Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Philosophy of Education

The idea of our own Philosophy of Education is a personal thing. It is ours and ours alone. Whether we realize it or not we all have one. Our philosophy is shaped from several sources. It is shaped from what we have learned from others. I have taken many graduate level courses on a variety of educational topics. It is shaped from what we have experienced. I have experienced eight years working in the classroom in some way or another. It also is shaped by our own personality and thoughts. I have pondered and questioned how I can improve as a teacher of children. Writing this Philosophy of Education paper allows me to put down what I believe about how to educate others. Four points I would like to make in this paper are: the purpose of education to gain tools to explore the world, always trying new things and make it fun, students are individuals and unique, and teaching is a partnership and respect them.

First, I believe the purpose of education is to help students gain the tools needed to explore the world around them. We are all learning as we go through life. The information we gain as we have experiences helps us to create the way we perceive the world. As teachers we help our students gain the tools to interpret and build upon the knowledge we are given from our experiences. Every single day we are evolving our perception of the world in which we live.

As teachers we should help the students learn the skills to gain knowledge for themselves to improve their lives. We teach facts. These facts tend to may stay constant or may change slightly from time to time. For example let’s take math. During a math activity a student was bowling. There were empty several soda bottles used as pins and a soft ball as the bowling ball. The student had two attempts to knock down the pins. After the two tries the student added the number of pins that were knocked down each try. So if the student knocked down two pins on the first try and five pins on the second try; the number of pins the student knocked down for that turn was 7. It does not change that 2 plus 5 equals 7. That is a fact that does not change. In order for the students to gain that knowledge for themselves they need to be taught the skills to interpret the experience of knocking down the pins and knowing how many were knocked down.

However sometimes facts can change. For example during a school year in which there is a presidential election, if you ask a student who is the president of the United States, you may get two answers depending on when during that year you ask the question. As our perception of the world changed so did the fact. As teachers we should give the students the ability to question and to find the answers out for themselves. They need to be able to think and reason for themselves to the best of their ability. In this example the students need several things such as: knowledge of government, what voting is, reading or being able to follow someone else speaking, and retaining the information. When they are able to do this then they gain knowledge to improve their lives.

Second, I believe that to be an affective teacher that you should always try new things and make learning fun. Do not be afraid to experiment in ways to present information from the lesson to your classroom. We can always improve. As such teachers should always be pondering on how I can present this material. How can I make the lesson real to them? How can I present the lesson in a way that they will remember the concepts? How can I grab and hold their attention? Teachers should talk to one another and share what has worked and what has not worked for them.

Teachers should try to make the lessons and activities as fun as possible for the students and for themselves. If you are not enjoying what you are presenting to students that can come across to the students and can affect their learning of the material. Also if the students are enjoying the learning process then it will be an experience they will want to remember. This will then affect the ability in retaining knowledge from the lesson. That is a reason it is important to try new things.

I have an example of the second belief. One thing I have worked on in my class is calendar systems. The calendar system is a way for the students to keep track of their schedule for the day. Every student has their own schedule to follow. I go over it in the mornings. The student’s calendar system is made up of tactile symbols that stand for activities during the day. There is a symbol for activities such as bathroom, eating, orientation and mobility, physical education, classroom lesson time, art class, etc. There are also symbols for the days of the week. Every day the students have a different schedule to follow.

So one of the things we have worked on is for the students to be able to identify the different symbols for their calendar system. As the year progressed I tried several different things in order to help learn the symbols. First I went over the calendar in the mornings at the same time every day. I took time for the students to feel the symbols as we discussed what was going to happen that day. Another thing I tried was to give a student a symbol to hold and explore. I then asked the student to choose between two choices and tell what symbol they had. I played board games with the students in order to help them identify the symbols. When we went over the schedule the students got to add the symbols to the calendar. When it was time for an activity on the calendar schedule the students got to feel the symbol for the activity and then when the activity was finished to put the symbol into the finished bag. I also made up a silly song about the symbols to help the students identify the symbols. Now I did not do everything at once. But as the year went on I kept thinking how we can help improve the way the students learned the symbols for the calendar system. I was willing to experiment. I was thinking of ways to make learning enjoyable and fun for the students and myself. All these things helped the student to learn to identify the symbols for their calendar system.

Third, I believe that each student is a unique individual. The students are coming from different backgrounds and experiences. The students have different strengths and weaknesses. The students have different challenges and opportunities. The students have different learning styles. All of these things must be taken into consideration by the teacher. As stated earlier, teachers need to ponder how to improve the lesson. Teachers need to be flexible and willing to try something new. As much as possible lessons should incorporate something from all the learning styles in them.

For example let’s go back to an example I had used earlier. One of the activities that students in my class enjoyed was the adding of bowling pins. The rules to the activity are stated previously in the paper. In this lesson the students got to do each of the learning styles audio, visual, and kinesthetic. During the lesson several things happen. The students have the auditory learning style when: I explain the rules to the activity, when they hear the ball knocking down pins, when they count verbally the number of pins were knocked down on each try, and when they state the answer to the how many pins where knocked down totally. The students are visually learning when they feel the ball and pins, feel each pin when they are counting, and feel all the pins they knocked down. The students are kinesthetically learning as they throw or role the ball toward the pins, as they move to touch the pins as they count, and as they move to take turns during the activity. Thus during this fun and simple learning activity all of the learning styles were incorporated for the students.

