My philosophy of teaching is based on Piaget’s constructivist learning theory, Vygotsky’s sociocultural development theory, and Dweck’s concept of growth mindset. My belief is that learning should empower students to take control of and be responsible for their education. As a teacher, it is my responsibility to provide a safe environment that encourages active participation and collaboration among peers, instills problem-solving and critical thinking skills, and supports students in becoming life-long learners.
I create a student-centered classroom that promotes active learning, in which students do more than watch, listen, and take notes. To elicit student engagement, I utilize responsive teaching techniques that focus on student thinking, also helping me in addressing their individual needs. Students are expected to work together in structured, cooperative groups in which there are understood expectations and clearly defined goals. Students work through problem-based and inquiry-based learning activities or projects that require them to apply what they have learned in order to make more profound connections to the material. This student-directed approach puts the student in the driver seat of their learning, forcing them to take ownership of their education.
The most effective way for students to build their knowledge and understanding is through their social and cultural experiences. Social interaction is critical for cognitive development. By interacting with their peers, mentors, and teachers, they are able to attain a deeper understanding than they would if learning independently. A learner’s area of capability, zone of proximal development (ZPD), is influenced by support from the teacher. With the assistance of others more knowledgeable, the student can be pushed to expand their level of understanding. As a teacher, I implement scaffolding techniques in order to challenge students, enhance learning, and support their mastery of skills.
Knowledge building and knowledge building environments are utilized to promote collaboration among students, who are often of different cultures or backgrounds. Because students learn from their environment, these interactions support them in building their existing knowledge, constantly working to revise their ideas and construct new knowledge. My overarching goal as a teacher is to build a community of learners that extends beyond the classroom and continues to develop throughout their lives.
Intelligence is not fixed, but constantly growing. As a teacher, it is essential to foster a growth mindset in my students. They are not just learning core curriculum to progress to the next grade; they are developing the skills necessary to succeed throughout their lives. A growth mindset embraces challenges and sees failure, not as an indication of a lack of ability, but as an opportunity for growth. In my classroom, they learn that failure (when productive) is only short-term and leads to long-term success. This idea is not only about praising effort, but about teaching students how to learn and develop the strategies they need to overcome challenges.
I firmly believe that assessment solely through testing is not the best way to measure student learning. A combination of formative and summative assessments and evaluating student work in groups, projects, and research is the best way to understand what a student has learned. Students should demonstrate an ability to apply key concepts, rather than recite memorized facts and equations. In addition to the traditional quizzes and exams, I use collaborative research projects, presentations of learning, portfolios, interactive activities, and class discussions to assess student understanding.
All students deserve quality instruction and a stimulating learning environment. My goal is to inspire all of my students to become the next scientists, engineers, doctors, or even teachers – as mine have inspired me.
- Stephen F. Austin High School | Austin, Texas
August 2022 - present: Chemistry, Advanced Chemistry; grade 10
January 2022 - May 2022: Biology, Advanced Biology; grade 9
- KIPP Austin Brave High School | Austin, Texas
July 2021 - January 2022: Honors Biology; grade 11