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Sareeta Lopez

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A Statement of My Teaching Philosophy


My teaching philosophy is based on authentic human connection as well as respect. I
believe that students and teachers need to recognize each other as people in order to work
together and learn together. Teachers must connect with students and share parts of themselves
with students, so that students feel safe to share themselves as well. Indeed, Parsonson believes
that positive relationship building is the first and most important strategy in classroom
management (2012, p. 21). As well, much like Conrad states that as a critical researcher, if I
asked my participants to share their stories, I also had a responsibility to share mine (2005, p.
37), the teacher must participate with students if the students are expected to participate and be
vulnerable. In other words, the teacher must show themselves to their students, adhering to
professionalism but not hiding behind it. These views influence my approach to student-teacher
relationships and classroom dynamics: I believe a teacher that can act without fear of
embarrassment or mistakes, enjoy themselves, be themselves, and recognize that students are
people are better able to gain the respect of students in a way that fosters a positive relationship
and in turn a positive, safe classroom environment that is conducive to learning.
Generally, I believe that the purpose of education is to give students a chance to learn
about and develop themselves. In relation to this, I believe that education should not necessarily
be a way to force students out of their comfort zones, but to encourage students to delve deeper
into themselves. Education should help students discover more about who they are and who they
want to be, and it should help build their self-confidence and transferable skills.
I believe students need freedom in order to make these discoveries and build these skills.
In the Montessori system, students can focus on their interests and hone their skills in those
areas, because life is based on choice, so they learn to make their own decisions. They must
decide and choose for themselves all the time They cannot learn through obedience to the
commands of another (as cited in Lillard, 2005, p. 80) This type of motivation is what I believe
is most efficient for students; it provides them with the opportunity to choose for themselves.
Being able to choose how I work on top of what has helped motivate me in my own studies,
especially creatively within the aesthetic experience of drama, and I believe that it can help my
future students as well. I believe that the benefits of providing students as much freedom as
possible outweigh the disadvantage of possible failure from lack of teacher control.
This is because I also believe in the element of trust: collaboration between schools and
students, as well as authenticity. There should be little to no hiding, sugarcoating, or babying
with students allowing for differentiation within each classroom because students can be
responsible. Students will learn best about responsibility if they know that teachers trust them,
and providing students freedom and trusting them in that environment is an excellent way to
provide students with that opportunity. Respect is one of the most important things in my

Sareeta Lopez

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philosophy of teaching, and trust is a major part of respect. Treating students with respect is the
best way to establish a positive learning environment and positive teacher-student relationships.
The teacher must shift responsibility to students and relinquish some control so that students can
truly explore and learn more. The teacher should be someone to respect not because they are an
authority not to be questioned, but because they are a person much like the student is, and though
they do not know all they are not an expert, but a facilitator respect comes from the
positive relationship between the student and teacher.
Knowing that I cannot change the system alone, and that it would be a long journey to
this type of change for public school systems, as an individual teacher I work to shape my
classroom around these ideals. I work to provide as much choice as possible to students in my
own classroom, as much opportunity for ownership of their work, and I adapt so that students
can learn what they are interested in. I share myself with my students, and though I am
professional, I allow myself to interact with students on a more personal level as well.
Overall, I attempt to create an atmosphere in my classroom where students have the most
freedom and responsibility as they can. Ayers states that teachers should identify with students:
the teachers approach is solidarity, not service (Ayers, 2006, p. 273). For example, as Ayers
suggests, simply letting students know that they can eat if they are hungry, wear their hats, or
chew gum as long as they clean up after themselves (p. 271) if these are in adherence with
school rules lets students know that they are trusted. Allowing students responsibility and
stepping away from the dizzying pose of authority (p. 273) as a teacher not only gives students
freedom, but establishes a relationship with the teacher that helps maintain a positive learning
environment. Small steps like these help establish the environment I seek to create in a system
that is not so open-minded as of yet: an environment, based on trust, with the freedom necessary
for students to learn about and develop themselves.
References
Ayers, W. (2006). The hope and practice of teaching. Journal of Teacher Education, 57(3),
269-277. doi: 10.1177/0022487105285891
Conrad, D. (2005). Rethinking at-risk in drama education: beyond prescribed roles. Research in
Drama Education: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance, 10(1), 27-41. doi:
10.1080/13569780500053114
Lillard, A. S. (2005). Montessori: The science behind the genius. New York; Oxford: Oxford
University Press. Retrieved from http://www.myilibrary.com?ID=53429
Parsonson, Dr. Barry S. (2012). Evidence-based classroom behaviour management strategies.
Kairaranga. 13(1), 16-23. Retrieved from: http://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ976654