My goal as an educator is to do as little teaching as possible. Let me explain.
I take my complex and intensive responsibilities to facilitate and oversee genuine learning seriously; however, I do not subscribe to a classroom model that relies on the teacher to construct and convey knowledge to her passive and waiting students per Paulo Freire's description of the banking concept. On the contrary, my belief is that engaged, authentic learning happens when students take responsibility for and interest in the information I am asking them to confront and wrestle with. My pedagogical approaches rely on a constructivist view of learning, which pushes students to employ their own knowledge and experience to process information in meaningful ways. My hope is that my students will engage themselves in the search for and construction of their own understanding.
Accordingly, in my role as a teacher, I choose to partner with my students, coming alongside them and joining them as they work independently and with one another to make their own knowledge and meaning. My goal is to do as little of the teaching as possible; instead, I focus on facilitating scenarios, environments, and opportunities that encourage independent, original thought on the part of my students. This approach repositions me, in Alison King’s words, from the traditional role of the “sage on the stage” into the more complex and nuanced position of the “guide on the side."
When reduced to its most basic core, the different components and facets to my personal teaching philosophy are geared towards placing my students at the center of my work. In designing lessons, planning activities, and implementing pedagogical strategies, my first consideration is always my students and how to best empower them to become active and engaged learners. This student-centric approach places great responsibility on both myself and my students. As a teacher, this philosophy requires me to consistently challenge my own knowledge, remain willing to operate outside my comfort zone, and allow for student involvement to impact my carefully planned classroom designs. As for my students, I ask them to assume a huge share of the responsibility and ownership in their education by inviting them to participate in the generating of our collective classroom knowledge. My hope is that, together, we are able to create a community of inquisitive, confident learners who are able to approach problems and grapple with new information in meaningful and innovative ways.