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!
Inspired by the presentations of Serge Benhayon and the way he has reflected true teaching through the quality of his presence, and the knowledge he has shared. Thank you to Universal Medicine.
By Johanna Smith, Bachelor of Education, Perth, WA
I wonder Johanna what our life would be like if we were to apply the approach you outline to everyone that we meet not just kids? For surely underneath whatever is on the surface we all want underneath to know too that we “matter and are valued”. Many of us are a bit like kids in grown up bodies. We lack as a world the understanding and true compassion you mention, and most of all a way of valuing people for just who they are, no what they do or how they behave.
I totally agree Joseph. We are like grown up kids in adult bodies and everyone does crave connection and to be met in full first before any outcome or task is asked of us. Adults do carry with them all they experienced and felt in childhood. The thing is we can either make our interactions very honouring with each other in life or not. One will support what we feel deep with in and the other will confirm the function way of being in life which brings no true fulfilment.
It is deeply beautiful philosophy to live the way you do and from that inspire others to feel the truth and beauty in that and then choose that way for themselves as well. As such children are not seen as being deficient of anything in need of attaining something outside of themselves, but rather everything already just needing to be expressed outwardly and then nurtured for whatever that is.
The truest and best inspiration comes from reflection – walking the walk and talking the talk’ this is one of the many great things I have learnt from Serge Benhayon.
It is very powerful what you’re offering here Johanna, as it is also the answer to teacher-burnout. Self-care and ensuring your own body is not becoming depleted and run down as a result of the demands of a job, is essential. You sound far from burnt-out, but more like a first year enthusiastic graduate… before the system has worn them down to become jaded and perfunctory as a way to survive.
Very true Jenny. It is the answer to teacher burnout, teacher overwhelm and everything that teachers feel that is not of the passion, knowing and appreciation they are here to bring and first entered with.
Everyday that I teach – especially when I teach as a relief teacher today, I appreciate just how not affected I am by the issues and dilemmas that go on around me. From this place I am able to see and feel how to truly support the kids in my care.
Love how you live this philosophy Johanna. Such clear purpose, commitment and service – a way of being that does not and cannot just sit in the intellectual mind..
Thank you Jenny. I wrote this blog many years ago but it is still living in my way with how I am in my work, with children and in schools. Today I work in and out of many schools and it is amazing to feel the consistency that I bring to every classroom I’m in. Even if the kids at times misbehave or aren’t feeling themselves, I am still able to engage with them in a supportive and caring way. Self care has held me in great stead for the many experiences I encounter and boy oh boy do I feels all the gems and magical moments that take place with children because of my lived philosophy.
Love how you live this philosophy Johanna. Such clear purpose, commitment and service – a way of being that does not just sit in the intellectual mind..
It is a great point raised about how to build on relationships with children, when there is already a foundation of meeting them and reflecting through ones body and manner a quality of life. It may mean the difference between inspiring those who align and meet you back and being able to even inspire those who resist from their own hurts and are not open to you. That building for me comes down to a Livingness where children are met and understood not for their chronological age, but for their ageless wisdom. At the same time, their is a capacity to read that they know all the tricks in their own agelessness and therefore, with total respect and decency, they are equally able as adults are to process all the truth that love and understanding can offer.
Adults greatly miss out if they are under the illusion of being only the teacher and not also the student in their relationships with kids.
I totally agree Katie. I learn so much from children. The more I am truly equal with them the more they share with me and treat me as an equal. The wisdom that then pours out of their mouths never stops to amaze me.
‘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!’ Wow simple yet very powerful Johanna, if all teachers took this level of love, care and dedication how different the student’s experience of school would be. Thank you Johanna for sharing your lived ways – it is very inspiring and supportive to read.
This is a huge blog with so much in it but at its essence is that if we connect to ourselves we connect to our students and from there real learning can occur.
Absolutely Vanessa. If we connect to all this the real learning can take place and the educational learning that currently needs to take place will be far easier as it will be done from honouring the whole of our being.
Having educators like you Johanna no doubt sets the foundations for a harmonious way of living. Admirable work.
Thank you Joe. I look at it as a point of reflection and we all know teachers do not only teach – they wear many hats for many children. For me each class that I enter are like family and deserve the same level of respect. For some children this may not be what they get at home so it’s very supportive for them to feel this level of care from a teacher.
Johanna, it is beautiful to come back to read this article, I find it utterly inspiring, your teaching philosophy is amazing and if applied in all schools would change the whole schooling system – we would have confident children and thus confident adults, no comparison and competition, children that felt loved and supported – and it is so simple and straightforward.
