Teaching Philosophy

My Teaching Philosophy as a Foil Creation

teaching philosophy

My Teaching Philosophy as a Wordle

wordle philosophy

My Teaching Philosophy in Words….

              I was raised in Pakistan, where basic education is a privilege, not a right, and teaching is a vocation, not a job. At the age of 21, at the Notre Dame Institute of Education (NDIE), an institution run by Australian nuns in Pakistan, I was transformed. I discovered what education and student empowerment truly means. After that, there was no looking back. Traditional, textbook-oriented classrooms characterized by dydactic instruction became a thing of the past. That year, more than twenty years ago, I stated in my educational philosophy what NDIE had allowed me to discover firsthand, “Students learn best when they are provided with opportunities to assess what they know, examine the validity and reliability of the new information, and arrive at their own conclusions. I want to help my students grow in four areas: critical thinking and problem solving, communication, cooperation and collaboration, and creative expression.” While these core tenets of my philosophy have not changed over the last two decades, the approach that I take to translate my philosophy into observable outcomes has changed considerably. Access to instructional technology, professional development opportunities and excellent IT support here has allowed me to master a wide range of skills. Each day, I strive to create for my students a dynamic, vibrant, technology-rich classroom environment, similar to the exemplary learning environment I experienced at NDIE.

             The constructivist approach that I use to stimulate critical thinking and creativity produces great results.  I favor the use of projects and cooperative learning because it provides students with an opportunity to recognize that facts, inferences, observations, experiences, discussions, calculations, and insights are all intertwined. I expose my students to provocative literature, art, and media and get them to process the material in a variety of ways. My undergraduates create Wordles, concept maps, and big idea lists to show their thinking. Getting them to present their interpretation of the material to their peers, as part of the regular classroom procedure, helps them to internalize the content and see themselves as professionals who can contribute to each other’s learning. My graduate students show their thinking through chapter reflections, article analysis, illustrative research roundtables, literature circle discussion notes, and provocative questions, to name a few. This student-generated material becomes fodder for class discussion. Students are encouraged to engage each other in meaningful conversations that focus on problem solving.  I capitalize on classroom discussions, not just to stimulate critical thinking, problem solving, and communication skills, but also to enhance students’ cultural sensitivity and provide them with the opportunity to learn and consistently practice interpersonal civility. Sometimes, especially with undergraduates who need additional scaffolding, I use a prop to “freeze frame;” this allows me to slow down the conversation and put the spotlight on language and ideas and allows students to question each other’s thinking and assumptions.

                Technology-infused instruction allows me to create multilayered activities that allow my students to develop their communication and collaboration skills. For example, my undergraduates create clips of themselves demonstrating a skill and/or explaining a process; they then use Dropbox to share their clips, reflect on them, and later critique each other’s clips. They collaboratively develop lessons using Google Docs. The tracking tools and the comment option allow me to give students detailed formative feedback along the way with greater efficiency. Through a Bloom Production activity, undergraduate pre-service teachers unleash their creativity and produce YouTube clips, which they later use for peer critique.  Following experiential activities, I use thought-provoking prompts and probing questions to get every student to apply what they learn to their own context. I am willing to put in the extra time to grade their reactions to these prompts because they allow my students to, as they say at Harvard, “get on the balcony” and engage in self-talk, reflective thinking, and metacognition as leaders.

             Simulations allow me to model creative instruction and my students to walk a mile in K-12 students’ shoes. For example, I let my undergraduates experience the discomfort of having eight different learning disabilities with the help of online simulations before I introduce them to lesson planning. Participation in our Mini-Olympics serves as a springboard for a discussion relating to achievement motivation theory. An activity called Baffa Baffa allows students to experience what it is like to be “the other.” I let students see that creativity can be a part of assessment too.  Instead of stressing out over a paper-and-pencil test, my undergraduate pre-service teachers watch student created performance-based media projects that reflect what they have learned throughout the semester.  My graduate students too are evaluated on performance-based activity. The quality of work that students produce clearly demonstrates that a constructivist approach produces high quality learning.

My Pinterest page tells my story: http://www.pinterest.com/drcmachado/know-thy-self/

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