Vision for Teaching and Learning
I draw my teaching style from Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs and John Dewey's educational philosophies. If students basic needs are not being met, then they cannot learn. I will structure my classroom in such a way that students will become aware of the importance of these needs and learn to communicate them to me and learn to problem solve and provide solutions for themselves. I believe more learners can be reached if the content being taught is made relevant to their lives and they get to actively participate in the learning process. Much more can actually be learned from doing than memorizing and trying to pass a test.
Maslow's Hiearchy of Needs
Being aware of Maslow’s Hierarchy is in the best interests of both the teacher and the students. A teacher should use her knowledge of the hierarchy to structure both the lesson plan and the classroom environment; ideally, the classroom would meet as many of the needs of students as possible, especially the safety, belonging and esteem needs. To this end, teachers must develop a connection and relationship with each child in order to have effective communication and awareness of students' lives and teach them Maslow's theory explicitly so that students can gain awareness of their own needs and take responsibility for caring for themselves and optimizing their learning experience. Awareness, communication, and application of this theory of human development is vital to optimizing a student's learning experience.
John Dewey Educational Philosophies
Once a child’s basic needs are met and she is ready to learn, then a teacher must decide how she will teach. I strongly align with John Dewey’s educational philosophies based on my own experience in school as a child and my own learning style. I excelled in school, but felt it was merely because I was good at following directions and regurgitating information. There were multiple instances when I felt that my views or the contributions of my peers were not validated because we were children. Dewey believed that school and education should be rooted in the experiences of the child. School should connect to the values of the home, to the child's everyday life and interests, as well as developing new interests and experiences. Dewey stated “The teacher is not in the school to impose certain ideas or to form certain habits in the child, but is there as a member of the community to select the influences which shall affect the child and to assist him in properly responding to these influences” (1897). From Dewey’s viewpoint, traditional education set up the child to play a passive, receptive role in the educational process. Children are unique, full of spontaneity and imagination, their minds are active and naturally inquisitive and Dewey’s philosophy of education embraces the natural urges of the child. I honor children's energy and spirit through Dewey's emphasis on the need to learn by doing or "hands-on" approaches. Knowledge gained through experience is important for children, but it must include a reflective component for true learning. Helping students generate questions and explore new concepts actively with each other are manifested in my teaching through the use of essential questions and collaborative activities. I incorporate my experience with NGSS (Next Generation Science Standards) including the 5E format (Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, and Evaluate) for Science lessons, IDM (Inquiry Design Model) for Social Studies lessons and utilize various techniques such as number talks in math and CGI (Cognitively Guided Instruction) to incorporate student explorations and problem solving into my lessons. These formats encourage students' questioning and testing to discover their truth. “A thought is not a thought, unless it is one’s own”. Dewey's educational philosophies encourage students to take responsibility for their own learning, reinforce democratic ideas, and allow students a better chance of utilizing the knowledge they acquire. Ultimately, schools and the classroom should reflect society. School should provide children with a strong critical thinking foundation so they can in turn make meaningful contributions to, and play important roles in their community. I strive to help students use their mind as a powerful tool to help both themselves and the society in which they live.