Mrs. Ryan's Class

A Digital Learning Hub for students and parents

Educational Philosophy: a work in progress

My philosophy of education can be likened to the well-known African Proverb, “it takes a village to raise a child.” I believe that teaching is a team effort; every teacher is responsible for each student in the school, not simply their own class of students. I highly value and appreciate school wide accountability plans, common planning times, and Professional Learning Communities, all of which facilitate this type of unified teaching and encourage a healthy school community. The digital tools available to teachers today make this type of collaborative and reflective work possible. This holistic approach to teaching provides students with a stable and reliable understanding of school guidelines and expectations, and creates a comforting, welcoming, and safe place for students and teachers to excel in.

I believe that the best teaching is rooted in mutual respect, kindness, and fairness. I am an advocate for the practice of differentiation in the classroom to ensure these qualities of good teaching. The phrase, “fair does not mean the same” is a mantra in my classroom. I believe that every student deserves the opportunity to be challenged and to succeed through hard work and interesting learning. Differentiated teaching also helps to achieve the balance in the classroom that I strive for. Teachers need to allow students to discover their own knowledge with guidance and careful scaffolding; teachers are the “facilitators” of knowledge, not “providers” of knowledge. I agree with Jennifer Vadeboncoeur’s statement in her entry in the Encyclopedia of Education that “the teacher’s role is to develop methods for engaging the students in experiences that provide them with access to knowledge and practice in particular skills and dispositions.”

I also believe that in order to create a classroom rooted in respect, kindness, and fairness every student needs to be affirmed as a valuable member of the classroom and school community. I routinely use positive reinforcement to encourage good behavior and highlight excellent models. I also practice a multi-cultural approach to education to affirm each student’s identity including racial, socio-economic, and gender identities. I welcome differences in my classroom, thus resulting in a richer learning environment.

I believe that all students are capable of achieving greatness academically, emotionally, morally, and socially when provided with specific support and unconditional kindness and respect from teachers and other members of the school community. I disagree with Carol Gilligan’s criticism on Kohlberg’s theory of moral development in her book In a Different Voice (1982). Gilligan asserts that males and females are inherently different in the way they develop morally. Gilligan writes, “The moral imperative that emerges repeatedly in interviews with women is an injunction to care, a responsibility to discern and alleviate the “real and recognizable trouble” of this world. For men, the moral imperative appears rather as an injunction to respect the rights of others and thus to protect from the interference the right to lie and self-fulfillment.” (Gilligan, 1982, p. 100). I believe that this gender generalization can lead us to a path that does not value the individual development of children, despite their sex or gender. In order to establish a safe community where children can develop into confident and well-educated individuals, teachers must abandon pre-conceived notions about sex, gender, race, and socio-economic status to develop a true understanding of the individual. Then, we can provide each student with the support they need to succeed.

In my classroom, all students and their voices are represented in the organization of the room, the work displayed, and the rules and expectations that guide our classroom and school. I use class expectations/charters that are student created, and I solicit student input and preference when rewards for excellent behavior are provided. This holds all students accountable and allows them to have control over their own actions. Allowing students to have an influence on the classroom’s management system is an extension of the type of collaborative, friendly, fair, and respectful environment that I believe is essential to great education. As educators, we all need to be on the same team, working towards the same goal – to facilitate learning and educate students as individuals.

As education continues through the 21st and 22nd Centuries, I believe that there will only be an increase in student centered and directed learning. I predict that within 25 years, school will look much different. Learning will be more individualized and student directed, and differentiation will become even more engrained in classroom teaching. I predict that whole-class instruction will decrease, resulting in personalized education plans for all students. My belief in the shared accountability for all students’ learning will help to facilitate this more independent and global education. Due in part to a continued development and accessibility of digital resources, students will have the ability to learn from educators and resources beyond the walls of the school building and will have a more global sense of education. I do, however, wonder how this will change the dynamic of a classroom community in which all members do not have the same learning experiences and exposure. This will present new challenges to teachers in creating welcoming communities where students feel safe to take risks and explore their own learning.


Gilligan, C. (1982). In a different voice: Psychological theory and women’s development. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Tuckman, B., & Monetti, D. (2013). Educational psychology with virtual psychology labs (Instructor’s ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

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