DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.
Teaching Philosophy
Theresa A. Siemer

    A professor once spoke to me about “the apprenticeship of observation” in teaching: those who have sat in a classroom feel confident in explaining exactly what a teacher is trained to do. Most have even formed opinions about the “best” way to teach. Even I believed I knew what a teacher should do. Now that I have been through actual training and practice for teaching, I understand that the art of teaching is more complex and challenging than I could have ever imagined.
    I learned very quickly that any classroom I will enter in my career will not be about me, but instead about my students. That is, my classroom environment will be completely new with each new group of students I encounter. The teacher that I strive to be focuses on students both individually and within a community. By getting to know students as individuals, I will understand what strengths students can contribute to the classroom community. This understanding will allow me to facilitate a functional multicultural classroom. If I can pick up on students’ individual personalities, their talents and unique abilities, and their cultural backgrounds and beliefs, I will better understand the type of community I must create to support diverse learners.

    Building this ideal type of community involves careful lesson planning and thoughtful classroom practice. I have been told that there is a sense of urgency in my teaching persona; I believe this to be true because I feel excited and challenged to use my lesson plans in the most effective way possible. This means that I am scaffolding my lessons with skills that my students feel comfortable using, while also introducing new, more complex skills that build upon what they already know. Planning thoughtfully and well means that I feel confident explaining my daily objectives to my students. At the end of the lesson, my students and I should both feel that we have accomplished what we set out to do. By paying careful attention to classroom practice, a most successful teacher feels comfortable using a variety of instructional strategies. This means that the teacher feels comfortable giving direct presentations, invites students to contribute and question as the lesson goes on, and can also manage a variety of types of group-work.
    I believe a successful teacher must focus on students, planning, and classroom practice to build an effective learning environment, but she must also focus on maintaining a reflective teaching practice throughout her career. Paying attention to my own professional growth allows me to be thoughtful and honest about the type of teacher I am and the type of teacher I strive to become. It is important for me to reflect on the lessons I teach and also on the lessons of colleagues that I observe. I must constantly be testing new methods of planning and practice: for example, I might learn a new form of technology for the classroom, which I can then test in my own classroom to see if it is an effective tool in my learning environment. As a teacher who practices self-reflection, I will also be aware of my strengths in my subject field. I have chosen to teach English because of my love for poetry and writing; I have found ways to explore the subject with my students by introducing them to novels, theater, poetry, essays, and creative writing. My enjoyment of the subject allows me to feel confident in exploring it in various ways with my students. I believe that my teaching pushes children to pursue their own reading and writing preferences and identities.

    I am thrilled to have started my teaching career at Brown University. I have been given the opportunity to test different teaching strategies, to build upon my strengths in the classroom and to examine and work on my weaknesses. I have been supported by professors and mentors and feel confident that I am ready to begin my career. I am dedicated to a self-reflective practice and to my on-going growth as an educator.

DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.