Philosophy of Teaching

My approach to teaching is broad, and my own opinions and theories on education could easily fill many pages. In general, however, my educational philosophy centers around a few main tenets in which I strongly believe (these apply to all learners, be they children or adults):

Expectation of student mastery is a prerequisite to quality teaching. As professional educators, we must know with absolute certainty that every student is capable of mastering both content knowledge and the skills to use that knowledge, and commit ourselves to taking whatever action is necessary to assist each individual in attaining such mastery.

Positive relationships are key to motivation. Students respond to educators who are passionate about the content area, and who demonstrate they care for the students and want students to be successful in learning and in life. Positive interactions motivate students to respond to instruction and, as a result, increase learning.

Students learn best by doing. As a result, education must be active; students should be constantly and willingly immersed in new challenges and activities that lead to mastery of new concepts and skills. Teacher-led discussion and lecture must be used only in conjunction with more engaging activities. “Bell-to-bell” cognitive engagement maximizes the likelihood of student learning.

Varied approaches to a single concept provide opportunities for all students to understand the material and master it through distributed practice. Reaching all students is of great importance. Implementing lessons which include a variety of approaches increases the likelihood that all students will be successful in acquiring the new knowledge and skills. Such an approach provides all learners with distributed practice and the opportunity to access the new content via various pathways. Additionally, varied lesson activities, assignments, and resources allows for differentiation of rigor to challenge all students.

Assessment of student progress should be continuous, performance-based, authentic, and inform instruction. Assess early and often, and then use the results to immediately modify instruction. Expert use of formative assessment processes, coupled with quality feedback to students, will—without exception—increase student learning. The traditional model of “teach, teach, teach, teach, test” stands as an ineffective relic that long ago outlived its usefulness.

Fast-paced lessons with smooth transitions increase the efficiency and effectiveness of instruction. Careful advanced preparation allows us the opportunity to assure mastery for all and reduces off-task behavior.

Research-supported educational best practices must touch all aspects of pedagogy. Regardless of the arena—unit and lesson planning, questioning, instructional strategies, curriculum development, assessment, classroom structure and management—we need not look far to locate research that absolutely must inform our professional practices. Visit my suggested reading list for more information.

Essential Elements

Areas of Interest

About J.

J.I'm an educator, technophile, artistic adventurer, and jack of all trades living and working in the heart of America. A brief biography is available for those interested. Please explore the site, or track me down elsewhere: