Stephanie Davis

Teaching Philosophy
In the beginning of my education at Michigan State University, when asked my career path, I would always reply, “I am going to school to be an English teacher.” However, I now realize that I have spent the last 5 years studying to be something much more profound than just an English teacher. I have studied to be a teacher of English. I teach students, not subjects. Though I have the endorsements to teach English and Biology, and loved learning these subjects as much as I will love teaching these subjects, I teach students. I teach students to answer questions completely. More importantly, I teach them to ask questions and not just when they do not understand, but when they do understand and wonder why it is that way. I teach students to take an active role in their learning. I facilitate a classroom based on the principles of student-centered teaching. This is not to say students are unleashed to find their own path without guidance or expectations. The teacher has great responsibilities in their learning as well. This responsibility is to guide them in learning the skills of the content, the skills of the classroom, and the skills necessary for life beyond the classroom. From grammar and literary devices to the respect and responsibility necessary in the classroom, I teach students to be learners, to be community members, and to be successful students and citizens. Meaning is constructed, not transmitted. To me, teaching means more than just transmitting knowledge as an expert to students as novices. It means providing opportunities for my students to construct knowledge. Thus, rather than being experts on Shakespeare and the classics (though English teachers must be that as well), effective teachers are experts on reaching students where they are and guiding them in the discovery of knowledge. Furthermore, students are each experts on their individual experiences which aids in enhancing the learning environment of the classroom. No one in my classroom will be immune from learning; my students learn from me and from their peers. Furthermore, I learn from my students. I learn what matters to students, I learn how to use this in my curriculum, and I learn how to be a better teacher. The classroom is a democracy and not a dictatorship. As the teacher, I am ultimately responsible for my students’ safety and the security of our classroom. However, I am also granted the great responsibility of encouraging students to be responsible for this as well. Students should not

be told to be responsible, rather students should be shown the necessity of being responsible. The most effective way to foster a sense of responsibility in the classroom is to allow students to have a part in constructing and maintaining the norms and guidelines of the classroom. A community does not run smoothly and productively when one member decides for the entire group, but rather when the group decides together. The classroom is a community of learners. As the principles above fuse together in the classroom, one can see that as an educator, I strive to create a community of learners in my classroom. Pertinent in this pursuit is collaboration. Through my experiences in a 7th Grade classroom, I have seen that as students work with their peers, their individual experiences combine to increase each student’s ability to understand the world. Thus, students’ personal experiences, perceptions, and understandings are important to the learning of their peers. Furthermore, the students begin to see each other and themselves as valuable members of a learning community in which their insights and input are necessary to the successful functioning of the classroom. Students increase their self worth as members of a community which needs their active participation to function. In that community, it is the teacher’s responsibility to individualize instruction. Though a community of learners relies on each member, it is the educator’s responsibility to reach each student’s individual needs. Within the community, there are students with vastly different experiences, different learning styles, and varied abilities. Though the community flourishes due to these differences, it is imperative that the educator identify and respond to these variations. Because I teach students, I also must be prepared to teach different kind of students. The subject is always English or Biology, but the students are always different. My responsibility is to facilitate the learning of each student, not just the class. Thus, if something is not working for a particular student, as the teacher, I must return to the drawing board and intervene by constructing something new to respond to that student. Teachers must be flexible, nothing in teaching is ever certain. A wellplanned and thorough lesson or unit plan is something I excel at in my teaching. Preparedness is one of my strong points. However, “the best laid plans of mice and men often go astray.” Thus, the most effective way to be prepared is to plan for various outcomes and reactions, to be flexible and quick on your feet, and ultimately, to expect the unexpected. One of the best things about teaching is that each day, in each class, and with each student you experience something new and generally unexpected. As a teacher, I must be prepared to respond to these new experiences with the same effectiveness as my well-thought out lesson plans.

As a teacher, I am a facilitator, a learner, a role-model, a member of a community, and I am proud.

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