I was down at the beach pondering my teaching philosophy and a helicopter flew overhead. This time of year, is when people can we flown out to South Solitary Island for the day. This is on my bucket list.
Anyway, I am watching this helicopter fly over and I was thinking how cool it would be to fly in a helicopter. – them immediately my brain has to take it one step further – I want to hold onto the landing frame, held on by ropes as the helicopter flies to South Solitary Island. WHY?? So, I could learn what it feels like. (I know – lock me up now!)
Education is about learning – and learning can be scary for some. By the time a person reaches adulthood, they have experienced fear and pain. They have worked through discomfort. They are not too naïve about the world. As a teacher, my responsibility is to lead the learner during this time which is exciting and challenging. Scaffolding and support are necessary elements of my model of learning and leadership. Leadership is about enabling learning and growth. It is about moving through uncomfortable moments.
The word education has Latin roots – EDUCARE. This is a term that resonates with me – I feel that this term encompasses my nursing and my teaching career. It encompasses who I am. Some say that ‘educare” is to train or mould, and EDUCERE (another root word) meaning to lead.
From these root terms, my philosophy of teaching embraces mentorship, learning, leadership, support and guidance. My philosophy embraces learning and sharing wisdom and knowledge. I have thirty years of experience as a nurse and as a teacher, and I am still learning. I am still excited to be learning.
My Philosophy is very relevant to our modern word. It is about valuing the unique learner, knowing that teacher and student are always learning, growing and changing.
Teaching is about care. Teaching is about creating a safe environment to share ideas and take risks. Teachers need to be relevant, present, vulnerable and objective enough to recognise their own subjective knowledge, skills and abilities. It is a nurturing process that challenges people to change.
I see distinct strategies enabling successful implementation of my teaching philosophy for college students, either on campus or online. These include
Learners have come to learning with previous knowledge and experience. All learners need to be recognised as competent and knowledgeable individual learners who are undergoing the challenges of change. A teacher’s role is as facilitator of learning and change.
I believe that one of the keys to success is to recognise students as valued individuals. Students need to see the value in themselves to see the value in the world around.
When a student knows that they are respected as learners, begin to get ready to learn. Regardless of background, people need to feel good about themselves as learners.
I love the Multiple Intelligence philosophy but I believe we are more than one intelligence and that the teacher needs to offer a variety of ways to present ideas.
2. Learners as action researchers.
Learners know how they learn. Adult learners usually have a purpose and need to be leaders of their own learning. A teacher can and should scaffold the students learning by partnering with the learner. They have experience, thoughts and goals - Partner with them during the learning process.
Build the relationship with the learner but give them the space to grow. Accept that timing is not always right and the learners needs change.
3. Stay curious. Be teachable.
I learn from my students. The world is changing, and changing quickly. Let curiosity direct learning in the real world. Make learning realistic and relatable but not absolute – the world is opening up new technologies but we need foundations e.g. contextualise real life maths e.g. shopping is about percentages – addition with subtraction, Multiplication with division, fractions and decimal points.
Financial literacy and business literacy are vital.
The big picture view is important. Focus on those things that will not change when planning for those things that will.
4. Practice skill opportunities.
Be evidenced based and workplace relevant. Learning takes time and practice, we must allow time.
Allow students to wear different ‘THINKING HATS’. Use DeBono’s theory to guide questioning and activities – get creative!
An example of using DeBono concepts when teaching Medication Administration in the ward might look like this:
Work from a connecting the dots learning theory (This not a real theory – it is just one I made up).
5. Technology is vital to this modern world.
Teaching technology is essential. Engaging students in technology via technology prepares them for the real world e.g. nursing students must engage with electronic medical recording technology. They must have the skill and confidence to engage in these new, changing and challenging technologies. Students must be able to problem solve.
6. Critical Reflection
We need to look at what we are doing as teachers and make changes to meet the changing needs of the student group. Be open to criticism, be challenged by it. Implement, review, assess, implement
Practise critical reflection.
For teachers and trainers, it is important to have a personal philosophy when teaching. This philosophy will change over time. Thinking about our philosophy and our purpose is purposeful. Be willing to learn and stay curious.
Have you ever wondered what it would feel like to fly in a helicopter? Have you ever wondered what it would be like to glide through the air? Stay curious. Enjoy the ride.