NAGC members find the Teacher's Corner each and every month in the electronic pages of Compass Points.
In an effort to increase your understanding about specific subject areas or themes, I will provide related book titles, websites, professional papers, and other relevant resources related to these. I welcome your ideas, opinions, and suggestions as well. It is only through communication that we can continue to build and solidify our understanding of Gifted and Talented vocabulary and resources.
May's 2013 Corner
Words to Teach by: Developing a Statement of Educational Philosophy
Like many of you, I write and make presentations about gifted education. I have focused on specific curricular topics and themes, covered one or many social and emotional behaviors, or introduced a favorite conversation starter in the classroom. I have told the stories of countless students, shared parts of their work, and discussed the many interactions that can take place, both in and out of the classroom. I have made pleas for advocacy, requests for ideas and opinions, and in some cases, stood on my figurative soapbox in order to get my point across. There is one piece of writing that I want to share; one of which I am most proud. It is a something I return to often, for it is a living document. It is my statement of educational philosophy. Apart from being a requirement for most educational career positions, the development and revision of a personal educational philosophy can provide direction, clarity, and at times, reassurance.
Much like a mission statement written for a school, writing a statement of educational philosophy provides a great way to reflect on and internalize your strongest beliefs and feelings about what the education profession means to you. This statement is not a description of your personal teaching style, best curricular topic, or anecdotal solution. Instead, it presents your overall beliefs and ideals that motivate and inspire your thinking as it relates to what you do. It also presents attitudes and viewpoints that direct your daily actions. The education profession involves diverse roles and a variety of responsibilities, and personal reflection can invoke an array of meanings and interpretations about what it means to be a part of the “system.”
If you are crafting your statement now, or planning a revision, there are countless articles and websites offering assistance in the writing process. But, keep in mind that your statement belongs to you, and should be original and unique. While following a template is often helpful at the onset, letting go of convention and digging deep to uncover your motivation and inspiration as it relates to education allows for personalization. A few of my favorite “guides” come via the University of Minnesota’s Writing Your Teaching Philosophy webpage , Oregon State’s Suggestions for Writing and Educational Philosophy Statement , and Gabriela Montell’s piece, How to Write a Statement of Teaching Philosophy. All provide great suggestions and pointers for crafting your statement of educational philosophy.
Whether you are a seasoned veteran, an educator with a few years under your belt, or just starting off in the classroom, drafting, revisiting, and revising a statement of educational philosophy over time is an essential journey to embark upon.
Here is mine as it appears today.
Education is about understanding. I am not merely speaking about knowledge related to a specific discipline, but an understanding of the immense variation of our students’ social, emotional, educational, and economic backgrounds, which demand individualized acceptance and consideration. Those of us involved in education must understand the strategies, practices, tools, and resources available, and understand that we are not simply providers of information; rather we are providers of experience. It is the educator’s responsibility to continuously learn and be educated as well. We must seek out new and innovative ideas found in the pages of texts and journals. We should seek out professional development opportunities and connect with others in the profession. We must advocate for our students and their best interests. We must come to know who we are as members of the educational community. Most importantly, we need to expose our students to the global community, which is quite larger than the neighborhoods, the towns, or even the states where our students live. The development of higher order thinking skills, problem solving techniques, creativity, and autonomous learning should serve as the foundation for many of the lessons developed by educators, for they are the foundation of the characteristics that drive our high-ability students. It will take time to instill these traits in our students. One thing is for certain; we need to start now.
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