Teaching Philosophy

My teaching philosophy actually stems from two big influences from my own childhood: my mother, and my high school English teacher.

For most of my life, my mother was involved in education in one way or another. Whether it be a teacher's assistant or a district board member, my mother was always around teachers and the classroom. In turn, she was an active part of my education from kindergarden to high school graduation.

During that time, I learned the importance of confidence in the classroom. My mother instilled that confidence in me by letting me know that I was capable of doing anything. She stressed that you could achieve anything in this world as long as you are willing to work for it. Being smart is important, but being a hard worker is even more critical. Outside of the classroom, my mother would challenge me to go even farther in my studies. Read more. Be active in extra curricular functions. Volunteer. Do my homework (sometimes I slacked on that one...). No matter what, she stressed that I work hard. And, as long as I tried my best, she was ok with whatever path I decided to pursue. It allowed me to take chances like try out for the high school swim team without knowing how to swim or try acting when I had crippling stage fright.

I take that mentoring philosophy into the classroom as a teacher. I believe in instilling confidence in my students, but by working them hard and making them work for accomplishment. Teaching them responsibility and work ethic by being supportive and encouraging them to do anything is a fine line to walk on, but I found that it can work wonders in changing the culture of a classroom. Even with ESL teaching, tackling language just above their 'skill level' helps them reach higher and work harder to keep up. This is more effective for middle and high school levels, but can be adapted for younger children as well.

My second influence as a teacher stems from my high school English teacher. She was a remarkable woman who, much like my mother, pushed me to be better and do better. Just as important, however, she had one governing principle that made her classroom environment welcoming: put the student first. She treated her students much like her own children. She taught us English, yes. But in high school, you need mentors. You need people that can point you in a direction and give you advice when other teachers treat teaching like a job.

When I went to become an ESL teacher, I looked back at what she did and adopted that same philosophy into my classroom. From the moment I step into school in the morning until the moment I leave in the afternoon, I am there for my students. Even outside of school, when they bump into me in the street or at the grocery store, I still make an active attempt to maintain a relationship with my students.

This becomes increasingly critical for learning a foreign language. I am a firm believer that language is culture, and vise versa. Culture shapes who we are at the most fundamental level, and it is nearly impossible to learn a language without understanding the culture. By maintaining these relationships, I'm able to actively share my culture with my students and learn Korean culture from. This exchange of culture results in a natural exchange of language as well. We learn our native tongue in the same fashion: sharing information that we find important with the people around us. This sharing of culture finds its way into my classroom consistently, and I find that language learning becomes a much more natural process because of it. I hope one day to jump out of the classroom and apply these concepts to designing textbooks and curriculums that others can use and adapt into their own classrooms.

Teaching is a serious job, and one that is ever changing and evolving. As a teacher, I believe that my own education is important. As long as I'm constantly learning, I can expect my students to do the same. That strive to always be better than you were yesterday is something you can't teach...but you can lead by example. And ultimately, that's what education is all about. Self-improvement. Be a better teacher and a better human being than you were yesterday, and you can do no wrong.

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