Monday, July 11, 2016

What is education really?!?!

I am fortunate.  I had a fantastic 2015 year.  I got married; I had a baby; I got my full contract teaching.    Although I am currently on maternity leave, my mind has been wandering.  My oldest daughter was in school, my husband works a lot of afternoons and midnight shifts, so I was often alone with the baby.  Who I must say is wonderful.  No colic, no late night screaming matches, not even a diaper rash.  He's amazing.  But with that came the opportunity to let my thoughts overtake my mind.  Sometimes I feel like I have so many thoughts, my brain is constantly on the go.  I move from one thing to another, quickly.  I don't often sit and rest.  Focusing can be hard. I like to do many things at once, which I realize can be problematic. 

My one question over these last couple of months:  

How does my philosophy of what education really affect my teaching?

I remember being asked this so often while completing my B.Ed. "What is your philosophy of education?"  Even though this was only a few years ago, at the time I just thought it was a regurgitated thought that the professors wanted me to say.  I've realized in my time off, my philosophy of education will not only make me a better teacher, but helps guide the pedagogy I choose within and outside the walls of the school.

Education is supposed to provide opportunity, to students of all abilities and demographics.  Ever watched Jennifer Magiera in her Tedx Talk "Power to the Pupil"?  She discusses how education shouldn't be based on how rich or poor we are.  I think I've watched this talk at least 5 times and every time I watch it, one line in particular resonates with me the most: "Why is creativity and innovation a luxury?"

In my first year of teaching, I considered so many things to try.  I wanted to engage the students, I didn't want to give them a pencil and piece of paper and watch them work.  I wanted to engage with my students about real life problems that concerned them.  But so many things were thrown at me, so many assessments, writing report cards for the first time, union concerns, field trips, school requirements and other things that went beyond just writing a lesson plan and implementing it, I didn't know which way to look.  

But now, on this time off, I have had time to reflect.  I actually thought about my thoughts, and here is what I know about my philosophy of what education should represent to us:
  1. Education is about opportunity. 
  2. Education goes beyond curriculum subjects; it is anything and everything you want to learn.
  3. Education is for everyone, regardless of our location, our abilities or what our demographics are.
Now I teach French Immersion, so I do have to consider how to put this into place in my classroom where students are coming from a variety of areas in my city, everyone is learning a new language and everyone still needs to learn what is in the curriculum documents.  Honestly, I'm learning as I go.  This job is hard, but not impossible.

The new year is coming faster than I want.  In less than 2 months, my daughter will be in grade 8, my husband will be back to shift work, my baby will be in daycare and I will be back to work.  I'm moving to a new school, a new grade and new opportunities.  This will be the year, I allow my students opportunities to become learners that want to find answers to their questions; I will consider curriculum and their interests; I will help create an atmosphere in the classroom that represents the readiness and ability to learn alongside my students.

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