Director’s philosophy of teaching
Philosophy of Teaching
First and foremost I believe and would like to acknowledge that my philosophy of teaching literacy is a living and evolving document. A document that is continuously evolving based on my ongoing learning, industry experience and reflective practices. I believe as the needs of families, local community and the world changes so will my philosophy.
As an educator I believe that one’s philosophy of teaching literacy is based on one or more theories from theorists and practitioners from around the world. These theories are vast and varied and apply in different contexts. I believe educators should analyse and interpret these theories and form the basis of the practices that they engage in.
Central to my philosophy of teaching literacy is the value and importance of each child’s socio-cultural context. Psychologist Lev Vygotsky explained in his socio cultural theory that parents, caregivers, educators and the cultural beliefs and attitudes of the wider community does impact on the way children, interpret information, learn and interact in society. Therefore I believe that educators should explore, appreciate and build upon the literacy experiences that children have in their home environment. Children learn literacy in different ways and a child’s literacy practices are often specific to their culture. Barratt-Pugh (1998, p. 5) also describes how literacy practices are also valued differently depending on a child’s social and educational context.
Vygotsky also claimed that children will communicate and imitate through imaginative play skills they have observed and learned. Therefore I believe that children should be provided with an environment that is filled with rich and diverse literacy focused experiences and resources within a holistic learning framework to encourage children to be drawn to write, read, listen and speak. Educators should take the time to observe and consult children and families about the child’s interests in literacy experiences so the motivation is high and the context relevant.
I believe in a flexible and supportive environment. Flexibility is an attribute I possess. Learning experiences should be age/ stage appropriate, open ended and in an environment that encourages children to engage, interact freely and explore individually or in a group. Educators are to be positive literacy models and be available to nurture and foster children’s vocabulary and use of language. I believe I am an effective communicator and able to scaffold children’s learning in this area. I believe that play is the way that children make sense of the world in which they live. Through play experiences that reflect all domains of development educators can intentionally and spontaneously integrate and teach literacy across all aspects of the curriculum in the early years.
I believe that as Australia is a rich culture filled with diversity. Children enter early childhood settings with very unique ‘funds of knowledge’ (Moll, 1992). As an educator one should recognise that the child’s family, community context, literacy practices and experiences play a part in fostering a child’s development, understanding and interests. I believe educators must consider each child’s “funds of knowledge” when programming and planning to ensure relevance . If educators acknowledge, model and teach diversity, children will grow to become culturally competent members of society.
I believe that children are capable and active learners and should be considered as stakeholders and beneficiaries of the world in which they live. I am passionate about and an advocate of children’s rights. Children have the right to be heard, engage and have their world views respected. Children should learn and play in an environment that values equity, inclusion, human diversity and social justice. I believe that children should be educated and taught to respect Australia’s indigenous culture and acknowledge Aboriginals as the first custodians of our land. I publicly welcome all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families into the learning environment I am responsible for. I am passionate about embedding reconciliation practices into the everyday practices of the service to bring about harmony in future generations. I believe educators should consider the literacy practices of the indigenous culture. Indigenous literacy practices include sharing of knowledge through story telling via discussion, music and movement from elders and significant others. Indigenous children have traditionally learnt through observation and demonstration particularly in the natural environment. Therefore most concepts are learnt by doing and by being “hands on”. The use of yarn mats, with indigenous symbolism are effective resources for developing language and share knowledge as children are encouraged to sit in a circle. I use the yarn mats as a resource myself. I believe that adopting the above literacy teaching practices to achieve literacy outcomes is effective in the classroom environment as the learning styles and practices of children are diverse and should be respected. All children deserve the right to feel like they belong and to be understood.
I believe that families are the first educators of literacy in a child’s and should be consulted regularly to build a bridge between environments. I believe that children will have a greater opportunity to learn when the information presented is relevant to their social context, their stage and interests. Bandura’s social learning theory (1986) reflects the belief that children learn through observation, imitation and modelling. Educators, families and the wider community all have a role in assisting children to make meaning of the world in which they live. I enjoy sharing my experiences with children on a daily basis to facilitate language and learning.
