When you think of kids, what two words come to mind? If the words you thought of were “curiosity” and “fearlessness” then you’re right on track with high school educator Robert Weaver’s classroom philosophy. In his philosophy, Weaver tells us that all students have a right to learn and that using technology is the best way to get there.
Personal Classroom Philosophy
My original classroom philosophy revolved around my belief that students should become seekers of knowledge. In recent years I’ve added that students also need to become good digital citizens. This addition involved teaching about Internet safety, security, etiquette, and cyberbullying. After reading Richardson’s article and further exploring his writing through his blog and website, I realize that once again I need to revise my teaching philosophy to include building a web presence for my students. With that in mind, here is the latest version of my classroom/teaching philosophy.
Teaching Philosophy for Robert Weaver
Most children are naturally curious and want to know why things are the way they are. Very young children are persistent in this quest for knowledge. Sadly, adults tend to stifle that natural curiosity for a variety of reasons, including, time (don’t bother me now…), fear (of looking bad because they don’t know something…), or power (I know something you don’t know…). Children are also less afraid of failure and the unknown, and they love to explore. As children grow up adults often, I believe unintentionally, teach them to avoid failure and to be overly cautious by placing their own fears, doubts, and beliefs on the children. By the time children become young adults many have lost some of their natural curiosity and fearlessness. At the time where they finally have the opportunity and tools to find the answers to many of their questions, many have lost the desire to seek answers. Instead, they expect to be handed the answers by way of multiple-choice questions, word banks, context clues, or hints that remove opportunities for critical thinking and sustained effort.
Therefore, in my classroom, I believe:
- All students have the right to learn. I want my students to feel comfortable, safe, and free to express themselves in my classroom. Each student’s opinions and efforts are valuable and should be appreciated by their classmates. I will not tolerate students demeaning their classmates or interfering with the rights of other students to learn. The class needs to be a learning team committed to excellence in all they attempt. With their collective strengths, they all become better students and citizens.
- I want to awaken students’ natural curiosity and quest for knowledge. This will be accomplished by centering classes and lessons, to the extent possible, through projects, problems to be solved, or questions to be answered. I will try my best to relate what we are learning to real-world examples and experiences rather than doing something just to meet the standard. I will make it real.
- I will teach students how to find the answers. I will encourage them to look up answers at every opportunity using the library, student online databases, andGoogle. Searching will not be limited to typing something in the search box and randomly selecting one of the answers. They will learn how to determine what they are looking for and express that in a short phrase or group of relevant keywords. I will show them all that Google has to offer in the way of searching and once they get search results, how to evaluate those results for validity. In short, students will learn the hard work of finding the right or best answer or solution.
- I will encourage students to learn how to type. We will use word processing apps and blogging to emphasize the importance of keyboarding and effective written communication. Practice makes perfect and the only way to become a good writer is to write.
- Students will learn how to use popular productivity software to solve problems, analyze data, and communicate with others. Lessons will involve as many areas of the curriculum as possible so they can see how the subjects they study do not exist in isolation.
- Students will learn how to create videos and photo montages to tell a story, provide information, or help solve a problem.
- Students will become familiar with social media and how to responsibly maintain a presence online. I will show them examples of how poor decisions in using social media can lead to serious consequences. Students will be exposed to as many examples as possible of how social media can be used in a positive manner to enhance their lives and the lives of others.
- I will teach students about safety and security on the internet. They will learn how to differentiate between information that is safe to publish and information, which should never be made public. They will learn about managing their finances and other personal business on the web.
- Students will create and maintain digital portfolios of their work so examples of what they can do are readily available. This portfolio will include at a minimum, examples of their writing, use of productivity software, video and photo projects, and use of web applications.
In summary, I will encourage students to actively participate in their education through the use of technology in the classroom at every available opportunity. When they leave my class, I expect them to be savvy tech users and exemplary digital citizens prepared to tackle any challenge they may experience as they go through life.
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