Thank you Rebecca. This way of being in education would turn the system on its head and ask of a great deal more responsibility for how everyone else in the system is too.
Our society would be bursting at the seams with very claimed and loving beings.
I love what you’ve shared Johanna, the depth and wisdom in it is quite profound, and yet makes such simple sense. What a blessing for the kids you teach to have what you are offering… it will set them up with a foundation that can last a lifetime. I know some of my most memorable and influential teachers were at quite a young age.
Thanks Jenny. This is the power of love in reflection in education. It actually gives the kids a marker of what is true education and how they deserve to be treated – as a person with great wisdom and not just a outcome producing number who is good at recall. But without any marker our kids are left with the latter as the ‘norm’. Slowly slowly it may change but one day it would be amazing for all education to be like this. I am sure there would be far less stress and teen suicide statistics also.
It is so important that we raise our kids to love themselves and the other way we can do it is to love ourselves first so that they see what that is like in action. No amount of telling kids to love and honour themselves is going to work if we do not love ourselves first.
This is extremely important Elizabeth. We must love ourselves in order to reflect this to children.
Thank you Johanna for raising and elaborating on an important point. Children know a lot more than we give them credit for and this includes knowing how they best learn. Not everyone learns the same way, so bringing the most out of children will depend on meeting them for who they are, observing and it totally makes sense, bringing learning into play rather than keeping it as a separate process. What an impact it would have on the world if future generations were encouraged to explore that play and work can be one and the same?
I learn a great deal from children everyday. I especially love how the younger ones have no boundaries with who they play or sit with and how open they are with their communication and discussions.
Coming back to this blog and reading some of the comments really brought home to me the impact we have on each other when in a consistent relationship with someone, like with a teacher for a whole school year or our own work colleges if we work for somewhere long enough. It’s these longer term relationships that cement our perceptions on the world whereas the fleeting acquaintances only provide a moment of feeling potential, which I can feel there has been an avoidance in letting go of old perceptions of the world and others being something to guard against. The quality that I bring reflects a reality out to all others, that we are to remain hard and guarded with one another or we can learn to live light and open with each other and this can be our normal. Thank you Johanna.
Thank you, Johanna. I love your teaching philosophy. How incredible it is for the kids that you teach to have someone like yourself be in their classroom with such a philosophy. It is clear that it is something that you live rather than just something that you wish you could live and that is what makes all the difference.
I was in nursery teaching before I had my own children and I saw very quickly that being a teacher was not actually about have to ‘teach’ as the children didn’t need telling it was already all there. I discovered it was simply to offer guidance and support and what was there would come out in its own time. When I had my own children I witnessed the same thing, so never expected them to be doing anything by a certain age. e.g. reading, writing etc. The part that I have learnt further now though is this and the importance of expressing it to them “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.” Thank you Johanna for sharing your awesome teaching philosophy.
Thank you Julie. I absolutely love what you have shared here. What a beautiful observation to have while being a nursery teacher and a mother. How delicious for the children you are around to feel that you already had the understanding that they came with great wisdom.
A truly inspiring philosophy that changes the nature and expectations of teaching and broadens the scope of the opportunities and responsibilities that a teacher has in directly influencing the evolution of our children.
Thank you Cathy. Yes this blog does share the true responsibility we have as teachers and really as people in life. The thing is this level of energetic responsibility and integrity is always there, it is just that we as a society, as a humanity have strayed so very far from it that we don’t even seem to have it in our conscious awareness and daily interactions. In fact we seem to be going the other way that causes much harm.
It really should be 101 at university.
I love what you are offering others with this blog, especially teachers, parents. If we consider the sheer time that our children are in the care of teachers and in school I find it mind boggling that we do not place more attention on connection as a requirement to support learning and development.
Me too Sarah. Teachers and parents both need to have a realistic appreciation for this and a good look at the support that we can all offer the kids and each other as adults in a child’s life. For me I see any adult as having a responsibility to any child in the sense of sharing true care, respect, support and love and in the reflection they provide.
