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My Teaching Philosophy

By Sonia Mullaney

My teaching philosophy is straightforward, and contains four essential elements: myself,

my students, their families, and the classroom. By myself, I mean my background, my
personality, my interests, my education, my strengths, my weaknesses, my beliefs, my values,
and everything I have to offer going forward into the classroom. Being raised in a home with
one non-English speaker (Mom, from Spain) has given me a base for understanding with which I
can utilize my own personal experience to empathize with not only English Language Learners
(ELLs), but all students within my classroom. Growing up with a parent whose native language
is not English allows me to understand other ELLs because I realize that there are many
important items that get lost in the translation. Sometimes those items are meaningless, but other
times they are critical to the communication process. As a teacher, by being able to slow down,
ask follow-up questions, and provide multiple checks for understanding, I will be able to ensure
that those learning holes are filled with understanding, while engaging the students process of
comprehension during the lessons. I am also fortunate to have experienced several cultures
around the globe (e.g. Spain, Italy, Mexico, Aruba, The Netherlands, Canada, France), and I
enjoy sharing and bringing all of those experiences alive in the classroom!
My students and their families are the next essential ingredients to my approach to
teaching. I recognize that all students have unique talents that can be expressed in different
ways. It is through individual student interaction that my hope is to capture each students
unique potential by offering them not only a model of what they can do, but also different
possibilities with which to express their knowledge and showcase their knowledge of learning
through various representations and individual expressions. By my students, I mean individuals,

each with their own components, and each with their own unique "learning style" and "needs,"
which I respect and intend to foster and utilize effectively. Students could include anyone that
speaks any language (English or otherwise), and a classroom environment that incorporates all
cultures, ethnicities, and wide ranges of multi-leveled socio-economic backgrounds. By
families, I intend to reach out, be inclusive and welcoming, to this vital element of each student's
uniqueness. I honor them and hope to maximally engage them not only in their child's growth
and development, but also involve them in all aspects of our entire classroom community.
My objective is not only to understand my students and their families but to foster a
learning environment in which all students can flourish. I believe the highest importance in
learning encompasses the entire classroom which we build together in a classroom community.
This can be done through a combination of individual work, pair work, small group work, and
whole group discussions. Allowing different groupings within the lessons fosters students
abilities to not only exchange their ideas and perspectives with one another, but also keeps them
engaged in meaningful ways through ongoing participation. English Language Learners not only
face the challenge of learning the academic content, they also face the challenge of learning it in
a different language other than their own native language. Traditionally, teachers have treated
language learning as a set of rules or structures separate from the process of teaching content
knowledge; this left ELLs unprepared to work with complex texts and academic language. My
allowing students to be given frequent, extended opportunities to read, speak, listen, and write in
various contexts within the lessons and groupings will allow all students to thrive in the
classroom together with their counterpart classmates. Another way in which to build the
classroom community is through differentiated instruction. Not only do students have different
learning styles (i.e. visual, auditory, kinesthetic), they also learn from multiple ways in which to

present the information within the lessons. Some examples of different tools I have used in the
classroom to motivate students with different learning styles include the use of manipulatives,
models, maps, and drawing diagrams to represent knowledge attained within the lesson. In my
quest to provide each student with unique opportunities within the classroom, I will utilize dance,
movement and cultural experiences such as ethnic foods and interaction with peers from other
countries. I also find that technology can be a useful tool in not only promoting self-reflection in
their work (through journals, etc.), but also collaboration that can be tailored to each students
skill level (steps of learning based on completing levels of tasks that are engaging). Overall, my
goal as an effective teacher, is to be able to tap into each students unique capabilities, while
motivating them to be the greatest version of themselves!