Just One Philosophy of Teaching…

or is it more a philosophy of learning?

I guess I am philosophically a constructivist or constructionist if you will. As pedagogy, constructivism appeals to me intellectually and practically and I make every effort to facilitate the learning experience according to those broad tenets. That is how I learn and that is how I prefer to be taught but I also respect the need for others to learn differently. I strive to develop a positive and open learning environment, to guide students toward understanding and developing their own learning styles and philosophies and to help them realize their potential as active, reflective, and evolving critical thinkers. However, on occasion, hopefully only when the situation dictates, I tend to revert to a more didactic approach, the result of my military experience, I am sure, wherein understanding often took a backseat to rote process memorization and practice. I find that this approach has its benefits, especially when teaching technology applications and processes which frequently involve sequential exactness.

My mantra when facilitating technology professional development sessions is that the key to enhancing student achievement lies at the confluence of curricular content, differential pedagogies and technology integration–that the interoperability of these three elements will foster engaged learning, encourage students to accept accountability and responsibility for their own education and consequently prepare them for success in the 21st Century. I believe that and I believe that my enthusiasm for learning, developing authentic, engaging curricula, customizing my teaching style to fit the situation and student and integrating appropriate technological tools has allowed me to have a long-term positive effect on students. It has taken me a while to figure out how to combine these. As a technology teacher, initially I naturally began by focusing on the technology (the tool) and proceeded to integrate the content into the technology. When I was teaching word processing, for example, the focus would be on the application–“click here,” “click there”–and not on purposeful output. The tool (technology) was driving my teaching. I have long since learned that the focus belongs on communicating through writing and that the learning process should provide students with opportunities to express themselves by way of various technology tools. The results are exciting and rewarding. I am a firm believer in project-based learning. I experience great satisfaction from facilitating and encouraging students as they experience realistic self-discovery successes yet I remain aware of my obligation to guide them in their journey toward discovery of self.

More broadly, my extra-curricular goals as a teacher include helping students learn to be authentic, to accept who they are, to find the right career, to hold life, learning and their faith as precious, and to make the right choices. Students bring varying and rich cultures and experiences to the classroom. As a teacher, I believe that not only I am obligated to celebrate and build upon these cultural and experiential platforms but to help students to go beyond in order to develop a multicultural word view. As St. John Bosco wrote, “Instruction is but an accessory, like a game; knowledge never makes a man because it does not directly touch the heart. It gives more power in the exercise of good or evil; but alone it is an indifferent weapon, wanting guidance.”