My learning philosophy has changed throughout my teaching career. As I think back to my high school days, I have fond memories of school. I enjoyed learning, but I’m sure that I enjoyed the social arena quite equally. The best example that comes to mind for my learning philosophy is the dissection of a frog in Biology. Based on my memory, Mr. Orphy introduced the lesson with a reel-to-reel video, followed by a vocabulary list that was listed on the board, next we read the chapter and answered the questions before we could actually get our hands on the frogs in the lab. Finally, our assessment was walking around the classroom and identifying the dissected parts of a frog. This type of learning is in my wheelhouse. I need to see an example, learn the terminology, read information, ask and answer questions, then actually “do” the hands-on work myself. I rarely enjoyed group work in high school because I felt like I was always the one that had to finish the project. But, I truly enjoyed the group work of dissecting a frog in Biology.
Before I explain more about my learning philosophy which I believe to be a Constructivist approach, I need to divulge a little background knowledge. My best friend from high school, Lori, was an extremely gifted student. She was so gifted that she was allowed to skip the eighth grade. I graduated one year before she did, but we were in college at the same time. We were both going to be teachers and had many of the same classes at McNeese. I attended every single class, took massive notes, read every chapter, studied for hours, stressed over tests while Lori could literally miss one class per week, look over my notes the night before the test, and make a better grade on the test than me. She did that in every single class that we took together. By our senior year, she didn’t attend half of the classes and still made a higher grade than me. But, she has a great memory, she can follow directions easily if she hears something once, she can remember it, if she reads something once, she can remember it. Plus, she knows how to apply all of her knowledge and figure things out on her own. Needless to say, she was a fantastic high school English teacher.
Although our different learning styles frustrated me throughout college, it also opened my eyes early on in my career to differentiated learning. Students learn in different ways, with different skill sets, and with varied prior knowledge. But, I feel that we must capture a student’s heart, help them discover the “why” behind learning, ignite a fire for learning, and involve them in learning for fun. My innovation plan and innovation plan outline need to be modified as I’m learning new approaches and new ways of thinking and teaching.
Constructivist Theory (Jerome Bruner)
A major theme in the theoretical framework of Bruner is that learning is an active process in which learners construct new ideas or concepts based upon their current/past knowledge. The learner selects and transforms information, constructs hypotheses, and makes decisions, relying on a cognitive structure to do so. Cognitive structure (i.e., schema, mental models) provides meaning and organization to experiences and allows the individual to “go beyond the information given”.
A Constructivist learning philosophy influences my innovation plan because I have to be able to assess each student, personalize each lesson to meet the student’s needs, and differentiate my assessments to ensure that all of my students are understanding the why and will be able to apply new knowledge to real life situations. My role as a change agent is to model the learning environment on my campus. Change isn’t easy, but if I can influence a few teachers by demonstrating the success and joy in the student’s learning, I think I can be effective. My other goal in my innovation plan is to enhance professional development. If I can present a well-developed lesson and present it with passion during professional development, I believe I can get at least ten percent of my colleagues to try blended learning.
Throughout my plan, I need to remember what information the students actually seek and want to absorb. Always strive to show the importance and the why of each lesson. Students deserve to know how present learning will impact future learning and performance in life. The big picture counts in every lesson, every assessment, and every conversation with students and teachers. I learn by seeing, reading, discussions, and doing. Making learning real, engaging, and fun will challenge my teaching style. I wish I had more energy to devote to each and every student. I wish I had pursued these graduate courses earlier in life, just imagine how many lives I could have changed – both with students and teachers.
Finally, I often wonder how the path of my life would have changed had I been able to watch YouTube videos to learn, get online and do research – with pictures, and being able to collaborate with others to discuss opinions, facts, ideas. I wonder how my teaching career and teaching philosophy would be different if I had access to the internet during high school and college. Personally, I believe that I can relate to those students who need visual reinforcement and hands-on learning because of my learning style. Being able to relate to students and their various styles of learning will help me to create and deliver lessons that are more memorable and enjoyable for all involved. My ultimate goal is to teach and encourage life-long learners. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for my students in the blended learning classroom.
Mandernach, B. Jean PhD. (2009). Philosophy of teaching statement focuses on student learning. Retrieved from http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/philosophy-of-teaching/philosophy-of-teaching-statement-focuses-on-student-learning/
Harapnuik, D., Learning Philosophy, (2016), Retrieved from http://harapnuk.org/?page id=4639
Images retrieved from http://www.twitter.com April 1, 2017.