My Teaching Philosophy Statement

Social studies education entails the study of a shared human past. It is the culmination of events that have led to the present. It is a human story of struggles for power, pursuit of freedoms, new discoveries, violence, peace, and war. The field of social studies is driven by the human element; our actions, decisions, and choices. My objective as a teacher is to have my students understand the historical implications of human interactions so they can learn from them and improve the future.

To teach social studies is to teach a course on human beings and their relationship to the Earth’s geography. It involves teaching students where humans live, and where they have come from. It requires students to comprehend how humans think, act, govern, and ultimately how they interact with each other and physical landscapes including the environment. Most importantly, students in my social studies class will discover how human interaction has changed over time and learn what it takes to improve our existence in the future.

To achieve these goals students must have knowledge of history. Memorization of key dates, events, and people is fundamental to pass school, state, and national standards. At the same time they must comprehend the material. To foster comprehension, my classroom will be a construction zone. Students will learn social studies by erecting ancient cities, constructing supported arguments, assembling persuasive essays, and building off of the ideas and opinions of classmates.

There is more to being a successful student than a good performance on multiple-choice exams. My students will demonstrate their understanding through words to enhance knowledge and improve public speaking. They also learn to apply the facts that they learn. Valuable learning takes place when material can be applied to contemporary situations or real life examples that link content to their own experiences. For example, to understand a lack of shared powers under an absolute monarchy, students can identify the checks and balances as well as branches of our government. Too often students are told what history is, who made it, and what is important. History will never come alive if they cannot take on the role of historians, evaluate documents, debate controversies, and write their own meaningful version of history.

Effective teaching must go beyond standard curriculum to include ethical valuing. I will do my best to instill core democratic values in my students such as equality, tolerance, diversity, and justice. To foster ethical valuing, students must engage in multicultural education. Multicultural education goes beyond celebrating cultural holidays and food. As Dr. Sonia Nieto explains, it should be characterized by a curriculum that is antiracist and anti-discriminatory. In examining cultures of the past and present, my students will be able to value differences while simultaneously discovering we are all equal members of the human race. The ancient world presents a wonderful opportunity to see how distant cultures like the Egyptians, Mesopotamians, and Mayans could all independently develop agrarian societies, complex civilizations, writing, astronomy, and art.

As a teacher I will also stress tolerance in the classroom. Academic disagreements and debates are fine, and welcome in my classroom, but they will not give students a license to use offensive language or any form of ethnic, racial, or religious slurs. By respecting each other, students will learn to deliberate and value differing opinions. I will be sure to model equitable and tolerant behavior to my students in hopes that they will garnish the same level of tolerance to each other’s differences, regardless of disabilities, skin color, body shape, or culture. Implementing class lessons that incorporate cooperative learning and group work such as seminars or structured academic controversies, will expose students to a variety of different people with strengths and weaknesses and will hopefully shape them to respect one another.

Each student that enters my classroom will be given the best education that I can provide. That education goes far beyond passing the Virginia Standards of Learning or rote memorization. My students will be able to critically analyze real life situations, weigh the pros and cons of international decisions, and make ethical judgments. Historical events are the result of many decisions and choices. Students will understand the human element in deciding history by participation in document analysis and role playing. By teaching equity and justice, my students will be able to participate in a global society. Some of the biggest mistakes of the past and present are the result of misunderstanding between people. If I can teach my students to interact with the global community with tolerance and respect, and make informed decisions, then I will be a successful teacher.