My teaching philosophy encompasses a desire to teach as well as to build relationships with my learners. I resonate with words of Laverty (2006) when he states that teachers affect their students and well as themselves. I identify myself as a pragmatic constructivist who facilitates online learning through the persona of a cheerleader for nurturing and apprenticeship. After completing the teaching perspectives inventory assessment, my dominating perspectives were nurturing and apprenticeship (Pratt & Collins, 2014). My philosophy is formed by my personal beliefs and is supported through my actions in three ways:
- Provide meaningful skills that prepare learners for the workplace through apprenticeship.
- Provide online environments that encourage learners’ unique perspectives, confidence, and respectful discourse while nurturing a climate of trust.
- Provide a positive environment by acting as a cheerleader (Bull, 2013) and offering enthusiastic encouragement of learner success.
Through my pragmatic lens, I observe knowledge from different directions based on the context in order to derive meaning. Knowledge can be understood by means of reason and sometimes reality can be interpreted and knowledge can be negotiated (Driscoll, 2000, p. 378). Perkins, as cited in Driscoll (2000) states, “education strives for the retention, understanding and active use of knowledge and skills” (p. 379). Through systematic lesson planning and instructional design, my goal is to create practical tasks that adjust to skills that employers seek.
As a graphic design teacher for the Algonquin College Public Relation program, I provide a safe environment in order for my learners to feel comfortable taking risks. My challenge is to remain objective when assessing creativity but also provide a way for learners to extend their ideas in innovative ways. My perspective is validated through Pratt & Collins (2014), they state that learners become more productive and motivated when not presented with a fear of failure. My Constructivist epistemology is demonstrated through the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) (Vygotsky, 1978). In his writings, Vygotsky states, “Learning awakens a variety of internal development processes that are able to operate only when the child is interacting with people in his environment and in cooperation with his peers.” (p. 90). Through my online discussion and peer reviews, learners test their own understandings of design concepts or technique. Through zones, learners perform tasks with guidance and as new knowledge is understood, move towards independent competency. By identifying levels of development, I introduce scaffolds to aid learners to move through the zones to perform tasks with the help of others towards working independently. This constructivist theory works also works well with the Apprenticeship model indicated in Pratt & Collins (2014) who state that “as students progress, good teachers adjust their approaches to provide them with more autonomy and independence.
I identify with the cheerleader as outlined in Bull (2013). My enthusiasm for the design acts as a catalyst for inspiration with my learners. My participation on my course Facebook community is centered on design topics and was intentionally created to be independent of the Blackboard discussion board. These communities continue after the courses are completed. I still have activity on these groups after my students have graduated and I continue to respond to design related posts. Through timely formative feedback, I offer ways my learners can increase their skills and balance it with positive feedback about what they have done well. In my curriculum, I provide opportunities for students to re-submit mini-tasks in order to make improvements to their work. This gives them the confidence to move towards the more heavily weighted assignments. As well as a teacher, I am also the Academic Adviser for my program. My responsibility is to listen to learner frustrations and provide productive ways to help them view their situations through a positive lens. Through digital means, I help students identify areas of weakness and provide help with goal setting that aids them in their academic journey. Conclusion My philosophy encompasses a desire to teach as well as to build relationships from the perspective of nurturing, apprenticeship encouragement. I recognize that my philosophy could evolve. Chism (1998), as cited in Schönwetter, Sokal, Friesen & Taylor (2002) states, that a teaching philosophy is a fluid life-long process that takes time and effort and should be revised throughout a teaching career (p. 88).
Bull, B. (2013, June 3). Eight roles of an effective online teacher. Faculty Focus. [Blog post] Retrieved from http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/online-education/eight-roles-of-an-effective-online-teacher/
Driscoll, M. P. (2000). Psychology of learning for instruction (2nd ed.). Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon.
Laverty, M. (2006). Philosophy of Education: Overcoming the Theory-Practice Divide. Philosophical Inquiry in Education, 15(1), 31-44. Retrieved from http://journals.sfu.ca/pie/index.php/pie/article/view/41/5
Pratt, D. & Collins, J. B. (2014). Teaching Perspectives Inventory. [Web page] Retrieved from http://www.teachingperspectives.com/tpi/
Schönwetter, D. J., Sokal, L., Friesen, M., & Taylor, K. L. (2002). Teaching philosophies reconsidered: A conceptual model for the development and evaluation of teaching philosophy statements, International Journal for Academic Development, 7:1, 83-97, DOI: 10.1080/13601440210156501
Vygotsky, L.S (1978). Mind in Society: Development of Higher Psychological Processes Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press