Philosophy

I wrote my philosophy of teaching when I was a classroom teacher.  While I am not in the classroom now, my beliefs are still the same….

I believe my life as an educator began the moment I was born.  I have never wanted to do anything more than teach.  The passionate desire I have to empower children to learn guides me every day in the classroom.  Every child I teach is an opportunity for me to impact the future of his life and of the world is which he will live and grow. 

As a teacher, my vision is to be an educator that empowers students to grow both academically and personally.  I want to lead them towards the island of knowledge and watch them embrace it wholeheartedly.  I want to then step back and watch those children work together to further develop that island of learning until it encompasses the world.  As a teacher, I know that knowledge really is power.  My job is to provide opportunities for my students to recognize how true that statement really is.  I want to inspire my students to crave knowledge.

My personal growth as a teacher began on a cold December day 30 years ago on the day I was born in South Carolina.  I believe I was born to teach.  I was very fortunate to grow in a family of two loving parents and a vibrant younger sister.  Their guidance and support was instrumental in my success.  As I prepared to enter Appalachian State University in the mountains of North Carolina, my father wrote in my high school graduation card, “It is only fitting that you are going to school on top of a mountain.  You always have reached for the top.  The world steps aside for anyone who knows where she is going.  You’ve always known where you were going.  We will help you get there.”  That unconditional support in my goals and dreams is exactly what I want to instill in my students.

I teach reading to approximately 100 third graders this year and I believe my classroom is a safe learning environment that supports all learners.  Students in my class work together to share ideas, solve problems, and develop collaborative skills.  Enter one of my reading classes and you will find students engaged in reading activities that support growth in our standard course of study objectives.  Children are often working in pairs or small groups to discuss reading selections or the class is working together to learn and practice a reading strategy.  Students answer critical thinking questions and are encouraged to take risks as they learn.  When appropriate and available, technology is infused in my lessons as a tool for learning.

If I want my students to be problem solvers, to continue to challenge themselves, and to yearn for knowledge, then I must provide them with opportunities that encourage such behaviors.  This can be a daunting task for a teacher and is certainly an ongoing process.  My lessons are structured to encourage critical thinking and to improve the reading skills of each student.  Each year, my instruction methods change to meet the needs and learning styles of my students.  I embrace change in my teaching style when I know it is beneficial to my students. 

I believe that teachers should act as facilitators of instruction.  While considering that statement, I began doing some self-directed research on instructional technology to understand better how it relates to learning.  Not too long after my search began, I applied to graduate school and entered the instructional technology program at Appalachian State University.  I am now immersed in the history and implications of technology integration in the classroom.  This has been as interesting journey thus far, and I find myself in deep reflection as I ponder what I believe in education. 

Through my own research and my studies in this masters program, I have developed a strong belief that technology should be used as a tool for learning.  While teachers continue to struggle with issues such as time, access, and support needed to fulfill the dream of true technology integration, I believe I can make a difference in leading the way by showing how true integration works.  I can also be a support link for teachers as they continue to learn more about technology.To truly fulfill the dream of technology integration, we must first develop and articulate a clear vision of where we want to go.  This Japanese proverb sums it up well: Vision without action is a daydream, action without vision is a nightmare.

My vision of an island of learning with true technology integration steers the way for focused pedagogical development.  I envision an island where technology and learning go hand-in-hand, where students take responsibility for their own learning, and where teachers are the tour guides, leading students to self-directed learning.  Here on this island, students collaborate, teachers are facilitators of learning, assessment is ongoing and appropriate, home/school/community harmoniously work together, and technology is a vital tool for learning.  I envision children making this island their home.  I see children developing this island of knowledge and learning so that it encompasses the world.

Every day, I set high expectations for my students and for myself.  I discovered a long time ago that I am a teacher twenty-four hours a day.  My personal growth plays a large part in my pursuit to become a better teacher.  I take to my classroom all the lessons I’ve learned as a citizen, mother, wife, sister, daughter, and student.  Teachers have the awesome responsibility and honor of leading, empowering, and guiding young lives.  I have accepted this responsibility with pride and courage. 

I believe constructive educational reform lies in the hearts of visionary educators who are risk-takers.  In the book Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach, there was one seagull different from the others.  He was a risk taker, flying faster and higher than the others.  When Jonathan encountered a broken-winged seagull and encouraged him to fly despite his limitations, the seagull asked, “Are you saying that I can fly?” and Jonathan replied, “I’m saying you can be free.”  I want to empower students to be courageous and free from limitations as they fly to reach their dreams.

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Donna Murray – Digital Teaching and Learning Consultant