Philosophy of Education
As I look forward, toward future opportunities as an educator, I look back fondly on my current career as a private music teacher. As a former professional musician, I was introduced to private music teaching as a means of diversifying my income, and later, at the suggestion of friends and family, started this journey toward becoming a professional educator.
In my early years, I learned by doing, and learned that there were strategies that could be employed to curb misbehavior, and other strategies that could be used to help teach difficult concepts. I also learned that “what works” this time, with this student, may not always “work” with another student. Over time, and with years of experience, I also noted that my students responded better to consistency, and the students who had the most structure were the students who were the most successful in terms of completion of work and progress as a musician. In hindsight, I have seen where some of the negative experiences I gained through the “school of hard knocks” might have been easily avoided had I enrolled in a teacher education program at a younger age!
Something that might be hard to learn from a teacher education course, however, is how to define one’s philosophy of education. I am strongly engaged with the general philosophy that all students can learn. The paradigm of private music instruction is rooted strongly in differentiated instruction, working with each student’s abilities, and taking that student as far as they are capable, and then some. In a strikingly similar vein, special education, in which I am currently pursuing advanced coursework, is also centered on student-specific instruction, which is a bit comforting, in the sense that I have been working in that same mode for many years now.
My personal philosophy, based on my previous teaching experience, is that if I, the teacher, am able to effectively ENGAGE and INSPIRE the student, then the student will CONNECT and PERFORM. The process of engaging can vary somewhat from student to student, but, to me, it seems to center strongly on enthusiasm for the material, organization of materials, proper planning and preparation, and teacher competence. Inspiration has to do with gaining trust and building a relationship with the student and the student’s family. My past experience is that most of a student’s success is predicated on the relationship that the student has with the teacher. Proper application of the “engage” and the “inspire” segments will yield the “connect” segment on the part of the student, in the sense that the student will take a genuine interest in the material, and want to learn. Based on the relationship they have with the teacher, the student will also be more driven to “perform” at a higher rate of yield, because they value the relationship, and want to make the teacher happy.
Going forward in my professional teaching career, I look forward to many challenging opportunities to engage and inspire, as well as to be inspired by the students that I will be entrusted with. Thank you for your thoughtful consideration.