Over the past ten years I have developed a teaching philosophy based in creativity, curiosity, and love. Every time I teach I want my students to know that, when they are with me, they are in a place where they are safe and loved. No matter what else may be happening in their lives, they are empowered to express themselves when they are with me. That is the heart of my philosophy, not only in how I treat my students, but in classroom management, learning environment, and educational experiences. I show this by respecting the needs of my students, both academically; by incorporating activities for as many learning styles as possible, evaluating learning both formally and informally through various methods, and allowing for student interest to lead my lessons as often as possible; and as individuals; by engaging with families, actively listening and thoughtfully responding when students talk to me, and considering what is fair over what is equal in my classroom. I believe that embracing students for exactly who they are; as learners and human beings; fosters the most enriching culture of learning for students of any age.
My choice to specialize in Early Childhood Education throughout my career stems ultimately from a true love of learning. I consider my passion for learning to be one of my greatest strengths as an educator. I firmly believe that participating in the learning process of another individual is one of the greatest educational opportunities one can have. Young children are actively seeking the encounters that help us to understand the world, which allows anyone working closely with them to also reconsider those vital moments of understanding. Viewing an often-visited children’s museum through the eyes of a two year old is to see that museum for the first time. Therefore, when I work with Early Childhood-aged students, I get to learn constantly. As a teacher I get to have the privilege of not only observing but directly encouraging the development of that natural penchant for discovery by providing an experience that is specifically tailored to stimulate contemplation of and interaction with a new concept. Watching the satisfaction that come to students during the process of applying that concept is an incomparable joy. I am drawn to Early Childhood Education by the frequency with which I am able to share this joy for learning with young children.
There is a place for creativity in every area of learning. Seriously pursuing creativity does not have to mean success in “the arts”; it can also mean excellence in innovation, leadership, collaboration, communication, and problem-solving. Creative educational experiences also opens students’ minds, allowing them to draw important connections between wide concepts. I have seen conversations about politics, history, health, physics, and current social issues naturally come out of lessons that were supposed to be about dancing. Not only does creative learning tap into a deeper level of cognitive processing for students, but in the performing arts where my teaching artist experience lies, they are also allowed the opportunity to connect that learning to their physical selves. Accessing new parts of their brains in this way means that lessons learned with a creative focus are more likely to be reflected upon and retained. Throughout my career, I have had the chance to see firsthand how this approach, combined with a nurturing, interesting environment, can lead to learners who have extreme confidence in themselves and a desire to lift up the efforts of those they interact with. I believe that that is one of the greatest accomplishments I can achieve as an educator.