Saturday, 14 April 2012

Thinking in Categories: Developing a new "Philosophy of Education" document

Photo Credit: alovesdc
Flickr Creative Commons
When I began applying for positions on various TOC lists across the Lower Mainland, some districts requested a "Philosophy of Education" statement.  I remember making a one-page list full of bullet points and buzzwords, but I don't remember exactly what it said and, after moving twice, have no idea where it went.

While reflecting on the school year thus far, I decided that it would be valuable for me to create another "Philosophy of Education" statement.  (Geek alert: I am assigning myself homework!)  I have many thoughts about education, but find it difficult to be concise; a one-page statement of beliefs might help me to focus my professional goals throughout the year and express my thoughts when conversing with others.  I'm hoping to develop a one-page document which I can paste onto a classroom website for parents and students to access next year.  I have enjoyed discussing my thoughts about education with students but feel that I could do a better job of communicating with parents regarding my thoughts about education.

I would like to categorize my thoughts rather than develop a long list.  My decision to categorize led to a philosophical debate (with myself) about which headings I would use to "file" my thoughts.

I may use the following headings and discuss the following categories:
  • Role of The Teacher
    • This would probably include: inquiry learning, meeting needs of students, flexibility, treating students with respect, student engagement, communication, classroom community, student-directed learning
  • Assessment for Learning
    • This would probably include: regular feedback, outcomes-based assessment, marks based on most recent and consistent work, students actively involved in assessment, peer/teacher/self evaluation, opportunities to improve, conferencing with students, purposeful assignments
  • Professional Development
    • This would probably include: self-directed learning, learning communities with other teachers, power of a PLN, current interests and goals, reflecting on practice, seeking and reflecting on student input
When I was in university, I likely would have included a section about "classroom management."  It's funny how, as a pre-service teacher, I was obsessed with that topic yet it's the part of education that I think about least, now.  I suppose "student engagement" and "positive relationships" are tools which make the need for "classroom management strategies" obsolete.

Am I missing anything in this brief shell of a philosophy statement?  I was thinking of a heading about "community" or "relationships" but I think that would fit under "Role of The Teacher."  That heading is my least favourite - is there something better I could use?

What headings would you use to categorize your own "philosophy of education" statement?  How has your philosophy changed over the years?

Update: I am still working on a philosophy statement that I would want to publish online but, in the process, thinking about my philosophy helped as I worked on my resume and cover letter over the past few weeks.  I plan to have a statement of beliefs on my course website in September.

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