Educational Philosophy Statement
As a non-traditional educator, I look to real life experiences and opportunities for personal development and growth to reach learners in all stages of their lives and careers. Universal Design for Learning (UDL) practices are essential to education when learners around the world and in the United States are composed of individuals with varied experiences and learning needs. As a teacher, adopting culturally-inclusive practices along with UDL principles positions students to an equitable learning experience that celebrates each student independent of their background. I strive to provide students with learning experiences that are tailored to each individual in some way. I believe learning is most powerful when students can reflect and connect material from curriculum to their own experiences. To honor the diversity within the classroom, I attempt to design curriculum and learning situations that builds upon individual experiences and skills.
Technology provides an opportunity to reach each individual. Guided by ISTE-T standards, I use technology to communicate with students, respond to each individual’s needs, and connect them to additional resources as needed. Beyond using technology as a communication tool, students have the opportunity to express their individuality and reflect on their own learning through technology. From social media, to web design and graphic design suites, students have the opportunity to showcase their learning in a global space that connects their learning with the world.
In addition to using technology to showcase creativity and individuality or to communicate and respond to student needs, adaptive/competency-based techniques can help each student progress through material in their own terms. As students complete material, they are challenged to build upon their existing knowledge. I believe this approach follows cognitive learning theories and can motivate students to take control of their learning. The ability to recognize accomplishments and reflect upon one’s knowledge gaps can also be powerful motivation. As an educator, I attempt to build digital learning spaces that emphasize these two ideas; learning is progressive and builds upon blocks of knowledge, yet recognizing gaps in achievement and leaves students with the opportunity to become more accomplished learners.
Education should continue beyond the classroom. Learning occurs every day and in every situation. The ability for individuals to acknowledge and respond to these situations as learning opportunities extends traditional education and challenges every person with these skills to seek out new experiences. Teachers should encourage this life-long learning by engaging student’s creativity, individuality, and by providing learning environments that build upon student’s knowledge and skills.