Each person holds his own set of beliefs on how life is to be lived. Teachers derive their behaviors, attitudes and ethics from their own personal and professional philosophies on teaching. Gore (1997) analyzes how such a philosophy leads to one’s development of a pedagogical approach. A school having its own philosophy should have their teachers who hold the same beliefs. Alignment of their philosophy is essential for harmony. Gore (1997) claims that systematic and disciplined observations of pedagogy are necessary in order to clarify and perhaps compromise on the philosophy everyone must believe in and live by.
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Classroom management does not begin and end in the classroom with the teacher teaching her class. It encompasses the totality of how a teacher prepares for her class – how she arranges her physical environment, how she plans her students’ activities and groupings, how she budgets the time for all the planned activities and discussions, how she prepares the teaching and learning materials, how she uses transitions to glide from one activity to the next, how she encourages cooperative learning among her students and how harmony and productivity is sustained in an ambience of active learning.
“An efficiently organized and managed classroom eliminates many potential behavior and learning problems and sets the stage for a productive year” (Shalaway, 1998, p.12). Effective teaching on her part and fulfilling learning on her students’ are likely to take place in a well-managed classroom.
An effective teacher encourages her students to direct their own learning. She is there to whet their appetite for learning and nudge them to move towards pursuing knowledge. She also finds ways to keep their thirst for learning unquenchable so they develop into life-long learners. Shalaway (1998) states that the teacher’s role must change from being primarily a source of information to someone who guides students through discovery and exploration.
When students construct knowledge, they will refer to their own experiences and background to make it relevant and meaningful to them. Plato, the great philosopher was quoted as saying “Do not train children to learning by force and harshness, but direct them to it by what amuses their minds, so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar bent of the genius of each.” He advocates teachers to allow discovery and exploration led by the students’ interest as a form of learning.
Teachers must be discerning enough how to use motivation. Shalaway (1998) explains that motivational processes are “nurtured by drives and needs within ourselves (internal motivation) and sometimes, outside forces direct them (external motivation). Schools give out external motivation in the form of grades and awards. These usually spur a competitive spirit instead of a cooperative one. Students have a tendency to rely on such external motivators, as they are concrete and observable by others. These may be very effective in eliciting desirable student behavior, however, when overused, it can be used as a tool for manipulation (both for student and teacher).
“Rewards are most damaging to interest when the task is already intrinsically motivating” (Kohn, 1993). What teachers need to develop in their students eventually is internal motivation. Students who are internally motivated to learn approach learning tasks seriously, do them carefully and expect to benefit from them (Brophy, 1981).
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Positive and healthy relationships between teachers and students not only include open communication but also the setting of high expectations from each other. Teachers communicate their expectations of their students not only verbally but also non-verbally through gestures, facial expressions, etc. Teachers need to careful with their actions towards their students, as if they are perceived to have low expectations of their students, it is likely that the student expectations will become self-fulfilling prophecies (Shalaway, 1998). The same goes for students whose teachers have high expectations of them.
Although teachers are expected to know what to teach children in general, they also need to be able to adjust to individual needs of their students, as not all students learn the same way at the same pace. Trafton suggests that individualization must include “acceptance of each child as an individual worthy of adult respect,” and that to this should be added “an acceptance of the child’s ideas, a provision of opportunities for pupil input in developing and selecting learning experiences, a concern for the quality of the child’s intellectual development, and a willingness to take time to know the child as an individual” (1975, p. 39).
The effective teacher can discern which learning strategy would be most appropriate on a case-to-case basis. Imbedded in her are hidden agendas for making her students reach their optimum learning potentials and in effect, the development of a healthy self-esteem. She is aware that she is just an instrument in assisting the students to gain knowledge, and not the source of knowledge herself.
A good teacher knows her strengths and weaknesses. She celebrates her strengths by sharing them to help others and finds challenge in improving her weaknesses, although humble enough to acknowledge them. In any case, she shows dedication to the profession of teaching by continually making herself better at her craft so she can deliver the best service she can to the students under her wings.
Brophy, J. (1981) On praising effectively. Elementary School Journal. Vol. 81, pp. 269-278.
Gore, J.M. (1997) On the use of empirical research for the development of a theory of pedagogy. Journal of Education, Vol. 27 Issue 2.
Kohn, A. (1993) Punished by Rewards. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Shalaway, L. (1998) Learning to Teach. Scholastic Professional Books.
Trafton, P. (1975) The Curriculum. Mathematics Learning in Early Childhood Education. Reston, VA: The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.