My Teaching Philosophy

As we enter a period of great curriculum transition in the NYC education system, some teachers are feeling that their creativity is being hampered, while others find that, now more than ever, that curriculum is open to interpretation. Personally, I acknowledge that the way a teacher presents material and interacts with students will be uniquely tempered by that teacher’s philosophy toward education. For me, the teaching philosophy that I feel most addresses the learners’ educational needs of our democratic, multicultural society is a combination of liberal, social constructivist and culture-centric pedagogies. 


From the moment we arrive on this earth, we are learning to understand our new surrounds, gaining insight from our parents, other relatives and our own experiences. By the time we attend school, a combination of our own intuition and training from parents has given us the ability to walk upright, feed ourselves and speak a language, or two in some cases. This innate ability to learn and absorb information — from universal, cultural and personal perspectives  — manifests itself throughout our lives. No matter what age, each of us learns in different ways and brings something different to the table. We do so by being able to explore and grow through supported, purposeful acts that resonate with our individual circumstances and through self-actualization. We are all lifelong learners, active participants in knowledge at the center of our education, with the unique but shared goal of becoming more fully realized. 


As a facilitator of learning, a good teacher is the manager of the entire learning process. Through organization and creativity, he develops lessons based on solid learning goals, inquiry in the classroom, criteria for success and varied formative and summative assessments to determine if those goals were reached. He creates multiple entry points for students through differentiation and adopts the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) model when appropriate. He acknowledges the different modalities by which students learn, helps students tap into prior knowledge and offers scaffolding to close the gap between what is known and the learning goal. A good educator finds it equally as important to teach students to be better people. He respects his students as individuals at different places along their learning paths and tries to be a relevant role model and mentor for them, providing the safety and motivation students need to do their best. By giving students a basic education based on college readiness, the appreciation to trust their own perspectives and creativity, and enough liberty to explore, we will help develop young adult scholars with a respect for their global neighbors and a desire to change the world for the better. 


Just as we spend each and every day of our lives learning, we are also being exposed daily to the wonders of mathematics. Far too often, however, students have preconceived notions not only about math and its application in their lives but also about their own inadequacy when it comes to the subject. “I hate math” usually means “I am not good at math” which usually stems from years of challenges and failures. Educators need to break this cycle and allow students to feel some sense of accomplishment when it comes to the subject. When teaching moments arise during lessons, we must avoid the impulse to push through with the curriculum without taking advantage of the opportunity. We must remember that learning is in real time. It’s also imperative, however, in today’s global landscape, that our education systems are inspiring interest and developing skill for success in the STEM fields. Education programs for teachers need to continually produce educators that not only have a very strong foundation in mathematics, but are also able to teach it to varied populations. Only by creating a workforce of teachers that know math — who can teach math, work with their colleagues and continually strive to be better at their craft — will we have any hope of developing learners able to take on tomorrow’s world.


From a curriculum standpoint, context is imperative if a student is to not only appreciate what he or she is exposed to but to actually absorb it and use the material. It’s important to approach students in a way that makes sense to the world they currently live in, within limits, and to tailor the material for students that can’t seem to grasp it. The “aha” moment when teachers facilitate a breakthrough can only occur when the material is made relevant and meaningful, and the students are allowed and encouraged to implement that knowledge gained immediately, enhanced by project work. Furthermore, teachers must stay active members of the professional mathematics community, working closely together to learn from each other and develop modalities that show results. We must foster a learning environment where each student feels safe, valued and respected, where taking risks, asking “what if?” and discovery are more important than getting a correct answer. By promoting students’ ownership of their education, we are helping to develop learning skills that will last a lifetime.