My philosophy of education and assessment can both be summed up by saying that everyone is capable. It is my job as a teacher to help my students see that and help them to discover what they are amazing at. Despite the fact that many people may think being a good teacher is an easy or quick job, the true fact remains that it requires dedication, time and a caring and thoughtful attitude.
School, learning, and assessment should be about succeeding and small victories. As such, it is important to remember that how successful and engaged the students are in a lesson is an assessment on how the students learn, as well as, on how the teacher is communicating the material. Therefore, the teacher should give the students every opportunity to learn, enjoy learning and be successful. As is stated in the Adaptive Dimensions, “Students are best able to engage in learning when they feel supported, encouraged and have teachers who recognize their learning strengths” (Ministry of Education, 2017, p. 5). Therefore, all humans, no matter what the context, are more likely to remember and enjoy learning something when they are engaged, and it is associated with something that they can relate to or find enjoyable.
I asked my students during my pre-internship to explain how they arrived at that answer in math and asked them to teach me how to do the question. In this way, they were able to vocalize their understanding, as well as, further engrain the process in their brain by ‘teaching’ someone else. I believe this is an excellent form of assessment, because “being a teacher is at the highest level of Bloom’s taxonomy and will allow students to demonstrate mastery” (Sackstein, S., 2015, p. 49).
Due to aspects such as learning disabilities and differences, EAL students, and gifted or advanced students, not everyone is going to learn at the same pace or in the same way. Therefore, it becomes the responsibility of the teacher to communicate the material in different ways so that everyone can understand, learn and excel. It is important for me to know my students well and to teach to their strengths, because, “although what the student brings to school in terms of his or her learning background is important, a significant percentage of achievement variance lies within (my) influence” (Ministry of Education, 2017, p. 5).
I strongly believe that every person is capable of achieving great things, even young children are capable of great discoveries, accomplishments, and understandings, as “effective learners learn to look critically at their current knowledge and beliefs” (Bransford, J.D & Schwartz, D, 1999, p. 79) For example, Christy Brown became a fantastic painter, writer, and poet at a young age, even with cerebral palsy. Mozart began composing at the age of 6, four Nigerian girls under the age of 15 invented a generator that runs on urine, and the system of Braille was developed by Louis Braille in 1821, who was 13 at the time (Koski, D., 2015). The excuse that someone is young therefore they should not be concerned with certain things, is quite simply that, an excuse. While studying space and the solar system, if a student wanted to attempt to understand black holes there should be nothing but support behind them. The chances that they will not be able to unravel all the mysteries surrounding them is likely, but there is still a chance that they will come to completely understand them. Additionally, in this day and age with unlimited access to the internet and being able to contact almost anyone through Twitter, I strongly believe there are no more legitimate excuses for not allowing a student to reach their full potential or to have the opportunity to explore every facet of the universe.
Attempting to differentiate to all the different levels of understanding and learning in a classroom can be extremely difficult and time-consuming as I may at times need to almost create 3 or 4 different lesson plans. However, it can also be a simple task of explaining a concept in a different way to ensure that everyone understands. I am fully aware of the fact that giving full and constructive feedback is extremely time-consuming, as well as, difficult to be constructive or perhaps even think of something positive to say. However, this is the kind of teacher I want to be, I know it will not always be easy or quick but I believe it will be rewarding.
I have a very real and concrete idea of the kind of teacher I want to be, which I have tied in with my philosophy of assessment and education because in order to be a good teacher there cannot be one of those without the other. Simply put, everyone is capable, everyone learns differently and at a different pace and they all may communicate their learning in different ways. It is my job to recognize these facts and teach and evaluate each individual, with the same care and attention, as the one previously.