On a recent Early Childhood placement, I felt the enormity of the real responsibility of a teacher. I have been a qualified teacher for 13 years and always consider myself to be developing and learning. As part of the required documentation I had to write about ‘My Teaching Philosophy’.
Writing ‘My Teaching Philosophy’ was super simple as I decided to just write what I felt to be true for me. I spoke from the practice of my daily living and working in the role of a teacher. To me, teaching is about connecting to the kids first.
In essence, this is what I wrote:
My teaching philosophy is very simple… it is based around three key elements:
- I like to make sure the children know that they matter and are valued – that they are being heard, and that they are seen, felt and ‘met’ for the amazing beings they naturally are, rather than being recognised solely for what they do or achieve in the classroom.
- Taking responsibility for truly caring for myself. I know that the way that I care for myself brings a certain quality to my presence, which I then naturally bring to the way I interact with the children in my classroom. I now understand the primary importance of self-care and the ripple effect it has on others. The children feel this level of self-responsibility and they feel safe and nurtured which allows for freedom of expression and joy within the kids, and thus an excellent learning environment is created.
- To the best of my ability I make learning meaningful, fun, engaging and filled with purpose… this creates a feeling of equal-ness in the classroom and learning becomes effortless. I feel that we have an opportunity as teachers to bring this to all areas of education.
In my teaching practice I know that children thrive when they:
- Are engaged with eye contact and a caring voice.
- Feel heard and understood by their educators and classmates.
- Are allowed the time to process information and develop in their own way.
I have realised that children feel everything around them and that we as educators have an enormous opportunity to reflect something pretty amazing and special to them, if we choose to. Children need to feel free to express their feelings and be in a space where their feelings are honoured and not overridden or brushed off. We all feel, and children are extremely in-tune with what is happening around them. Children can spot hypocrisy a mile away.
We must be real. Students do need to experience a wide range of learning activities and are required to meet many outcomes within their schooling. However, I have experienced that teachers who build quality relationships with children know what is needed for each child to learn in a way that works for him or her.
For me, true learning stems from the children. It is a result of what makes sense to them and has meaning. No one likes to learn something if they cannot on some level understand the purpose behind it. As kids love fun and playfulness, I aim to offer students learning of concrete and important information through play and engaging them wherever I can.
I have come to the understanding that children know a lot more than we as adults give them credit for. They know and sense what way works best for them…
As a teacher, I continue to ask myself:
- How can I further support their knowing and being?
- Am I doing anything that gets in the way of their natural way of being and learning?
- Is my way of being, my classroom and conduct all about people first or task first?
When we make it about relationships and people first… the teaching part becomes simple.
As Teachers we have Amazing Opportunities!
This afternoon I had another ‘Whoa’ moment. I felt with all of me the actual and true responsibility that teachers have, whether we choose to claim it, avoid it, or sadly in some cases, abuse it.
- A knowing and understanding that educators are with the kids for the same amount of time that they are with their parents each school day.
- That each teacher has the same opportunity as the child’s parents in supporting the kids to have a strong sense of self and to be healthy and confident individuals.
- That we have an opportunity to not only educate that child but to reflect, to inspire and foster within them a true way of being.
As teachers we have the potential to not only teach but to fully support children in learning how to be in their fullness and amazingness within society and Our World. This means – how they actually are with others!!! If kids grow up to be adults who are living in their fullness, the rest of humanity benefits. So why is this not our main priority?
I then realised another amazing opportunity teachers have.
What would our world be like if all children grew up, supported and educated in a way that said . . .
“Just be You. You are already Awesome. Now let’s give you the support and training in all subjects while you ascertain what you feel drawn to pursue and thus study further so you may eventually bring your awesomeness to the world, in the profession in which you choose to bring it.”
Possibilities for True Change
What if all children had role models who reflected back to them that…
Choosing how they could BE as a grown up, without changing themselves to suit their boss, or putting on a different face for their family or compromising their true self in any way, shape or form…
How powerful and unified would our future generations be if all children were supported to:
- Develop an unwavering trust in themselves,
- Know how to honour themselves and therefore others,
- Truly self-care so that they always looked after their bodies,
- Develop and practice a way of speaking that is clear, without any force and in a way that does not leave anyone feeling lesser?
Teaching – from our Quality of Being First
The fact is, all of this can come from how any of us as teachers actually choose to behave and live. It is not another program to be implemented on top of everything else, to achieve something, but something that can be felt completely from the way each of us, as teachers, chooses to be first with ourselves, and then with others. This can then be brought to the children in the classroom and school environment.
Writing ‘My Teaching Philosophy’ has confirmed for me that my quality as the teacher, the space, the engagement and interaction I provide in every moment of every day, will determine what is reflected to the children, what will be felt by them, and what will be there to inspire them or not. My philosophy is a lived one. It is lived each day by me in full to the best of my ability, with no perfection but definitely with a loving intention and dedication. A Living and Lived philosophy!
By Johanna Smith, Bachelor of Education, Perth, WA