“Mr. Angood, I didn’t write down my notes or do the assignment like how you wanted us to do it, am I going to get a zero?”
“In your notes, do you still have the information that I presented to you?”
“Yes, it just looks a little different”
“…and, in your assignment, do you think you have produced something that will show me that you have learned all the important information from your notes?”
“Yea, instead of doing a postcard, I decided to make a diorama”
“As long as you have succeeded in both, that is the ultimate goal, not just doing it how I want it”
When I wrote my first teaching philosophy a decade ago, I focused primarily on the role of the teacher that I envisioned myself being in my first classroom. At the time, my teaching experience had been limited to substitute teaching and coursework I had taken in college. I envisioned a classroom where I would use a variety of methods such as lecture/notes, different types of multimedia and resources to present information, and different methods for students to be able to grasp the knowledge. I spoke of observing a student in my first semester of Education School courses, who, despite having a 96% average, found classwork uninteresting; to her, class was the “same-ole, same-ole” worksheets and direct instruction. I knew my classroom would not be like that—at the very least, ONLY that!
That teaching philosophy still holds true, but it has also grown and expanded. Giving students choice and voice is important in my classroom, as we tackle a broad array of topics. Students in my class are familiarized with many different ways of showing their comprehension, including being given choices in preparing and presenting artifacts of their learning. For example, they have created their own works of art, designed postcards telling about places they have never been, and imagined Twitter status updates from VIPs of the Reformation and from the only female ruler of China. Students in my class are also exposed to multiple ways to note important points of a specific topic. Like my quotation above illustrates, I’m more interested in students being able to get the information and process it, whether it’s through the way that I have shown them, or a way that works for them.
Giving students a choice in both their intake of knowledge as well as choice in how to present what they have learned, taking what they have learned and creating a product to analyze is an ongoing process. With my passion for educational technology, student choice and voice is enhanced because of all of the different options available. Giving students options, I believe, makes sure that, above all, they are successful and respected for the different types of learners they are.