Philosophy - My Philosophy of Education
I believe that learning begins from the moment we are born (if not before that). As soon as we begin perceiving things with our senses, our education has begun. It is incredible to realize how much little children have learned (or could have learned with the right opportunities) by the time they begin schooling.
After teaching special education for so many years, I realize that observing children is like breathing for me. I do it automatically without conscious thought. When I first meet a student, I want to discover his abilities and weaknesses, his interests and what motivates him, his learning style and his temperament. Then I design a plan of action to help the student to learn in the best, most interesting way possible for both of us. Day by day I use my observation skills and flexibility to modify my plans to meet the needs of my students.
I believe that children learn by doing, by actively manipulating the materials. They need to begin with the concrete and progress to the abstract. The materials need to be developmentally appropriate for the age and/or ability level of the child.
Fortunately for me, I can continue to breath in a Montessori classroom. I will be able to choose from the great variety of lessons and Montessori materials to prepare the environment to meet the needs of my students. Children need to learn by taking little steps towards the larger goal. With the prepared environment there are many opportunities for success as the students take these steps. They also are able to repeat activities as often as they feel the need, giving them enough practice to master the skill or develop some part of their intelligence to be prepared for another skill. The children sometimes even teach the lesson to another child. I think the best way to really learn something is to teach it to someone else.
By setting up the prepared environment to the child's concrete level and following the interests of the child, we increase the possibilities for learning. We have set the "stage" for each child to succeed and increase their desire to learn more. By teaching children to learn in this way, by teaching them to choose to be knowledgeable, is to teach them to be lifelong learners.
I have always felt that it is important for children to learn how to learn, to be able to make good choices based on the possibilities at hand and to think for themselves. Being allowed to make choices and make their own decisions builds self-confidence and self-control. When students are actively engaged in an activity, I find that there are very few discipline issues to deal with. They are too busy enjoying themselves with the task at hand to waste time misbehaving.
When problems do occur, it is best to find out the root cause of the problem and to help the children see each other's point of view (especially if pain is involved). Many times problems occur because of the inability of young children to communicate. These can be used as teachable moments to increase language skills, peace making and problem solving.
The most important thing is to take each day one step at a time, to take the time to see where the children are headed and to follow their lead to facilitate learning.