Teaching Philosophy

Carmen Durham
Education is one of the most important factors that contribute to the personality and belief
system of an individual.  Therefore, the purpose of education in general is to form well-rounded
people that have the skills to continue learning independently even after their institutional
education has been concluded.  Language learning is an important puzzle piece in forming a
well-rounded learner. It not only allows students to learn new cognitive skills, but it also teaches
them to be more open minded and thoughtful of the culture and of the world they are a part of.
As a Spanish teacher, I see myself as a guide who allows the students to form their own
understanding. I see the community of learners in my classes as a diverse group with different
interests, backgrounds, and goals that have come together to learn Spanish. For this reason, my
Spanish instruction is differentiated, engaging, authentic, and cooperative in nature.
Spanish instruction should be as differentiated as the students in the school. When I
differentiate activities, I incorporate as much of the students’ background and cultural knowledge
as I can. One step to differentiating lessons is discussing topics that are both interesting to
students and culturally relevant. By picking topics of interest, I hope to engage students’ prior
knowledge and motivate them to use Spanish in real-world scenarios. I also differentiate lessons
by including many types of activities that engage various types of intelligences. According to
Howard Garner’s multiple intelligence theory, students learn and perform in different ways based
on their individual strengths. For this reason, my lessons include many factors such as visual
stimuli, drawing, charting, group work, journaling, kinesthetic movement, music, technology,
etc.  Even though not every student has the same talents, each student can succeed in my Spanish
class. Although taking the step to differentiate lessons may take more effort in planning, it
produces rewards for me and the students. Differentiating lessons makes Spanish more
meaningful and memorable.
I think Spanish instruction should start with the basics and continue to fun and authentic
higher-level thinking activities.  Learners need to first acquire Spanish basics in order to know
how to use vocabulary and grammar structures correctly.  However, this is just the first step.
Next, students apply the words and structures in authentic contexts that are based on real-world
scenarios. I create open-ended prompts and situations that activate prior knowledge, interests,
and imagination with the new Spanish material students learn. During class, students work
through various tasks that allow them to use Spanish in a real-world context such as buying
groceries, visiting the doctor, asking and giving directions, and many other daily cultural
requirements. It is important that students not only learn the language but that they also learn the
cultural elements behind the language so that they can communicate appropriately in Spanish
speaking countries. Through fun and authentic tasks that allow students to create language
spontaneously and creatively, I hope I make Spanish important and relevant to the students and
help them see that acquiring a language is a process and not just a letter grade.
Group work is an important aspect of learning Spanish since language is meant to be used
in communicative contexts. In order to make sure students feel safe in my class and in their
groups, I often lower the affective filter by playing games or completing puzzles where students
must use Spanish in groups. I also give students plenty of opportunities to share their opinions
and answers. Even when students make mistakes, I correct gently and focus more on the
strengths of each answer so that students know making mistakes is a natural part of language
acquisition. When they work in their groups, I encourage students to follow my example for
correcting each other and working cooperatively to accomplish their goals. By allowing students

to work in groups, I also allow students to take charge of their own learning. My Spanish
students have opportunities to discover on their own using technology and other authentic
materials while I act as a facilitator to their learning.  Technology is an important tool for the
Spanish classroom. It also allows students to collaborate on projects, find authentic materials,
and communicate with people in Spanish speaking countries. Through group work and
technology use, my students learn how to find information, be open to new cultures, and be able
to use language and knowledge spontaneously in real world scenarios.
Spanish is an important part of students’ development because it opens their minds to
diversity of the world and gives them a way to use their talents.  Effective Spanish education
involves differentiated lessons that include as many of the multiple intelligences as possible.  It is
also imperative that Spanish education uses higher-level thinking and open-ended activities so
that students can learn how to use the language in real-world and culturally relevant ways.  One
other factor that supports effective learning is the atmosphere of the classroom that encourages
students to speak without fear of embarrassment.  It is my goal as the Spanish instructor to create
a classroom that includes these factors.