teaching about Africa

My Teaching Philosophy

Teaching is one of the most rewarding and challenging career paths a person can follow. It involves establishing and maintaining trust and rapport, clear lines of communication, and a lasting agreement between teachers, students, colleagues, families, and community members.  It requires patience, compassion, energy, curiosity, a sense of humor, time management, and organization.  Clearly social studies content is critical, but the larger challenges involve creating lessons that are as stimulating as they are educational.

I believe that the purpose of teaching is to help students construct knowledge and develop insights that affect their attitudes, beliefs and actions.  I see the learning process as a series of checks and balances, where new information is constantly being compared against things that are already known. Connecting the student's to the content has become a passion of mine. I design lesson plans that are interesting and engaging on a daily basis. I find that the more engaged my students are in the content the more apt they are to create meaningful monuments of comprehension and application.

I believe that learning happens in a variety of ways depending on students' specific learning style, prior knowledge, educational setting, life experience, and the relationship between student and teacher. I believe it is our duty as educators to tailor planning and implementation so that all children can be successful in the inclusive classroom. I distribute surveys to my students about their learning preferences, interests, and suggestions for teaching. I feel this is one of the best ways to incorporate their interests and learning preferences into lesson plans. I enjoy making history come alive through the use of multiple perspectives, stories, interviews, images, trials, debates, primary sources, and reenactments within my classroom. Bringing history alive allows the content to become meaningful and remembered. I am also a huge advocate of differentiated instruction and assessments that meet the needs of my students. Some of my alternative assessments include cereal box projects, student conferences, jeopardy activities, oral history presentations, creative writing assignments, Document Based Questions (DBQ), and interactive webquests. All of these creative lessons and assessment methods can be utilized in the classroom to encourage success for all children.

One of the biggest rewards of being a teacher is that good teaching has a ripple effect, influencing many different people across many generations. I believe in creating a positive and safe learning environment for all students. I want all views to be welcomed and discussed within my classroom. In my classroom student's are always sharing their views about politics, history, and the world around them in pairs, groups, or with the whole class. As a teacher, I am very conscious of calling on an array of different students. This is one of the many ways I encourage an equitable learning environment for all children.

I take a genuine interest in my student’s strengths as well as their needs. I am constantly helping my students organize their binders and sharing of personal strategies for managing school work or studying. This allows me to connect with my students and it fosters a mutual respect. I am also available before school, during free periods, and after school to assist students with their work. During student teaching, I would often seek out students to encourage them to complete late work or to assist them in finishing an assignment that they found challenging. These are just a few ways of how I establish a positive classroom environment that encourages success for all students.

My focus as an educator is to help my students learn about the world. History is an interesting and fascinating subject. Students need to not only comprehend the information, but they are also faced with issues that are complex, intangible, and intensely personal. Issues like population growth, consumerism, poverty, and social justice, are intimately linked to questions about life and death, race, religion, heritage, and other topics. I believe it is important to approach these issues with clarity, sensitivity, and a sense of purpose.  I see the opportunity to help my students develop their understanding of the world with honor, responsibility, and civic engagement. I want to help my students become successful lifelong learners. I would like to teach them to appreciate, enjoy, and become engaged with social studies and the world around them.