Fourth, I believe to be an affective teacher that you need to remember that it is a partnership between the student, family, and teacher. As such you need to respect the people you work with. I think if you are respectful and show it on a regular bases then the exchange of ideas can flow smoothly. It helps with the classroom management side of teaching. Being respectful is for you, students, other staff, and teachers. As stated everyone is in a partnership in the education process. Being respectful is not hard and just requires doing some of the little things. Some examples of this include: using words like please and thank you in your everyday conversations, telling others you appreciate their efforts, being upfront and honest with others, and being calm and patient with others. When you are respectful to those around you it helps to provide a safe and friendly atmosphere in which to exchange and practice ideas and concepts with others.

I have had experience with having students in my classroom who have reputations of having behavior problems. These problems can potentially affect everyone in the classroom as well as at home. I have seen by being respectful to the student with the behavior, the family, other students in the classroom, and staff; situations that had a potential to escalate were able to gradually die down. It really helped to realize it was a partnership and to be respectful to everyone involved.

Thank you for reading my Philosophy of Education paper. I hope that this gives you a better understanding about me. I believe that as a teacher I can better educate the students in my classroom by following the beliefs discussed about in this paper. I believe that by following these believes that I can have an effective classroom environment in which everyone involved can benefit.

Journal of O&M Experiences

June 7 – It is the first day of class. I need a big note book for the class. We worked on sighted guide activity today. It was fun. We just went down the hall and back. We were in pairs. One person had a blindfold on and was holding on the other persons arm above the elbow. The person that could see led the other person around.

June 8 – We picked up canes today. It was a nice walk over to Spring Annex. The canes are measured from the sternum down to the floor. This helps to find the right size cane for you.

June 9 – Today we talked about guide dogs and did a little sighted guide work. We had a person come in talk about her experiences with using a guide dog. We saw the guide dog move through a little optical course. It was interesting to see the dog guide his master around. He shielded the master from the objects in the path. We practiced trailing down a wall and worked on sighted guide more. I learned what it feels like for my kids as they try to travel down the hall. You are dependent on your guide to keep you from hitting things as you travel. When you are trailing ye feel every little thing along the wall.

June 14 – Today we got to try on different glasses that simulated cataracts, glaucoma, and reitnitiour premotoma. It was very interesting to experience what it is like to have these eye conditions. I actually ran into a chair my first trip out in the hall. After that I grabbed my cane to travel.

June 15 – I tried a vision simulator that was 20/400. I could see real blurry shapes but not much detail. When I was moving around the room, I felt like I was on a ship that was rocking around. I felt very unsteady. I only had the simulator on for maybe 5 minutes, but since I was not used to the unsteady feeling I had, I started to feel motion sickness. Interesting experience.

June 22 – Today we practiced trailing and sighted guide again. I first worked on trailing. I started from the room and went to the part of the building with the elementary hall. There is a big tactile dragon on one of the walls. I took time to feel the dragon. I had one instance where I took a side trip into a bathroom. That was not intended. The sighted guide practice went well.

June 23 – We did a lot of cane work and trailing today. It was an interesting experience. It really is fascinating to experience what it is like to travel without being able to see. There were times that I ran into things on the walls like a fire alarm or into doors that were open. At other times I found that I got turned around and lost. I did not know where I was in space and did not know what direction I need to go. It was a real eye opening experience.

June 24 – Today we did a lot of work with the cane. We worked on the touch technique or the 2 point touch. This is when you hold the cane in the correct position, in front of you at the belly button, and move the cane from side to side an inch past your shoulders. You tap the can tip on the ground in each direction as you walk. We started close to some stairs outside an entrance to the building. We traveled down to the side walk until we found the curb to the parking lot. We then turned left and traveled down the sidewalk. The curb was our shore line or land mark to keep us from weaving around and to stay on the sidewalk. We followed the sidewalk until we came to the end and ran into the grass. We turned right as the sidewalk turned. We took a few steps and then turned around 180 degrees to the left. We then walked until we found grass in front of us again. It was a few steps. We then turned left and traveled down the sidewalk the way we had come. This time we had a shore line of grass on right. We traveled down until we lost the grass shore line. At this point we turned right and followed the side walk with the grass shore line. We traveled until we came to some steps. We walked up the steps and found the doorway into the building.
It was an interesting experience. You had to do a lot of things at the same time. You had to keep your arm in the correct position. You had to move the cane with your wrist and not your whole arm. You had to keep the shore line on your right and not lose it. You had to listen to instructions. You also had to keep in step with the taping of the cane. The left foot moves when the cane is taping on the right side and the right foot moves when the cane is taping on the left side. You also had to know where you are in space. All of these things came into play.