“The test of the morality of a society is what it does for its children”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945)
My philosophy of education has changed and developed over the years that I have been a student, a mother and a teacher. I hope it has become less idealistic and more practical as I have had many more experiences to develop it and to temper it.
I am an early childhood teacher because I firmly believe that the very early years are critical to the future success of the child. Research has shown that the critical years in a child’s life for essential foundations in learning in such areas as curiosity, creativity, music, language, math, emotions, and spirituality are from birth to five years of age. While the primary source of learning needs to be the parents/home, as an educator, I can have an impact in these early years.
The attributes that I feel make my classroom successful can be described in the following acronym.
E – Enthusiasm – I love what I do. I love getting to know the students and their families every year. I love bringing innovations into the classroom and seeing the light bulb go on. I love figuring out the best way to present an idea and building upon learning experiences.
D – Developmentally Appropriate Practices – Understanding that children develop at different times and rates and making our expectations and educational practices match their development is key to a winning environment. DAP apply to and are adapted fro children with disabilities.
U – Uniqueness of students – Celebrating each child’s differences, rather than wishing they were all the same actually eases a lot of frustrations. Finding a way to reach into these differences is the big challenge of the classroom. Some differences are just personality, or culture or gender, but other differences can be physical limitations, learning abilities or emotional strength. All need to be addressed.
C – Cultural sensitivity – Each child comes from a unique family with structural and cultural differences. Family involvement is key to a successful classroom and tapping into each of these unique family structures can be a gold mine of resources. Conversely, the resources that I know about can be very useful to the family and I strive to make these resources available in such a way that all families can benefit.
A – Accessibility by all students – We strive to make our classroom available to all students, regardless of their race, gender, economic status or disability. I believe that our students without disabilities benefit as much as our students with disabilities by being in the classroom together. At this young age they are so willing to accept the differences and carry on.
T – Triumph – It is every teacher’s delight to see a child have success over an obstacle. I love to see a shy child gain the confidence to join in group activity, a frustrated child write his name or a petulant child gain the self-control needed to be successful in a social situation. Just as children are unique, the problems they need to solve are unique and so are their successes.
E – Elasticity – I need to be flexible in my classroom. I love to seize the teachable moment, or to take extra time to comfort a distressed child. Children with different abilities require different amounts of time and technique to learn. Lesson plans are important, but they are not gospel.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer saw first hand a society that exterminated a large number of its children for racial, political and economic causes. He was murdered by the Nazis in 1945.
While I cannot change what happened to him, I can work hard to aid the children in my society. That is why I teach.