My teaching philosophy has its base in both the social and the academic: combine empathy, honesty, and trustworthiness with critical thinking, pattern recognition, and creative risk-taking. There are no penalties in my classroom; everyone wants to do a good job, and they should be treated as a whole person—not just as their mistakes. I use this social approach (backed up by social and psychological research) as a point of departure for developing academic skills.
I believe many curricula overemphasize rote learning as a short-term fix to make sure material gets covered. The antidote to this is using the student’s own intellect and natural ability to recognize patterns in order to generalize the process of learning and aid students in making discoveries on their own. When students feel a sense of accomplishment, they are more likely to retain the knowledge they’ve gained than when answers are fed to them.
My ultimate goal is to work myself out of a job. I want students to become independent critical thinkers who are able to make connections between past experiences and new concepts. I love watching students transform into understanding people, both through empathy and comprehension. Preparing students for independence and modeling how they may in turn help others when they can is of utmost importance to me.