A clear philosophy of education is an important component to the career of any teacher, principal, or district administrator. As a teacher my philosophy of education affects not only the way the educator presents instructional material, but also the manner in which one communicates with students, parents, colleagues and administrators. Moreover, the educational philosophy and vision of a principal affects the way that administrator conducts formal observations and sets educational themes and policies for a school site. My educational philosophy and vision as a district administrator designee has set the overall tone for the entire district’s special education department as well as dealings with citizens and business leaders within the community.
It is important that a personal philosophy of education be consistent with contemporary educational thought and such a philosophy would be impossible without the influence of social, theory, educational philosophy, and history. The overview of educational philosophies in the United States of America as summarized by our textbook (p. 57-84) (Hlebowitsh, 2005) gave a timeline on how our country’s educational system has developed. How the philosophies were molded to fit the needs of specific times the country was experiencing. From wars, to depressive eras, famine, awakenings, and freedom of expression with no boundaries; philosophies have emerged, developed, and been refined to attempt to fit the needs of our youth as time, society, and technology move forward.
I sought admission to this administrative program to further develop my personal philosophy of education and obtain the skills to be an exceptional leader. I have been a student, a teacher, a school psychologist, and a special education coordinator. I am grateful to have had to opportunity to where these many hats and can honestly say my philosophy has been molded into an overall eclectic philosophy pulling what I believe is important in meeting the needs of administrators, teachers, parents, community, and most importantly out students.
I believe that each child is a unique individual who needs a secure, caring, and stimulating atmosphere in which to grow and mature emotionally, intellectually, physically, and socially. It is my overall mission as an educator to help students meet their fullest potential in these areas by providing an environment that is safe, supports risk-taking and eliminates fear-of-failure, and invites a sharing of ideas and working collaboratively. There are four elements that I believe are conducive to establishing such an environment, (1) the teacher acting as a guide, (2) allowing the child’s natural curiosity to direct his/her learning, (3) utilizing research based curriculum for our 21centruy learners, and (4) promoting respect for all things and all people.
When the teacher’s role is to guide, providing access to information rather than acting as the primary source of information, the students’ search for knowledge is met as they learn to find answers to their questions. For students to construct knowledge, they need the opportunity to discover for themselves and practice skills in authentic situations. Providing students’ access to hands-on activities, utilizing 21 century technology, and allowing adequate time and space to use materials that reinforce the lesson being studied creates an opportunity for individual discovery and construction of knowledge to occur.
Equally important to self-discovery is having the opportunity to study things that are meaningful and relevant to one’s life and interests. Developing a curriculum around student interests fosters intrinsic motivation and stimulates the passion to learn. One way to take learning in a direction relevant to student interest is to invite student dialogue about the lessons and units of study. Given the opportunity for input, students generate ideas and set goals that make for much richer activities than I could have created or imagined myself. When students have ownership in the curriculum, they are motivated to work hard and master the skills necessary to reach their goals.
I attended a lecture where Ian Jukes’ explained “Context to the Content” based on the book (McClain, 2005) where it was noted that in order for information to be stored in long-term or permanent memory the new stimuli must be connected to data in the current long-term memory. Much research has been conducted on memory as well as language acquisition in which research supports that one must make connections to previously learned information in long-term memory for clear understanding and learning of new stimuli and retention of that data (Bellanca & Brant, 2010).