“As a teacher, it is your job to make explicit whatever you though was implicit”
-Carol Ann Tomlinson
My collective experiences as a scientist, STEM advocate and teacher form the foundation of my educational philosophy and values which include cultivating a desire for lifelong learning, being a mentor and coach, teaching responsibility and accountability, engaging in self-reflection and continuous professional development.
With respect to science education, my goals are (a) to make science interesting, meaningful, fun and accessible to all students, (b) to ensure that my instructional practices create learning opportunities for students of all learning levels and styles, (c) to help students understand that science has an important place in everyday life, and (d) to raise awareness about the variety of science related careers. I view my educational philosophy as consisting of four interdependent questions (summarized in the figure below) that I use as guides for my classroom teaching and self-reflection. You can read the complete statement of my educational philosophy below or for a PDF version of the statement, you can click on MBerger_Educational_Philosophy.
Statement of Educational Philosophy
My educational philosophy is based upon answering four key questions including (a) why I want to teach, (b) what I teach, (c) how I teach, and (d) how I measure my effectiveness. The most important reasons that I want to teach are applying my skills and knowledge to improve science literacy, which I believed is rooted in receiving a quality education, sharing my fervor for science to trigger students’ curiosity and appreciation of the natural world, and encouraging students to be their personal best by becoming critical, creative thinkers and interested in learning. An important goal of mine is to positively influence students by showing them how they are valued individuals who should always strive for self-improvement and that everyone should be respected, recognized for their work, and encouraged to share ideas.
With respect to what I teach, my goal to show students that science is for everyone and that fun and creativity are important aspects of science whether one is doing a “backyard” experiment or working as a research scientist. I feel that it is vital to let students know that they are stakeholders in their education, it is vital for them to develop solid problem solving skills, and they should never stop being curious or imaginative in all that they do.
Concerning how I teach, I strive to use a variety of instructional methods to actively engage students regardless of learning style, background, or aptitude. There is value in integrating technology in the classroom since most people’s home, work, and social lives are touched in some way in our digital society. Critical to lesson planning are setting goals that include knowing what students should know and be able to do at the lesson’s end, what essential questions are being asked, and what big ideas should be understood. In order for the lesson to be a meaningful learning experience, it must be in harmony with academic standards as well as four critical components known as the Four Pillars of Instruction including (a) curriculum requirements, (b) engaging instruction, (c) genuine assessments, and (d) management practices that facilitate gaining and maintain student cooperation.
In addressing how I measure and assess my performance, my objectives are to continuously work at improving my teaching skills through self-reflection, professional development courses, workshops, and conferences, consulting with my teaching colleagues and school administrators, and seeking feedback from students and their caregivers.
My value as an educator and success in the classroom depend upon knowing as much as possible about each student which will enable me to collaborate with them to maximize their learning and allow me to create a safe and welcoming classroom. In getting to know each student, I have three central interests which are (a) identifying their individual learning styles, aptitudes, interests, and special needs, (b) how they solve problems, handle conflicts, and what about school interests them most and least, (c) what types of support do they have at home and what they and their caregivers expect of me as a teacher.
Treating students as unique people and individual learners facilitates their ability to be cooperative and collaborative learners, to identify and solve problems, and to be personally accountable for their actions.