I believe that educators and families have a role in equipping children for life’s challenges and experiences. They can do so by building a sense of self and identity. Theorist Erik Erickson (1963) believed that children behave according to the way they see themselves, and their capabilities will influence how they approach new situations. If children develop a sense of trust in the world, possess a feeling of control over decisions, they may develop a sense of responsibility and competence. Educators can do this by providing age and stage appropriate experiences that foster literacy, self- help skills, social competence and independence across all domains of development. Children should also be given ample opportunities for practise and mastery of skills. Educators can develop children’s social competence and expressive language skills by using conversation, oral language and social experiences such as role play. I believe it is an educator’s role to listen to children and provide the experiences and resources to assist them to find the words needed to resolve conflicts and express how they feel. Resources such as puppets, books and posters are effective conversation starters.
Teaching children literacy is not a task that I take lightly. As educators we are equipping children with the literacy skills required for life. Children will use these literacy skills to be competent, capable and active participants in the world we live in. They will use these literacy skills to interpret information in all curriculum areas. Educators are presented with challenges and hold great responsibility to create a safe stimulating and challenging learning environment for all. I find teaching children is exciting and full of wonder. All children are capable of learning, if they are learning in a respectful, environment that is filled with encouragement and praise. I like to use rewards such as stickers to motivate children. If children are viewed as capable individuals, they too will perceive themselves to be capable. It is through my modelling as an educator when valuing and assisting children that I will inspire other educators and children to value and assist one another.
Additionally I believe in an Early Childhood and Education and Care environment that meets the National Law, Regulations and the Australian and Professional Standards for Teachers. I believe in a language and literacy program within a holistic learning environment that implements the Early Years Learning framework, Australia’s first national curriculum that focuses on play- based pedagogy’s and meaningful relationships. I believe in the Reggio Emilia theory that has been adopted in many countries including Australia, which focuses on the “rich competent child” Effective learning takes place when children’s interactions and experiences in the learning environment are relevant to the context of their learning. Such experiences should be child directed, and based on the child’s observed needs, strengths and interest.
I believe children learn in different ways, particularly when it comes to literacy. No two children will learn alike. As a mother of three, I can see that each one of my children have different learning styles even though they are siblings. Children in our classrooms may be visual learners, some may be kin-aesthetic learners and others may be auditory learners. Therefore I believe educators should integrate language and literacy into everyday experiences and develop specific learning strategies for each child to teach reading, writing, speaking and listening. I believe children should be consulted and observed on their needs, strengths and interests to ensure that they are provided with interesting and relevant learning experiences. I believe in inquiry –based learning where children can make connections with and develop understanding across the learning areas. For example a pet such as a hermit crab in a child care centre can facilitate much learning as children can reflect and discuss what they know about crabs, how many legs does it have? Children can look at books on crabs in their habitat and brainstorm on what other creatures have shells. Educators could integrate art and drawing experiences around the crab and provide children with the opportunities to physically care for the crab. I believe that acknowledging a child’s interest gives the child a sense of positive identity and develops high self- esteem. It will also ensure a stimulating and challenging learning environment with minimal incidents of disruptive behavior.
I believe the way children are learning has changed. Babies and toddlers are engaging with technology at an earlier stage therefore I believe that the way children are presented with information and learning experiences should reflect this change. Not only will children have access to books song, rhymes posters and writing materials but they will also have access to IPad’s, and CD Rom’s. I endeavor to give children a balance in how I present information for learning.
Children are required to engage in more Information Communication Technology in all areas of the curriculum. Technology has changed the world we live in and how we interact with others. Information is filtered into our lives daily via technology through a variety of devices. In order to access technology one requires good literacy skills. Competent literacy skills are essential for children when accessing ICT. Children are required to access sites via instruction, write emails, listen to instructions, speak to others and create when accessing technology.
I believe that the way children engage in the physical environment plays a significant part in developing literacy and children’s sense being. Children who are provided with a physical environment with resources such as books and posters from diverse cultural perspectives will foster children’s awareness and tolerance of diversity. Children also need to be active in a safe and secure environment that provides opportunity for them to be challenged and engage in individual or group adventurous and risky play. When engaging in this “risky play” educators should be close by to encourage and guide children using language that encourages children to question, hypothesize and discover. I believe it is essential that educators build children’s resilience, self -esteem, problem solving skills and sense of adventure in a natural learning environment that allows children to create explore and wonder. If educators are good models and maintain quality interactions, children will be able to eventually problem solve more readily, assess and manage their own risks.
Lastly, I believe in the importance of the development and implementation of good assessment, evaluation and reflective practices as an educator in the early learning environment. Educators must reflect on their teaching, assessment and reporting strategies across the curriculum. Through this reflection and evaluation educators can critically assess whether their practices and strategies meet the policy and curriculum requirements of the education facility as well as the learning needs of children, families and local community.
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