What I have found with the teachers I have met so far through my eldest daughters schooling is that they are there because they enjoy being with the kids. Yet the school system has worn them down and they are now tightly wound balls of stress. Every year when my daughter is assigned a new teacher (as she is in primary school) I make a point of connecting with them, talking with them, sharing, and offering support in terms of working with them for the benefit of my daughter and them. What I have also noticed is that in the stressed state teachers find it hard to connect, but when I walk into the class room with my natural lightness and playfulness, they seem to settle and take a moment to breathe, and connect with me. This is what is needed. Space to connect, to get to know the kids, space for all to breathe, rather than keeping up what seems like an insane pace of learning that is now currently implemented across our education system. There is no real education in this way, as we are losing teachers to burnout, kids are getting left behind in their learning, and the rise in bullying and rough behaviour are all indications that the education system is not working as it currently stands. Thank goodness there are teachers like you, Johanna, that can reflect a way to not only withstand the pressure put on teachers but a way to truly care for yourself and the children as well. Thank you, and thank you to mums like me also!
Absolutely to mums like you. Thank you for your amazing sharing and beautiful appreciation.
Johanna I felt as I was reading this blog that you understood that all the qualities you described that we could assist children to retain while they experience the maze that is education – qualities that are natural to their essence such as unwavering trust, self care, honouring of themselves and clear expression – are the same ones that educators must also reclaim, embody and live for themselves. Then being an ‘educator’ becomes easy peasy. As you rightly state, Children feel everything and learn from all that is not said more so that what is.
Absolutely Simon. Educators must reclaim and live this for themselves first and foremost.
Very true and perfectly said Samantha.
Basically if we teach from our heart and come from a place of love no amount of knowledge can compare. The energy of real love and compassion will always go way beyond any form of education that is based on recall.
It would be the most amazing experience for children to have teachers with the philosophy that you have shared here Johanna! Having had a few Teachers in the family on all sides, three generations (including My Grandparents) I can see the difference in teaching styles that have been the norm for each different generation, and what was considered the way it was done. I can see the more accommodating and sensitive way that the younger generation look at, and use in their teaching style. Definitely much for all to learn from yourself and your way of being with children in such a loving and supportive way
It has become the normal to be rough and abusive with each other in the playground because we have allowed and it has not been called out and no one has offered another way, but it really doesn’t have to be this way.
Well said Rosie, completely new standards need to be introduced, unfortunately abuse is mostly the norm in playgrounds around the world this shows how lost we are as a society.
Standards set from a very simple yet caring way would support all. In my experience I have not had to add or put in extra time to bring a true quality to teaching. It’s truly a win win situation and yes if we continue as is, how will the ‘norm’ change to ever reflect truth.
Johanna, this article is truly amazing, what you have written would bring about incredible changes in schools if this was the general teaching philosophy, i observe in schools that children are allowed to be rough with each other, that in the school playground there is much fighting and little care and gentleness, the children are simply not being their gorgeous, gentle, amazing selves, I can feel how important it is for kids to know who they truly area and to be supported to live this.
Rereading your words today Johanna, I am touched by what a big impact this blog had on me, and continues to. You sum up how we actually are all teachers in our everyday choices, and how the guiding philosophy you mention applies so equally to people in our office or family. Meeting another, being real and caring for ourselves first are qualities the world is consistently teaching me, that I am here to share with others.
Great. We each have a responsibility to ourselves first and foremost to treat our bodies with absolute love and tenderness. From this, we can impart our livingness and share our lived wisdom with others, purely by inspiration. To see another live in harmony with themselves, others around them, and nature itself is truly inspiring – a great teacher in the less conventional sense – a beautiful role model.
What a great teaching philosophy and really a living philosophy that could apply to any job/position working with children! The self-care and acceptance and appreciation of ourselves just for being ‘us’ is what is cornerstone here, and would be tremendously supportive if it were introduced as a standard component of any teaching education and / or indeed any parenting education / support.
Johanna, it is very lovely to come back to your article, on reading this stood out for me, ‘In my teaching practice I know that children thrive when they: Are engaged with eye contact and a caring voice.’ Working in a school I’m aware that if the teachers speak in a caring voice and do not shout then the children feel safe and enjoy being in the class, if there is shouting or the teacher gets angry from speaking to children they do not feel safe and do not enjoy then being in the class.
“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.” This is so very poignant. It is an illusion to think we can just waltz in dictate a formula and have the loving impact described in this blog. We all ‘feel’ the whole life history any person is carrying with them, and whether we choose to be conscious of it or not it has an impact as well as the words spoken! This is how the same words can sound like a theory and dictation from one person, or an invitation to join them in that way of life by another. Completely different experience and impact. A great responsibility.
