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Philosophy Statement

Nathan M. Pusey said, The teacher's task is not to implant facts but to place the subject
to be learned in front of the learner and, through sympathy, emotion, imagination and patience, to
awaken in the learner the restless drive for answers and insights which enlarge the personal life
and give it meaning. This quote supports my teaching philosophy which is rooted in
Constructivism as well in the beliefs of educational theories such as Albert Banduras Theory of
Social Learning, John Deweys Theory of Experienced Learning, and Vygotskys Theory of
Social Development. Each of these theories are closely related and support the constructivist
approach to teaching and learning. The main idea of constructivist instruction is that scientific
knowledge should not be taught to students directly; rather, this knowledge should be discovered
by students themselves in the course of carrying out some kind of research activity (Karpov,
2014 p.168). Each of these theories have influenced me as a teacher; from my instruction and
instructional activities, to the way I have set up my classroom and even in the way I compose
and deliver my lesson plans.
An effective learning environment is one in which students feel respected, safe and are
encouraged to take risks in their learning. I encourage my students to take risks by utilizing a
variety of learning models including cooperative learning, inquiry based learning, project based
learning, technology-based learning and STEM education. In addition, I believe an effective
learning environment is rich in content, displays student work, and is set up in a way that best
promotes learning and productivity. My classroom walls display content related anchor charts,
student work and other student created materials. Based on Vygotskys belief that students should
work collaboratively to research and share ideas within a community of learners, I have designed
my classroom so that my students sit and work in flexible heterogeneous groups of four and five.
Teams consistently work collaboratively to conduct research, solve real world problems and
complete tasks across all content areas.
As a teacher it is my goal to continually engage, inspire and challenge my students to be
lifelong learners. Inspired by Albert Banduras Theory of Social Learning and Vygotskys Theory
of Social Development, I often have my students work collaboratively on classroom projects,
tasks and assignments across all content areas. This includes whole group, small group and
partner collaborations. My students are encouraged to work collaboratively as it promotes

respect and teamwork and teaches students to be tolerant of, appreciate and utilize each
individuals strengths and weaknesses, including their own. Bandura wrote, In the social
learning system, new patterns of behavior can be acquired through direct experience or by
observing the behaviors of others.(1971).
In addition, I believe in providing my students with hands on and real world learning
experiences. John Dewey called for education to be grounded in real experience. He wrote, "If
you have doubts about how learning happens, engage in sustained inquiry: study, ponder,
consider alternative possibilities and arrive at your belief grounded in evidence." (1938). My
philosophy has always included the belief that in order for students to fully value their education
they must be personally invested in the process. Constructivism is a learning theory which
suggests that knowledge is most effectively acquired by evoking personal meaning in the learner
(Adams and Hamm 1998 pg. 25 as quoted by Cobb and Kallus). Providing students with hands
on and real world learning experiences goes far beyond just reading a book or conducting
research, it allows students to personally experience their learning first hand and apply it to their
own lives. As learners construct knowledge and understanding, they question themselves and
their views and interpret and interact with their world (Hunkins & Ornstein, 2009, p.129)
My students are able to accomplish this through the use of Project Based Learning and
STEM education. For students learning in the twenty-first century, project based learning and
STEM education allow them to develop skills that will assist them in becoming productive
members of a global society These learning methods offer students many opportunities to
demonstrate and apply what they have learned by asking them to conduct research, solve real
world problems, complete investigations, work collaboratively, utilize technology and give
presentations. All of which are components of effective and meaningful literacy instruction.
Project based learning and STEM education are not supplementary activities, but rather,
teach curriculum concepts and standards through a project. Both methods provide scaffolded and
differentiated instruction and learning to best meet the needs of all my students. In project based
learning and STEM education, my students have completed projects that include PowerPoint and
Prezi presentations, writing a blog, writing/typing their own informational text, giving oral
presentations, and even writing a play to demonstrate knowledge. I believe that when we give

students choice in their learning, it is more meaningful and encourages them to be academically
successful.
Literacy is at the foundation of all learning and is integrated in instruction throughout the
various content areas. In todays world, being literate goes far beyond simply being able to read
and write. Teachers play an important role in ensuring that students are able to read, comprehend
and respond to information and ideas in various types of text. This not only includes fiction and
non-fiction texts, but also various forms of digital literacies. For students learning in the 21st
century, being literate means being proficient with tools of technology, solving problems,
working collaboratively, analyzing and synthesizing information, analyzing, creating and
evaluating multimedia texts and communicating effectively. I enjoy sharing my passion for
literacy with my students and strive to provide them with a literacy rich environment. This
includes a classroom library with a wide selection of books and genres, the use of mentor texts in
instruction throughout the content areas, book clubs, the use of various technologies, effective
writing instruction, digital literacies, engaging learning strategies and meaningful language
experiences.
In the words of John Dewey, The most important attitude that can be formed is that of
desire to go on learning (1938, p.48). Receiving a Masters Degree has been a life-long goal of
mine. Though it has taken longer to achieve than I expected, it is a goal I am proud to soon
accomplish. Choosing to focus on Literacy Education was an easy decision for me as I believe,
as I stated previously, that literacy is the foundation of all learning. I enjoy sharing my passion
for education and literacy with my students and colleagues. Throughout my time working on this
degree, I have been able to apply what I have learned into my instruction with my students. In
addition, I have been able to share what I have learned with teachers that I mentor and other
colleagues.
Upon completion of the Masters in Literacy Program at UNLV my goal is to become a
reading specialist or instructional coach for the Clark County School District. This would allow
me to share my love of literacy not only with students, but also with fellow educators. As a
reading specialist or instructional coach, I would have the opportunity to assist fellow educators
in the classroom by helping assess students, model lessons, provide additional intensive
instruction for struggling readers and collaborate with teachers to create effective literacy lessons

and instruction. It is my goal to provide leadership in the development and implementation of a


K-5 reading program that best meets the rigorous demands of the Common Core State Standards,
Next Generation Science Standards and Nevada Academic Content Standards (NACS) as well as
the needs of the students, their families, and the teachers that I will work with. Most importantly
is it my goal to continue sharing my passion for literacy and learning with my students and
colleagues.

References
Bandura, A. (1971). Social Learning Theory. New York; General Learning Press.
Cobb, J.B. and Kallus, M.K. (2011). Historical, Theoretical, and Sociological Foundations
of Reading in the United States. Boston, MA. Pearson Education, Inc.
Dewey, J. (1938). Experience and Eduaction. New York; Simon & Schuster.
Hunkins, F.P., & Ornstein, A.C. (2009). Curriculum: Foundations, principles and issues. (5ed.).
Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.
Karpov, Y. V. (2014). Vygotsky for Educators. New York; Cambridge University Press.