Teaching Philosophy

Joshua L Eisenstein – Teaching Philosophy

Adolescents are human beings on the precipice of discovering themselves.  That is the time in their lives when they decide both what they want from life and who they are within it. The education of adolescents is a process through which they grow and develop. It can be a tool to achieve their ambitions as well as a part of who they become as individuals. Education, both formal and informal, is fundamental to the experience of being human. The chance to actively participate in that discovery, to help students become their best selves and move on to greater things, is both what first drew me to teaching and what keeps me coming back each year.

As a teacher in Social Studies and Humanities, my goal has always been to integrate learning, to spur growth across subjects. I view one of the roles of Social Studies to be student empowerment through the creation of context for all that they learn. When I teach History, for example, my main objective is for students to see themselves and their own ambitions through the lens of past events. They come to understand why people once behaved as they did, how that behavior changed the course of events, and how their own choices can make a difference for future generations. In Civics and Government, I have encouraged students to take part in the political process, to generate their own objectives and ways to achieve them. My educational background also qualifies me to teach social science research and statistical analysis of data, but the overarching purpose is always student awareness and empowerment.

When it comes to teaching methodology, I believe in shaping activities to meet the needs and abilities of students. In practical terms, this means maintaining a flexible outlook toward different teaching styles. To this end, I tend to draw inspiration from both modern and traditional models to differentiate instruction both between and within different groups of students. For example, some classes tend to respond best when students are given roles within a small group, while other classes may learn best by working independently and receiving individual attention as needed. Some students respond best to project-based learning, while others prefer class discussion and answering direct questions. Based on the group and the individuals within it, I try to find the combination that provides the most motivation and yields the best results.

Throughout the course of a school year, I use many sources to gauge the effectiveness of my lessons, and to adapt my teaching according to the needs of the students. The primary source of information I have is student work, which ranges between formative assessments, homework, projects, group work, quizzes, exams, essays and class participation. In addition, I regularly request feedback from colleagues and administrators regarding individual students and their successes and challenges. I also try to maintain communication with parents, which gives me a sense of how families tend to view my class. Based on these sources of information, as well as student performance on state-mandated assessments, I try to continue improving my practice. The goal is always to give students the best chance to grow, learn and become their best possible selves.