I started drafting this piece months ago but have left it as a draft because I didn’t know where I was going or where it was taking me. Then Betsy Hubbard shared her piece about her philosophy and accountability earlier this week and I was brought back to my own beliefs…
Twitter was recently buzzing with an invitation to write a six word teaching philosophy (#liwp6words). I wrote mine quickly:
Philosophy has always been: grow kindness.
In college, as an undergrad, I was asked to write a two page paper on my philosophy of teaching. I remember consulting Google for some inspiration. I didn’t think I had a philosophy. When Google didn’t magically produce a fine tuned answer (this was way back in 2005…Google has come a long way since then), I decided to just write what I knew for sure. Unfortunately, I don’t have the exact words since I have been purging and organizing while home on maternity leave. I think I finally threw away those massive Student Teaching Portfolios that I spent hours creating, lugged back and forth on every interview, and no one ever even asked to look at. But I clearly remember writing about teaching kids to be good people.
This belief was instilled early on, during my own school experience. I loved my teachers and felt their love in return. To me, school has always been a place of love- where people care about you. The grown ups at school seemed to live to show us kids how to navigate the world with kindness.
My clearest school memory is my sixth grade teacher holding one of my peers, both of them crying. He was being whisked away suddenly to live with family in another state-this same student who I knew struggled academically, who I had heard talking back to teachers for years, and had witnessed in a number of physical altercations. When his world was being turned upside down, it was my teacher who held him right there in the middle of our classroom.
I was again asked to revisit my beliefs this past week while at a Teachers College PD day centered around their new Phonics Curriculum based on their Principles of Phonics. Early in the session we were asked, in true TC fashion, to turn and talk about our beliefs about Phonics instruction. The presenters said the conversation might be brief, maybe we didn’t have beliefs about phonics instruction.
But I did. I had a lot to say and I surprised myself, as I turned to a colleague who teaches first grade. I could articulate exactly what I believed and where those beliefs fit in with the greater goal of growing kids who love to read and write.
This time at Teachers College left me wondering where the academics fit in with my philosophy. I’m still coming up with school preparing kids to be kind people. While this sounds so simple and boiled down, I think it encompasses a lot. When I think of adding on, I can always bring it back to my original statement. It’s what I send my own children out into the world with each and every day. Be kind. It’s the most important thing.
And now months later, I’m hitting publish. I’m not sure this piece has brought me where I thought it would. I’m still thinking…