Before this year I had never worked in the educational field. After working in a bookstore for three years after college, I wanted to leave retail for something more meaningful. This year I began substitute teaching, taking long-term assignments (mostly one month or more) in the Bronx. I am learning a great deal from the teachers, paraprofessionals, and students who I meet. Having this Principles of Education course alongside my classroom experiences has helped to deepen my understanding of what I encounter in the classroom and clarify what my role will be when I become a teacher. I recognize the variety of teaching methods that we’ve studied throughout this course when they are used effectively in the classroom. Some teachers use facilitator/delegator methods, others use formal/authoritative, most use a combination of them all (Grasha, 154). Differentiation of instruction and assessment to meet the needs of students is a constant concern and we try to have students draw from their own experiences to make material relevant and meaningful for them (Willoughby, 2000). I can also see that an eclectic blend of the teaching philosophies we have studied, such as perennialism, essentialism, and social constructivism, inform the practices of many teachers (Martin et. al, 38-67). I feel that, because of this class, I have a palette of teaching philosophies and methods that I can draw upon in the future when I plan lessons and teach. One of the most important things I’ve learned from this class is that teaching is an art as well as a science and I will need to bring my entire self, not just my subject knowledge and teaching skills, into the classroom to connect with students on a personal level and make them feel “valued and capable of learning” (Koch, 184). I was also glad to have gained more in-depth perspective on the social justice issues in our educational system.
I certainly struggled a few times throughout the course. I mostly struggled with time management. I am new to online learning and am used to managing my time around one or two class meetings per week with discussion and two or three big writing assignments for the entire semester. Managing my time around 3-4 small assignments per module and fitting 3-4 citations into each assignment was difficult. I sometimes felt I couldn’t give adequate attention to any one of the texts because of the space limitations. It was a challenge and I feel that I improved throughout the semester. The discussion board itself gave this class an element similar to an on-campus course. Learning about other students’ perspectives and ideas helped me to refine and rethink my own ideas about our course material. It was great to have the classroom pool resources together (both resources from the internet and personal educational experiences) and learn as a community. Looking forward to continuing to expand upon my knowledge and participate in the educational discourse. Thank you.
Grasha, A. F. (1994). A Matter of Style: The Teacher as Expert, Formal Authority, Personal Model, Facilitator, and Delegator. College Teaching, 142-149.
Koch, J. (2009). Chapter 10: Making the Decision to Become a Teacher. In So you want to be a Teacher? Teaching and Learning in the 21st Century (pp. 181-194). Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.
Martin, D., & Loomis, K. (2013). Chapter 2: Your Philosophy of Education. In Building Teachers: A Constructivist Approach to Education (pp. 38-67). Belmont: Wadsworth.
Willoughby, J. (2000-2005). Differentiating Instruction: Meeting Students Where They Are. Retrieved 03 23, 2015, from Teaching Today: canton.sln.suny.edu