Learning by Deweying
I believe the best teachers are those who admit they have a lot to learn and find themselves enjoying learning alongside their students. Once I as the teacher acknowledged and admitted that I have a lot to learn, this humbleness opened a dialogue between the students and I about what it truly means to be a lifelong learner. As the teacher, I find myself constantly learning alongside my students. I feel strongly that students learn best when the teacher acknowledges and accepts that, while knowledgeable, they do not perceive themselves as the expert. I contend that the best teachers are continuously seeking new knowledge and that the term “expert” should be reserved for a rare few, such as the honorable John Dewey.
As a result of divulging that I admire John Dewey, it is not surprising that I view the world from the perspective of a pragmatist. This pragmatist view ultimately leads to the lens in which I teach through. This philosophy is embedded in the way things work, in light of a changing world. “Pragmatists regard reality as the product of the interaction with an ever-changing environment” (Webb & Metha, 2017, p.59). As a result of this philosophical belief, I conform to the notion that the only constant in life is change, and the quicker you embrace reacting to change, the happier and more successful you’ll find yourself.
My classroom differs from others. My description will likely fail to fully capture this difference, but in my classroom, students are inquiring minds. Though I believe the role of the teacher is a facilitator who is intended to guide and inspire the learner, students are highly engaged in conversations with me and others about the content. I refuse to lecture. Instead, I am telling stories depicting my own teaching and learning experiences, while including students in the storytelling. I am not a messenger to deliver course content; rather, I engage students in hands-on, collaborative learning experiences. To illustrate, instead of telling my students about a strategy to teach elementary children to learn new vocabulary, my students engage in a “Vocabulary on the Move” game that requires asking peers to describe their unknown word, attached to their forehead, using a variety of context clues. As part of the hands-on learning experiences, I also challenge my students to problem-based learning scenarios. For example, during the iPad workshops, students are given a case study of a future classroom scenario and design a lesson using the most appropriate learning apps.
My goal is to inspire others to love to learn so they motivate others to see learning in all they do. I work toward this by helping each student capitalize on their potential and by showing students how to be reflective and flexible in their approach to teaching. The goal of teaching reaches far beyond delivering course content, and is one that is intended to stretch and broaden perspectives that shape an individual into becoming the person they aspire to be.