Very true Golnaz and Johanna. In this world most of us have grown up thinking that we put on certain ‘faces’ to best fit certain roles/situations and then drop that one and chose another one for the next situation and so on. Yet this is a farce to compartmentalise this way as our whole being is what is felt as soon as we enter a room or talk with someone on the phone, send an email or whatever. Children are such wise teachers for us all – they know and live all of this already.
What I love about your teaching philosophy Johanna is that it can apply to us all. We are all teachers and students of living and the quality that we all hold its worth sharing with all . Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us all.
Wow Johanna, what an inspirational teacher you are, I would have loved my children to have had the opportunity to have been in your class room, keep up the amazing work you are doing.
“Just be You. You are already Awesome” what amazing words for a child to hear, this should be the foundation of our education system one that promotes self love, for a child to grow up not knowing who they are and devoid of self worth only leads to devastation later on. We had much rather get this right first before we promote any other educational activities.
And we can see that this really does apply to us all… Is a carpenter not there but to build a house in which we can be the best that we can, and is a bookkeeper not there but to help us to feel the flow of money which of course is energy in our lives, and does it not behove us all to bring all of us to the people we serve, look after, teach, work for, or employ… True responsibility is a river that runs incredibly deep.
Hear hear Chris we are all responsible for living the love that we are in full and bringing all of us to every aspect of life, for without that every one of us is will be less.
I am also a teacher who mainly teaches young adults, however, this doesn’t change the responsibility I have to bring that certain loving quality to my classrooms and students. I see each day as a opportunity to meet the students as equals, to celebrate and confirm them as much as I can so that they can start to understand that there is much more to life than the test scores. To the best of my ability I show them a steadiness that doesn’t judge them and that gives them the space to be themselves.
Thats awesome Eleanor, you are inspiring your students to see the bigger picture and in truth by celebrating and confirming them you are naturally brining out the best in them, this is a lesson that will serve them well for the rest of their life not just something they need to learn for the sake of an exam.
That’s awesome Eleanor. How lucky are they to have you !!!
This is such a gift far greater than often understood – to give our children the space to be themselves, and this apply to anyone.
I love what you have written Johanna. As a person who was very demotivated by school on many levels, I can feel how having a teacher like you would have a long lasting impression on a child allowing them to blossom into the confident, self-loving being that they innately are. What a blessing you must bring to each classroom!
you’re an inspiration. Not just a role model but a true role model of a living way that children can actually say ‘Yes! I want to be living like that too, and all I need to do is to be me!’ This is true education. It is not all about grades and marks but imparting a livingness of truth and love that ensures the qualities of future generations.
Johanna, I love the principles you share regarding our connection with others and how important it is to ‘engage with eye contact in a caring voice’, actually hear what someone needs to say so they ‘feel heard and understood’ and that they ‘are allowed the time to process information and develop in their own way’. I cannot help but realise that if we all lived in a world founded on these simple but profound principles our connections would transform the quality of all of our interactions for both little people or big people alike.
I love love love what Johanna covers in her teaching philosophy, because not only do I recognize it as all true, but I know the invaluable support this offers to each child and can imagine how amazing the world would be with that foundation laid out first and foremost in our lives. Yes Suse “If we all lived in a world founded on these simple but profound principles our connections would transform the quality of all of our interactions”. Very true.
I actually searched for a blog on education tonight to read as I sit with my two sons doing their homework, something that reminds me of the true purpose behind education, as I can often get caught up in the ‘task’, which doesn’t support them at all as they have already had big days at school with much of it being about ‘task first’. Reading your philosophy Johanna, my whole body stops and goes ‘yep that’s it!’, this is such a healing for all the children in the world, young and old to be reminded that we are amazing first before we do anything. Thank you!
…… It is so important to remember this as parents, to appreciate our children first for who they are and not for what they do or how well behaved they are.
as always I love rereading Yohanna’s blog… I noticed this time the point about having a caring voice… Research has shown that in primary schools up to 90% of information presented can be discarded according to the tone of the teacher’s voice… How extraordinary is that… And companies now know this, and tried to instill in people the awareness of tone… However children cannot be fooled, so if the teacher is ‘bunging it on” it will be noticed
Absolutely Chris- kids pick up on everything they just don’t get the space to share what the see and feel happening. Imagine if they did – boy oh boy!
That is interesting about the voice information you share. Also many teachers end up with throat problems because of the way they speak to groups day in day out. It simply isn’t needed.
We can all tell when a teacher or someone is bunging it on, or being nice to get what they want. It feels awful but more often than not we play along with it rather than call it out for what it is.