Philosophy– the dictionary meaning of the word is “The rational investigation of the truths and principles of being, knowledge, or conduct.” When this noun is used with another noun “teaching” it assumes a broad spectrum of possibilities. My philosophy of teaching is primarily motivated by the impact of education on society in general. Over the years my teaching philosophy has evolved with how my students have evolved during this period. It is important to me that the students always remain the central focus of my teaching. I always go with an open mind to a classroom full of students to make them an active part of the teaching and learning process.
The activity of teaching and learning is an extremely symbiotic process. On one end of this process, the students learn material presented in the classroom, while on the other end, the teacher tries to comprehend if the students are truly learning the material being taught in the class. To me these activities are closely related to the success of teaching and learning inside and outside of the classroom. As teachers, the first and the foremost challenge we face is that of motivating our students to learn. This begins by asking ourselves how motivated we are to take up this challenge. I believe that it is the combination of several ingredients such as dedication, perseverance, authority, good communication skills, flexibility, and character that make a good teacher. Yet above all these, passion to teach trumps every other ingredient in the making of a great teacher.
As a teacher it is necessary to have a clear vision of goals for your students. Acknowledging the variation in individual learning abilities of the students can help in outlining these goals in the classroom to a broad spectrum of students. Each student is unique in his/her way and brings a preexisting process of learning and understanding material. It is important to temper expectations and moderate assumptions about my students’ understanding of the subject based on their prerequisite knowledge. I recall a quote that I heard at a talk given by famous mathematics educator Dr. Herbert Gross : “ Students don’t fail calculus, they just don’t pass algebra”. This very statement has resonated with my understanding of how students in differential and integral calculus struggle to internalize the concepts that are built on the fundamental understanding of algebra, arithmetic and trigonometry. It is then no surprise to me that as a teacher my focus always has been to solidify the foundation of basic mathematics for my students.
From the student’s point of view learning is the main purpose of education. It is the natural goal of every student to increase their knowledge and understanding in the classroom. However this is in an ideal world. I believe there are several different approaches that work with different sets of students, yet there are some critical areas, which are an essential part of learning in any disciplines. First and foremost, from the student’s perspective, being able to form unique independent ideas to solve the problem is extremely important in and out of the classroom setting. Additionally, teamwork, being able to share ideas and working with others to achieve a common goal, is an essential part of this learning process. Lastly, it is very important to use already learned ideas and processes in new situations. This is how students canexperience new innovations and discoveries.
I believe it is continually necessary to keep reflecting on classroom instruction based on what students present as their understanding. Assessments of student understanding and assessing your own teaching are truly the two pillars of making a successful contribution in teaching young minds.