Theoretical Framework
 

As a new teacher, my theory of practice is still a work in progress.  I draw from a number of theoretical positions as I pull together my vision of effective teaching and a supportive classroom environment.  Chief among these theories is my belief in the inherent democratic function of schools and schooling.  This understanding is deeply entrenched in the history of American education and it has been affirmed and reinterpreted by many critical theorists.  This idea of educating for active democratic citizenship is articulated best by Henry A. Giroux who understands English education to be “grounded the imperative to educate students to learn how to become ethical and political agents capable of practicing critical citizenship and civic courage” (1992, p. 316).  

 

This kind of critical pedagogy necessitates classroom structures that are democratic in and of them.  My vision of a supportive classroom environment is not removed from these ideas.  In fact, I ground my teaching practices in sociocultural and constructivist theories of learning and knowledge-building.  I see students as social and cultural beings whose prior knowledge and areas of expertise must necessarily inform the work we do together.  The work we do must be relevant to my students’ lives.  Furthermore, I believe knowledge is constructed collectively, so I must also do my part to create a community of learners.  Lastly, it is my role as their teacher to model and scaffold learning strategies for my students so that they can in turn construct knowledge and meaning for themselves.

 

This highly theoretical perspective has an immediate relevance to this design project.  Every aspect of my unit (and my teaching) is aimed at supporting the kind of student learning I believe in.

 

References:

Giroux, H.A. (1992).  Textual authority and the role of teachers as public intellectuals.  In C.M. Hurlbert and S. Totten (Eds.), Social issues in the classroom (pp. 107-123).  Urbana, IL: NCTE.

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