I had so many questions during my first year as an EFL teacher. Hired simply for my status as a native speaker, I entered the classroom blindly, knowing very little about how languages are acquired or how learning works. There are many teachers like first-year me, and my goal as a teacher educator is to help students enter the classroom with confidence, well-equipped for a successful school year. My teaching philosophy guides me in this mission with three core components: adaptive teaching, interactive teaching, and personal teaching.
The first component of my teaching philosophy is my belief in adaptive teaching. Every semester brings a new diverse group of students with various language learning experiences and perceptions of language learners. As misconceptions and deficit attitudes about language learners are prevalent throughout society, it is important to begin where the students are, help them to understand what they believe and why they believe it, and from there work toward molding their beliefs to ones more in line with second language acquisition research and equitable principles of education. My curriculum is not static; it is actively constructed based on the learners in my classroom.
Interactive teaching is another important component of my teaching philosophy. While many classrooms utilize a behaviorist model where knowledge is “deposited,” my teaching aligns more with a constructivist model, where learning occurs through interactions between the class, peers, and texts. I facilitate class engagement through educational apps such as Socrative which engage every student simultaneously and lead to further class discussion. Engagement with peers is generated through group work or techniques such as Think-Pair-Share. Finally, engagement with authors occurs through reading strategies based on Rosenblatt’s Reader Response Theory. Together, these strategies create an active learning environment where learning can be constructed.
Finally, I believe in personal teaching, which allows for meaningful connection of the content to students’ lives. Based on my belief in the Expectancy Value Theory, I feel students are more likely to learn content that is meaningful to them. Through reflective exit tickets that ask “How does this help me to be better?” students will connect the content to something relevant in their life, which will lead toward greater motivation and deeper learning.
Touching Lives Around the World
For many around the world, knowing a second language is often the difference between socioeconomic classes. Therefore, it is critical that we fill language classrooms with effective educators. As a teacher educator, I have the potential to touch the lives of students around the world through the educators that pass through my classroom. Through adaptive teaching, interactive teaching, and personal teaching, I believe I can help raise the level of excellent teaching in the field of English language teaching, improve learning outcomes internationally, and create a better world. As an Eagle Scout, we had a rule for camping, “Leave the campground better than you found it.” As a teacher educator, I believe my mission is to leave the world better than I found it, a mission I can achieve through my students.