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Matt McKay Initial Philosophy of Education Statement This pre-service teacher is working toward obtaining certification to teach

Grades 7-12 in public schools in Connecticut, and will be student teaching 7th Grade “World Cultures” as a subject area in the fall. The long-term goal is to teach high school social studies. From that perspective, working toward instructional design will entail a careful examination of how this educator can employ differentiated instruction and understanding by design concepts into the classroom. Differentiated instruction is a concept coined by the discipline of education, and would entail varied pedagogy toward students to impart knowledge to every individual as best as possible. Meanwhile, understanding by design is another educational theory to employ into the classroom. The goal is to craft lesson plans and their corresponding units to entail an approach that considers what students ultimately learn and the accompanying transferable skills they acquire in the process. Units will be designed to increase learning both within and outside of social studies. The specific goals include imparting content-specific facts, ideas, themes, trends, and possibilities with respect to material being taught, whether it includes United States or world history, political science, geography, economics, or the behavioral sciences of anthropology, sociology, and psychology. Regardless of whether the aforementioned social science disciplines will be presented as individual courses or as components of a broad history/social studies curriculum, it is critical is to facilitate the learning environment as best as possible. This will entail providing a safe and nurturing classroom for students at the outset, which will assist with enabling them to focus their attention on the topics presented to and discussed with them. This future teacher will encourage students to contribute to class discussions by asking questions, answering instructor-led inquiries, and by participating in various group activities (including those activities that require creative thinking, reflection on possibly controversial social topics, etc.). While the goal is partially based on the ability of students to truly understand the subject matter, the overarching objective is to assist them in honing their analytical and critical thinking skills, in order to contribute toward their becoming transformed learners. Moreover, it is imperative that future students be able to transfer the knowledge they acquire in social studies classes toward other disciplines in an integrated and multidisciplinary approach. Furthermore, it is crucial for students to become civic-minded, objective, and knowledge-seeking citizens as it pertains to the political process at the local, state, and national levels. It is additionally important for students to come away from the learning process in secondary education with an ability to examine social phenomena with a critical perspective, in order to minimize (and ideally eliminate) falling victim to distortions presented in public discourse and in the media. They should also complete the secondary educational process having attained patience, empathy, and understanding of peoples and ideas that vary from their own. Their dispositions should entail nuance toward rationally appreciating and interacting with others over a multitude of ideas and concepts with inquisitiveness regarding furthering their learning. This future in-service teacher values the aforementioned approach toward learning. While it is important for students to acquire knowledge about the topical areas within the realm of history/social studies, it is more important that they be able to critically assess social science information that they learn about in informal and formal environments upon completing secondary education. By possessing adequate skills instilled in them as social studies students in the secondary classroom, they will hopefully be better equipped to ascertain social phenomena thereafter with a perspective that considers “facts” as necessitating interpretation or analysis before one can deem them legitimate.