Teaching Philosophy

 

Intentional Everyday

      Through the coursework from various courses, I have learned that maintaining the home language and self-identity and culture of English Learners (ELs) are a difficult task to achieve for them while obtaining education in monolingual school settings.  According to de Jong (2011), maintaining ELs' home languages and developing proficiency in those languages tend to be "devalued by the wider society and support for bilingual skills development is often perceived by majority language speakers as a hindrance to the full integration of minority groups into the mainstream" (p. 29). However, language is intrinsically linked to identity, and demise of the native language is loss of identity and loss of self-worth (Crawford in de Jong, 2011). 

      From that sense, I am keenly aware of the challenges my students might be facing in every aspect of their family and school life,  and my teaching and interactions with students must be intentional with words and acts, from voicing my opinion, modeling instructions, and responding to the students' share of their cultural, linguistic, and family background.  What is my understanding of the contextual background of my students' community?  What messages am I conveying to my students by teaching the contents and instructional materials and pedagogical strategies that I am implementing? Are students' home languages viewed as a resource or hindrance in learning in my practice? 

 

Philosophy 1. Intentional in Recreating Curriculum

          Critical eye on questioning what and how children learn needs a great amount of intentionality. It is more so if there is a dissonance between the world children learn in school and their everyday world. I have witnessed that some content in the curriculum we use contains insensitive messages to the school's community and certainly do not represent my students’ identity or experiences. Exerting the agentic capacity to carefully select or unselect contents and texts with consideration of our social structure and students' identity is one of the major intentionality I will practice. Who made this curriculum? Who were these contents made for? Do any of the contents misrepresent my students? What resources can I add to speak more about my students’ lives and experiences?  

        Among the ways of recreating or modifying curriculum for culturally and linguistically diverse groups of students, the identity texts, conjoined notions of identity affirmation and literacy engagement, by Cummins et al. (2015) offer a sustainable model for my students. By allowing students to enable their emerging academic language and their multilingual repertoires, students will gain competence in identity and academic achievement.  

 

Philosophy 2. Intentional in Caring

      Soto (2005) defines caring as "a deliberate and action-oriented event that occurs between actors who willingly promote and develop this [unity]" (p. 863). As strategies of caring defined with this perspective, Soto suggests culturally responsive pedagogy and self-awareness of teacher's cultural ideologies and biographies.

     As a parent of caring nature, I would find myself jumping to help students solve problems instead of allowing them to process and find the answers on their own at the beginning of my residency, and this discovery about myself taught me patience and more importantly, intentional caring. Knowing that many students are identified as at-risk in the community cannot be a justifying reason for not intentionally responding to students’ academic struggles or behavioral issues. Intentional caring includes listening and understanding the specific circumstances of students’ struggles, however, that does not mean that students will not be challenged academically. I recall one moment where I was complimenting a student’s academic achievement only to feel embarrassed about myself after knowing about her life difficulties. Intentional caring is not pre-assuming students’ intelligence or academic motivation based on their personal life challenges and explaining away their low academic progress. Our students are stronger and resilient than we imagine, smarter than their test scores say, and surprise us with their intelligence. Holding high expectations as I would be toward my own child, viewing individual students as scholars, and centering myself as a co-learner is how I would describe intentional caring.

 

Philosophy 3. Intentional in Questioning 

      My own intersectionality and background position me to think about who we are as people and how we learn in America’s social structure. My students, who are mostly Spanish speakers, shape their identity in the school community as well as their home. I recall that one student was speaking in his home language and the other student sitting next discouraged him by saying, “we are not supposed to speak in Spanish at school.” Young children receive ongoing implicit messages from early on through various sources that can undervalue their home languages and cause the sense of disconnect between their home identity and school identity. I will be attentive and intentional at offering high impact questioning (Knight, 2015) what is considered as the norm and who decides the unspoken rules through literature and raising questions, intentionally creating a space for students to think about themselves while learning. My students will be asked about what represents them, what makes them who they are, and how we position ourselves in various contexts.