In my first semester of my education degree I was asked to create a document that described my personal teaching philosophy. What did I believe the purpose of education was? What is my teaching style? How do I create relationships with my students? So off I went to my computer and typed it out. It has only been one year since then but during that time I have had the opportunity to spend a full 18 weeks (spread out over 3 practicums) teaching students from Grade 4 to Grade 12. I have been able to interact with the admin, staff and students of three very different schools as well as personally teach over 150 students.
When I sit down now and read over that original personal philosophy that I created I honestly laugh out loud! Things have definitely changed a lot in that short period of time. I decided to sit down before I started student teaching at "S School" and attempt to rewrite my personal philosophy. I wanted to see if what I actually thought in my head was being effectively accomplished when I was in the classroom. Here are just a few of my thoughts (taken from my e-portfolio that I will be using when I interview):
Knowing and fully understanding the students of my classroom(s) is of the utmost importance
Every student comes into the classroom with varying levels of prior knowledge, different personal experiences, different types of intelligence, varying learning styles, etc and should be provided with opportunities to learn in a manner that best suits them
Content should be presented in a manner that is relevant and meaningful to the students
Incorporation of technology should be appropriate to the specific task and should be applied in a manner that allows for practical application after the students leave the classroom
Students should be provided with the opportunity to learn history through varying perspectives
(those who conquered, those who were conquered and those who looked in from the outside)
Each one of these statements has been a driving force behind everything I set out to do in the classroom and I strongly feel that my personal teaching philosophy is now an accurate representation on me as an educator. While that is all fine in good, I realize that that does not necessarily explain why I haven't been posting about Whole Brain Teaching.
The weekend before I started this student teaching practicum I attended the professional development conference, Fab 5, which is put on by our province's teacher's society. During one of the sessions I heard a comment that really resonated with me, "If your teaching style is one that is effectively meeting the needs of your students then you should never have to worry about classroom management. If your students are not learning and/or are bored then classroom management becomes an issue."
This is something that I know I had heard in different ways before but the way it was delivered at this conference really hit home for me and I started to think about how I was teaching. I decided that I wanted to keep this in mind when I started my student teaching practicum the following week. I consciously tried everyday to NOT have a "teaching style". I would not be that teacher that ALWAYS does lecture style notes. I would not be that teacher that ALWAYS does group work. I would not be that teacher that ALWAYS does computer assignments. I decided that I would be, whoever the students needed me to be on that specific day.
I will write more on what I specifically mean by this later on. What I know now, however, is that I have had zero need to use any Whole Brain Teaching strategies during this practicum. Don't get me wrong, I do have students that I need to redirect and by no means is every student in my classroom perfect (no one is perfect) but the need just hasn't arisen. What I am including below is taken from the Whole Brain Teaching tab at the top of my screen which I hope does an effective job of communicating my thoughts as of right now:
The phrase "Whole Brain Teaching" means a few different things to me as an educator. One thing you will see me mention countless times in my writing is that I strongly believe that anything we do in our classrooms (content, management, or otherwise) has to be tailored to meet the specific needs, personalities and interests of the students in our classroom. This may mean that we are planning with multiple intelligences in mind or differentiating our instruction. Essentially "Whole Brain Teaching", to me, means that my teaching strategies are consciously chosen in a way that meets the various needs of my students in one concise lesson. In other words, I am hoping that my lessons engage different areas of my student's brains in a way that each student is presented with information in a way that best suits their learning style(s) and needs.
I do not believe that just because I am a teacher who has a focus in High School History that I have to deliver stereotypical, lecture-based lessons that require my students to be writing notes for 45 minute periods every day. Do I have my students take notes? Yes. There is content that is important that my students write down for future reference and notes are a great method to meet the needs of my linguistic learners. If you were to visit me in a classroom, however, you would also see us physically acting out important battles in history, participating in debates on world changing topics, interviewing other students or members of the community on their thoughts or reflecting to truly understand our own viewpoints and biases. These lessons are 100% driven by the needs of my students and it is my personal goal to ensure that my teaching always reflects this... not what is easiest for me to prepare... not to fit in with what the other teachers around me are doing... but to meet the needs of the students in my room and ensure that they are provided with an opportunity to learn.
Whole Brain Teaching Management & Teaching Strategies
I am by no means an expert on Whole Brain Teaching (WBT) strategies and it is not my intention for this blog to be used as a promotion of WBT for your specific classroom. This blog is a means for me to reflect on my experiences as an education student and gain feedback from other people in the education community and people who may be interested in WBT strategies.
I find that many WBT strategies allow for me to easily differentiate instruction and meet the multiple intelligences of my students while also providing effective classroom management. If you would like to see more information on how WBT strategies meet my teaching goals please view the posts of this blog.
** Please note that the teaching styles that are represented in the videos showcasing WBT are not a representation of my personal teaching style. While I do incorporate certain WBT strategies into my lessons at times, they are NOT the focus of my classroom and everything is always modified to best meet the needs of my specific students.
I hope that I do not have too many disappointed readers. As a student teacher I recognize that I will probably change my philosophy of education countless times as I gain more experience and am presented with more information. I am excited for this and I hope that I never stop being willing to learn and accept new ideas. Like I mentioned before, my students needs will always come first and I will always try my very best to teach in a manner that reflects this.