My philosophy of teaching and other random thoughts

My old classroom at Phoenix Alternative in Laval, Quebec 2005

For the past six years teaching has been my day job and there are a lot of good things about it. It’s stable. It’s fun. I like working with young people. It’s good to be able to teach and explore subjects that interest you. Over the past few weeks I’ve been putting together my undergrad curriculum and I can’t help but reflect on the sort of teacher that I am:

1. Fun is important: I like my class to have a fun atmosphere. I hate it when students are bored and are losing interest in the subject. To create a fun atmosphere I usually try to have a light hearted open attitude and encourage laughter. This can be a challenge sometimes but I find if a class has a positive atmosphere students will make more of an effort to attend and consequently learn.

2. Keep it simple stupid: one of the best words of advice that I have received is to teach to the lowest common denominator. In other words, reach out to the students that struggle and simplify course work. Some educators want to be seen as intellectual know-it-alls with fancy language and an intimidating presence. I am happy to be seen as a nice person with an approachable class. If students think the material is simple they will unconsciously have more confidence in the course work and learn more.

3. Make an effort to connect with your students personally: in every class I always try to get to know the students I teach. What are their interests and what is their life like? I like the class to have a friendly atmosphere and have students feel they can talk about their day to day life in class. This can make a dry lecture much more interesting. Moreover, having a rapport with students can provide insight in what is working in not working with your teaching plan.

4. Make room for real life and the arts: as an art educator and photographer I try to incorporate the arts and media into any aspect of my teaching. This is a personal passion but media can enliven any curriculum. Relate anything you are teaching to current events, the arts, and new media. Use power point. Show images that reflect your message. Encourage your students to do the same. Their work will be deeper, more personal, and more thoughtful when creative expression is encouraged.

5. Let your students be involved in teaching the lesson: don’t be afraid to take a break and let your students give a presentation on the material if you have the time. Or make a point of having your students read the curriculum to the class and verbally reinforce the key points. Often I find the class will pay much more attention to their peers than to me. Consequently I find it is a good idea use presentations, role playing, and verbal participation as much as possible.

6. Have a structure: I like my class to have a structured feeling where everyone knows what to expect from the lesson. Structure is important and students like to know what is required from them and what they should anticipate from each class. Moreover if there is a routine the lesson will be more organized and stress reduced.

7. Mark fairly: as an educator your words carry a lot of weight. Criticism can hurt but praise can encourage self esteem. Be aware of this and be sensitive to the praise and comments you give out. If I do criticize a student I try to do it privately and with encouragement. I also try to be aware of any other negative comments that are said in class by other students. Classrooms can be fun but they can also be a source of humiliation or embarrassment. I don’t tolerate that with my teaching.

What is your philosophy of teaching? Or general outlook when it comes to your job or career?


5 Responses to “My philosophy of teaching and other random thoughts”

  1. September 14, 2007 at 12:54 am

    My philosophy has always been to forget that my students are “only kids” and treat them like “real people” even if they are still very young. When a strong feeling of self-worth is established it is also so much easier to work with them.

  2. 2 Luke
    September 16, 2007 at 1:47 pm

    Hello Joanna,


    In your picture that you have posted on your door that states the courses your teach…i noticed it is in reverse alphabetical order…is this on purpose? 🙂

    Kindest Regards,

  3. September 18, 2007 at 2:56 am

    Hi Luke,

    No the order reflects the importance of the teaching subjects according to the values of the school. At Phoenix, I was hired primarily to teach Canadian History and Computers. In Quebec Canadian History is a course required for high school graduation and has a provincial exam. Art was a course I introduced later on and was my third teaching subject.

  4. 4 Carrie
    September 25, 2007 at 10:39 am

    This is a terrific article Jo. I know you put a lot of extra work into your job. You obviously care a lot for your students.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Jo’s tweets


RSS rss feed

  • Grow With HubSpot New York February 23, 2016
    The marketing software company HubSpot sponsored an event at Irving Plaza in New York, NY on Thursday February 18th to provide an overview of their services to potential clients and marketers. HubSpot markets through Web 2.0, social media, email marketing, CRM, and blogs. The event began at 2pm and began with a session on how […]
    Jo Rees
  • TCS NYC Marathon Long Training Run #1: Race review July 26th, 2014 August 14, 2014
    Pacers from the New York Flyers running club 20.9 miles 8’37” pace/mile time This was a very meaningful race that I’d trained hard for. I knew that running 20 miles along the rolling hills of Central Park was going to be a challenge. I wanted to finish and finish strong. The race began at 7am and […]
    Jo Rees
  • Scotiabank Vancouver Half-Marathon Race Review: 1:49:40, June 22nd 2014 August 14, 2014
    This was a special race as it took place in my hometown of Vancouver, BC. I had wanted to run a Vancouver race for a while and it was an absolute pleasure to run through UBC, West Van, and Stanley Park for 13.10 miles. The course began at UBC’s Thunderbird Arena and ran along SW […]
    Jo Rees
  • Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon: Race Review 3:58:18 August 14, 2014
    It was a great experience to run my first marathon at home in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois on April 26th. I decided to run with the 3:50 pace group and met a lot of interesting people on the course. Our pacer Steve had run 13 marathons in one year and I connected with others who traveled across […]
    Jo Rees
  • February 2014 April 12, 2014
    Here are some images from New York and Urbana, Il from February 2014
    Jo Rees
  • PicFrame Collages March 17, 2014
    Here are photographs from our trip to Washington DC last weekend that are framed using the PicFrame app.
    Jo Rees
  • Photographs from January 2014 February 10, 2014
    Here are some images from Urbana, IL and New York, NY from January 2014
    Jo Rees
  • Photographs from December 2013 February 9, 2014
    Images from the holidays in Urbana, IL and New York, NY  
    Jo Rees
  • Photographs from November 2013 February 9, 2014
    Here are some images from last November in Urbana, IL and New York, NY
    Jo Rees
  • Photographs from October 2013 February 9, 2014
    Here are some images from Urbana, IL from last October and early November
    Jo Rees

RSS rss comment feed

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

RSS rss photography

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

%d bloggers like this: