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Week Four Assignment

Update Showcase: Inspired Teaching Philosophy

Nermin H. Fialkowski

National University

AAL- 656 Assessment for Learning

Professor Mark LaCelle-Peterson

March 27th, 2019


Theoretical Philosophy

The word philosophy holds an immense connotative definition. In terms of Educational

Philosophies, it is a “statement (or set of statements) that identities and clarifies the beliefs,

values, and understandings of an individual or group with respect to education” (The Scots

College). An educator’s philosophy requires systematic and critical thinking about one’s

educational practice (MSAP 600- The Inspired Educator Developing and Educational


The two main educational philosophies that drive me as an educator are Existentialism

and Progressivism. Existentialism “stresses the importance of the individual and emotional

commitment to living authentically” (Authentic Educating, 2012). The emphasis is on personal

choice, where one’s choices and actions define who they are (Educational Philosophy: The

Intellectual Foundations of American Education). Progressivism has a focus on individual

development, placed on needs of students (MSAP 600- The Inspired Educator Developing and

Educational Philosophy).

Why I Teach

I have known that I wanted to become a high school math teacher ever since I was in

middle school. Growing up, I have always enjoyed helping others and then soon discovered my

love for math. Therefore, becoming a math teacher was the most logical career choice for me; I

liked helping people, I liked math, hence math teacher. Initially, I become a teacher to help

students understand math. I wanted students to see the same beauty in math as I did. As the

years have gone by, my viewpoint for being a math teacher have changed. I now teach math to

help students develop their reasoning and critical thinking skills. Through the use of math

students learn that if they work hard and put in their best effort, they can succeed both in and out

of the classroom. Having the ability to reason abstractly and think critically will provide

students with the independence needed for them to come to their own conclusions about how to

deal with difficult situations and the trajectory of their own lives. This effort and success can be

demonstrated and achieved by: goal setting, self-assessment, self-reflection, and the sharing of

one’s learning (Chappuis, Striggins, Chappuis, & Arter, 2012). But I still continue to hope that

one day students will see the beauty in math. My favorite part of teaching is getting to witness

students’ enlightenments, the “AH! I get it now” moments of their learning. I know that those

moments in the classroom can transcend to bigger events outside of the classroom. I also highly

enjoy getting to know each student individually and watching them set and reach their goals. Of

all the Inspired Teacher Literacies, Social Emotional Literacy is one of my strongest, where my

focus is on fostering a caring, compassionate, and inclusive learning environment for all students

(Acosta-Teller et al., 2016). I want my students to know that I am their biggest cheerleader and I

only want them to succeed.

Who I Teach

I teach high school math at Southwest High School in San Diego. Southwest High

School is the southernmost high school in the United States, just five miles north of the

U.S./Mexico International Border. This is one of the many reasons for the school’s diverse

student population. More than 35% of students have limited English proficiency skills, while

85% come from homes where English is not spoken (SARC, 2017). Looking at the 2017-2018

school year, 70% of our students met the A-G requirements, but only 11% met or exceeded the

SBAC Mathematics Standards. This high rate of remediation suggests that there is a widespread

lack of college preparation among recent high school graduates. Although students are

underperforming in standardized tests, it does not mean they are not successful in their high

school career, as students are still meeting the minimum course requirements for university


I am currently teaching Pre-Calculus, both Honors and Regular, as well as Discrete

Mathematics. My Pre-Calculus classes are a mix of juniors and seniors, while Discrete

Mathematics is a class exclusively for seniors. Pre-Calculus is considered a math elective credit.

That means students in this class have surpassed their minimum high school graduation math

requirement. Discrete Mathematics, on the other hand, is a unique class because although it is a

math elective, it can also satisfy students’ minimum high school graduation requirement for

math. The Discrete Mathematics curriculum is new to my school district, Sweetwater Union

High School District (SUHSD). This course was piloted last year as a partnership with San

Diego State University as a way to provide students with the option of taking an alternative math

elective focused on changing students’ view of math; to show students that everyone is a math

person. Discrete Mathematics is a more logic-based thinking class than algebra heavy

arithmetic. Students in this class examine structures with patterns, predict outcomes, and explain

what it is about these structures that causes results to hold.

What I Teach

I know that before students can make a connection with the content, I must first make a

personal connection with them. Through the lens of Progressivism students should be an active

part of their education. This means incorporating students’ needs, experiences, and interests

( Making content relevant to students is a key component to creating engaging

lessons. “’One of the best ways for students to deepen their learning about a particular concept

or process is for them to see how it relates to their lives’ (Erwin, 2004, 90). If you want students

to remember what you teach, make it relevant (Jensen, 1995, 110)” (Sullo, 2013, p. 131).

I believe that my role as an educator is to help students figure out who they are. Jean

Paul Sartre’s view of Existentialism is that people define themselves by their personal choices

(Authentic Educating, 2012). Through education students become well informed and thus they

can make their own decisions to guide them into becoming the best version of themselves.

Through the process of goal setting, self-assessment, self-refection, and the sharing of one’s

learning, students are able to deepen their understanding about content and about themselves

(Chappuis, Striggins, Chappuis, & Arter, 2012). My classroom is a safe place where students

can actively test their ideas by experimentation, whether it be about their persona or content;

students learn by doing (Cohen & Gelbrich, 1999). I hope to motivate students to live

authentically and be true to themselves. My goal is for students to take their developed

reasoning and critical thinking skills from my class and apply it their lives by making appropriate

life choices.

How I Teach

My teaching style is deeply rooted in my competency of Leaner Literacy. At the top of

my list is creating a mentally and physically safe place for all my learners. This allows me to

create a nurturing environment that is rigorous and cognitively challenging for all learners

(Acosta-Teller et al., 2016). With a focus on learners as individuals I am able to build

relationships with them, where I can adjust my instruction to meet their needs and use their

background, experience, and prior knowledge as a way to create engaging lessons. The

Existentialism side of me “understands that the ultimate goal of teaching is to create

independent, life-long learners and teaches accordingly” (Acosta-Teller et al., 2016). The end

goal is for students to become self-sufficient learners. I want students to be able to self-reflect,

track and communicate their learning, in addition to being able to set goal and self-assess.

Assessment, whether formative or summative, is a key component of my classroom.

Assessment is what is used to demonstrate student learning. And without a form of assessment,

formative or summative, one cannot measure student learning. But before I can create my

assessments, I first begin with clear learning targets. Through the use of clear learning targets

teachers, students, and parents all benefit. Teachers have a clear guide of what to teach, students

understand their learning expectations, and teachers and parents have a gateway for

communication. With the use of clear learning targets, I can then create my assessments to

match those learning targets. One of the most common ways I measure my students’ learning, is

through the use of weekly quizzes or tests, varying from partner, group, or individual. These

weekly assessments then guide my instruction throughout the week. They help keep me focused

on learning outcomes for each section. Then, based on the results of these assessments I am able

to make adjustments to my instruction at the beginning of each week; in which I make sure that I

plan my lessons based on students’ prior knowledge, abilities, and interests (Acosta-Teller et al.,


Ultimately, my goals as an educator are those of an Inspired Teacher, where I can foster

my students’ learning by allowing them to strive socially-emotionally, achieve academically, and

contribute positively to their communities.



Acosta-Teller, E., Amador-Lankster, C., Anderson, L., Crow, N., Dickenson, P., Elder, D.,

Fabry, D., Gilbert, S., Karell, D., Reynolds, T., & Tolbert, D. (2016). The Inspired

Teacher and Seven Literacies Defined. Abstract retrieved from ATP 600: The Inspired


Authentic Educating. (2012). Education Philosophy Inventory Results. Retrieved from

Chappuis, J., Striggins, R., Chappuis, S. & Arter, J. (2012). Classroom Assessment for Student

Learning: Doing it Right- Doing it Well (2nd ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.

Cohen, L.M, & Gelbrich, J. (1999). Philosophical Perspectives in Education. Retrieved from

Jensen, E. (2010). Teaching with the Brain in Mind. [Video File]. Retrieved from:

MSAP 600- The Inspired Educator Developing and Educational Philosophy. Educational

Philosophy: The Intellectual Foundations of American Education. [PowerPoint Slides].

School Accountability Report Card. (2017). Southwest Senior High School Accountability

Report Card. Retrieved from

UPDATED INSPIRED TEACHING PHILOSOPHY 8 Progressivism: Overview & Practical Teaching Examples. Retrieved from:


Sullo, Bob. (2013). The Inspiring Teacher, Making A Positive Difference In Students’ Lives.

New Jersey: Funderstanding LLC