educator. The process of assessment in the field of music is a complex one involving special problems and needs. I view assessment as not only a means to teach but also as a method to measure and assess progress of my students. Portfolio and alternative assessment within a student-centered assessment plan work best and allow for variety and more chance of accuracy in assessment.
While appreciative of standardized testing, these tests provide data only on the logical and linguistic intelligences while failing to account for the other seven intelligences that have been identified by Howard Gardner.
As an educator I firmly believe in student-based principles and view teaching as learning also. By learning from the students, I can better evaluate my methods and modify them to give the students the best chance to learn. Through this process, everyone will be improved.