Establishing an optimal learning environment is one of the most important components of my educational philosophy. I can show up with incredible content knowledge and lesson design ability, but it will be for nothing unless students understand two things: that they are safe and accepted in my classroom, and that the work they are doing is meaningful and relevant to their lives and their future (Marzano, et al, 1992).
Maintaining a safe classroom means addressing inappropriate behavior, monitoring bullying and threats, investigating parent and student safety concerns, and consistent monitoring of the students. This is essential in elementary schools where parents are leaving their young children in the care of adults who are strangers to them. The burden of care in the elementary school is great because students are less capable of caring for themselves. In middle and high schools, students are bigger and stronger. They sometimes have access to weapons or are more willing to fight. Keeping a safe classroom is essential in the secondary setting.
Providing meaningful and relevant work also contributes to a positive learning environment. ...
Students who feel burdened by "busy work" know that their teachers have not worked hard to provide worthwhile lessons, and they are much less likely to work hard for or support such a teacher (Marzano, et al.).
Our school populations are becoming increasingly diverse. It is also essential to demonstrate one's acceptance of all the students in the classroom, regardless of gender, race, national origin, ability level, or anything else. Teachers who work hard at this are what Wong calls "intentionally inviting" (1991).
My educational philosophy also involves using a classical instructional approach. Certainly, teachers need to be flexible and consider different students' unique needs; but most students benefit when the instruction follows a logical progression: activating prior knowledge, providing direct instruction, offering guided practice, then independent practice, followed by assessment. While these steps serve as a strong framework for lessons, maintaining flexibility so that plans can change as they are implemented is crucial (Tanner, 1997). My philosophy calls for a careful balance between best-known educational practices and developing an ability to view each student and lesson on a case-by-case basis, to make necessary adjustments while teaching.
Differentiated instruction forms another part of philosophy. It has been shown to help students at all levels achieve more (Benjamin, 2006). It can mean supplying a solid variety of learning activities to all students; it can also apply to grouping students in class according to their skill levels and needs, and modifying instruction for each group. A good teacher can take the same basic lesson, add some elements that make it more